During my cross-country trip in November 2018, I spent some time following historic US Route 66, following portions of the Mother Road between Oklahoma City and Barstow, California. While I spent some time visiting some of the various sites on or around this iconic highway, I also decided that it would be appropriate to spend a little time learning about the history of Route 66 as well. So on a windy, chilly November afternoon in the prairies, I stopped at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma, on historic US 66, not far off of I-40.
The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is open year-round and showcases the Mother Road by bringing you the social history and an impressive amount of related artifacts of Route 66 through the decades from the early days of motoring to the modern day. You can learn what Route 66 in Oklahoma was like during periods of American history, such as the Dust Bowl era, World War II, and the 1950s. This will give you a feel of what it was like traveling Route 66 during its heyday, and what you may have seen along the way if you were driving the Mother Road. If you are looking to learn more about Route 66, there is also the National Route 66 Museum down the road in Elk City, Oklahoma, which would be worth a visit if I ever do a return trip through western Oklahoma.
|Historic US Route 66 in Oklahoma is also known as the Will Rogers Highway, named after the famous native of Oklahoma. There are a number of these historical markers along the historic road.
|Entering the museum, you are greeted with a lot of Route 66 signs of various flavors.
|Historic Route 66 signs in each state the highway went through, along with a chunk of the historic highway itself.
|One of the common themes of Route 66 is road trip culture, and what better way to symbolize that than with a classic car.
|Get your kicks on Route 66. Here are some replications of classic photographs of places you may pass if you are driving along historic Route 66.
|If you only came here for the button copy, you will not be disappointed.
|Route 66 through Oklahoma.
|There's that Will Rogers Highway again. Some of the advertised highlights are a little off of Route 66, such as the Grand Canyon and the Boulder Dam (now known as the Hoover Dam, or as I like to call it, the Hoover Darn).
|I had seen quite a few of these painted Route 66 shields both in the museum and along historic stretches of the road itself.
|Follow Route 66 between Chicago and Santa Monica. Here is a map of the places you will see along the way.
|Historic auto trails, which are the predecessor to the numbered highways we drive today.
|An old farming cart. Many of the towns that Route 66 passes through in Oklahoma have an agricultural history.
|Not to be confused with Walmart's house brand of hiking and camping gear, the Ozark Trail was a historic auto road that went through Oklahoma and was replaced in a large part by Route 66 between St. Louis, Missouri, and New Mexico.
|A map of the Ozark Trails, also shows connections to places like Kansas City and El Paso.
|1934 Project Marker showing that a section of Route 66 was constructed and presumably paved.
|An old truck.
|Some artifacts from Clinton, Oklahoma, the hometown of the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.
|US 66 at OK 3 and OK 74, photo from 1940 and courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
|A copy of a travel mat highlighting suggested stops between Shamrock, Texas and Springfield, Missouri along Route 66.
|The Route 66 Museum also featured some news clippings from throughout the years, including this ad for an oral polio vaccine.
|The Sonic chain of drive-in restaurants was founded in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
|Some old restaurant signs in the 50s diner section of the museum.
|The museum's 50s diner replica.
|A swamp cooler, an early type of air conditioning unit for automobiles.
|A Volkswagen van like one used by Bob Waldmire, an artist who specialized in drawing scenes of historic Route 66.
|The back of a Nash Rambler, one of many models of cars used on Route 66 road trips.
|One of Bob Waldmire's Route 66 maps.
|Bob Waldmire's Volkswagen van was an inspiration for one of the cars in the animated movie Cars. Many scenes from the movie also were inspired by Route 66, such as the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. While Waldmire would not allow his name to be licensed for the movie, he drew some sketches related to the movie.
|Old embossed Oklahoma US 66 shield. The photo is from Jim Ross in the book Route 66 Crossings. There are a number of photographs in the museum showing the modern-day historic US Route 66.