Posts Tagged ‘Route 66’

ABC News follows Route 66 west

May 11, 2009

abc_12_090508_ssvI managed to catch pink eye – ouch – so can’t type much but thought Lincoln Highway fans might be interested in seeing how ABC News weekend anchors are traveling Route 66 west (unexplainedly skipping Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas). Kate Snow and her sister drive the first two segments in a 1958 Ford Fairlane hardtop convertible (seen here at the former U-Drop Inn Cafe, Shamrock, Texas). Read the story HERE.

NOTE: ABC has disabled embedding. Below is the first segment from another source.

Here are the ABC links, including the second video: ONE and TWO.

The final two segments will feature the two male anchors heading further west.

Lincoln Highway brochures (and a Rt 66)

March 11, 2009

il_rt66-brochureI met with LHA member Jim Peters today as he makes his way across the country. He’s exploring brochure ideas for the Lincoln Highway Association. Much of his trip, though, will be along Route 66 to browse some of the brochures that have made that road such a success, and such a pleasure to tour. I made sure to show him one of my favorites — the Illinois Historic Route 66 brochure (seen at right), which features a map spread over 11 panels. (Download it HERE.)


In anticipation of the forthcoming LHA conference, pick up one of the new Indiana Lincoln Highway brochures, seen above. They feature a map of the route and info on other Lincoln-related sites in the state. If you’re too far away, you can request one from their website, or view the actual brochure online HERE.

Lincoln Highway, Rt 66 make Midwest Living mag

March 10, 2009

mwlmag_marap09The March/April 2009 issue of Midwest Living has a 5-page article about the Lincoln Highway and Route 66 (though 66 gets the mention on the cover as you can see at right). The title is “Touring Route 66 and Lincoln Highway: Follow the route of the first super roads across the U.S.” The focus is on the midwest, so for the Lincoln that means Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. Click HERE to read the magazine’s online excerpt, though you’ll need to pick up a hard copy to see the photos.

New roadside book from Route 66 researchers

January 2, 2009

Researchers and photographers Shellee Graham and Jim Ross have a new book out, Roadside USA: Route 66 and Beyond, published by Jim’s Ghost Town Press. Though they’re known for their work along Route 66, they’ve also done extensive photography along the Lincoln Highway — note the “L” pole on the cover.

Shellee told me, “We had a ball driving the Lincoln Highway in Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah. Memorable scenery, people and landmarks — can’t wait to do the rest. It was so interesting looking for the Scouts’ [1928 concrete] Lincoln markers.” The 64-page paperback, featuring 30 postcards, is $10.95 and available on Amazon.


Outtakes & extras from Lincoln Highway program

October 28, 2008

Rick Sebak and his crew filmed dozens of hours but only had room for about 15 stories in A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway. Five stories that were finished but couldn’t fit in the hour-long program will be on the DVD as extras. And starting today — not only are they available online but so are 21 more outtakes from the show.

The five feature stories are on Woodine Iowa’s Brick Street Station, a bookstore in North Platte NE, a garage-turned-tavern in Lyman WY, a woman in Morrison IL with a yard full of lawn ornaments, and a farmer’s market in Belle Plaine IA.

The 21 outtakes cover a wide range of people and places, from Bernie Queneau recalling his Boy Scout life-saving demonstrations on the famed 1928 safety tour to Michael Wallis describing the genesis of Radiator Springs for the movie Cars and how it represents towns not only on Route 66 but along any old 2-lane. You’ll also see familiar faces from the LHA as well as folks from along the road who you’ll meet in the program.

"Walking America The Lincoln Way" to start soon

September 3, 2008

LHA member Dennis Crowley plans to walk across America on the Lincoln Highway. From 1998 through 2005 he walked and worked his way across America from Chicago to California on Route 66. He now calls the effort Cross Roads, “a single purpose and a simple message. By promoting America’s historic highways Cross Roads seeks to call attention to our country’s Christian heritage. The purpose for covering these highways on foot is to make the statement that America needs to return to and walk in her spiritual “‘old paths.'”

LHA director Jay Banta, also of Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge in Utah, wrote:

I look forward to hosting Dennis (and providing a shower!) when he arrives here at Fish Springs and I hope that others will provide him support as well. While we all have slightly different motives for ‘loving’ the highway, it is that passion that binds us and I think that Dennis and his quest can bring some great publicity to the Lincoln. I don’t think he has posted his schedule on the web but I know his first stint will take him from Lincoln Park to Sacramento in September of this year. He plans a Sacramento to Reno stretch in May of 2009 and then a push all the way across NV in the fall of 2009. His Utah and Wyoming crossing is planned for 2010.

Visit to learn more about “Walking America The Lincoln Way.”

Lincoln Highway history, the next generation

August 7, 2008

In recent years, the Lincoln Highway is returning to the mainstream. Wildly popular in the 1910s, it endured low name recognition through the 1960s-80s, but is again being embraced by an ever-wider audience. However, as the highway’s history is disseminated and simplified, it is also being generalized into fiction.

I read a blog stating “Interstate 80 derived from the old Lincoln Highway.” And a web site: “Lincoln Highway was the first major highway developed in 1915…. During the 30’s and the 40’s it became Highway 30 and then when Eisenhower promoted the interstate highway system it became Interstate 80.” Perhaps I-80 is descended from the LH in spirit or along its E-W corridor, but those looking for accuracy should disregard the above statements.

Another: “Because it would be built with private donations and not by the government, a friend suggested Fisher call the new road the Abraham Lincoln Highway, a name sure to open the pocketbooks of patriotic Americans.” Not exactly wrong but not necessarily correct.

And: “In the 1920s, the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental paved highway, opened to much fanfare…. The old Lincoln Highway was eventually replaced by US 40 and then by Interstate 80.” Nevermind the 40 and 80 missteps, the “first” claim can quickly polarize. Were other transcontinental paths named, marked, and promoted before the LH? Yes. Did they sustain that attention and improvement? No. Choose your side but don’t ignore or dismiss the other.

From a video: “See America First was a new concept in 1920.” Perhaps gaining steam then among motorists, the concept dates to the late 1800s and the phrase itself to at least 1906 when a railroad used it; in fact, The New York Times wrote about the rising trend in 1906.

I thought I recognized some phrasing when a reporter recently wrote, “drivers could find small local diners, quaint cozy cabins, prosperous mom-and-pop shops, Art Deco gas stations and colorful roadside attractions.” Yep, she got her history from a line for my Greetings book press release which you can find on Amazon: “diners, neon movie palaces, Art Deco gas stations, ice cream stands, tourist cabins, and colorful roadside attractions.”

Chambers of commerce and tourism agencies are likewise discovering the Lincoln. That’s good for economic growth and preservation, but the story of the highway becomes a bit more generalized, and inaccurate, with each retelling. A recent news article paraphrased a tourism bureau chief: “Historically, Lincoln Highway has been used as a commercial transportation highway, while Route 66 was created for travel and leisure.” This statement takes some narrow modern preconceptions, puts them in a blender, and projects backwards a history that just isn’t true.

There is debate in Illinois whether towns within the LH’s corridor of influence should be included in economic promotions. How specific should we be in defining the LH’s corridor? Only the marked road? Or within a block or business district? Is Chicago “on” the route? Just how literally do we interpret the Proclamation Route? Do we count LH routes that were only promoted locally, but seriously? How about the Feeder Routes? Are those who take sides aware of the larger picture, where a desire for strict interpretation is more a modern focus than a historical truth?

There were many motivating factors behind the Lincoln Highway, but one of them was certainly scenic tourism. In fact, recreational travel promoted as a patriotic duty was probably more fervent in the teens than the 1920s, when Route 66 was established as one of the many numbered federal highways. Regardless, advocates of any of these highways promoted roads for economic advancement, no matter the source. Perhaps the main difference between the two was the LH and other c. 1913 trails were blazing a path of promoting hard-surfaced roads, while by 1926, the benefits of good roads were a much easier sale.

The Lincoln Highway was the most famous road of its day, and remained a popular name and destination decades later, but 66 finally overshadowed it for many reasons. Bobby Troup wrote an enormously popular song about it in 1946. US 66 became a well-traveled route to the West Coast for those looking for hi-tech jobs after WWII. Todd and Buzz rode to fame on the Route 66 TV show in the 1960s, thereby associating the road with potent imagery and mythology. And then there’s that seductive alliteration of the two numbers.

While the LH has come to embody early travel with images of mud, cabin camps, and Model Ts, the later birth of 66 and its postwar popularity finds it associated more with concrete ribbons, neon signs, and tail-finned cars. The LH had those too — probably more since it’s a third longer — but that imagery was first and wisely latched onto by 66 boosters in the 1980s. Route 66 became the embodiment of simpler, happier times, a symbol for adventure, and it soon became the setting for any ad, commercial, or clothing line that wanted to be retro chic. Places along 66 sometimes embrace the 1950s/Marilyn/car hop nostalgic marketing to the point of overload, but many tourists enjoy exactly that special sense of place, especially strung out over a couple thousand miles.

The Lincoln Highway’s resurgence similarly began in the 1980s, sparked by Drake Hokanson’s book and spread by the national LHA in the 1990s, then entering public forums in recent years as books and magazines have spread the word. While recent restoration efforts on 66 have focused on gas stations and roadside attractions, LH folks are just reaching that point, having first concentrated on saving the infrastructure itself (such as the tiny concrete bridges in Iowa). A quick glance back might give the impression that the LH had a more serious genesis, while 66 was built for fun, but that’s just not the case. The same goes for the other above statements.

For a solid overview of Lincoln Highway history, check out Hokanson’s beautiful The Lincoln Highway: Main Street Across America.

For a recent in-depth look at 66, try Arthur Krim’s Route 66: Iconography of the American Highway.

For those who like to do their own research, visit the Special Collections Library at the University of Michigan, which houses the original LHA’s archival materials and photos like the one at top [“New road between Donner Lake and Summit, California” (lhc0135)].

New SCAJ; two historic roads conferences in SW

August 5, 2008

The new Society for Commercial Archeology Journal (which I design) highlights the American Southwest in anticipation of two conferences set for in September. Both events are the same weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, near the historic intersection of the 17th-century El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and US Route 66.

Preserving the Historic Road 2008
September 11-14
The 6th Preserving the Historic Road conference offers a choice of 3 tours or a field session on the 11th, sessions at the historic Kimo Theatre and Hotel Albuquerque on the 12th such as “Reality and Myth-Building on Historic Highways,” “Lodging Challenges Along Historic Highways,” and “Before the Interstate: The Perpetuation of Indigenous Roads.” The 13th will have more sessions on bridges, trail traces, and historic corridors.

Click the logo to enlarge.

Southwest Detours
September 10-13, 2008
The SCA’s conference will explore automobile tourism in the southwest, with paper sessions and tours:

Thursday, Sept. 11
Bus Tour along Route 66 to Gallup, NM
The tour to Gallup along Route 66 includes Dead Man’s Curve, neon signs in Grants (“Uranium City USA”), the Continental Divide, trading posts in Gallup, and lunch at the famous 1937 El Rancho Hotel (“Home of the Movie Stars”), built by the brother of movie mogul D.W. Griffith. (includes tour book and lunch)

Friday, Sept. 12
Symposium and Paper Sessions

Saturday, Sept. 13
Bus Tour to Mountainair and Socorro, New Mexico
The old Route 60 tour will include sites spanning over three centuries. It will take us along some of the oldest alignments of Route 66 in south Albuquerque, and include lunch in Mountainair at the Pop Shafer Hotel, Restaurant and Curio Shop, with a tour of Shaffer’s Rancho Bonito. Socorro highlights will include stops at a southwestern trading post, the old plaza, and a roadside produce stand during chili season!

Here are some roadside highlights in town that I snapped early one morning:

Though centered around Route 66, you’ll meet many Lincoln Highway fans and historians, and see amazing roadside attractions, trading posts, and restaurants (the Frontier is a must-stop).

Lessons from a Route 66 motel makeover

August 1, 2008

Businesses along old 2-lanes such as the Lincoln Highway often struggle to compete with chains that locate at Interstate off-ramps, but Ron Warnick reports on his Route 66 News about a non-chain motel in Barstow, California, that has found a way a pretty basic way to attract tourists. The story from the city’s Desert Dispatch notes that a simple image makeover instantly began attracting travelers who otherwise were passing by. For all those independent motels struggling in the face of brand-names that feature oodles of amenities and AAA ratings, it’s proof that business can be improved by attending to the look and cleanliness of a place.

Their current property, the Topper Motel on West Main Street, is popular with people, mostly locals, owner Ken Patel said, needing a room for more than a couple of nights. But tourists running down Route 66 passed right by and rarely stopped to rent rooms for just a night or two.

The Patels’ solution: Renovate the west side of their property, paint it the appealing color of an orange Creamsicle and slap a new name, The Sunset Inn, over the office….

Ken said problems with longer staying customers on the Topper side of the business made him consider ways to bring in shorter-staying out-of-towners. He said the rooms where people stayed for weeks or months at a time were often unkempt, dirty and negatively effected the entire appearance of his motel.

The Sunset looks like a completely different motel from the Topper sitting next to it. The rooms are crisp and clean and the parking lot features a small courtyard and desert landscaping. Day Manager Bill Snyder said the remodel has been so successful with the Sunset that there are plans to give the Topper the same treatment soon.

A story in a 1950s diner industry magazine advised owners to pave their decrepit parking lots. Many diner owners howled at the idea, saying customers were more concerned with the food that the lot. Yes, if you know a restaurant has good food, you’ll overlook the shortcomings, maybe even calling them “charming,” but for those not familiar with a place – as most travelers aren’t – they’ll pass by a run-down motel or restaurant. In the same vein, would you buy a beat-up used car or one that looked cared for?

Rock Cafe on Route 66 destroyed by fire

May 22, 2008

It’s not often we report on Route 66 here at Lincoln Highway News, but an icon of that two-lane road has been destroyed in a fire. The Rock Cafe of Stroud, Oklahoma, was not only a popular stop along Route 66 since the 1930s, but had gained fame a couple years ago when owner Dawn Welch served inspiration for Sally the Porsche in the Disney/Pixar film Cars.

As you can see in my photo above, they celebrated the connection with little cutouts of the car characters. Read all about the fire, and plans to rebuild, on Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News. To see this image larger, CLICK on my photo below to go to my Flickr post – to see it even bigger, once there you can click “ALL SIZES” above the image.