Kansas Route 66 attains Historic Byway status

The Kansas portion of historic Route 66 has been designated as a Kansas Historic Byway, according to a news release today from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The designation applies to all 13 miles of Route 66 in southeastern Kansas, including older alignments. As a result, the route will feature Kansas Scenic Byway signs (example here), be placed on the National Scenic Byways listing, and be included on the Kansas Scenic Byways website.

Also, the designation will enable the route to be eligible for federal grants to enhance and/or promote the byway.

The news release said:

“The designation of Kansas Historic Route 66 will emphasize the important significance of the route in this area for visitors and local residents, encouraging them to drive the route and explore the communities along it,” said Scott Shields, Kansas State Byways Coordinator.

An historic byway must have resources that are historically significant, be numerous, visible and have a setting or character that is complementary to the resources. “We are excited to add Historic Route 66 to the Kansas Byway collection. The route designation provides travelers a chance to view the relationship between the history of the original highway and the landscape and structures that define the area, in a combined effort to promote tourism and economic development, while exploring the natural and cultural importance of the byway communities,” Shields said.

Renee Charles of Galena and Marla Larison of Baxter Springs serve as co-chairs of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Planning Committee.

Charles is one of the proprietors of 4 Women on the Route in Galena, which has become a significant Route 66 attraction. The business serves as a combination restaurant and tourism center in a refurbished Kan-O-Tex gas station. Also, a 1951 International boom truck that served as a major inspiration to Mater in the Disney-Pixar films “Cars” and “Cars 2” is displayed at 4 Women on the Route.

Kansas joins Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Arizona, and New Mexico as states which have earned National Scenic Byway or All-American Road designations along their stretches of Route 66.

The only holdouts left are Texas and California, and the Golden State probably will join the byways program soon upon the completion of a comprehensive study of Route 66 in California.

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