You can't really call yourself an American until you've traveled a stretch of U.S. Route 66 (also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America and the Mother Road). Established in 1926, the thoroughfare stretched from Los Angeles to Chicago and was a major path for Dust Bowl migrants heading west in the 1930s and vacationers seeking Los Angeles in the 1950s. But when President Dwight Eisenhower put pen to paper and signed the Interstate Highway Act, it was the beginning of the end of the famous road's enormous popularity.
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Route 66 has also had a major impact on popular culture, showing its face in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, the essential American tale On the Road, the cult classic film Easy Rider and songs by U2, Bobby Troup and White Zombie. Opening today at the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center, 400 Quail Road in Longmont, is a long look at the route titled Return to Route 66. Comprising photography by Shellee Graham as well as vintage automobiles and old-fashioned gas station and garage equipment, the exhibit "shows both the beauty of the route, and also that it's not just part of history that it continues to have an existence today," says the museum's Erik Mason.
Return to Route 66 continues through March 9; admission is free. Visit www.ci.longmont.co.us/museum or call 303-651-8374.
Jan. 19-March 9, 2008