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President signs bill to reauthorize Route 66 program March 30, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation.
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About 2 p.m. CST today, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill that contained a measure to  reauthorize the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program for another 10 years.

The word came over in the past hour from wire services and an elated e-mail from Michael Romero Taylor, a longtime co-director of the Route 66 program.

Needless to say, this is good news. The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program has provided cost-share grants to property owners, historical research and other assistance for nearly a decade. The well-regarded program has enjoyed praise from political persuasions of all stripes.

But lawmakers had to hustle to reauthorize the program, as it was scheduled to end late this year. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and recently retired Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) got the ball rolling on the program’s reauthorization  in late 2008. The bill overcame filibuster threats, miscalculations by the Democratic leadership and the usual opposition lobby.

More information about the signing will be passed along as it comes in …

UPDATE: The New York Times has a short story and photo from the signing ceremony.

Route 66 Magazine moves to Florida; editor stays near Mother Road March 30, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines.
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In Route 66 Magazine‘s latest issue, longtime owners Paul and Sandi Taylor said they were moving the magazine’s operations from Laughlin, Nev., to Port Richey, Fla., by early April.

In the announcement, Paul Taylor sought to reassure readers that the magazine would still adequately cover the Mother Road, despite relocating more than 1,000 miles from it:

Route 66 is a world-wide experience, and it isn’t necessary for us to be on the route (as we said when moving to Nevada) to continue publishing a magazine that stirs the restless spirit of the intrepid traveler with stories that match the nostalgia, scenic beauty, charm and emotional character that has always been a part of the Mother Road. This has been our editorial mission since we began publishing this magazine in 1993.

We will still travel Route 66, and along with our staff writers and contributing scribes, bring to you entertaining and informative stories about The Mother Road and other blue-line highways.

The move to Nevada came after the magazine was headquartered in the Route 66 town of Williams, Ariz., for years.

Replying to an e-mail that asked why the move occurred, Sandi Taylor said:

After 29 years in the desert, it’s time for a change.

This will in no way affect the magazine. We will continue to publish as we have been doing for 16 years.

This wasn’t mentioned in the announcement, but Route 66 Magazine executive editor Bob Moore is staying behind in Arizona. He explained the situation in an e-mail:

I’ve moved to Lake Havasu City, AZ, which is about the same distance from the road south, as Laughlin is north. I don’t feel the move is going to impact the travel aspects of the Road in any negative way. What you may see are even more freelance submissions from Roadies all along the Road.

My move has been completed and I’m in the process of putting everything back together. [...]
I’ll still be the “Roving Editor” in Arizona while the HQ for the magazine will be in Florida. Other than re-location, nothing is going to change with the magazine. Thanks to High Speed Internet we’ll be able to handle all of the business-as-usual seamlessly (once Paul and Sandi get moved).

Moore staying in his beloved Southwest was a good move, and that alone should assuage a lot of  fears by readers.

The Taylors do indeed bankroll the magazine. But it’s my opinion that Moore is the heart and soul of it. He’s been chronicling Route 66 for over 15 years, starting with his Mother Road Journals in the early 1990s and later with his own guidebooks. He holds a lot of knowledge about the route, and the magazine gains credibility with him at the helm.

So Route 66 Magazine should be fine, as long as Bob Moore remains involved, and resides close to the Main Street of America.

(Hat tip to Mike Ward)

Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge March 29, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges.
5 comments

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge that carried old Route 66 from Madison, Ill., to St. Louis gets a lot of attention from roadies and tourists.

However, there also is a bridge over the Chain of Rocks Canal a couple of miles east of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. The canal was built during the 1950s to bypass the treacherous ledges and boulders just under the water’s surface near the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. After the canal was built, barges and other water craft had a much easier time on the Mississippi River near St. Louis.

Here are Diesel Ducy’s videos at the canal bridge. You can see through the steel-mesh decking in all its terrifying glory:

Here’s footage of a barge going under the bridge:

New blogs on the Blogroll March 29, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Web sites.
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In recent weeks, I’ve taken note of promising new blogs, or blogs that I’ve overlooked, that should be good resources for the roadie in all of us.

Here are new additions to the Blogroll, located in the upper right side of the home page:

— Alan Dunn’s Mrzip66 blog, which is subtitled “Road Blogging Route 66 and Life on a Harley-Davidson.” His latest post has a bunch of photos from the Mother Road in 1991, including the historic Cool Springs Camp right before it was literally blown up for the film “Universal Soldier.” Cool Springs Camp has since been restored.

David Schwartz’s Photo Blog has a nice portrait of Bill Shea in his Route 66 gas station museum in Springfield, Ill. Schwartz also has a separate site for his fine-art photos from Route 66.

— RoadDog has been a longtime commenter on this blog. RoadDog’s Roadlog Blog not only includes trips on the Mother Road, but on other historic highways as well. He’s enough of a veteran of two-lane roads to know what a Liars Table is.

— Photographer Quinta Scott has been documenting the Mother Road since it was decommissioned for as long as anyone I can think of (just read the books “Along Route 66″ and “Route 66: The Highway and Its People” for proof). So Quinta Scott’s Along Route 66 Weblog is worth checking out.

— Alan Copson is a travel stock photographer. He boasts a bunch of Route 66 photos on his Alan Copson Pictures blog, including cool shots of Jerry Ueckert’s Redtop Diner in Edgewood, N.M.

— Shelby Rigg is 17 years old, and she works with her mom at 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kan. Shelby’s an enthusiastic Route 66 supporter, and you can read about it at her Shelby’s Route 66 blog.

I’m also pruning a couple of blogs that have gone dormant. Historic Highways and Route 66 Spots haven’t been updated in many moons and will go by the wayside. If you’re the owners of these blogs, update them and I’ll gladly put them back on the Blogroll.

If there are other Route 66 or historic road-related blogs that you think I should include, shoot me an e-mail or make a comment. I’ll definitely give it due consideration.

UPDATE: Here’s the Indy Kicks It Online site, which describes itself as “3 musicians and a journalist on the Mother Road.” It’s a decent enough description — the quartet is taking off from Chicago in September “for a trip of a lifetime.”

Also, here’s Julie Bernabe’s Old Route 66 blog. She’s a Missourian who describes herself as an artist and Route 66 enthusiast.

Bill and Karen’s Travel Journal is about their Route 66 trip last summer. They’ll later blog their adventures this summer on the Lincoln Highway.

The Wombat, a frequent poster on the Route 66 yahoogroup and a Route 66 traveler, has a various-topics blog in It Comes from Albany.

Preview of mural event in Pontiac March 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events.
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The Route 66 town of Pontiac, Ill., is hosting a four-day mural festival in June, and the city was offered a preview earlier this week.

Jane Diaz of Diaz Sign Art showed a few artist’s renderings of the murals that will be created during the Walldogs‘ “Chief City Runs with the Dogs” event, reported the Pontiac Daily Leader.

One of the renderings included “Visit Pontiac, Illinois on Route 66,” shown above. Other drawings are supposed to be at pontiacdiazmedia.net, but the site was down as of Saturday morning.

“The sketches are just sketches and there will probably be some changes made,” said Diaz. [...]

“This event is not spread out like the event in Minnesota. Our event will be held around the downtown square. We have 80 artists who have signed on to the event so far and there maybe more to come.”

The event is scheduled to take place over the June 26-29 weekend. Also slated to take place that weekend are the Hang Loose and Cruise-In car events.

According to Diaz, the Walldogs event will feature 17 murals at 16 different sites. Painting sizes will vary in size and the walls surfaces will be treated.

The Walldogs also have a blog here, where you can see the artist’s renderings and read about more details on the festival, including a map of the proposed murals.

Road-trip resurgence March 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips.
2 comments

The Chicago Tribune is reporting what I’ve suspected: that more families are taking to the road for their destinations instead of flying.

It’s a resurgence fed by cheaper gas, childhood memories and a general reluctance to splurge by people who are fearful for their jobs, travel analysts said.

Others are fed up with air travel, preferring the grind of the road to delays and fees. The final straw for the Duliks: paying a total of $400 to redeem airline miles for a trip to Hawaii and then retrieving those miles when they had to cancel the outing.

It isn’t just anecdotal evidence that more people are flocking again to our highways:

Orlando felt the shift last year. During the first nine months of 2008, more out-of-state visitors drove to the central Florida tourist hub than flew — a reversal from previous years — Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc. said.

AAA Chicago has seen a 25 percent surge so far this year in requests for TripTik, a mapping service for motorists plotting long car trips. Orlando is the top destination for its Chicago-area members this year, said Lisa Duryea, district manager for the automobile club.

It’s not surprising the airlines are hurting. The advantage it once had for speedier travel has been largely erased by the security hassles, flight delays and tack-on fees. And during a weak economy, travelers are rediscovering that road trips are easier on a budget.

Naturally, Route 66 should benefit from this trend.

Snowstorm hammers Route 66’s midsection March 27, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Weather.
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Late March is usually a safe time of the year to travel old Route 66, barring a thunderstorm or two.

Not this year.  There are currently blizzard warnings or winter storm warnings from central New Mexico, the entire Texas Panhandle to most of western and central Oklahoma.

According to the Quay County Sun, U.S. 54 was briefly closed in Tucumcari, N.M., and visibility is a mere 20 feet from San Jon, N.M., to the Texas line. Several inches of snow have already fallen in the region, and high winds are making it more treacherous.

The Amarillo Globe-News is reporting that up to 14 inches of snow will fall in the Texas Panhandle, with 30 to 40 mph winds. The National Weather Service is labeling the storm as “dangerous.”

Winter storm watches continue from northeastern Oklahoma into central Missouri.

It should all effectively end by Sunday, when skies clear and highs will range from the 50s to the low 70s.

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