_The National Trust for Historic Preservation wants Historic Route 66 to be designated as a National Historic Trail in order to make the highway and its landmarks available for federal and other funding.
In order to bring attention to its cause, the National Trust began a five-week tour on the Mother Road Monday, July 2, from Chicago to Los Angeles.
A half dozen National Trust staff members and a National Geographic photographer began the trip in an Airstream trailer logoed with “Preserve Route 66.”
Staff members will change at different stops on the 2,400-mile trek, but the photographer will be aboard the entire trip.
The Airstream breezed into Dwight about six hours later than expected Monday, July 2, but was met at Dwight’s historic Texaco Station/welcome center by Bob Ohlendorf of the Dwight Economic Alliance Tourism Committee.
Staff members on the Airstream also planned to stop in Odell and Pontiac on Monday, and the next day proceed to Bloomington and the State Farm headquarters building on Route 66.
State Farm and National Geographic have teamed up with the National Trust in trying to draw attention to Route 66’s preservation.
Dwight, recently de-scribed by another 66 writer as “leafy and quaint,” was aptly recognized by the visitors from the National Trust because of Dwight’s longstanding reputation as having the “oldest continually operated gas station on Route 66.”
The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and received a grant from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in 2002.
Designation as a National Historic Trail will ensure that Dwight’s historic station and many other iconic landmarks on Route 66 will be eligible for funds that become available for roads that are so designated. Funds have been available from the National Route 66 Preservation Program, but that program ends in 2019.
A bill sponsored by U.S. Representative Darin La-Hood designating Route 66 as having Historic Trail status has been approved by the U.S. House of Represen-tatives, but awaits action by the U.S. Senate.
Petitions to assist the designation effort are online at:
I Support a National Historic Trail Designation for Route 66!
A Little History
• Most of the credit for promoting the idea of an interregional highway link between Chicago and Los Angeles began with lobbying by Cyrus Avery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and John Woodruff of Springfield, Missouri. They were not successful in seeing an execution of their plan, however, until 1925-26, when their efforts merged with a federal plan for road development.
• Two other people, husband and wife John and Debbi Woodruff, were primarily responsible for the worldwide expansion of the Route 66 story through their National Historic Route 66 Federation in 1994. The now famous road wasn’t even shown on maps in ‘94.
• The federal government began decommissioning Route 66 in 1984 one segment at a time, replacing its route with interstate highways.
• Early this June The Paper announced that more than 2,000 visitors from 30 countries had signed in at Dwight’s Texaco Station/ welcome center.