Route 66-it has been the path of migrants, dreamers, desperados, and an entire generation of vacationers discovering the way west. It was crafted into an American cultural icon by both its builders and its people, whose ingenuity and imagination brought to its history the character by which that era of travel is now defined. It is a ribbon of road, a TV show, a song, a book, and a post card. It is a collection of cozy motor courts, outlandish roadside attractions, and small town boulevards splashed with pulsing neon. Popularly referred to as The Main Street of America or The Will Rogers Highway, US 66 has come to symbolize the essence of going somewhere. It is history, it is legend, and above all, it is undying.
America's Mother Road, all of this and more, originally meandered more than 2,400 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles, including nearly 400 miles across Oklahoma. And while officially it no longer exists, a great deal of it remains—to be driven, experienced, and enjoyed. Indeed, US 66, the road of dreams, is alive and well.
Because Route 66 was in a state of continual change from its beginning in 1926 until its de-certification in 1985, correctly identifying some of the alignments within its myriad of pathways now presents a challenge, even for seasoned enthusiasts or researchers. The process becomes further complicated when considering that many surviving sections of Route 66 were converted to county or state highways, or lie behind fences on private land. Additionally, many more stretches were completely obliterated; especially those in the path of limited access interstates built as the Mother Road's replacement.
Efforts to document unverified or suspected Route 66 alignments today often involves using a variety of resources, such as reference books, newspaper and magazine articles, vintage maps, old postcards, museum archives, aerial photographs, and transportation department documents, particularly construction plans or related project data. While some sources are better than others, most require corroboration. On-site inspection is also imperative.
Most vital to this process, however, is the availability of public records, as official documentation is virtually irrefutable and often eliminates the need for further research. It is this critical need that makes A Construction History of U.S. Route 66 in Oklahoma an invaluable publication. In assembling this chronological record, the authors have created a reference tool unequaled in providing researchers immediate answers to questions very often at the root of the determination they are attempting to make. The following pages are therefore not only indispensable; they play a significant role in helping to maintain the historic integrity of America's most famous highway.