The Route 66 is one of the original highways in the United States of America. It was established in 1626 and started in Chicago, Illinois, heading west through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California. The route spreads over 3,940 kilometers, crossing a great variety of landscapes.
The Route 66 was the major road for migrants from Oklahoma who travelled west after a period of heavy dust storms in the 1930s, that had caused severe drought and damaged the agriculture in the U.S. Many farmers, but also other workers, that suffered from the change in ecology had been told that there was still work enough in California and travelled there with good hopes. However, due to the economic crisis now known as the Great Depression, the situation in California was not much better than in the country the migrants had left behind. This migration is beautifully described in John Steinbecks novel "The Grapes of Wrath". The only ones that enjoyed the migration movement were the communities based along the Route 66. Restaurants, car workshops, gas stations and grocery stores thankfully profited from the many travellers that passed them.
It were those people who fought for the preservation of the Highway when its use declined because of the establishment of interstates in the 1950s and 1960s. Eventually, in the late 1980s, associations were founded and Missouri declared the highway to be a State Historic Route in 1990. In 2008, the route was added to the World Monuments Watch to preserve the existing gas stations, motels, cafes etc. alongside the route. Today, the Route 66 has grown to be a popular cult route for motor riders.
The story of the Route 66 served as a topic in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and in the Disney Pixar movie Cars (2006).