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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Route 66 Is in Danger, Nonprofit Warns

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 11:40 AM

click to enlarge The route, which begins in Chicago, wends through New Mexico before ending in Santa Monica, California. - FLICKR/KENT KANOUSE
  • The route, which begins in Chicago, wends through New Mexico before ending in Santa Monica, California.
Getting your kicks on Route 66 could soon be an activity of a bygone era.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit that aims to protect areas important to cultural diversity, has named Route 66 as one of America’s eleven most endangered historic places for 2018.

The organization released its annual list of endangered places earlier this week. It includes hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the supposed first hospital constructed for an Indian reservation without federal funding, historic districts in Charleston, South Carolina; Denver, Colorado; and Annapolis, Maryland; and, to the dismay of sentimental Midwesterners, America’s “Mother Road,” Route 66, among others.

Constructed in 1926, Route 66 is the nation’s first all-paved U.S. Highway System, allowing cars to travel from the Midwest to California. The road traverses Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The route allowed Americans opportunity during the 1930s Dust Bowl, material and troop transport during World War II, and families to roadtrip for decades. By the 1960s, however, the Interstate took precedence over Route 66. The route’s rich culture and inspiration for St. Louis native Chuck Berry’s hit song has continued to diminish ever since.

Now, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, and local agencies are hoping to earn Route 66 a National Historic Trail designation. National Historic Trails, including the Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail, the Trail of Tears National Historical Trail, and Pony Express National Historic Trail, are areas that are significant to the nation’s history.

Those who sympathize with the cause can sign the petition for the designation here.

Editor's note: In a previous version of this story, a photo caption referred erroneously to Route 66's starting point. It's in Illinois, not Missouri. We regret the error.

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