In October 1960 a tv series about two young men travelling across the United States was released. Originally to be called “The Searchers” the series was renamed “Route 66” because of conflicts with a movie released in the same timeframe. Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles, had been immortalized in a song written by Bobby Troup and originally recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946. While the tv series shared the name, according to one star very little, if any, of the show was actually recorded at locations along Route 66 because “the scenery along the actual highway wasn’t considered interesting enough.” Two of the main actors in the series were George Maharis and Martin Milner who beat out Robert Redford for the role of Tod.
The real Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River on the Chain of Rocks Bridge near Granite City, IL, and passed through St. Louis and many of the small surrounding communites on its way west. While the actual routing changed several times during the existence of Route 66, at one time it passed through Maplewood, MO, on what is now Manchester Boulevard. These signs are some of the many marking the historic path of Route 66 today.
Route 66 is now largely gone, even if not forgotten. In many places it was paved over during construction of our Interstate Highway System. In other locations, it remains, often unmarked, as outer roads along the interstate or city streets. But even today, many communities are keeping a small part of history alive by marking the streets and roads followed by Route 66, by preserving some of the old buildings and businesses along the route, and sometimes supporting small businesses which were born in the era of Route 66 and survive today.