U.S. Highway 66 crosses the heart of America, demonstrating the
delights and realities of a wide cross section of American culture
along the way. Created in 1926, the 2,400-mile ribbon of highway
from Chicago to Los Angeles linked rural communities to urban
ones, permitting an unprecedented flow of ideas and economic growth
across the country. It saw the migration of Dust Bowl refugees;
World War II troop movement; the advent of car culture and automobile
tourism; and it facilitated large-scale settlement of the west.
For many people in America and throughout the world, the highway
has come to symbolize the pursuit of the American Dream. Although
decommissioned in 1985, it gained legendary status through song,
film, television, books, and personal experiences, and represents
an important chapter in American history.
1999, in response to the recognized need to preserve the rich
resources of the historic highway, Congress passed an Act
(pdf) to create the Route 66 Corridor
Preservation Program. Administered by the National Park Service,
the program collaborates with private property owners; non-profit
organizations; and local, state, federal, and tribal governments
to identify, prioritize, and address Route 66 preservation needs.
It provides cost-share grants to successful applicants for the
preservation and restoration of the most significant and representative
properties dating from the route’s period of outstanding
historical significance, 1926 through 1970. These properties include
the familiar “gas, eat, sleep”-related businesses,
cultural landscapes, and the all-important road segments themselves.
Cost-share grants are also provided for research, planning, oral
history, interpretation, and education/outreach projects related
to Route 66. The program serves as a clearinghouse of preservation
information, and provides limited technical assistance.
The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is administered by
the National Park Service’s National Trails System Office
in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Designed as a “seed,” or
stimulus, program, it is scheduled to legislatively terminate
at the end of fiscal year 2019, at which time the National Park
Service will appoint a non-federal entity (or entities) to continue
the program’s purpose.
66 Study Act of 1990 (pdf)
66 Special Resource Study (pdf)
66 Corridor Preservation Act of 1999 (pdf)