Grant to help “Trucking on Route 66” project

A $5,100 federal cost-share grant will help Missouri State University Libraries and Ozarks Alive set up a “Trucking on Route 66” oral-history project.

The grant comes from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, which should release its full list of 2017 grant recipients any day now.

According to a news release from the university:

Twenty oral history interviews will be recorded with individuals involved in the trucking industry along the Route 66 Corridor in Missouri from 1926 to 1985.

Tom Peters, Dean of Library Services at Missouri State, noted, “Oral histories have a proven track record of expanding and enriching other aspects of the historical record and documentary evidence about Route 66. The history of trucking along Route 66 in Missouri is legendary, with Campbell 66 Express — including its iconic image of Snortin’ Norton — a prime example. We appreciate the support and participation of the National Park Service and Ozarks Alive to advance our oral history initiatives.”

Kaitlyn McConnell, Founder of Ozarks Alive and Media Relations Coordinator for CoxHealth, observed, “When people think of Route 66, they typically focus on the ‘fun’ aspects, such as vacationers traveling across America. However, the road was integral to our history in many other ways, such as economic expansion. This project is a wonderful opportunity to preserve some of those stories before they’re lost.”

Both audio and video will be recorded and preserved. Metadata and transcriptions will be created for each interview. The audio recordings, the video recordings, the metadata, and the transcriptions will be uploaded to the Internet and made freely available to researchers and members of the general public. This project will complement other oral history collections held by MSU, other Research Route 66 member libraries, and the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

It’s good Ozarks Alive and the university is doing this. The trucking industry seems to be an under-documented part of Route 66 history. Even the most elderly former drivers probably won’t remember anything earlier than the 1940s.

But since Campbell 66 Express was headquartered in Springfield, Missouri — where MSU is \– the university shouldn’t have too much trouble finding of few of the company’s former employees. Campbell 66 Express operated from 1933 to about 1997.

A good subject for an interview would be Rich Henry of Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois. Not only was he a truck driver, but his family boasted four generations of truckers, as this archived Illinois Times article explains.

(A Campbell 66 Express trailer in Henderson, Tennessee, by Brent Moore via Flickr)

2 thoughts on “Grant to help “Trucking on Route 66” project

  1. This is terrific news! After all, the story of Route 66 is not really about travelers, but about the men and women who lived alongside and sold goods and services to those who passed by – and to the people who used the road itself for their livelihoods, like bussmen and truckers. MSU is a wonderful repository for this project, and there’s nobody better than Kaitlyn McConnell to carry it out.

  2. The splayed legs of the camel on the “Humpin’ to Please” trailer are very much artistic licence – and not how a camel truly runs. But it does remind me of how artists used to depict horses galloping, with their fore legs straight out frontwards and their hind legs straight out backwards. Only the 19th century stop-action photographs by Eadweard Muybridge proved this not to be the case.

    As for Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, there is of course, apart from live rabbits and VW Rabbits a third rabbit: rabbiting – talking on and on, perhaps as rabbiting about Route 66…….as many of us like to do.

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