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Holbrook marketing Route 66 more aggressively April 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Towns.

The Route 66 town of Holbrook, Ariz., is going to tout its Mother Road ties even more in the coming months, including a new festival, according to an article in the Arizona Journal.

The article contained a lot of interesting tidbits about Holbrook and nearby Winslow, Ariz., including these:

  • A number of new businesses have popped up along the Route 66 corridor in Winslow in the past year, including Dar’s Route 66 Diner, Route 66 Fizz’ n Cream, Los Maria’s restaurant, Arizona 66 Trading Co., Akoshilláa Sheila! gallery and Arizona Indian Art. 
  • Hopi Travel Plaza east of Holbrook is transforming its plaza to a Route 66 theme.
  • Along the route, Winslow added new sidewalks, new lighting and a Route 66 shield on the roadway at Second Street and Kinsley Avenue.
  • A new Route 66 festival, with the theme It Ain’t Your Mother’s Road Anymore, will be in Holbrook in August, right before the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Ariz.

And the story implies that movers-and-shakers in Holbrook will encourage businesses to open on Sundays. Numbers at the local visitors center show that is a busy day for tourists, but many places in town are closed. Pontiac, Ill., noting a similar problem, started encouraging its downtown businesses to open on Sundays for the same reason.

The impetus apparently came from the November roundtable for Route 66 stakeholders in Anaheim, Calif., in November and especially the Route 66 Economic Impact Report that documented travelers’ spending. Money talks.

I predicted the report would have a wide-ranging impact on many communities in terms of Route 66 promotions, infrastructure and perception. And it seems that is happening in Holbrook. Due to Holbrook’s proximity to the Petrified Forest National Park, it treated Route 66 respectfully but decidedly a second banana. Now it seems the townsfolk are giving the Mother Road considerably more attention.

(Image of the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz., by Brett Kiger via Flickr)

A hike to Amboy Crater March 27, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Web sites.
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This new video shows as well as anything what it’s like to hike to Amboy Crater, an extinct volcano near the Route 66 hamlet of Amboy, Calif.

The clip comes from the California Through My Lens channel, which is an offshoot of the California Through My Lens blog.

The guy also uploaded this video about Elmer Long’s Bottletree Ranch near Oro Grande:

(Image of Amboy Crater by Mitch Barrie via Flickr)

Suburban Chicago county approves Route 66 marketing plan March 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Motels, Signs.
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The board of Will County, Ill., recently approved a new marketing plan for a long-overlooked section of Route 66 from Joliet to Braidwood, reported the Southtown Star.

The newspaper said:

There is an “untapped tourism potential” here, and tying all these natural, recreational and historical amenities together is historic Route 66, said project consultant Ferhat Zerin, of Gingko Planning and Design.

“Thousands of people drive here, but do not stop,” she said, as she presented the completed plan to the County Board. Many other towns along historic Route 66 which stretches all the way to California — have capitalized on this theme.

The goal is to encourage tourists to spend a day or two here, visiting the Joliet Splash Park, the Jackhammers, Route 66 Raceway, the historic sites, trails, parks, farms and restaurants.

The plan includes forming a tourism advisory council of city officials, business owners and venue operators, with funding the plan through grants, donations, transportation taxes and fees.

Among the plans to market Route 66 in the region:

  • Adding signs along Interstate 80, Interstate 57 and Route 66 to direct drivers to destinations, plus murals on railroad overpasses.
  • A specific identity and brand name tying Route 66 and Will County.
  • Connecting existing bicycle trails, plus new trails along Route 53, aka Route 66.
  • Adding features at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie such as an observation tower and a 1,200-acre bison grazing area.
  • Implementing Wilmington’s vision for Island City, which includes a kayak course.
  • Creating more iconic Route 66-themed photo ops.
  • More events, such as classic car nights, a Route 66 bicycle race, fishing tournament, and festivals.
  • Developing more hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to encourage overnight stays.

This story is yet another sign that Route 66 tourism has met a sea change in recent years that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The Chicago area, which long has treated Route 66 tourism with mild interest or indifference, seems to be coming around. The 2006 release of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars” seems to have lit the fuse, and the Route 66 Economic Impact Report in late 2011 has led many officials to take a much harder and longer look at Route 66 tourism.

(Image of the Joliet Area Historical Museum sign by ElectraSteph via Flickr)

Joplin dedicates Route 66 Mural Park March 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Vehicles.
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Most of it has been up for months, but Joplin, Mo., dedicated its Route 66 Mural Park on Thursday night with a ribbon-cutting and other downtown events.

The park near at Seventh and Main — where two alignments of Route 66 intersect — features one-half of a 1964 Corvette embedded in a wall as a photo op and two tile murals as photo ops. The two Route 66-themed murals – “Cruisin’ into Joplin” and “The American Ribbon” — were created by Joplin-based Images in Tile.

Interesting excerpt from the Joplin Globe‘s report:

Josh Schmutz, 34, of Joplin, took the chance to get a picture of a replica 1964 Corvette anchored to the wall by the lower mural. He said the display helped his kids understand the road more — he noted that his daughter’s mother lives in Tulsa, Okla., which is named on the mural as one of the key stops along Route 66.

“She didn’t realize that Tulsa was on 66,” Schmutz said. “A lot of the younger generation don’t really know what an important asset the road was. It’s nice to see Joplin continue to associate itself with 66, because it’s helped make Joplin what it is today.”

Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce also supplied these photos from the event. Images include a Route 66 shield on a wall that’s backlit with blue neon; and a big 45 rpm record of “Route 66″ embedded in the concrete near the display:

KSN-TV reported from the event:

Joplin will dedicate Route 66 Mural Park on Thursday March 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Vehicles.
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The Joplin, Mo., Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the Route 66 Mural Park at 6:05 p.m. Thursday, according to a news release from the chamber.

The park near at Seventh and Main — where two alignments of Route 66 intersect — features one-half of a 1964 Corvette embedded in a wall as a photo op.

The mural includes two Route 66-themed murals – “Cruisin’ into Joplin” and “The American Ribbon” — created by Joplin-based Images in Tile that were dedicated in August as part of the opening of the Route 66 International Festival.

(Image of Route 66 Mural Park courtesy of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce)

Discover America posting videos about Route 66 March 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips.
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In the past day or so, Discover America – aka Brand USA, an official public-private corporation that encourages travel in the United States — uploaded videos about Route 66 in Illinois.

This is the American version of a well-produced clip about the Mother Road from Chicago to Springfield, Ill.

Discover America also uploaded versions tailored to British, German and Japanese tourists, including their native language. And the videos are all a bit different from the others. Surf through Discover America’s channel to see them.

It appears the videos got help from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and Illinois Tourism. It’s great to see the big dogs of tourism and corporations taking a shine to Route 66.

(Brand USA logo via Brand USA)

Donations may be sought to fix Illinois State Fairgrounds March 3, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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A proposal seeks donations instead of taxpayer money to make badly needed repairs to the historic Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, reported the State Journal-Register.

The newspaper said:

Legislation filed by state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, would allow the agriculture department to form a state fairground foundation that would solicit private funds from individuals and businesses to help make major repairs and upgrades to Illinois’ state fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin. [...]

Bob Flider, the state agriculture director, said the CDB hasn’t been immune from the state’s fiscal problems as it struggles to spread thinning resources among the many capital projects that need to be done.

“We’ve got about a $30 million list of projects to be done,” Flider said. “And when you’re looking at the investment that needs to be made to fix the roofs, fix the roads, fix the plumbing, make fire safety improvements, etc., it’s very cost prohibitive when we are competing with prison needs, road and bridge repairs and community water systems.”

He said the fairgrounds are able to “just tread water” with the amount of funding the department gets, an amount that often varies widely year to year.

The condition of the fairgrounds took a nosedive during the tenure of now-disgraced (and imprisoned) governor Rod Blagojevich, who showed little interest.

Current Gov. Pat Quinn reportedly has a “soft spot” in his heart for the fairgrounds, and has allocated more money for them — but not before some buildings suffered from lack of upkeep.

However, Illinois government remains strapped, and the money isn’t there for the overhaul that’s needed. That’s where private individuals and businesses would come in.

The fairgrounds seem like they’d be an ideal money magnet. The Illinois State Fair has occupied that spot in north Springfield since 1894 — predating Route 66 by three decades. So it’s not hyperbole when Flider says:

“You look at the historic buildings out there, the generations of families who have been coming out to show their livestock and promote agriculture, it’s really a part of our heritage.”

In addition to Route 66 running right by the fairgrounds, it fostered the rise of one of Mother Road’s most iconic restaurants, the Cozy Dog Drive-In. Founder Ed Waldmire sold his Cozy Dogs at the fair in 1946 and spurred their enduring popularity.

(Hat tip to Dave Todd; images of the Illinois State Fairgrounds entrance and its Coliseum by Randy von Liski via Flickr)

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