Route 66 in the News

Markers Recognize Route 66's Many Routes

2009-10-13 09:21:21

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Many people drive on Dunn Road every day in North County. They see it as an outer road to Interstate 270, but may not know about its history.

These motorists are about to be instructed. Signs are going up on the side of Dunn Road and other thoroughfares throughout St. Louis County, marking them as part of Historic Route 66.

"A lot of people don't know about Dunn or the other roads and Route 66," said Florissant resident Joe Schulte, 84, who is part of the Route 66 Association of Missouri. "A lot of the old-timers might, but some of the young people don't."

In 2006, the U.S. Department of the Interior dedicated Route 66 as a scenic byway in Missouri. A $380,000 federal grant to the Missouri Department of Transportation and the association is paying for signs along roads that served as Route 66 throughout the state.

The highway stretches 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles through eight states. The road has been celebrated in books, a television series and song. During the Great Depression, Route 66 was the main highway for farmers heading west after they lost their farms during the Dust Bowl.

"Dunn Road was the main highway for North County," Schulte said. "A lot of trucks used it rather than use city streets."

The highway took several different routes through St. Louis over the years, said Diane Warhover, vice-president of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

"It had different alignments at different times," Warhover said. "Many times, road construction was going on somewhere, diverting traffic.

Dunn Road, Lindbergh Boulevard, Manchester Road, Broadway, Chippewa Street and Watson Road all have been part of Route 66.

The highway started in 1926 and thrived. Then the interstate system after World War II took traffic from it, Schulte said.

"A lot of little towns suffered, but they're starting to make a comeback," he said. "About 85 percent of the old highway is still here."

The highway's legend draws overseas tourists. Near Eureka, the Route 66 State Park draws motorists from North America, Europe and Asia, she said.

"It's a chance for adventure and travel," she said. "You can stop in quaint towns along the way. I've driven on it many times. It's a lot of fun."

~Scott Bandle, St. Louis Today


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