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Route 66

Texas
Route 66

Route 66

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Texas! For the eastern traveler going west on Route 66 this was cowboy country.

Big Sky Country

The forests of the Ozarks and rolling hills of Oklahoma are left behind as the land opens up and the vast distances of the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains), so named by Coronado as he passed through here on his quest for the treasure cities of Cibola in the 1500s. Coronado found the sea of grass daunting with no landmarks to go by so he had his men drive stakes into the ground to mark their trail - at least that's one story. The Texas Panhandle, here the country is spread out and the sky becomes the dominant feature. Jack Rittenhouse describes Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle as "Straight, paved highways and great efficient ranches now obliterate all traces of the big herds of buffalo which roamed here, together with the Indians; the Kiowas and Comanches." He further admonishes to be on the lookout for cattle crossing the highway. Yes this was and still is to some extent cowboy country.

 

Texas has always held a fascination for me. From my earliest years I was a fan of the cowboy mystique. I suppose that comes with watching Howdy Do-Dee as a child in the 1950. I remember taking a family vacation to Florida from Colorado in 1961 and going through Texas. We spent the night in Amarillo and I can still remember the excitement I had about being in Texas. I vaguely recall our big Texas breakfast the next morning before heading out. Though I can't recall the specifics I can still feel the warmth of the cafe we ate at, the wonder I felt from the cowboys (everyone in Texas was a cowboy to me back then) eating next to us, and the friendly waitress passing the time with my parents. I'm not sure were we ate, or if the cafe is even there anymore, but this was Texas and it made more of an impression on me than Florida!

A Young Boy's Dream

 

Bent Door Sign Perhaps no childhood memory stands out as much in the mind of today’s baby boomers as the wonderful attractions to be found along Route 66. Large signs, decorative elements, colorful buildings were all employed to get the traveler to stop. The trading posts, rock shops, tourist stops, unique motels, and refreshment stands that once graced the Mother Road made traveling an experience to be savored and enjoyed. Architecturally they were simple, and a functional building, usually adorned with all manner of exterior finishes. Any type of attraction was considered to bring the motorist in. In many places larger-than-life stucco lumberjacks, dinosaurs, animals and Indians appeared. Buildings were constructed in various shapes, representing a wide variety of items, from oranges, to shoes, to hats.
     
Unique wonders of the world were put on view for a few cents. Two headed snakes, reptile farms, alligators, wondrous caves and petrified mummies all vied for the attention of the vacationer in a unique side show that would have made P.T. Barnum proud. Children begged their parents to stop awhile and explore. These were once in a lifetime chances to see the unusual, the strange, and the bizarre. The tales carried home from family vacations would entice and amaze the neighborhood kids for months. As business owners realized that travelers wanted some memento of the journey, they began selling souvenirs. An important aspect of their marketing strategy became postcards. By giving them out free, tourists were likely to send them home, thereby spreading news of the establishment across the country.

Rattlesnakes!

      
The Bug Ranch The Mother Road became the destination herself. The carnival atmosphere of Route 66 attractions promoted the unusual. The more outrageous the better ~ anything to catch the eye of the passing motorist! This is the stuff of legends, and modern Route 66 entices people from all over the world to experience in a small way what it used to be like once.

Britten Tower at Groom, Texas

     
Route 66 the highway became the romance of the west and Texas was the gateway to this great adventure. Cowboys and Indians, trains and Disneyland, outlaws and movie stars mingled together on this highway of legend that ended at the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean. Route 66 has become more than just a road, it conjures up an image of freedom on the highway, a wondrous myth of the vast spaces of the open road.

 

Early Texas Road Map ~ circa 1918

 Early Pre-Route 66 Road Map of TexasPr-Route 66 Handrawn Highway Map

An early pre-66 highway map of Texas from the Circle Route trail organization showing the area that would become Route 66.

Before the US Highway system was put in place in 1926, automobile travel could be quite confusing. Trail organizations sprang up to address these problems. These were local groups that promoted the roads around the towns where they lived. There was no real national cohesion at this time. Local groups did what they pretty much wanted too in their own area. The lack of any national highway group led to a confusing array of maps and road guides. No two maps were alike. Each guide reflected the organization that had produced it.

 

Today there are pockets of old Route 66 still accessible if only you get off the Interstate and explore. Explore with me some of the sights to be seen along the Mother Road in the Lone Star State. Click on any part of Texas Route 66 to begin your cyber tour...

Photographs Taken September 2002

 

Detailed Vintage Texas Route 66 Maps:

[1928 Texas] (Shows Jericho Gap)   [1940 Eastern Texas]   [1940 Western Texas]

 

Click on an area or city of Route 66 on the map below to take a cyber tour of that section of the  Mother Road

Travel Cyber Route 66 in Texas

Go West on Route 66

NAVIGATION NOTE: Buckle up and hold on to your mouse! These pages are arranged like the map above, from the western state border to the eastern state border. I have set up this site as if you were traveling from EAST to WEST, much like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. You can click on the Route 66 shields to "travel" the Mother Road in either direction though. Or you can select any shield below to take you to that specific state.

Go East on Route 66

To Texas Border Ghosts

To Shamrock, Texas

 

Select the Route 66 State to Visit

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