The historic Route 66 ran through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The "super highway" encompassed more than 2,400 miles between Chicago and Santa Monica, including more than 400 miles in each of three states: New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona.
The "66" designation was officially added to the highway in 1926, and by 1938 the entire stretch was paved. It is celebrated as one of the country's original highways, dotted with hundreds of cafés, gas stations, motels and tourist attractions. Singer Bobby Troup detailed the journey from Chicago to Los Angeles in his 1946 hit "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66." As Route 66 was decommissioned in the mid-1980s, signs were gradually removed and the highway was replaced by the Interstate Highway System. While the highway has been officially removed from maps, portions of the route in several states are designated as a "National Scenic Byway" by the Department of Transportation.
The highway served as the primary route for more than 200,000 Americans fleeing westward from the Midwest to escape the "Dust Bowl" during the 1930s. Author John Steinbeck referred to Route 66 as the "Mother Road" in his famous novel "The Grapes of Wrath." Route 66 was also instrumental in the transportation of troops and military supplies during World War II.