Today marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of Route 66 News.
It doesn’t appear to be much of a milestone when dozens of other businesses on Route 66 have been operating for a half-century or more. Route 66 News isn’t even the oldest website devoted to the Mother Road. Historic66.com has been slinging pixels since 1994.
But 15 years is a long time on the internet. And, from regular posting of stories, Route 66 News has amassed a lot of data during that time:
- In a few weeks, Route 66 News will have published its 10,000th story.
- More than 15,000 comments on various stories have been posted.
- At last count, Route 66 News had been read in at least 220 countries.
- The most popular post by far is the “A Route 66 Guide to the Cars movie,” which has seen more than 500,000 page views since it first was published in June 2006.
I started the website because Route 66 lacked a timely source of information at that time. All other Route 66-related publications were quarterly, which meant a big story might not be reported until three months later.
The once-vibrant but now virtually defunct Route 66 e-group passed along news, but it was a private site few people but roadies knew about.
I wanted something that was accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Between that and my journalism background, I figured I could make a contribution.
A WordPress.com blog hadn’t been planned. But the more I investigated its features (easy setup, easy updates, the potential for multimedia, etc.), the more it seemed like an ideal medium. And I haven’t even discussed its archiving system, which turned out to be a secret weapon in attracting new readers.
The initial goal was to average one story per day. It was sort of a self-discipline setup after seeing too many other promising websites ebb to nothing after only a few months. I wasn’t sure I could do a story a day. But it turned out I had underestimated Route 66’s ability to produce newsworthy stories; the number of stories averaged well past that goal.
The website earned its keep less than a month after launch when a developer purchased El Vado Motel and announced plans to tear it down for luxury condos. That news mobilized the Route 66 community and led to the property being saved years later.
Times change, and Route 66 News changed with it. It went from a free platform to paid hosting. It went from bare-bones text to including images, video and audio. It went through several face-lifts, began accepting advertising and tightened its news criteria. Social media emerged as an avenue for news stories, in addition to newspapers.
Thank you to all the readers who’ve helped support this site, including a few who’ve been here since Day One.
As for the future, no changes are planned. Route 66 News still holds to its original mission — “a clearinghouse of news and events along historic Route 66, the Mother Road.” As long as people still are fascinated with that historic highway, I don’t see changing.
(Screen-capture image of the front page of Route 66 News in 2007)