In 2011 world famous Scottish comedian and motorbike enthusiast Billy Connolly produced “Billy Connolly’s Route 66”, tracing the route of one of the United States most famous highways, with Connolly riding the entire 4000 km route on a trike, – a three wheeled motorbike – offering instructive and humorous commentary along the way.
Route 66, one of the original roads of the US Highway system, commissioned in 1926, ran from Chicago, Illinois in a general westerly direction through a total of seven states finally arriving in Santa Monica, California.
During the “Dust Bowl” drought on the 1930’s it was one of the main routes taken by displaced farmers who were forced to migrate west. With rising car and truck traffic the demand for a safe, all weather route grew and in 1938 it became the first US Highway to be completely paved.
It was an economic lifeline for many of the communities through which it passed with passing motor traffic generating a constant flow of business for the many service stations, stores, restaurants and motels along the way.
Over time many of the original sections of the route were bypassed with new stretches of highway, and in 1985 the highway was officially decommissioned. However since then a rising interest in the history of the route has emerged and considerable effort has gone into the preservation of and restoration of many of the old structures on route – including gas stations, drive in movie locations, neon signs and motels, many built more than sixty years ago.
Route 66 has been celebrated in song by several artists – notably the Rolling Stones in their 1964 remake of the popular Bobby Troup song “Route 66”:
“Well if you ever plan to motor west,
Just take my way. It’s a highway that’s the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66”.
Image: A ghost of the old Route 66 – restored Magnolia gasoline station in Shamrock, Texas, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.