Route 66 in the News

Route 66 Showcased in NAU Exhibit

2009-09-25 10:42:26

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Hundreds of pictures and pieces of memorabilia dedicated to the historic Route 66 will line the walls of the Cline Library Special Collection and Archives until the end of July.

The Route 66 exhibit opened on Sept. 10 and features pictures from Cline’s collections, as well as donated items from donors across Arizona.

The exhibit is designed to depict the history of Route 66 in Arizona and its relevance to modern times.

Sean Evans, an archivist at Cline and the organizer of the exhibit, said that the Route 66 Days car show downtown, along with the participation of the Will Rogers Awards from the Route 66 Preservation Foundation, made this year an appropriate time for the exhibit.

“We tend to look forward a few years [when choosing a theme],” Evans said. “It seemed like this would be a good year to do a Route 66 exhibit.”

Route 66 was one of the original U.S. highways established in 1926 and connected Chicago with Los Angeles while passing through Flagstaff. It was removed from the U.S. Highway System in 1985 because it was deemed irrelevant after the completion of the new interstate system.

Evans said the Cline exhibit is now the only one exclusively dedicated to Route 66 in Arizona. Other exhibits are located in Oklahoma and California.

“Route 66 is the second largest tourist draw [for Flagstaff] behind the Grand Canyon,” Evans said. “That’s what makes this exhibit relevant.”

The pictures on the wall of the exhibit start from the road’s easternmost point in Arizona and end at the Arizona-California border, and they include a picture of Topock, Ariz., which was all but shut down to make way for the new Interstate 40.

The pieces of memorabilia include old road signs, clothing, books and a piece of the pavement dating back to 1937.

Phil Scandura, an aerospace engineer with Honeywell, constructed a $1,000 diorama of Seligman, Ariz., one of the towns credited with the revival of interest in Route 66.

Scandura said he was intrigued by the town’s relationship with the road, which inspired him to create the diorama.

“It was something I wanted to do,” Scandura said. “Sean’s Route 66 exhibit was just the perfect place to do it.”

Scandura said he wants the people who observe the diorama to see how a town is connected to a simple thing like a road.

“[I want them to gain] an appreciation for the way places change over time,” Scandura said. “If you went to Seligman today, it may seem similar, but there are a lot of differences.”

Angel Delgadillo, who, along with his wife Vilma, owns the Route 66 Gift Shop and Visitor Center in Seligman, has been working to preserve Route 66 since 1987. He said the exhibit provides a great opportunity to pass down the knowledge of Route 66 to a younger generation.

“I think it’s very important that young people look at the exhibit and learn about the history of something that is now lost,” Delgadillo said. “Teachers are looking at where to take children on a field trip. What better place to take them than to see this exhibit at Cline Library, and to see not only what was lost, but what was saved?”

Delgadillo said Route 66 is a reminder of America’s relatively short but colorful history.

“We [Americans] tear down who we are,” Delgadilla said. “We need to preserve who we are. I’m so happy that NAU took the bull by the horns with this exhibit.”

The Special Collections and Archives is free to enter and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

~Joey Chenoweth,


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