A non-profit is lobbying to have the 2,400-mile-long network of existing roads named the 20th National Historic Trail in the United States.

When Nat King Cole sang:

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way
Take the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66

It winds from Chicago to LA
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66

Now you go through St. Louis
Joplin, Missouri
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty
You see Amarillo
Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona
Don't forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino

Won't you get hip to this timely tip
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66...

You could still get your kicks on Route 66. Today? Not so much. At one time, Route 66 was the way to go if you were heading west. It was America's first paved highway, but in 1956 came President Eisenhower's Federal Aid Highway Act, the beginning of the end for Route 66.

Eisenhower had been very impressed by Germany's autobahn, and he set out to make America's highway system more efficient.

To keep up with growing traffic demands, pieces of Route 66 were slowly upgraded to, replaced by or became supplementary to new four-lane highways. By the 1970s, the route was largely replaced by five different interstates. Interstate 40, serving most of the Southwest, replaced the longest portion of the route. Route 66's last stretch in Arizona was decommissioned when I-40 was completed in 1984. The following year, the entire route was decommissioned.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation says having Route 66 named as America's 20th National Historic Trail would open up new avenues of federal funding for the promotion and upkeep for it and the sites that border it.

Legislation that would give the so-called "Mother Road" this designation is currently pending, but needs to be acted upon by the U.S. Senate and president before it expires this year. The trust has partnered with the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership to launch a petition urging its passage.

The route is currently funded in part through the work of dedicated associations in each of the eight states that it passes through, along with with some matching grants from the National Park Service. The 100th anniversary of its opening will be marked in 2026.


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