The Historic Route 66

Travel along "The Mother Road" with the National Trust for Historic Preservation

By National Trust for Historic Preservation

Beginning of the RouteNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Beginning of the route

Multiple signs mark the beginning of Route 66 in Chicago, but the road’s official start location is on East Adams St. Route 66 was officially commissioned in 1926, and it covers more than 2,400 miles across eight different states in the U.S. 

Chain of Rocks BridgeNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Chain of Rocks Bridge

Spanning the Mississippi River and connecting Illinois and Missouri, the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge carried drivers across the water to avoid traffic in downtown St. Louis until a new bridge was built in 1967. Standing 55 feet above water and slightly curved, the bridge has remained unaltered since it was put out of commission. It is still open to bikers and pedestrians today.

KanO Tex StationNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Kan-O-Tex Service Station

Once a service station for motorists traveling Route 66, the Old Kan-O-Tex in Galena, Kansas, has undergone several changes throughout its history. It was first restored by four women into a tourist attraction named Four Women on the Route, but this diner and souvenir store is now called Cars on the Route for its association with the classic Pixar movie "Cars."

Blue Whale of CatoosaNational Trust for Historic Preservation

The blue whale

Built by Hugh S. Davis, this blue whale is the most famous landmark in Catoosa, Oklahoma. The 80-foot-long, 20-foot-tall iron and cement whale was built as an accompaniment to Davis’ pond. Visitors can walk on the whale, visit a nearby picnic area along the beach, and enjoy other attractions on-site.

Midpoint Cafe Route 66National Trust for Historic Preservation

Route 66 midway point

This tiny town was once a stop on the Rock Island Railroad, featuring such amenities as a post office, brickyard, blacksmith, bank, lumberyard, and newspaper. But water was scarce, keeping the population low. In 2010, Adrian had only 166 residents.

Blue Swallow MotelNational Trust for Historic Preservation

The Blue Swallow Motel

Tucumcari, New Mexico's Blue Swallow Motel has been in existence since 1939. Much like other stops along Route 66, the faithfully restored rooms, attached garages, and neon display of this family-owned-and-operated business takes guests back to a bygone era. 

Painted Desert Community Complex by Dawn KishNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Painted Desert Community Complex

The dynamic landscape of Arizona National Park represents over 13,000 years of human history and culture, plus hundreds of thousands of years of prehistory. One of the park’s many gems is the Modernist Painted Desert Community Complex, a park service building and National Treasure of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Cliftons RepublicNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Clifton’s Republic

Former owner Clifford Clinton opened this branch of his public cafeteria chain in 1935 with a unique mountain lodge theme. What’s more, all Clifton’s restaurants were promoted in the Negro Motorist Green Book for travelers of all backgrounds. 

Santa Monica Route 66National Trust for Historic Preservation

End of the trail

Though the original end of Route 66 was at 7th and Broadway in Los Angeles, 10 years later it was extended to the intersection of Lincoln and Olympic Boulevards in Santa Monica. In 2009, a symbolic “End of the Trail” sign was placed on the Santa Monica Pier. 

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