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Google Maps Street View comes to the Grand Canyon January 31, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Maps, Photographs.
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Route 66 fans often use Street View on Google Maps to vicariously travel the Mother Road, as this demonstration video from 2010 shows:

Now, Street View has arrived at one of the most popular side trips for Route 66 travelers — Grand Canyon National Park.

According to Google’s official blog today, Google Maps now offers more than 75 miles of the Grand Canyon’s trails and roads in a 360-degree panoramic images.

Google didn’t use camera-equipped cars this time, but hikers with camera-equipped backpacks. It posted this demonstration video of its Grand Canyon efforts:

Google wrote:

This breathtaking imagery collection was made possible with the Trekker. Our team strapped on the Android-operated 40-pound backpacks carrying the 15-lens camera system and wound along the rocky terrain on foot, enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way. Together, more than 9,500 panoramas of this masterpiece of nature are now available on Google Maps.

So no matter where you are, you don’t have to travel far or wait for warmer weather to explore Grand Canyon National Park. Check out some of our favorite views on our World Wonders site where you can find more information, facts and figures about the Grand Canyon, or in the updated Street View gallery, and happy (virtual) hiking!

It wouldn’t surprise me to see a few of Google’s hikers take on La Bajada Hill in New Mexico or some of the more-obscure alignments of Route 66 in future projects.

A man’s trip on Route 66 in 1967 December 12, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Maps, Road trips.
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Magnum Redux, a self-proclaimed “writer, artist, published author, car lover, gun nut, professional musician, and nostalgia expert” on YouTube, describes a trip he took on Route 66 in 1967 from Joplin, Mo., to Santa Monica, Calif.

He also gives a shout-out to the “Route 66 Adventure Handbook” and the “Here It Is!” map series of Route 66, so it’s obvious he’s also been doing some research about the Mother Road in the present day.

Meteor City Trading Post’s final business day is Dec. 23 November 6, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Maps.

Meteor City Trading Post, located off old Route 66 west of Winslow, Ariz., announced today on its Facebook page its final day of business will be Dec. 23.

The message read:

AS much as it saddens me I have to say our last day open will be December 23,2012 its been a wonderful ride….. met many people from all over the world right now everything except textiles is on sale 40% off t-shirt are 50% off come and get some great gifts! I thank everyone for their bussiness and also thank you to the ones thats has stopped by and chatted for a while :)

The business was recently listed on our “For Sale” page for $150,000.

According to Roadside America, the main stucco building was constructed in 1938, and the dome built in 1979. It’s also well-known for a mural that is proclaimed as the World’s Largest Map of Route 66 (100 feet), originally painted by late Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire.

(Hat tip: Mike Ward)

Even parts of Route 66 need better cell-phone coverage October 3, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, Maps.

A lot of folks use smartphones today. But more than 1 million residents in the United States still can’t use them to a great degree because of the lack of 3G or better wireless coverage in their region.

That includes part of Route 66, especially in the West.

David Talbot of Technology Review wrote about the lack of 3G in some areas:

It includes 1,738,828 residents—and 653,392 miles of highways and secondary roads (including a few stretches of the fabled Route 66 through northern New Mexico and Nevada). If you live in one of these areas, or are driving through, you’ll find no 4G or even 3G service for your new iPhone5, Droid Razr M, Nokia Lumia 900, or other smartphone.

Talbot mistakenly identifies Nevada as a Route 66 state when it never was. But when you look at this interactive map showing the lack of 3G coverage through September, you’ll find, if anything, that he understates the problem on Route 66.

The map shows many more counties on Route 66 lack complete 3G coverage than have it. In addition to New Mexico, pieces of Arizona, the Texas Panhandle, the Mojave Desert in California, and the Ozarks in Missouri lack wireless service.

Even the relatively well-populated Macoupin County, Ill. — where an older alignment of 66 traverses — sees some spotty areas.

However, there is some good news. Thanks to a $300 million in grants announced Wednesday by the FCC, the number of residents without 3G service soon will drop by nearly a quarter-million. (Map here.) That new coverage includes swaths of Quay, Guadalupe, Torrance, and San Miguel counties in New Mexico, all which host the Mother Road.

Route 66 Interpretive Plaza in Tulsa is finished September 22, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Gas stations, Highways, History, Maps, Motels.
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Travelers on Route 66 in Tulsa now have a new, short side trip to check out — the Route 66 Interpretive Plaza near 11th Street and Mingo Road.

The sign in a median at that intersection that directs you to the plaza and the two Route 66 alignments in Tulsa was finished months ago.

However, the plaques that explained key elements of Route 66’s history in Tulsa were installed just a few days ago. The plaza sits a short distance south of 11th Street in the J.D. Metcalfe Flood Control and Recreation Area, created about two decades ago after a catastrophic flood in 1984.

As the area’s name implies, it’s a spot for walkers, picnickers, and fishermen in addition to flood retention.

But don’t worry too much if you decide to visit the Route 66 Interpretive Plaza after a rainstorm. It lies near the highest point of the flood-control area.

Each of the plaques is mounted on this concrete monolith emblazoned with the Route 66 shield.

The biggest plaque shows a map of Route 66 in Tulsa County, with the two alignments and points of interest. (You can click each photo of the plaques to enlarge them.)


One of the plaques delves into the Avery Tourist Camp, owned by Tulsa resident Cyrus “The Father of Route 66″ Avery.


Another plaque describes the two alignments of Route 66 — Admiral Place in 1926-32, and 11th Street in 1932-1973.


Another tells the history of Route 66 motor courts in Tulsa, citing the Campbell Hotel, Oasis Motel, Desert Hills Motel, and Brookshire Motel as surviving examples.


Finally, the last plaque describes the Whittier Square District, best known for the historic Circle Cinema.


The Interpretive Plaza seems somewhat low-key in its presentation and design. But it provides valuable context for novice Route 66 travelers, at a convenient location.

UPDATE: A few folks were having problems seeing the plaque photos, so I reduced them to thumbnail size. You can still click on the photos to enlarge them.

New Mexicans route bicycle path for Mother Road September 9, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Maps.
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In November 2010, the Adventure Cycling Association announced it was mapping out a bicycle-friendly path of Route 66. The group hopes to have those maps available by 2014.

However, the New Mexico Touring Society has already created maps for cyclists wanting to tour Route 66, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The path goes from Glenrio on the east edge of the state to Gallup on the other end. And it includes the pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 to Santa Fe.

The maps and other information about Route 66 can be found at USBR66NM.bicyclemaps.org. The online maps include elevations and mile-by-mile directions. Here’s a sample, from Glenrio to the U.S. 84 junction west of Santa Rosa:

Find more Bike Ride in TX, United States

The Journal reported:

Volunteers cycled or drove the route, looking for remnants of the original road that were still safe for cycling. In areas where the road was eroded, inaccessible or too exposed to heavy traffic, the club chose an alternative that offered a safer cycling experience, said Barbara Snow, the chair of the NMTS Route 66 committee.

“In designing the New Mexico portion of the route, we felt that it was important to avoid biking on the interstate highways as much as possible,” Snow said.

In other areas, the bike route varies from historic Route 66 to offer a more scenic riding experience.
For example, the stretch of Route 66 between Grants and Gallup didn’t have cycling-safe roadways, so the bike map follows N.M. 53 through the Malpais area, past the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano and El Morro National Monument, where visitors can see inscriptions carved by Spanish colonial leaders Juan de Oñate and Don Diego de Vargas.

As I’ve said before, this is a big deal. In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more people requesting information about cycling the Mother Road. Soon, businesses along the Mother Road will likely see a new, vibrant source of pedal-powered tourist revenue.

Springfield may have erroneously marked Route 66 August 20, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Maps, Signs.

A researcher says a 1926-30 alignment of Route 66 in Springfield, Ill., is erroneously marked in part of the city, according to a recent article in the Illinois Times.

Carl Johnson, a land surveyor who’s written several articles in the newsletter for the Illinois Route 66 Association, told the newspaper about the alleged error. Here’s the gist:

Johnson believes that U.S. Route 66 originally traveled down part of Sixth Street in Springfield, not along a more western route that is currently credited as part of Illinois’ Historic Route 66 Scenic Byway. The confusion over different routes comes from the fact that Illinois Route 4 and U.S. Route 66 often shared the same path, but not always. [...]

The common wisdom is that, from 1926 to 1930, Route 66 traveled into Springfield from the north on what is now known as Peoria Road, then turned west on Taintor Road along the northern border of the State Fairgrounds. The accepted path has Route 66 wrapping around the Fairgrounds’ western border, then traveling south on Fifth Street past Lincoln Park.

It then turns west onto North Grand Avenue for three blocks to Second Street and heads south past the current State Capitol Building until it reaches South Grand Avenue, where it picks up what is now MacArthur Boulevard and heads out of town.

But Johnson says the real Route 66 never turned at Taintor Road by the Fairgrounds. Instead, he claims Route 66 originally traveled south on Peoria Road and Ninth Street, then headed west on Enos Avenue for three blocks before turning south on Sixth Street. Route 66 then traveled west on Capitol Avenue, turning south on Second Street at the State Capitol Building until reaching South Grand Avenue, Johnson claims.

The Illinois Times created this helpful Google Maps layout to illustrate:

View Larger Map

The blue line shows the disputed Taintor Road alignment that marks Route 66 from 1926-30. The red line shows Johnson’s Route 66 alignment from 1926-29. The green line shows Johnson’s alignment in 1930-31, when officials started to realign the path in a more easterly direction from Springfield to Staunton. (UPDATE: I just noticed that the Times’ map has an error with the blue line; it’s turning onto Sangamon, instead of turning onto Taintor.)

As for whether Johnson is right, one of his fellow roadies in Illinois isn’t sure:

John Lucchesi, the Sangamon County representative on the board of the Illinois Route 66 Association, isn’t fully convinced. It’s possible that Johnson is right, he says, but Lucchesi claims to have seen maps in the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library, 326 S. 7th St., that definitively show the path of Route 66 year by year. [...]

Asked how it’s possible that maps from the very same era could show different routes, Lucchesi said highway construction was still so new at the time that temporary routes often shifted again and again until a permanent route was finished.

Lucchesi isn’t the only source that doubts Johnson. A 1997 edition of “The New, Historic Route 66 of Illinois” guidebook by John Weiss includes the Taintor Road as part of the alignment. So does a 2003 edition of “The Complete Guidebook to Route 66,” by Bob Moore and Rich Cunningham.

But Stefan Joppich’s online Route 66 Atlas excludes Taintor Road in its Springfield map, noting that Taintor was “never” Route 66 but was a part of the historic Pontiac Trail. Rick Martin’s online Route 66 Map also excludes the Tainter Road alignment.

The best sources I know are Jerry McClanahan and Jim Ross, who have researched, separately and together, the varying alignments of Route 66 since at least the mid-1990s. Ross and McClanahn produced the “Here It Is!” map series, and McClanahan produced the “Route 66: EZ Guide” as well.

In an email, Ross said he and McClanahan “discarded the Taintor Road route years ago,” and that Johnson got it right.

The answer isn’t 100 percent definitive. Someday, someone might discover a cache of long-forgotten maps that would disprove those conclusions. But, based on the weight of current evidence and expert opinion, I’d say the older Springfield alignment has been mismarked, and the state needs to correct that.

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