They called it the “Mother Road” and “America’s Main Street.” When Marty Milner and George Maharis starred in the television series named after it, U.S. Highway 66 was the busiest and most traveled road in the United States. Its weekly appearances on the silver screen made the roadway famous and a symbol of personal freedom. “Route 66” depicted the diners, drive-ins and dives that did booming business along the shoulders of America’s two-lanes. From greasy spoons to gritty grease monkeys, the show realistically depicted a time in American history when traveling across this land was full of kicks and adventure, rather than an endless parade of standardized mile markers flying by in an endless blur.
The purpose of groups like the Route 66 Association of Illnois (www.il66assoc.org) is to “preserve, promote and enjoy the past and present of U.S. Highway 66” with a focus on the portion in the State of Illinois. The group promotes tours, fairs and other public events along Route 66 and publishes a newsletter, a map and a series of Route 66 travel brochures listing the sites along the Mother Road. What could be more fun than taking your old car for a ride on Route 66?
Each year the association sponsors a weekend motor tour between Chicago and St. Louis. It also operates the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. This free museum was established in 2004. It commemorates the people, places and events that gave Route 66 its special character.