COVID in Oklahoma tracker: Updates on new cases, deaths for JanuaryWatch Garth Brooks singing 'Amazing Grace' at President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Wayback Wednesday: Route 66 decommissioned

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, was one of America's greatest infrastructure achievements in its day but as is the case with everything man-made, it had an expiration date.

Thirty one years ago this week the United States Highway System removed Route 66 from the system. By that time it was an act of mercy as more modern highway systems had replaced it. Motorists wanted faster and easier ways to get across the country and they did so at the expense of a system of roads that was completed in the 1920's.

But by 1985 many sections of road across  Route 66's 2,451 miles had fallen into disrepair. When it was decommissioned some sections were abandoned altogether, while some communities made use of the road as a "business loop" in areas where interstates where present.

But even though it has been decommissioned it's still drive-able in many places and the kitsch motor hotels, diners and off beat tourist attractions. Places like the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo and or the Round Barn in Arcadia, here in Oklahoma, have become popular with American's looking for nostalgia but also European and Asian tourists.

The road became so iconic it inspired a TV show about it, car ads built around the road and even a jeans commercial in 1976.

Today there are large Route 66 festivals in Illinois, Oklahoma, Missouri and New Mexico that are popular with visitors. It's estimated Route 66 themed tourism is worth about $132 million per year according to a 2011 study by the National Park Service.

Related Photos
Credit: Oklahoma Department of Transportation

Credit: Oklahoma Department of Transportation

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Credit: Oklahoma Department of Transportation" title="Credit: Oklahoma Department of Transportation"><figcaption>Credit: Oklahoma Department of Transportation</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›