Monday, March 18, 2013

History Lesson: Route 66

We had fun learning about historic Route 66 last week in History. This famous highway was known as the "Main Street of America" during its heyday, and has been the subject of songs and movies.
We don't think about it much, but when automobiles were still fairly new there weren't many places to drive outside of the towns! The roads and trails that existed were suitable for wagons and carriages, but often too rutted or muddy for cars. Automobile clubs began marking roads that were somewhat suitable for cars as "auto trails" but it was Carl Fisher from Indianapolis who really promoted the idea of building a highway across America. (Fisher had joined with other investors to form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company as a place to test and race automobiles.) After sharing his idea at an auto manufacturer's dinner meeting, he received an initial donation from an executive at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and with the other support that began pouring in, the Lincoln Highway Association was formed in 1913. The purpose was to build a highway from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, California. For early motorists, the Lincoln Highway was a real adventure - they were told to wade through water to check depth before driving, to bring along camping gear, to avoid wearing new shoes, and to get gasoline often in case it wasn't available for awhile. A similar cross-country auto trail project was the National Old Trails Road Association, formed in 1912. This association worked to mark the old Santa Fe trail with monuments and build a coast-to-coast highway.  President Harry S Truman was active with the National Old Trails Road Association for most of his adult life, and served as its president until his death.

In 1916 Congress passed the Federal Road Act, providing states with funding for road construction. The organizers of the new highway system decided to give highways numbers instead of names and established the system of using odd numbers for those running generally north and south, and even numbers for those running generally east and west. In 1926 the highway which would run from Chicago to Los Angeles was given the number 66. The National U.S. 66 Highway Association advertised to get people to drive on the new highway, using brochures, maps, and postcards proclaiming it to be the "Main Street of America". When it was completed, it was America's longest paved highway. Unlike most of today's highways, Route 66 went through the center of large cities and was the main street of many small towns.  They wanted travelers to come into town to make purchases. Businesses sprang up everywhere along the highway, especially gasoline filling stations, campgrounds, motels, and cafes. Many of the buildings were built from local materials and became individual landmarks. The famous Burma-Shave ads first made their appearance along Route 66.

Okay, that's the summary of the history lesson. Now for the fun!

We live near the East coast, so visiting Route 66 landmarks won't happen as a regular field trip. I would love to do a road trip through the American Southwest someday, but that's for a family vacation when we have plenty of time, not for a day trip. Our textbook, America the Beautiful, suggested doing a Family Night where we imagine we are on a Route 66 road trip. We took a couple of those ideas and made Route 66 our theme for Friday's Family Night dinner. (I would like to make it a regular feature to have a themed family night every other Friday - put it on the calendar and make it a big deal. The kids aren't completely sold on the idea, but they've also made no real objection, so we'll see how it goes.)

Kennady provided some quick artwork that became a Route 66 highway marker and paper placements for our "diner".



We set our table diner-style, and put up a menu board. Of course, the Daily Special was all that was available! LOL


We made Bacon Cheeseburgers modified from a recipe in a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives recipe book. We did ask our customers what condiments they wanted on the burgers. Still room on this plate for some potato salad, and then -- Order Up!

Our waitress made milkshakes to order afterwards.

When I got the pictures on the computer, we thought it would be fun to make the Route 66 sign look like it was neon, since that was what Kennady had wanted to do, but we didn't have black paper.


Hope you've enjoyed this brief stop at our imaginary Route 66 Diner!

What landmark on Route 66 would you most like to see? Or have you seen some of them? Leave a comment and let me know!

This post is featured in the Carnival of Homeschooling {Edition #381} hosted by Every Bed of Roses.

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This post was added to the Throwback Thursday Blog-Style link-up hosted by Tots and Me... Growing Up Together! on March 17, 2016.

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10 comments:

Samantha Massey said...

I love your little dinner! What an awesome idea. If I still lived in my old town I would show you pictures of the Route 66 Diner there!

Kym Thorpe said...

cool! my hubby and I are especially fascinated by diners and all things Route 66. I don't think it has quite the same nostalgia effect on my kids. (Guess I'm showing my age! LOL)

Modest Mama said...

Neat post! My son and I are taking a trip in May and will stay at a motel on Route 66. I am going to look for a diner that has these burgers!

Lexi said...

This is so fun! I love these ideas! The diner sounds so cute!

Lindsey Clair said...

How fun is that? So great! What fun ideas.....

A Dusty Frame said...

Fun! I've been wanting to take a real Route 66 Road trip!
Lizzie TOS Crew

Erika said...

How fun! I love the Friday theme idea! My kids would really get into that.

SarahElisabeth said...

Fascinating-I hadn't realised all the history around route 66.

Sarah visiting from TOS Crew.

Anonymous said...

I live 2 blocks north of the southern CA portion of Route 66. Our town celebrates it with old fashioned iron sculptures and several restaurants with Route 66 themes. Last summer my 13 year old daughter and I went to the end of the route marker on the pier at Santa Monica beach and had our picture taken in front of it. After that we rode the iconic ferris wheel and roller coaster. Fun! SoCalLynn

Anonymous said...

One more thing, your diner dinner sure looked like a lot of fun!

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