Oct 262015
 

victorville-20-anniversary








Victorville landmark draws in locals for celebration and car show

A local landmark that more often garners a mostly international audience drew in hundreds of locals Saturday to celebrate its 20-year anniversary of preserving the history of “The Mother Road.”
The mission of the California Route 66 Museum in Old Town Victorville is to “preserve and increase” interest in “all aspects of history and heritage related to the road,” which it has been doing since it opened its doors in 1995. With three display rooms and a gift shop, the 5,000-square-foot former Red Rooster Cafe location remains entirely free for admission, accepting contributions from patrons and donors.

Museum President Susan Bridges said it’s unfortunate that “all the locals don’t know this place at all.”
Bridges said that about 75 percent of the museum’s business comes from visitors from all around the world.
“We want to let people know that this used to be a prime area,” Bridges said.
She said the ongoing Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority construction project has taken a large toll on Old Town shops, including the Best Deal Furniture store that recently closed its doors after 20 years of business.
Best Deal joined the row of 17 other buildings between A and D streets on the east side of Seventh Street that were once open businesses that have shuttered their doors, according to a previous Daily Press article.
The museum continues to thrive however, and with Route 66 turning 90 years old next year, it will likely gain even greater attention.

California Historic Route 66 Association board member Scott Piotrowski traveled from Glendale to attend the Victorville museum anniversary celebration, providing information about the group to attendees.
The big buzz for the association is the Route 66 90-year anniversary national festival planned to take place in Los Angeles next year. Piotrowski said they expect at least 50,000 attendees at the festival, but are hoping for more than 100,000.

The main event of Saturday’s celebration was the car show, an annual display of classic cars ranging from hot rods to rat rides.
Among the cars was a 1963 Ford Galaxie replica of the Mayberry Sheriff’s car used in the Andy Griffith Show, and a unique 1936 Ford Custom pickup truck with a 1983 Volvo built in a custom rod shop.

A celebrity of the Route 66 community was also at the event, National Classic Miss Route 66, Monica Burrola, decked in her sash and stetson to sign and take photos with visitors.
Burrola said she didn’t know a lot about the road when her son’s girlfriend asked her to participate in the pageant for the Classic Miss Route 66 for women more than 50 years old.
The next thing you know, I had a love for the road,” Burrola said. “The coolest part is all of the people on the highway.”

By Charity Lindsey – Desert Dispatch

Jun 262015
 

san-bernadino-cruising







In San Bernardino, they don’t stroll down Memory Lane, they cruise it.

Memory Lane is E Street, one of the main north-south streets that crosses Route 66 in the city.

If you turned the clock back 50 years, you’d see gleaming chrome and hear engines revving as the “Happy Days” moments of cruising, ice cream shops and bobby socks helped define a generation.

Back then, cruising was bumper to bumper.

San Bernardino was the car-cruising capital of Southern California from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.

Memories of cruisin’ E Street in 1955, stopping at Carnation Ice Cream and grabbing 15-cent burgers at McDonald’s are etched into the city’s collective memory.

An important chapter in San Bernardino’s history.

Steve Portias, a 1967 graduate of San Bernardino High School, says he was born at the perfect time.

The consummate “car guy,” Portias said the culture got its start in the 1930s and ’40s, when young drivers would go for “land speed records” at the El Mirage dry lake bed, near Adelanto.

“The most popular car at the time was the 1932 Ford — everyone wanted one,” said Portias, a member of the San Bernardino Historical Society and president of Inland Vans Berdoo, a car club that’s been around since the late 1960s.

“Most guys customized their cars to attract the girls,” said Portias, now 65.

Think “American Grafitti” or “Grease.”

“All towns had a cruise route, but San Bernardino was known as ‘the car town.’”

By the early ’70s, car clubs were huge, and the Over the Hill Gang, which had its roots at San Gorgonio High School, developed the car club culture, according to Portias.

Danny Castro, board member and former president of the California Historical Route 66 Association, remembers getting his first “muscle car” in 1971.

It was a baby blue 1964 Mustang Fast Back, he said, with four speeds and a 302 engine.

At the time, those cars we think of as “classics,” were cheap, said Castro, who always had several cars at the same time.

“You could get a ’64 GTO for $400,” he said. “But a car that might cost $500 to $800 would be bought by Europeans and then sold for $8,000.”

Cruisers in their heyday would stop at Eros and Bogart’s, a popular E Street nightclub and the former Orange Bowling Alley with a nice wooden dance floor.

San Bernardino was a happening place, attracting popular and up-and-coming bands at its venues.

The first time Van Halen played in front of an audience was at Eros and Bogart’s, and he introduced the band as “a garage band out of Pasadena.”

But things started changing in the ’80s, and as E Street declined, so did cruising.

The former nightclub is now a thrift store on E Street, between Ninth and 10th, Portias said.

Car shows became popular, but the car culture hit a new low when E Street died.

Enter Route 66 and the revitalization of the city with souped-up classic cars.

When the city’s classic car culture intersected with San Bernardino’s stretch of Route 66 (along Fifth Street), a national car culture rose up from the asphalt of the Mother Road.

Route 66, the legendary strip of highway running between Santa Monica and Chicago, dubbed “The Mother Road” by John Steinbeck in his 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” has connected a cultural cross-section of Americans since it was paved in 1937.

Cruisers were back on the road again.

Between 1991 and 2013, San Bernardino hosted the Stater Bros. Route 66 RendezvousCalifornia’s ode to the Mother Road — in the city’s downtown streets.

Roadies and car buffs could tell the stories and relive the memories of traveling in vintage vehicles across California’s vast yawning desert.

The huge automotive street fair, which celebrated cruisin’, classic cars and hot rods, attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to the three-day event.

In 2013, the Rendezvous was put on hiatus after the city filed for bankruptcy and the state eliminated funding for the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau, producers of the event.

Fast forward to the present.

No matter how crazy the city is about classic cars, it’s the positive aspect of shining a light on San Bernardino that has so many people looking forward to this weekend.

On Saturday, the prestigious Great Race cross-country car rally comes to San Bernardino to join forces with local Route 66 car buffs in a huge celebration that includes yet another car culture.

The 2015 Great Race, this year themed “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” will transform downtown streets with 120 vintage cars.

Great Racers, who start arriving at 5:30 p.m. from their weeklong journey, will join the 1,000 classic American cars on display, with festivities including live music, a veterans parade, chili cook-off, food trucks, craft beer garden, stagecoach rides and vendors in the downtown area,

San Bernardino’s Great Race Committee, headed by city Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Mickey Valdivia, has been working since early February to plan the event.

These days they are sprucing up the area around City Hall.

“We are getting the landscaping cleaned up, flowers planted and the Route 66 Cruisin’ Hall of Fame wall restored so it will look its best for the big event,” Valdivia said.

Sign painter and muralist Robb McDermott has been working on the wall for nearly a week.

McDermott, who owns a sign-painting company in Redlands, worked in three-digit temperatures giving the wall its face-lift for the Great Race event.

A self-taught muralist and painter, he is a San Bernardino native who looks forward to the festivities.

Welcoming signs are elsewhere in the city.

Great Race banners hang across downtown streets and at the former Arts on Fifth Street gallery, “This is San Bernardino,” a new public art project by poet Juan Delgado and photographer Thomas McGovern, will be unveiled Saturday in the windows of Arts on Fifth, 468 W. Fifth St., just in time for Great Race day.

The classic event, which showcases Americana and its diversity, would not be complete without a veterans’ parade and vintage military vehicles, as well as hundreds of small flags for bystanders lining the parade route beginning at 4 p.m.

Veterans’ services and a mobile service office for Disabled American Veterans will also be on hand.

So prepare to be amazed as San Bernardino recaptures its glory days — and once again, the shine will come from gleaming chrome.

By Michel Nolan – The Sun

Dec 222014
 

rancho-cucamongo-gas-station-02








RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Anthony Gonzalez said he didn’t acquire a true love for historical buildings and landmarks until his involvement with Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.

In the early ‘90s, Gonzalez served as El Pueblo director when many of the buildings there were damaged by an earthquake in 1994.

“It made me realize the importance of trying to maintain and keep these historical building so we can know where we came from,” he said.

It is that love that led him to in 2011 to begin efforts to save and restore a nearly 100-year-old gas station along Route 66.

Gonzalez lived in La Verne for most of his adolescence and moved out in college. He returned to the area in 1998 when he moved to his current home in Rancho Cucamonga.

As the president of Route 66 Inland Empire California, he is helping to spearhead efforts.

For the past year, he and group members have devoted many hours restoring the Cucamonga Service Station with the goal of reopening it next year as a museum.

In September, he was named president of Cucamonga Service Club, the governing body that oversees Sweeten Hall building in the 9000 block of San Bernardino Road.

In the past, Sweeten Hall served as the central location for gatherings and parties in the city. That was lost for years for various reasons.

His plan in the next year is to help restore the building so that it can once again be utilized by the community.

“These two endeavors are keeping me busy now,” said the 63-year-old who retired only three years ago.

Now he spends at least eight hours a day on either restoration projects, he said.

“I’m trying to rehabilitate the buildings, bring them back to its original state,” Gonzalez said.

– By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

May 152014
 










Nearly 90 years after “U.S. 66” was proposed as the name for the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway at Springfield’s Colonial Hotel, City officials will break ground for a roadside park celebrating Springfield as the birthplace of the Mother Road. The groundbreaking will take place at 10 a.m., May 22 at the park’s future site on West College Street, between Fort and Broadway avenues. Parking will be available on site and on the streets adjacent to the site.

Route 66 meandered across Springfield from Kearney to Glenstone to St. Louis Street, through Park Central Square to College Street, then headed west along what is now Chestnut Expressway.

Plans for the Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park include incorporating memories of local Route 66 landmarks, sculptures, a filling station replica, a motor court sign replica and a history plaza. The first phase of the park will be complete by August and will include the replica of the Red’s Giant Hamburg sign; park driveway and parallel parking; and landscaping and sidewalk improvements along College Street.

The estimated cost for the Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park is about $1 million, according to Director of Planning Ralph Rognstad.

While the City will provide funding to implement certain infrastructure improvements along the College Street stretch of Historic Route 66 between Grant Avenue and Kansas Expressway, it must leverage its investment in the project with private donations and other sources of funding. A larger plan to revitalize Historic Route 66 through other parts of Springfield could roll out in phases, as the City gauges interest and potential funding. The City raised more than $15,000 to build a replica of the Red’s Giant Hamburg sign through local crowd funding company www.Crowdit.com.

We hope to make Springfield THE stop along the famed, historic byway,” says City Manager Greg Burris.

Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park renderings can be viewed at: www.springfieldmo.gov/collegestreet/pdfs/collegeRoadPark.pdf

By Springfield Regional Arts Council

Oct 012012
 





Five men and a vintage tractor named Betsy will today begin a trek along Route 66 in the US in a fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society.

The group is led by retired sheep farmer Kevin Curran from Waterville, Co Kerry, and includes several farmers. He began fundraising for cancer research in 2010 after his wife Eileen, who had named the tractor, died from cancer.

The group accompanying Betsy, a 1963 Fordson Dexta, will leave Los Angeles today and travel 2,500 miles east to Chicago. Mr Curran estimated it would take 15 days, assuming there were no major setbacks along the way.

Because tractors are not allowed on part of the route, Betsy will travel on a trailer for 15 per cent of the journey.

Betsy’s support team includes Maurice Fitzgerald, Frank Meara, Ogie Moran and Mark Walsh.

Mr Curran’s previous fundraising tractor runs with Betsy included Malin Head to Mizen Head, the Ring of Kerry to Dingle, and Mizen Head to Carnsore Point, but this is the first time they have left Ireland.

The tractor was shipped to the US in July and arrived with little time to spare. The team has been contacted by many Irish people living in the States who have offered support and spare parts, should Betsy flounder on the unfamiliar roads.

Mr Curran said the group had chosen the Irish Cancer Society “as each one of us on the team has been touched by cancer either directly or indirectly and we want the funds raised to go to fund cancer research so that future patients have better outcomes”.

Irish Cancer Society chief executive John McCormack said he was thrilled that the charity had been chosen by the fundraisers.

“Kevin and his team have taken on this fundraiser for the last three years raising significant money for the Irish Cancer Society and to see him take this fundraiser across the Atlantic shows a huge amount of creativity and passion for the cause,” Mr McCormack said.

ALISON HEALY – Irishtimes.com

Nov 302011
 




Note: When I talked to a few folks in Kansas who are involved with the route a few months ago – they mentioned this was one of the things they were really focusing their efforts on… and it seemed to pay off!! Congrats on this! It takes the route through Kansas to a whole new level!

The state has designated 13 miles of Route 66 in southern Kansas as a Kansas Historic Byway.

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced the designation Tuesday for the route, which runs through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs in Cherokee County before reaching the Oklahoma border.

Scott Shields, a coordinator for the Kansas State Byways program, says the designation encourages visitors and state residents to drive the route and explore communities along the way.

The original Route 66 stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles and was a major pathway for those who migrated west and later for tourists.

Historic Route 66 passes briefly through the State of Kansas on its was between Joplin, Missouri and Miami, Oklahoma. Though Kansas has the shortest stretch of the popular old route between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, the 13 miles of Route 66 in Kansas are among the best preserved and have many attractions.

©2011 The Republic

Mar 162011
 



For much of the early twentieth century, Route 66 was the way most people got to California. After its creation in 1926, it was the way west for migrants escaping the Dust Bowl, hoping to find work in California’s fields and factories. After World War II and the beginning of America’s new car culture, it carried vacationers who wanted to tour The West, visit a new-fangled attraction called Disneyland or see the Pacific Ocean.

In 1985, it was removed from the United States highway system, replaced by wider, more modern Interstate Highway, but in those six decades it gained a status few strips of asphalt enjoy, passing into the fabric of our culture. It was the backdrop for John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, the topic of a song by Bobby Troup and the backdrop for a 1960s television show. Steinbeck called it the Mother Road – and the name stuck.

In California, Route 66 ran from the Arizona border near Needles, through Barstow, across San Bernardino County, into Pasadena and south into Los Angeles, a distance of about 270 miles. Today, drivers making the same journey travel on I-40, I-15 and I-10.

If you’ve strolled along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona or cruised the neons along Albuquerque’s Central Avenue, don’t expect to find anything comparable in California. In the east, the Interstate often bypassed towns along the Mother Road, leading them to inevitable decline. Further west, fueled by dreams of growth and funded by state money earmarked for redevelopment, San Bernardino and Los Angeles County’s civic leaders all but obliterated the old Route 66 landmarks and today, you’ll find Route 66 signs outnumber the sights.

If you want to focus on exactly where every square inch of asphalt ran and when it ran there, following tortuous routes to drive on as much of it as possible, this guide may not be for you. However, the highway department has conscientiously signposted every possible exit from I-40 that leads to a section of Historic Route 66 and the California Route 66 Preservation Association has a mile-by-mile guide and some nice historic photos to go along with it. And if you want to know all the details of where Route 66 went in Los Angeles County, experts say Scott R. Piotrowski’s Finding the End of the Mother Road is the definitive resource.

By Betsy Malloy, About.com Guide

Mar 072011
 



Nearly 150 Denmark students stopped in Litchfield Thursday night and Friday morning, with 20 identical Four Winds recreational vehicles parked at the Walmart parking lot.

The back of each RV read, “Goin’ Places with Smiling Faces.” The students are currently attending Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark, and are traveling Route 66 across the United States as part of a group project.

When they arrived in Litchfield on Thursday night, they had been traveling for three days from Chicago, and their trip will end in Los Angeles after 30 days.

A total of 31 RVs will make the trip along the Mother Road including 142 students and eight teachers.

Students will be taking pictures of farm buildings, grain elevators, signs, cars, trucks and more as part of both group and individual projects.

They will also focus on the hospitality of various stops along the way, and each student will be responsible for a book about his/her experiences when they return home to Denmark.

Following their stop at Walmart, the group camped for the evening in Honey Bend before continuing their trip

Feb 172011
 

In 1926, Springfield became the Route 66’s Birthplace

Route 66 would have turned 85 this year. In 1926, pioneers of the east-west corridor officially named it ‘Route 66’ at a meeting in Springfield, Mo.

It was decommissioned in 1985, but the mother road still brings in tourists from across the globe.

“I wonder myself, what keeps bringing people back and what people find so exciting and intoxicating about this road,” said photography Michael Campanelli.

Campanelli travels the route as often as he can, snapping photos. Along the way, he promotes his work and photo exhibits.

He drove the road for the first time in 2002, and says he still isn’t sure what he loves about the road.

“To me, it’s the freedom just to get out in America and be able to drive around,” said Campanelli.

Whatever the reason, Route 66 lives on.

“You’ll find yourself coming back, and back, and back again,” says Gary Turner, owner of the Gay Parita Sinclair Station.

When the major 4-lane highways went in, Route 66 disappeared in pieces. In southwest Missouri, many of the buildings are disappearing, too. Run-down, deteriorating buildings dot the sides of the decommissioned highway.

As America changes, so does its landscape.

“The historic buildings that we have, that’s the fabric of our community. If they’re gone, the fabric of our community is gone,” said David Eslick, with the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

Not all of the buildings are forgotten. There’s been a recent resurgence of interest in the mother road.

Like Turner’s Sinclair station.

“It’s just my dream,” said Turner.

Turner rebuilt a gas station on his property in 2006, after the original burned down in 1955.

“It’s the greatest thing i ever did in my life,” says Turner. “It’s not a duplicate of the original gas station. It’s just my idea of what a 1930 gas station would look like.”

Now, Turner spends most of his days greeting visitors who stop in at the station. A quick thumb through his guest book shows visitors from across the country and around the globe.

That interest in Route 66 is good news for its official birthplace: Springfield, Mo. In 1926, at a meeting in downtown Springfield, pioneers of the route penned a telegraph, officially dubbing the highway “Route 66.”

In its hey-day, the road linked rural America to two major u-s cities: Los Angeles and Chicago. Now, much of it is still drive-able, just off the main route. In Missouri, most of Route 66 runs along-side Highway 44, criss-crossing it along the way.

“You’ll be driving along on the interstate, and you’ll see a Route 66 sign right there by the side of the road,” says Eslick.

Signs still direct drivers where to go to “get their kicks…”

Route 66 never died. It’s going to get better and better as we go. There’s hundreds of people on Route 66 that’s working on it now,” says Turner.

Copyright © 2011, KSPR-TV

Jan 222011
 

Great pictures of neon at its best! Neon and Route 66 just go together!!

By LeTania Kirkland
A new outdoor exhibit featuring neon art of the Route 66 era seeks to portray the medium and its creations as indispensable to the artistic heritage and landscape of Los Angeles.

The public exhibit, “On Route 66, Lights,” combines four vintage neon art pieces from the collection of The Museum of Neon Art, as well as a suggested route and 21-page color roadmap of still existent neon signs.

MONA and the city of West Hollywood joined forces to celebrate the city’s 25th anniversary with a self-guided tour of neon art along Santa Monica Blvd (which was once a portion of Route 66) and the Sunset strip.

“As time moves forward into the future and we look back at these things, they really are folk art objects,” said Kim Koga, MONA’s downtown director.

A neon exhibit seemed a fitting way to honor “The Mother Road” and the city it helped create. After all, the first neon sign — for a Packard car dealership — was displayed in Los Angeles. And Route 66 — the quintessential California thoroughfare — became a hot bed of neon signage shortly thereafter.

Neon thrived on the billboards that flanked Route 66 as it did along LA’s sidestreets, fed by LA’s booming car culture, and has become an indispensable aspect of the history and aesthetic of each.

One sign, a 17-foot Winchell’s Donut — originally displayed in Plummer Park — resided on Route 66 in Upland. It was donated to MONA by the Barstow Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum.

The project was partly conceived of as a way to display some of the many pieces of vintage neon, much of which had been sitting in storage since MONA’s relocation to its new, smaller home downtown on 4th Street.

Koga put out the word around town that MONA had pieces of art waiting to be seen. It was then that West Hollywood cultural affairs administrator Andrew Campbell approached Koga with the On Route 66 proposal.

“I don’t think a lot of people would think about putting neon in their main art median,” said Campbell. Campbell is pleased that the “creative city” is celebrating a medium often seen as purely commercial.

“I think it’s a very fun thing to see that these people who may not have considered themselves artists we look at as artists today.”

“On Route 66” is a part of West Hollywood’s “Art on the Outside” program, which utilizes the city’s prominent road medians to display sculpture.

Click HERE to see the full video and many other neon signs.