Route 66 in the News

Thriving Along Route 66

2010-05-13 21:09:06

VICTORVILLE, Calif. - Emerging from the Sagebrush Annie stretch of Route 66 between Barstow and Oro Grande, it is a shock to cross the Mojave River on the steel truss bridge into the thriving town of Victorville. Before the railroads, this crossing of the Mojave River was called "Mormon Crossing." Before rail, the site that became Victorville operated as a "station," welcoming visitors for a fee.

Named after the desert area construction supervisor, Jacob Nash Victor, the area was called "Victor" and later changed to Victorville. When Route 66 was established, it was the result of linking many roads together, resulting in one continuous highway from Chicago to Los Angeles and beyond. The stretch through Victorville was the National Trails Highway, which, when connected to the other roads to form Route 66, brought with it a stream of westbound motorists.

Garages, cafes, motels and gas stations blossomed to meet the demand of these travelers. Driving through town today one can see evidence of the hospitality this town offered visitors. The New Corral Hotel stands proudly as a Route 66 classic that boasts a Wild West image which embraced Victorville in the past. Today its sign looms over the road as a nostalgic reminder of another day.

Filled with hard-core volunteers most knowledgeable in Route 66 history is the California Route 66 Museum, located in Old Town Victorville on "D" Street between 5th and 6th Streets. Books, maps and memorabilia abound and in-depth exhibits will keep you busy for hours. Close to home is the section featuring artifacts from The Trails Restaurant, the Route 66 icon that attracted patrons from near and far to dine in the San Gabriel Valley town of Duarte. The museum has on display the wagon wheel chandelier, the old stick sign, menu and tiffany lamp that adorned the restaurant since its opening in 1952. Sadly, it was demolished in 2001.

On the town's eastern outskirts is Emma Jean's truck stop, which was once boasted as home of the Brian Burger but today advertises the Holland Burger. Built in 1947 by Bob and Emma Jean Holland, this caf has been the scene of several movies and television shows, including "Kill Bill 2." The generous portions of food "made from scratch" attract locals as well as today's Route 66 travelers looking for a blast from the past.

As fast as the National Trails Highway morphed into Route 66, Highway 15 plunged a knife into the life of the Mother Road when it beckoned fickle motorists to a smoother, faster and newer highway. Today most travelers bypass Victorville as they head for the gateway to Los Angeles. But just as motorists of the past yearned for bigger and better, more and more of today's travelers are abandoning the need for speed and embracing a slower pace to enjoy the sights of America along its Main Street.

~Claudia Heller, SGVTribune.com

 

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