Affectionately called “The Mother Road,” Route 66 is known for quirky roadside attractions and unique mom-and-pop motels, constructed between the late 1920s and late 1950s and often clad in neon. Stretching more than 2,000 miles from Lake Michigan to the Santa Monica Pier and passing through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, Route 66 reflects the 20th century evolution of transportation and tourism in the United States.
In its early years, the highway facilitated large-scale settlement of the West, saw the desperate migration of Dust Bowl refugees and World War II troop movements, and played a major role in the advent of car culture and automobile tourism. In the postwar era, Route 66 symbolized unprecedented freedom and mobility for every citizen who could afford to own and operate a car.
This summer, a team from the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be driving the length of Route 66, spotlighting the people and places that keep this American treasure alive. They’ll be sharing state-by-state highlights with USA TODAY Travel.See the slideshow above for scenes from California.
Previously in this series:
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