Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Video


Welcome. My name is Kaisa Barthuli and I’m here to talk with you today about the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, a program that was established in 2001 to help preserve and protect the rich resources of the historic US Highway 66, otherwise known as Route 66, or the Mother Road. I’m walking along a notable stretch of Route 66, near Moriarty, New Mexico. Like other highways of its’ day, Route 66 helps tell the phenomenal story of the impact of the automobile in America.

Commissioned in 1926, as part of the first federal highway system, Route 66 built upon a transportation revolution started by railroads that brought sweeping changes to the way we live our lives. Stretching from Chicago to Santa Monica, this 2,400 mile route was the People’s Road, a road where every walk of life could be found either traveling, or making a living alongside it, or seeking adventure and opportunity. It was also the road of flight for Dustbowl refugees, a strategic military route during World War II, and a vacation route favored by millions of people seeking the National Parks and experiences of the West. Romanticized in literature, film, song, and television, Route 66 became and American icon and a mirror reflection of America’s changing political, social, and cultural values during the 20th Century.

Decommissioned by the federal government in 1985, Route 66 was replaced by five new interstates. As a result of being bypassed, many of the iconic motels, gas stations, cafes, and trading posts were in danger of disappearing from this important historic corridor and from American memory. Something needed to be done to preserve and commemorate the legendary road. Many communities across the country saw the need and began to take action.

As a result, Congress passed an act in 1999 to create the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Administered by the National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the program is dedicated to preserving the special places in stories of the historic highway. Established in 2001, the program collaborates with organizations, government agencies, and other partners to help preserve the historic properties dating from 1926 to 1985. The program provides technical assistance and cost-share grants for preservation, planning, research, and educational initiatives. Over 100 projects have received grant assistance in the eight states through which Route 66 passes.

These projects have helped revitalize small towns and allowed visitors to experience a piece of our nation’s past that’s still alive today. None of this work would be possible without the dedication of those who, live, work, and travel along the route. From shopkeepers, to local leaders, to numerous nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, it is the commitment of the American people, working together, that will preserve the highway for generations to come.

If you are interested in experiencing Route 66, there are many ways. The best way is to get off the interstate, travel the route, and take your time. Stop and visit as many of the small businesses, historic sites, and museums as you can. Visit with the people and prepare to have an adventure and be surprised.

To learn more about how you can get involved, contact our office at the National Park Service or one of the many Route 66 associations listed on our Route 66 website.’

Revitalizing the Route 66 Corridor preserves an important part of American history and helps us understand how we came to be the people and nation we are today. The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is here to help achieve these goals to preserve and commemorate a very important part of America’s transportation history. See you on Route 66.


(Written and produced by Brooke G. Safford and Kaisa Barthuli)

(Editor: Brooke G. Safford)

(Videographer: Brooke G. Safford)

(Cast: Kaisa Barthuli)

(Special thanks to Mike Ward and Joe Sonderman of the Online Route 66 Archive)

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