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Indian tribes will launch Route 66 tourism project November 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, History.
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A Native American tourism group and the National Park Service will meet in New Mexico later this month to formally launch the “American Indians and Route 66″ project, reported Indian Country Today.

The initial meeting of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association is set for Route 66 Casino west of Albuquerque.

Tribal lands and tribes are located along the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to California, yet very few tribal connections and stories have been documented to date. AIANTA received a grant from NPS to coordinate this project, which is intended to produce an American Indians and Route 66 Guidebook, sharing the history of tribal homelands and tribes along the route while encouraging tourists to visit these tribal destinations.

“With more than 27 federally recognized tribes along Route 66, we are thrilled that we will finally be able to share these under-told histories connected to the famous highway,” said Virginia Salazar-Halfmoon, AIANTA’s Public Lands Partnership Coordinator and Route 66 Project Coordinator. “We hope that with this project we can provide tangible connections with Tribes along Route 66 and encourage people to visit and learn about the history and connections of tribal nations along the route.”

The project will also include entry of cultural attractions, Indian-owned destinations and accommodations on AIANTA’s Indian Country destinations website, which is currently in its development stage. […]

The guidebook will provide travelers with educational information about sites of significance and share compelling historic information that will attract travelers to destinations identified by tribes along Route 66.

The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program announced in July the awarding of a $24,000 grant for such a project.

I’m glad to see this. American Indians played a vital part in the rise of Southwest tourism and culture, even before U.S. 66 came into being. Their story has long been overlooked or ignored.

UPDATE: Apologies for the coding issues that showed earlier on this story today. A former advertising partner made changes in how content was delivered, and it was messing up links in stories.

(Image near Grants, New Mexico, by Pam Morris via Flickr)

Route 66 — a jobs creator November 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Museums, Towns.
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During a formal introduction Wednesday of the logo for the new Route 66 Visitors Center in Bloomington, Illinois — which we already reported months ago — local officials revealed some eyebrow-raising statistics about the economic value of the Mother Road.

Bloomington, which long seemed indifferent to Route 66 for years, suddenly has embraced it. And this excerpt in the Bloomington Pantagraph’s report partly explains why (boldface is my emphasis):

By the third year of operation, Koos said the tourism center is expected to bring $6 million in new revenue to the county and could create an estimated 100 jobs by bringing 20,000 people into the center of the city.

“I think this center is a huge catalyst for economic development,” said Bloomington Alderman Karen Schmidt, who was acting as mayor pro tem in Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner’s absence.

Jen Hoselze, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said travelers spent $352.8 million in McLean County last year.

As I predicted, the Route 66 Economic Impact Study from 2012 — including the revelation the road generated $127 million in tourism spending annually — was going to change the way many cities viewed the route. Money talks — in a big way.

As for the seemingly incongruous logo of Abraham Lincoln cruising 66 in a car, you had this take from a local official:

“He loved humor, enjoyment and a good time,” Koos said. “He’d be happy to be remembered in such ways.”

The state Office of Tourism already created a “mini Abe” for commercials promoting Illinois and recently started working on “big Abe” commercials with hopes of capturing attention in Asian countries where such characters are often idolized.

The Illinois Office of Tourism awarded a $249,000 grant for the project. Bloomington hopes to have the visitors center open by spring.

City of Pacific may buy scenic lookout November 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation, Towns.
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The City of Pacific, Missouri, moved to enter into a contract to buy the Lookout on Jensen’s Point off Route 66, reported the Washington Missourian.

The owner, Wayne Winchester, has set a price of $300,000 for the iconic stone structure of the lookout, 2 1/2 acres and a nearby parking lot. The city hopes to secure most or all of the money through a St. Louis County Municipal Parks grant. The plan ultimately would be to fold the site into Pacific’s parks and recreation department.

Six organizations — including Great Rivers Greenway, Shaw Nature Preserve and Ozark Trail Association — have publicly lauded the city’s planned purchase and have pledged other support as well.

The city should know by early 2015 whether it gets the grant.

According to another story by the Missourian, Jensen’s Point was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The landmark eventually was named after Lars Peter Jensen, the first manager of Shaw’s Garden, aka Missouri Botanical Garden, and president of the Henry Shaw Gardenway Association that designed to beautify Route 66 in that region.

(Old images of Jensen’s Point in Pacific, Missouri, courtesy of 66Postcards.com and Illinois Digital Archives)

New public service announcement about Route 66 November 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Route 66 Associations, Television.
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This video landed in my email inbox this week. It aims to promote travel on Route 66:

And this message:

This project has been in the planning stages by the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce for over two years, and this is the first of several PSAs that will target the U.S., but will also be made available to overseas Route 66 Associations without narration, so narration in their language may be added. […]

This was truly a ‘grassroots’ effort that included Route 66 Roadies with Joe Loesch doing the voice-over and Jim Hinckley assisting with the script. Locals also provided the Model A Ford truck and the special edition Mustang convertible. Former Carthage Mayor Jim Woestman provided the authentic Missouri U.S. 66 metal sign and Red Oak II near Carthage was the background for most of the video, while other scenes were shot on old 66 in Kellogg Lake Park and on a segment just East of Carterville, MO. The 30-second ad is heavy on Americana, Friendly Folks and Nostalgia, and clearly shows that even today, visitors on the Mother Road are still “Getting their Kicks on Route 66″!

Ron Hart, Director of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, was the producer, cameraman and editor of the high-definition commercial which will be made available to state Route 66 associations to have aired on local and regional broadcast TV and cable systems, while additional copies will be sent to national networks. According to Mr. Hart, “I am not aware of any PSAs ever being aired specifically to promote travel on the Mother Road, and the Chamber will track hits to its website and note increased traffic once the commercial begins airing. I believe it’s time to utilize every form of media to promote Route 66, including social media, billboards, television, travel publication ads and newspaper submissions. I encourage every Roadie to share the YouTube link with their friends and also with their local TV stations, and I will be happy to mail them the broadcast-quality ads, or they may download the ad from our ‘dropbox.'”

(Screenshot from the Visit66.com PSA)

Albuquerque adopts Route 66 Action Plan November 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Businesses, Preservation, Signs, Towns.
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The Albuquerque City Council unanimously ratified Mayor Richard Berry’s Route 66 Action Plan for a 15-mile stretch of Central Avenue in the city, reported the Associated Press and other media outlets.

The plan comes with infrastructure improvements, tourism additions and historical preservation, among other things.

You can read a summary of the plan here, but here are the highlights:

  • A so-called “digital backbone” that better attracts high-tech businesses.
  • Transportation improvements that are safer and better for bicycles, cars, buses and pedestrians.
  • Improvements of the city’s bus system.
  • More signs from Interstate 40 to guide travelers to Route 66 and its historic sites and attractions.
  • Streetscape improvements.
  • More opportunities for public art.
  • New neon signs and preservation of the existing ones.
  • Preservation and redevelopment of historic Route 66 buildings.
  • Facade improvements to existing buildings.
  • Filling in gaps on Central Avenue with new development.
  • Encourage business development.
  • Increase residential development.
  • Better branding of Route 66.
  • A new website touting Route 66 in Albuquerque.
  • Building visitors centers and interpretive sites.
  • Special events and festivals.

Keep in mind this is a “long-range” plan — it will take years to have all these things come together. And with an initial budget outlay of $150,000, it will take years to come to fruition.

The complete plan is here. However, be warned — it’s 122 pages of an Acrobat document.

(Image of Route 66 in Albuquerque by OpenThreads via Flickr)

Senator may urge Obama to make Mojave a monument November 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) may ask President Obama to create two national monuments in California’s Mojave Desert, including one that includes a stretch of Route 66, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Feinstein said Monday she wants to break a logjam of interests that stalled two previous bills to create the two protected zones, the largest of which is Mojave Trails National Monument on 921,000 acres of federal land and former railroad company property along a 105-mile stretch of old Route 66, between Ludlow and Needles. […]

The bills, introduced by Feinstein, have been held up by Republicans and by conflicts among environmentalists, off-roaders, hunters and renewable-energy interests.

Feinstein said she would ask Obama to use his authority to create monuments without congressional approval “if we find that by this time next year we cannot find momentum on our bill. That is exactly what we will do.”

Last month, Obama declared much of the Angeles National Forest as a national monument. And such authority by the president goes back more than 100 years, starting with Teddy Roosevelt bypassing the Congress in designating millions of acres of western forest. (Author Timothy Egan detailed Roosevelt’s gleeful action in this book. TR wasn’t lacking in audacity.)

If approved, the Mojave Trails National Monument would be managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which already manages some sites in the area, including Amboy Crater off Route 66 near Amboy, California.

Such efforts to protect that area of the Mojave Desert have dated back more than five years. A national monument would prevent new development in the area save for “authorized exceptions.” Current property owners wouldn’t be affected. A national monument also would call for the construction of a visitors center.

(Scene near Amboy Crater in March 2008 by Steve Berardi via Flickr)

Los Angeles station gives major time to Route 66 November 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Motels, Restaurants, Road trips, Television, Towns.
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KABC, the major affiliate of ABC in Los Angeles, in recent days gave a lot of time examining Route 66 in the region in its “Eye on L.A.” show.

Here is the San Bernardino to San Gabriel Valley segment:

Monrovia to South Pasadena:

The Arroyo Seco to downtown segment:

West Hollywood to the end of the trail:

You can read the online versions of the stories here.

It’s my understanding that Kumar Patel at the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino lobbied the station for months to do a story about Route 66 in the Los Angeles area. Apparently someone listened.

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