Route 66 Museum draws fans from all over the world

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Oct 162011

People from all over the world come to Lebanon to visit a one-of-a-kind museum that focuses on the historic Mother Road.

Lebanon’s Route 66 Museum curator Mark Spangler told the Lebanon Kiwanis Club at its Tuesday meeting the love for the road is about much more than the 2,400 miles of winding concrete, asphalt and gravel that went from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif. It’s about a different time and attitude in American culture, he said.

Route 66 was a special time in American history and just makes us think about slowing down,” Spangler said. He added it was a time when people enjoyed going on road trips, seeing new pieces of country and visiting with one another. Now, instead of winding through the countryside, people hop onto the interstate and get to Springfield in less than an hour.

He added that although most Route 66 fans don’t like I-44, the interstate wouldn’t be here had it not been for the Mother Road, which he said gave America an idea of how important automobile travel and transport could be for the country. Culture has changed to wanting things faster, Spangler said.

“Have you noticed our speed and our want to get there in a hurry? And, we’ve become ruder in the process. …We cannot stand to slow down and take it easy anymore,” Spangler said.

Not everything about the road was good though, Spangler said, adding that many people died on the road. The road gained the infamous nickname “Bloody 66.”

According to Spangler, the museum averages 1,000 to 1,200 visitors per month, and a look at the guest book would surprise most people. The museum attracts many out-of-state and even out-of-country visitors, including people from Europe, where traveling Route 66 has become a popular vacation destination.

“People from all corners of the world find their ways to us,” Spangler said.

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