“The Mother Road”. “America’s Main Street”. A road tripper must.
Route 66 is the highway that sends a traveler back in history without a flux capacitor powered Delorean. I have stood at both ends of Route 66, in Chicago Illinois and Santa Monica California, but it was now time to actually travel along the famous road. Although it would not be end to end, exploring a part of those 2451 famous miles (3944 km) was enough to get my gas pedal moving and me excited to explore some of America’s history.
Route 66 faded into history around 1985 when it became no longer a recognized highway by the Interstate Highway System. Established in November of 1926, Route 66 was used as a major thoroughfare from the Midwest to California, as Midwesterners escaped the 1930’s Dust Bowl.
The highway spans across eight states, with the longest stretch passing through New Mexico at 392 miles (630 km). Most of Route 66 was been replaced by Interstate 40 that runs through part of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The last town along Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40 was Williams Arizona. I had made a brief stop in Williams at the Historic Brewing Company while on our trip along Route 66. After consuming some beer I took a quick walk around the town, finding many references to Route 66. Shops, road signs and gas stations line the town’s famous street giving you a peek at what the road may have looked like during it’s heyday.
While researching the stops of Route 66, and there are many, I picked out a few that peeked my interest as well as gave me a good overview of the road’s history and influence on tourism. Tourism was a major supporter of Route 66, providing many jobs to gas station attendants, restaurant and hotel staffers in a much needed time during the recovery after the devastating Dust Bowl (1932 -1935) and The Great Depression (1929 – 1939).
Lumberjack Muffler Man, Flagstaff Arizona
One of the first Muffler Man ever produced, The Lumberjack, stands on the campus of Northern Arizona University, located just steps off of Route 66. The university’s mascot is Louie The Lumberjack, so the university makes for an appropriate home for the Muffler Man. The University actually has two lumberjack muffler men, one inside the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome and one located outside near the parking lot.
Muffler Men were used as advertising during the 1960’s to 1974 being produced by International Fiberglass out of California. You may see these giant statues standing on roadsides throughout the United States, with a few located in Canada as well. Majority of them are statues of men portrayed as lumberjacks, cowboys, Indians, vikings and the classic muffler man, a man holding a muffler. The opposite gender is not left out however as Uniroyal Girl statues can be found sprinkled across the United States. Uniroyal is a tire company owned by better known Michelin Tire Company.
The Lumberjack Muffler Man is one of a handful found along Route 66 paying homage to the eye catching advertising that was used along the Mother Road.
The Lumberjack Muffler Man is located at 1701 S San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ
Standin’ On A Corner In Winslow Arizona
Much like Williams Arizona, Winslow was a thriving town during the height of Route 66. And much like Williams, once Interstate 40 bypassed the town, soon there after followed the economic decline of the town. Driving through Winslow is worth the detour off of 40 however. Small brick buildings line the streets, most of which proudly display their Route 66 badge of honor. The highlight of Winslow is of course to stand on the corner, while you wait for a flatbed Ford to slow down to take a look at you. Although you do not need to wait, as there is a pretty red flatbed Ford parked near the corner.
“Standin’ on the corner in Winslow Arizona” came to fame when Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey of the Eagles band co-wrote the song “Take It Easy”. Since my visit the statue of the man standing on the corner has been switched out to a bronze figure of Glen Frey. Frey passed away in January of 2016 and a Phoenix radio station raised funds to replace the statue with one of Frey. Browne, the main songwriter of the song “Take It Easy” was struggling with some of the lyrics while writing the memorable song. It was Frey who helped him finish the song, including suggesting the reference to the flatbed Ford.
Standin’ On A Corner can be found at the corner of 2nd Street and North Kinsley Avenue. If using GPS, use 108 Old Highway 66 Winslow Arizona. Parking is easily found on the side streets, but you will most likely wait to take a photo of the famed corner.
Wigwam Village Motel, Holbrook Arizona
I am a huge fan of art deco architecture and while there are many buildings along Route 66 that represent this style. I pulled into Holbrook Arizona not on the look out for art deco, but wigwams. There were only seven total Wigwam Motels built in the United States, three of which are still in existence today. Two of those Wigwam Motels are found along Route 66, both of which are still in operation today. The Wigwam Motels along Route 66 are found in Holbrook Arizona and San Bernardino California. The third remaining Wigwam is found in Cave City Kentucky.
Holbrook’s Wigwam Village, also known as Village #6, was the sixth village to be built. The village was built in 1950 and is comprised of fifteen wigwams placed in a semi-circle. Parked out front some of the wigwams are classic cars from the Route 66 era, along with a tow truck that may catch the eye of younglings, specifically fans of the movie Cars. Placed out front is your friend and mine, Mater The Tow Truck. The Wigwam Village actually inspired the Cozy Cone Motel in the movie Cars.
We did not stay at the motel, so I have no interior photos of the inside. According to the motel’s website, this two star motel, stays true to it’s glory days. The rooms are 21 feet wide at the base and 28 feet tall, inclusive of an interior bathroom and hand made hickory furniture.
The Wigwam Village Motel is located at 811 West Hopi Drive in Holbrook Arizona.
Clines Corners & Food Mart, Clines Corners New Mexico
As I approached Clines Corners, traveling along Route 66, I flashed back to memories of my approach to Wall Drug in South Dakota a few years back. I was reminded of Wall Drug because it appeared Clines Corners was using the same sort of advertising strategy. Massive amounts of billboards alerting me to this must do activity of stopping at their establishment. Wall Drug may have a leg up on Clines Corners however. I mean you can’t compete with dinosaurs, a jackalope and free ice water, all of which you can find at Wall Drug. But you will find the same kitchy collectibles paying homage to the sites they surround at both locations.
After fueling up at the gas station I took a look around the 30,000 square foot restaurant and shopping mart. Clines Corners may have started out in 1934 as a small gas station but it has since grown to an impressive fueling, restaurant and shopping stop. The shopping area is filled with row after row of Route 66 merchandise, southwestern items and aliens. Aliens, you ask? Clines Corners is at the intersection Highway 40 and Highway 285, leading down to Roswell New Mexico.
Just like Wall Drug the selection of goods is slightly overwhelming and could take some quality time to look at it all. I have started to become a minimalist when it comes to trinkets from my travels. Meaning I rarely take home anything but photographs. Although I did pick up one smashed penny for my friend who collects smashed pennies. But I guess since that was not for me, it does not really count, right?
Clines Corners & Food Mart is located at 1 Yacht Club Drive Clines Corners New Mexico
After my stop at Clines Corner I ended my journey along Route 66. There is so much more to see and do, even in the short stretch that I did drive, in addition to the entirety of the road. I did learn a pretty valuable lesson while driving along the historic highway. I should have planned for more time. I severely under planned my time and had to cut out many stops. I had initially planned 15 stops over two days and was only able to achieve 5. It was a bummer and frustrating to have researched all these little spots, only to know I had to drive past them because of time restrictions. I guess there is something to that “slow travel” all my fellow travel bloggers write about!
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