Route 66 in the News
Survey Will Chronicle History
BARSTOW, Calif. - A survey conducted by the National Park Service will make it easier to nominate properties along Historic Route 66 to the National Register of Historic Places.
Park service officials took a tour of the Mother Road from Needles to its western terminus in Santa Monica in June, making note of historic sites along the way, including some in Barstow.
“We were looking ‘out of the box’ for information on historic sites,” said John Murphey, a cultural resource specialist for the National Park Service. “Dust bowl camps, migrant camps, sites that were not in different studies.”
Before applying for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a property owner or historic conservation group must prepare a summary of a site’s historic significance.
Presently, everyone who wants to nominate a Route 66 landmark must prepare their own summary of the road and why it was important. After the survey’s completion, anyone preparing a nomination form can concentrate on their own landmark, knowing that a Route 66 report is on file.
“It helps streamline the process for anyone (applying to the register),” said Kaisa Barthuli, program manager for the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. “It tells the background story.”
Sites on the register can apply for rebates if they wish to renovate their landmark and preserve its historic characteristics. An income-producing business on the register can receive a 20 percent tax credit on a complete rehabilitation of a historic structure.
Murphey said that Barstow is unique among other towns that Route 66 passed through because of its location and the number of establishments from the road’s heyday that are still active.
“The whole assemblage of motels make it one of the better locations,” said Murphey. “Because (66) intersected with (old) U.S. Highway 91 you had the contribution of people traveling to Las Vegas.”
Currently, the only structure in Barstow on the register is the Harvey House.
The owner of a nominated property does not have to do anything to a structure should it be nominated to the list, but being on the list does provide financial incentives should an owner or operator of a property decide to perform renovations.
Murphey said that a draft form of the Route 66 report should be posted to the National Register of Historic Places website for comment by the end of this year.
~Aaron Dome, DesertDispatch.com