Few relics of American history have captivated the American imagination to the same degree as the legendary U.S. Route 66. Opened in 1926 and originally stretching a total of 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 played a role in the classic The Grapes of Wrath, was celebrated in songs, featured in a TV series, and alluded to in the animated movie Cars. The road earned a handful of nicknames, including the Main Street of America and the Mother Road.
The demise of Route 66 literally began the moment President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, launching construction of more than 40,000 miles of Interstate highway across the United States. As the years passed, interstates such as I-15, I-40, I-44, and I-55 began bypassing more and more stretches of Route 66. The highway was finally decommissioned in 1985. But even today, almost 30 years later, many Americans still love the road and the lore surrounding it. Tourists set off throughout the Midwest and West, cameras, maps and GPS in hand, searching out old sections of the famous highway. Here’s a look at some of the sights and events to be found along this lost but still beloved highway.