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Route 66: Corridor of Cool

Courtesy Pulaski County CVBPulaski County, Missouri
Thirty-three miles of the original Route 66 runs through Pulaski County, Missouri.

Karen Hood, group tour/travel coordinator with the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, suggests that groups take a tour with a local historian. Guides give lively presentations that include a trip over several miles of original pavement, a few miles on an original dirt road and a visit to the 1923 Route 66 steel truss bridge over the Big Piney River at what is known as Devil’s Elbow.

“That name originated due to a large boulder at the bend in the river that made it difficult for lumberjacks to float timber past the spot,” said Hood.

Ozark scenery, including the Old Stage Coach Stop and 1903 Courthouse in Waynesville, Missouri, are also featured on the tour. Fort Leonard Wood, an active military base in Pulaski County, was in the process of being built during Route 66’s early days and can also be included on this classic American road trip.

Santa Monica, California

Although there is no question that Route 66 ends in Santa Monica, California, there is debate as to the exact spot where the road officially stops.

“The most famous sign, announcing ‘End of the Trail,’ stands at the Santa Monica Pier,” said Jackie Alzarez, public relations coordinator for the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Visitors can shop, eat and take a ride on their historical carousel at this venue set against the Pacific Ocean.”

One of the shops on the pier, 66-to-Cali, is owned by a Route 66 aficionado who has traveled the road more than 25 times and sells only products made in the United States.

A circa-1950 bronze plaque dedicating Route 66 as the Will Rogers Highway is located in Palisades Park; it commemorates this “humorist, world traveler, good neighbor” and the road he loved to travel.

“While you’re here, check out the beautiful rose gardens in Palisades Park,” said Alzarez.

A stop at the California Route 66 Museum in nearby Victorville is a must. The museum’s 5,000 square feet of exhibits showcase an impressive collection of memorabilia, from matchbooks to one of the first 1917 Model T Fords to come off the assembly line.