A vintage photo taken on "The Mother Road"
Before Mr. McAdam
invented macadam, and long before reflective signs, passing lanes
and exit signs; the railroad was the last word in transportation.
The Panhandle got its first look at trains with the arrival of the
Fort Worth and Denver in the 1880s. Then from 1902 -1909, the Chicago,
Rock Island and Pacific Railroad laid tracks East to West across the
prairie; placing the roadbed and rails almost exactly atop nine county
lines. (Armstrong, Wheeler, Gray, Donley, Carson, Randal, Potter,
Oldham and Deaf Smith)
In the 30s, Route 66 more or less followed the rails. It became the
evacuation route for displaced farmers during the Great Depression,
but otherwise it remained under-used until the 1950s when the post-war
boom forced it into full bloom. Then the U. S. Interstate system was
built and soulless I-40 drained the lifeblood from the smaller towns
and businesses on Route 66.
Twenty-some years after being officially deactivated, interest in
the highway continues to grow. It is, by far, the most celebrated
highway in the world. Pilgrims are magnetically drawn to the seemingly
endless ribbon of road, sky and prairie from all over the world. Peeling
paint, weather-cracked driveways and chipped Formica viewed through
streaked glass give visitors the feeling they're visiting a lost civilization
and that's not too far from the truth in many cases. The road today
can be thought of as a sort of open-air museum.
Texas hosts a relatively short length
of the road. From the Oklahoma line to the New Mexico line is a mere
178 miles, but surprisingly 90% of the original highway remains. Texas
can also claim the Route 66 halfway point. Depending on one's philosophy
on travel, entering the town of Adrian
means your trip is either happily half-completed, or sadly half-over.
Amarillo, may be
the only Texas city mentioned in the famous song, but the smaller
towns of Adrian, Alanreed,
Lela and McLean
are certainly doing their bit for preservation.
|Texas Route 66
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
of Alanreed is the man to talk to regarding Texas 66. His weekly column
can be read in the Amarillo Globe and selected
columns are available here in Texas Escapes He can often be found
sharpening the exhibits at the Barbwire Museum.
A friend of mine and I are planning a picture taking trip across the
Texas panhandle on old Route 66. We are starting at Texola, OK and
ending our trip in Genrio, Tx. You website has been very helpful and
I've saved all the information. I have a question, however: are there
any "don't do's" or "places to avoid" along the way? - Jerry Harris,
October 10, 2005
© John Troesser
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