The longest stretch of Old Route 66 in America is from just west of Ash Fork to Toprock, Arizona. The revival of interest in this historic highway began in 1987 when people in the town of Seligman, Arizona, which had once been on Old Route 66, formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. A gift shop selling nostalgic items quickly followed.
Today every state along old Route 66 has something for tourists to see. All but Kansas, which had the shortest stretch, has a museum about the old route. Oklahoma has 2. Lots of international visitors kept all of them busy. Many are from Germany. Lately, Brazilians have been coming. When Ruth and I visited the Old Route 66 Museum in California earlier this year, it was full of kids on holiday from Japan. The California route 66 Museum is in the old town part of Victorville.
Route 66 reached its apex in 1937, the year it was completed. Until the new Interstate System put it out of business, Old Route 66 in California was a 286-mile-long stretch of highway. Victorville was one of this state’s towns that was directly on it. Its museum is cluttered with nostalgic items, like a 1950s Seeburg Jukebox. The staff is dedicated to this enterprise and quite friendly. Over time it has more than quadrupled in size and entertained visitors from 75 foreign countries, so far. Some of them have donated their country’s currency, and the staff has turned even these notes into a display. Many foreign visitors rent cars or motorcycles and travel as much of the route as they can. The Victorville museum opens at 10 am except on Sunday when it opens at 11. It’s closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were from Victorville. The local museum dedicated to these old Western stars closed in 2003. Some of the nostalgic items from it are in this Route 66 museum. If you knew who Roy Rogers was, you might also remember Sammy Davis, Jr. He lost his left eye in a horrific accident near the intersection of Cajon Boulevard, which was on Old Route 66 and Kendall Drive. His face hit the steering wheel and the eye ended up on the bullet-shaped cone in the center of it.
My favorite Route 66 museum is in Cliinton, Oklahoma. The one in Victorville, which is free, is middling+. It’s greatest asset is the way the staff gets strangers talking to one another. The spring issue of American Road magazine has a lot about old Route 66, especially focusing on the neon signs along it that once entertained travelers.