Glossary of Route 66 Terms

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100th Meridian
2,448
Often given as the number of miles of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica; however, since the highway was continually re-routed throughout its long life, there is no official number which truly describes Route 66's length.
66 Diner
8-foot
89-ers
A nickname referring to the citizens who settled in Oklahoma at the time of the land rushes of 1889. Since frequently these settlers moved into the area prematurely, they caused Oklahomans in general to be called "Sooners."
Ace in the Hole
See Big Carnival.
Adopt-A-Stretch
A program administered by the National Historic Route 66 Federation, wherein individuals "adopt" 100-mile stretches of the old highway and make it a point to keep up with significant changes occurring in that segment.
alignment
The path that a highway takes through a given area; relevant because over the years a highway's alignment may change many times, particularly its passage through cities. Typically, Route 66's early city alignments passed directly along downtown streets, which in later years made for intolerable traffic conditions, leading to the re-aligning of the highway so that it would skirt ("bypass") the core of the city.
Ambassador Hotel
Tulsa, OK: A beautiful, deluxe hotel on the edge of downtown Tulsa near the present day track of Route 66 known as Southwest Blvd. The hotel was built in 1929 and served as temporary housing for many oil barons while their mansions were being built. The hotel re-opened in 1999 still bearing the Ambassador name. [Thanks to Michael Palmer]
Anasazi
Ant Farm
Name of the artists' troupe which constructed the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo (see also Cadillac Ranch).
Art Institute of Chicago
AT&SF

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Bagdad Cafe
Balanced Rock
Bent Door
Adrian, TX:
Big Texan
Amarillo, TX: World-famous steak house known for its offer of a free 72-ounce steak dinner to anyone who can eat all of it in one hour; officially Big Texan Steak Ranch. Once a Route 66 fixture, the Big Texan moved to the side of Interstate 40 circa 1968 in response to changing American travel patterns. [72 oz = 2041g]
Big Carnival, The
Motion picture starring Kirk Douglas (alternately titled Ace in the Hole) which was filmed in some cliffs beside US 66 in western New Mexico, near Manuelito.
blue plate
blue whale (or Catoosa Whale)
Catoosa, OK:
Blue Swallow Motel
Tucumcari, NM:
Blue Hole
Santa Rosa, NM: This is the most famous of the many bodies of water in this vicinity suitable for skin/scuba diving. It is said to be some eighty feet deep.
Boot Hill
Britten Truck Stop
Groom, TX: Long closed, what remains to be seen is a water tower which was placed at the site as an advertising ploy (marked "Britten") during the time the truck stop was still in business. The water tower was never properly installed in the ground, and it leans markedly, adding to the visual spectacle.
Bunion Derby
Burma Shave
business loop
bypass

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Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, TX: An outdoor art installation dating from 1974 and comprised of a row of partially-buried Cadillac automobiles with their tailfins angling skyward; the artwork is visible from I-40 in a field on the western outskirts of town. Popularly considered one of the most distinctive and important features of Route 66, in truth it dates from long after US 66 had lost its importance, and so was actually installed in proximity to the Mother Road's successor in the area, Interstate 40.
Cajon Pass
Camino Real
Campbell's 66
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
An organization initiated during the depression intended to provide work for young men. Members were put to work performing such duties as road building, park maintenance, and forest management. Many of the structures they built are still extant on Route 66 and elsewhere, and exhibit many of the characteristics typical of depression-era construction, including streamline and deco styling features.
Central Avenue
Albuquerque, NM:
chain
Chain-of-Rocks
Cherokee Kid
Chicago Fire
The Great Fire which consumed most of Chicago in 1871 and which is popularly said to have been caused by Mrs. O'Leary's cow. It is partly to the great fire that Chicago owes its re-birth as a center for architecture. The famous Chicago Water Tower is one of the few structures to have survived the blaze and which still stands to this day.
Chisholm Trail
Cattle trail named for Jesse Chisholm, who helped establish and popularize it. It crosses paths with Route 66 in Oklahoma, in the Yukon-to-El Reno vicinity. The trail ran from southern Texas to Abilene, Kansas through the corridor now occupied by Interstate 35 and US 81.
clover leaf
Coleman Theater
Miami, OK: Officially named the Coleman Theater Beautiful when it was built in 1929, the Coleman is a combination of Italianate and Spanish Mission architectural styles. In its prime, the Coleman hosted such performers as Sally Rand and Will Rogers. Today, it has been restored (even to the extent of retrieving the original organ) and is once again a performance venue.
Continental Divide
Coral Court Motel
St Louis, MO: A superb example of the Streamline Moderne style, the Coral Court was constructed in 1941-42 on 8.5 acres on Watson Road / Route 66 in suburban St Louis; built of honey-colored ceramic brick and glass block, all units had attached garages. Both the hollow-brick construction and the convenience of attached garages contributed to an unsavory reputation—first as a "no-tell motel," later as a hideaway and/or stashing-place for criminal elements. Placed on the National Register in 1989 and closed in 1993 due to structural deficiencies, the Coral Court was razed in 1995 in spite of ardent preservation efforts. One unit of the Coral Court is now on permanent display at the nearby Museum of Transportation. [Thanks to Shellee Graham]
corn dog
corridor
County Line Restaurant
Oklahoma City, OK:
Cozy Dog Drive-In
Springfield, IL: A famous Route 66 eatery in the Illinois capital established by Ed Waldmire Jr shortly after World War II that is still run by members of his family to this day. Waldmire is credited by many as being the inventor of the "corn dog"—or cozy dog—now a staple at traditional American events such as state and county fairs. In fact, the cozy dog actually premiered at the Illinois State Fair in 1946. [Thanks to Ed Waldmire IV]

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Dead Man's Curve
a winding stretch of road so treacherous that it has (in legend or in fact) been the scene of numerous accidents and claimed the lives of several unwary or foolhardy drivers who challenged its bends at too high a speed. Old Route 66 has its own “Dead Man's Curve” between Albuquerque and Laguna New Mexico. [Thanks to Mark Kzeski]
Devil's Elbow
1. A community in central Missouri, east of Waynesville.  2. A bend in the Big Piney River for which the settlement was named; so-called due to the problems the sharp bend created for river commerce in the area.
Devil's Rope
a nickname for barbed wire, the invention of which was a true milestone in the history of the American west. There is a museum dedicated to it in McLean, Texas.
Diagonal Highway
Diablo Canyon
Diamonds, The
Going northeast into St. Louis on the Interstate Highway, you can see “The Diamonds” on your right. It was, according to my late father-in-law who trucked along the big 66, a wonderful restaurant that catered to the fellas driving the big rigs of bygone days. [Thanks to Carol Hair, Christiansburg, Va.]
Dixie Truckers Home
McLean, IL:
Dog Iron Ranch
drive-in
dustbowl
Dynamite Museum
Not a museum per se, but the name given collectively to the group of mock-roadsign "artwork" scattered throughout Amarillo, Texas; the brainchild of Stanley Marsh 3.

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Eldridge [or Elderidge]
el malpais
El Rancho

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Fat Man
flyover
Fort Reno
A former army installation west of El Reno, Oklahoma, known for its rearing of horses for the United States Army during the pre-mechanized era. Today, some of the ruins of Ft Reno are open for touring by the public.
franchise
Frankoma Pottery
Sapulpa, OK:

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galena
A grayish mineral ore, composed chiefly of lead sulfate (PbS), from which metallic lead is extracted. The Route 66 town of Galena, Kansas owes its name to this local resource.
Gemini Giant
Wilmington, IL: A former "muffler man," later transformed into a space traveler, and which stands outside the Launching Pad Restaurant on highway 66. See also Muffler Man. These giant figures were once common all over pre-interstate American highways.
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Well-known Mother Road slogan based upon the refrain from Bobby Troup's hit song "Route 66."
ghost town
Glorieta Pass
Golden Spread
Golden Driller
Tulsa, OK:
Gouge-Eye
A former name for the community of Alanreed, Texas; said to have originated with an ugly brawl.
Grapes of Wrath, The
a novel by John Steinbeck (and a later film) describing the depression-era flight of "okies" along Route 66 to escape dust bowl conditions.

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Harvey House
Havasupai
Here It Is!
Joseph City, AZ: This famous billboard across the highway from the Jackrabbit Trading Post is one of the most iconic sights along Route 66. In its heyday, the Jackrabbit had many smaller signs for many miles in both directions posted in order to build anticipation for the motorist's eventual arrival here.
Here We Are on Route 66
Catch phrase printed on a popular post card touting Route 66 travel; this post card was reproduced on the cover of the famous book by Michael Wallis—Route 66: The Mother Road.
Hopi
Hualapai

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Indian Day School
Indian Territory
Prior to Oklahoma's attainment of statehood in the early twentieth century, it was known officially as Indian Territory. Thus, many documents and ephemera still existing today include town references such as "Guthrie, I. T."
interstate

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Jackrabbit Trading Post
Joseph City, AZ: The subject of the most famous advertising billboard on Route 66; see also Here It Is!
Jericho Gap
Joad
John's Modern Cabins
Long-defunct 1950s-era motel in Newburg, Missouri, a few hundred yards west of Vernelle's Motel on a dead-end stretch of 66 parallel to I-44. Named for owner John Dausch, who earned the nickname "Sunday John" for his practice of selling beer on Sundays in violation of local law. The ruins of this old motel can be found at the Sugartree Road exit (Exit 176) off I-44 west of Rolla. Beware of ticks and snakes in the underbrush on the grounds, and stay out of the interiors of the cabins—years of termite and water damage have rendered them structurally unsound. [submitted by Emily Priddy]

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kicks
Kimo Theater
Albuquerque, NM:

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La Bajada Hill
Lake Overholser
Lincoln Highway
llano estacado
The "staked plain." An area mostly devoid of natural landmarks which received its name from the fact that Spanish explorers drove stakes into the ground as navigational aids. [Spanish plain + staked]
Long Branch
Looff Hippodrome
Santa Monica, CA:
Lucille's

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macadam
Main Street of America
A nickname given to US 66 and used for years in promotional materials developed to encourage travel on the Route. In the earlier years of its existence, Route 66 (and other highways like her) passed through most cities along their downtown streets.
Meadow Gold
Meteor City
1. An I-40 exit west of Winslow, Arizona, and near the Meteor Crater (see).   2. A small trading post at the same exit which is constructed partly of a geodesic dome.
Meteor Crater
Miami
City in northeastern Oklahoma which is home to the Coleman Theater (see); named for the American Indian tribe of the same name and pronounced my-AM-uh.
mimetic
Used in describing a type of architecture, once common on the American roadside, wherein the form of the building was physically suggestive of the type of business conducted there; also called programmatic architecture. More broadly, the term can be used to refer to virtually any building which defies common conventions and seeks to mimic something other than a building. One of the most famous examples was Los Angeles' Brown Derby Restaurant.
mom-and-pop
Any business owned and operated by a family, often a married couple, rather than by a larger business entity.
motel
These “MOter HoTELS” were known as “Tourist Cabins” during the height of their popularity along the Mother Road. One could drive all day, pull the old flivver into a parking lot, and get a bed and toilet for the night. I understand they were not always really fancy, but many of their skeletal remains can be seen along old 66. [submitted by Carol Hair, Christiansburg, Va.]
Mother Road
One of many nicknames given to Route 66; first coinage usually attributed to John Steinbeck, author of the dark depression-era tale The Grapes of Wrath, wherein Oklahomans fleeing the dustbowl utilize Route 66 (the Mother Road) in making their way westward. See also Grapes of Wrath.
Muffler Man
Munger Moss

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National Historic Route 66 Federation
National Road
Navaho [also Navajo]
Nine-Mile Hill
Nunn's Cafe
Sometime name for the U Drop Inn, a café-gas station enterprise at the junction of US 66 and US 83 in Shamrock, Texas. The building, in the Art Deco style, was designed in the 1920's by Mr Nunn, who is said to have sketched the original design in the Texas soil using a nail. In 2003, the building was beautifully restored; it has since become the home of the local chamber of commerce.

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odology
Okie
Owl Rock
Ozark region
mountainous plateau region of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. Springfield, Missouri is nicknamed Queen of the Ozarks.
Ozark Trail

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Painted Desert
panhandle
Pecos River
Pecos National Historic Park
Petrified Forest
petroglyph
a rock inscription, particularly native-American artwork. For example, there is a significant collection of petroglyphs available for viewing at the Petroglyph National Monument on the west side of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Phillips 66
Portland cement
Provine
Somewhat arcane name for the US 66 intersection near Hydro, Oklahoma which was the home of Hamon's Courts and later Lucille's.

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Quantrill's Raiders

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Rainbow Bridge
SE Kansas: The only remaining Marsh Arch Bridge on Route 66, the Rainbow Bridge was constructed in 1923 and added to the National Register in 1983. It spans the Brush Creek between Riverton and Baxter Springs, Kansas. [submitted by Cheryl Burton]
realignment
Red Earth
Describing the state and territory of Oklahoma; the area's soil is very red due to the clay content. Many Oklahoma events and businesses make use of "red earth" in their names.
Red Oak II
Red River
Red Rock
Red's Giant Hamburg
Springfield, MO:
Regal Reptile Ranch
Alanreed, TX:
Rio Grande
Rock Cafe
Stroud, OK:
Round Barn
Arcadia, OK: Built in 1893, this barn with a circular floor plan sits alongside Route 66 and was restored in the 1990s. There is now a gift shop inside to welcome Mother Road travelers.
Run to the Heartland
A Route 66 commemorative festival held in Landergin, Texas in 1996; occasion of the presentation of the first John Steinbeck Award to Michael Wallis.

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Santa Fe Trail
Second City
1. A nickname for Chicago.  2. The name given to a comedy troupe in the same city from which arose several players who achieved greater fame as members of the Saturday Night Live cast.
Sequoyah
Town in northeastern Oklahoma which was named after the Cherokee of the same name (also known as George Guess), who developed an alphabet of the Cherokee language (or more properly, a syllabary).
shield
Ship of the desert
Nickname given to the camel, when used as transportation, due to its ability to travel long distances with very little food or water.
Six-Shooter Siding
A former name for Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Sixth Street
Amarillo, TX: Part of Route 66's early alignment through Amarillo passed along Sixth Street. This portion of the Route has since been the scene of significant re-development, with a number of active businesses both new and old. Sixth Street was the scene of a major Mother Road festival in 1998.
Sky City
Sooner
Nickname given to citizens of Oklahoma; it originates from the former Indian Territory's settlement by whites in the land rushes of 1889, at which time many of the settlers rushed into the territory "sooner" than officials intended.
Standin' on a Corner
Winslow, AZ: a sculpture in Winslow capitalizing on a line from the song Take it Easy, which was popularized by The Eagles: "Standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona . . ."
superslab
Sometimes-disparaging name for a US interstate highway.

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Tascosa
terminus
the endpoint of a highway, at which point official markings cease; the western terminus of US 66 was in Santa Monica, California, at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.
Top o' the World
Continental Divide, NM:
Trail of Tears
Tri-County Truck Stop
Tulsey Town
Former name for Tulsa, Oklahoma during its time as Indian Territory.
Twin Arrows
1. A combination café, trading post, and gas station east of Winona, Arizona featuring two greatly-oversized arrows angling into the ground.  2. An exit from I-40 by the same name.

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U Drop Inn
Shamrock, TX:
Unassigned Lands

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Wigwam Village
Any one of several motels in the US which were part of a small chain with individual rooms built to resemble native American traditional dwellings. Of the total, two were (and are) on Route 66: one in Holbrook, Arizona, and another in Rialto, California.
Works Progress Administration (WPA)

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Yukon's Best
A brand of flour with headquarters in Yukon, Oklahoma; the company name is emblazoned on a set of grain elevators alongside Route 66 in the center of town.

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Zuni

 

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