Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Lecture Tackles Mystery of Route 66
By Lookout Staff
February 27, 2013 – It’s been celebrated in novels and songs, been taken by generations of migrants in old jalopies and by beats who got their kicks along its route. But where did Route 66 really end?
Completed in 1926, the storied highway stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles, before it was extended to Santa Monica in 1936. But its exact terminus remains a mystery, and Santa Monica Conservancy officials promise that mystery will be “unwrapped” Sunday.
“There has been some dispute about where in Santa Monica the route ended,” said Carol Lemlein, the conservancy’s president. “Several locations lay claim to being the terminus. This lecture will unwrap the mystery.”
If anyone is qualified to tackle the topic it’s Rice, currently the national vice president of the Route 66 Alliance, who has traveled the highway 27 times.
Rice, who also is the proprietor of "66 - to - Cali" on the Santa Monica Pier and host of the upcoming TV series, "Road Scholar," will offer a virtual tour of what John Steinbeck in his book "The Grapes of Wrath” called "The Mother Road."
“Route 66 was glorified during the Depression as the path to hope, opportunity and a new life,” said Lemlein. “In the 1950s it became the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles.”
Rice will trace the background of what has been called America's Main Street and discuss its famous real-life travelers like Jack Kerouac and Al Capone, as well as fictional ones like Forrest Gump, Lemlein said.
The 2,451 mile-highway, which wasn’t completely paved until 1938, ran from Chicago through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, before ending up in Santa Monica.
“From the outset, public road planners intended it to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities along its course as most small towns then had no prior access to a major national thoroughfare,” Lemlein said.
In 1985, the road was bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System and officially removed, with many portions of the original road designated National Scenic Byways under the name "Historic Route 66."
The lecture is free but reservations are advised at www.smconservancy.org or by calling and leaving a message at (310) 496-3146.
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