Route 66 News

Will Rogers Museum will promote Route 66 in 2015

Will Rogers Highway monument

The Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma, will include the promotion of Route 66, aka the Will Rogers Memorial Highway, during a series of changes for the upcoming year, according to a news release published in the Tulsa World.

The museums, which also includes the Rogers’ Birthplace Ranch in Oologah, Oklahoma, also are planning:

  • ” … A new focus on education for children around Oklahoma and beyond as well as opportunities for children in our area to participate in more events,” said museum executive director Tad Jones.
  • Talent shows
  • Community-oriented events

The news release didn’t elaborate on the Route 66 promotions.

The Claremore museum’s hours also will change, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult ticket prices will rise to $7 and senior citizens to $5. Children will continue to be admitted free.

Rogers touted U.S. 66 when he was alive, including at the famous Bunion Derby footrace in 1928, until his death in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935. The origins of when Route 66 began to be called the Will Rogers Highway remain a bit murky. The U.S. 66 Highway Association unofficially named it as such in 1952, but such references date back to the early 1940s at least. A well-known monument dedicating the Will Rogers Highway also was installed in Santa Monica, California, near the Santa Monica Pier, in 1952.

It’s good the museum is trying to freshen things up. Although Rogers arguably remains Oklahoma’s most famous citizen, he has faded from the public memory with the passage of time. Perhaps a few new approaches will reignite interest with his fellow residents of the Sooner State.

(Image of the Will Rogers Highway monument in Santa Monica via Wikimedia Commons)


7 thoughts on “Will Rogers Museum will promote Route 66 in 2015

  1. Bob Harmon

    I suppose it would be easy for younger 66 travelers to pass by the museum because many of them have never even heard of Will Rogers. That would be a mistake. The museum is excellent, with interactive displays and lots of information about times gone by. Rogers was probably ahead of his time. Getting to know him through a visit to the museum is a real treat, even for those of us who are in the generation following his.

  2. Casey

    “Move Made to Name Highway for Rogers”
    Will Rogers and Wiley Post perished on August 15, 1937, and three days later on August 18, 1935, an article published in Oklahoma City’s The Oklahoman via Tulsa stating an attorney named J. B. Underwood was pushing to have Highway 66 named after Rogers to “perpetuate the memory of the late humorist.”

    “Rogers Road Retort Made”
    An article published in The Oklahoman on Thursday, August 22, 1935 said Oklahoma congressman Wesley Disney proposed a bill to name Route 66 “Will Rogers highway” in Green Country (northeastern Oklahoma) on the previous day.

    “U.S. 66 is named Will Rogers Route”
    On Tuesday, December 10, 1935, an AP article in The Oklahoman from Amarillo published the day before stated the National U.S. Highway 66 Association unanimously voted to name Route 66 “Will Rogers Highway” from Chicago to Los Angeles while meeting in Amarillo.

    These articles can be accessed by doing an advanced search for “Will Rogers 66” in The Oklahoman digital archives by searching a date range from August through December 1935.

    Then in the summer of 1952 and in conjunction with Warner Bros. releasing the biopic The Story of Will Rogers, Route 66 was officially dedicated as Will Rogers Highway with a large caravan traveling on 66 from Chicago to L.A. The caravan installed roadside plaques along the highway as it motored west. The star of the film Will Rogers, Jr. accompanied the Will Rogers Caravan on its journey to California with celebratory parades being held in many towns such as Claremore, Clinton, Amarillo, and Holbrook among others. The caravan concluded in July 1952 with a plaque being placed on the Pacific Ocean’s shore in Santa Monica, California.

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