Grant May Help Preserve Allure of Route 66

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Grant May Help Preserve Allure of Route 66
Aug 312012

This article is from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR – BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT and is one of many programs helping preserve and keeping Route 66 alive. The goal is to get ALL stretches of Route 66 in all eight states under this program!

Route 66 is America’s Mother Road. . . and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration’s $152,300 grant recently awarded to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) will fund the preparation of a corridor management plan (CMP) that ultimately may help preserve the history and nostalgia of the 153 miles of historic Route 66 within the BLM California Desert District that extends from Needles to Barstow, California.

Designated a national highway in 1926, U.S. Route 66 extends 2,448 miles across 8 states and 3 time zones from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, California. The “Mother Road” essentially consists of connecting many existing roads, with some new road construction to complete a continuous route. The road was immortalized by Bobby Troupe’s song “Get Your Kicks On Route 66.

Upon completion of the CMP, the BLM will submit a nomination to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation for consideration to designate the California segment of Route 66 a National Scenic Byway. Currently portions of Route 66 in Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oklahoma have National Scenic Byway designation. The BLM worked closely with the California Historic Route 66 Association and California Preservation Foundation to develop the grant proposal.

The CMP also will provide travel information to domestic and international visitors about the intrinsic values of the history, culture, and natural landscapes, as well as recreational opportunities available along the corridor. The CMP will include a comprehensive interpretive, tourism and marketing strategy to enhance heritage tourism opportunities in an effort to promote and provide economic benefits to communities and local businesses.

“We have an incredible opportunity to work with stakeholders and communities along Route 66 to preserve and promote the history California’s portion of Route 66,” said Jim Kenna, BLM California State Director. “We want to inspire new generations of explorers who will revive the nostalgia and adventures of bygone days as they experience, learn about and care for our beloved Mother Road.”

The BLM will oversee preparation of the CMP and solicit extensive participation from local, county, state and federal stakeholders and partners to collaborate in the development of the CMP, including six Native American Tribes. NSBP funding supports projects that manage and protect these roads and improve visitor facilities. The California Legislature designated California Route 66 as “Historic Highway Route 66″ by statute in 1991.

For more information regarding the grant or the preparation of the Corridor Management Plan contact Danella George at (760) 808-5877.

New Route 66 signs from Barstow east

 California, Daily  Comments Off on New Route 66 signs from Barstow east
Aug 032011

If you put up the signs, they will come.
Well, truthfully, they’re probably coming anyway, but with the signs, they might not get lost.

Sometime in the fall, San Bernardino County will begin erecting 75 signs between Barstow and Needles identifying Route 66.

It’s not like the road’s been lost. It is traveled all the time. There are even painted stencils on its surface to help identify it for those who are pursuing a piece of America’s transportation history. The stencils, which began appearing in 2000, were a response to the theft of the iconic Route 66 road signs, perhaps the most recognized highway sign in the world. The road from Chicago to Santa Monica was the main artery from the Midwest to Southern California for much of the 20th century.

The famous logo of the sign appears on T-shirts, coffee mugs, tennis shoes, you name it.

That will not be what the new signs look like.

Part of the County Route Marker Program — a 1958 initiative to establish signage for tourist routes that highlight points of interest and provide an alternative to the state highway system — the modified pentangle signs will have a blue background with San Bernardino County 66 in white lettering.

First District County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he got the idea for marking the route last year and asked the Public Works Department to research the project.

Route 66 is one of those treasures that we are fortunate to have inherited,” Mitzelfelt said. “It draws visitors from around the world. I think we need to do more to promote it and maintain it better and make it more of a tourist attraction.”

While he hopes the county can eventually install signs every couple of miles along the road from the state line to Upland, right now only the desert section from Barstow east will be marked. The cost of that part of the project will be $30,000. That includes brochures and a website.

Mitzelfelt said he hopes the investment will pay off in increased travel and commerce on the roadway.

With special incentives, he said, he hopes “to encourage commercial and retail development that would have a retro feel to it and rebuild some of that history and generate sales tax dollars at the same time.”

Albert Okura, who owns the local Juan Pollo chain of restaurants, is one of the few people with a retail business on the route’s Barstow-to-Needles leg. But it’s not a Juan Pollo.

Five years ago, he bought the storied town of Amboy and has kept the landmark Roy’s Cafe in operation as a gas station and souvenir shop. No fresh food is served, but Okura hopes to reopen the cafe in the future.

He’s not sure the signs will increase his business, but he does think they will help tourists.

“A lot of people get lost,” Okura said. “We always get people asking directions, especially the Europeans. I think if you have a unified sign they can look for, that would help them.”

Okura said he also thinks there is the potential for more commerce along the historic road.

“What I’m trying to do is get the tourists to drop their money in our county,” he said.

Among the states that Route 66 passes through, he said, California is the only one lagging behind where there’s no organization where people are restoring things and getting businesses going. There are things that could be highlighted between Barstow and Needles. There’s a lot of history out there that people don’t know about.”

But he adds, it’s important not to do too much and maintain the flavor of places like Amboy.

“People are more interested in keeping it the way it is,” he said.

Mark Muckenfuss – The Press-Enterprise

Part of historical El Rancho complex destroyed in fire

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Part of historical El Rancho complex destroyed in fire
May 052011

A fire destroyed part of a historical building connected to Route 66 early Thursday morning on Main Street.

At the time of the blaze the building was unoccupied and no injuries were reported.
Firefighters were called to a structure fire at on the 100 block of East Main Street at about 1:11 a.m.

Barstow Fire Protection Chief Darrell Jauss said the fire started in the attic of the building of what used to be El Rancho Restaurant — currently Cedar Restaurant and Travel Store.

About 20 Barstow Fire Department firefighters arrived at the scene at 1:15 a.m.

According to Jauss, firefighters received help from the Marine Corps Logistics Base Fire Department and from the Barstow Police but by the time firefighters arrived the fire was very big and had consumed most of the building.

“We were able to stop the fire but by the time we did the roof collapsed in,” Jauss said. “We are concerned that the main wall might collapse also.”

The fire was contained in two hours and was completely put out in four hours.

“We wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t spread further to the neighboring business,” Jauss said.

Firefighters are currently trying to stop smaller pockets of smoke that are smoldering in the building.

There is no estimate of the amount of damage on the structure yet.

By FIORELLA CASELLA, Desert Dispatch