Get your kicks at Route 66 display

craig.sailor@thenewstribune.comJune 13, 2014 

An exhibit on Route 66 — the highway that once spanned between Chicago and Santa Monica, California — is now on display at LeMay - America’s Car Museum. It features artifacts such as a 1961 Chevrolet Impala and vintage gas pumps.

CRAIG SAILOR/ STAFF WRITER

Route 66 — the highway that once spanned between Chicago and Santa Monica, California — exists now more in the imagination than on pavement. But, like many things mid-20th century, it’s enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

LeMay-America’s Car Museum has just opened an exhibit about the 2,400-mile highway in one of its ramp galleries.

“The history of America is told through Route 66,” said Scot Keller, the museum’s chief curator.

The road, now mostly made obsolete by the interstate highway system, was begun around the time of the Great Depression. It wasn’t fully paved until 1938.

The exhibit contains vintage gas pumps, tin road signs, maps, lots of information — and, of course, cars. They range from a 1912 Model T to a 1961 Chevrolet Impala.

“It reflects a snapshot of what you would have seen on the road,” Keller said. A pristine aqua blue 1956 Ford Thunderbird shines like a beacon in the lineup.

One section is devoted to roadside kitsch — the gigantic dinosaurs and other ephemera designed to lure travelers.

Though Route 66 — the actual road — is mostly gone now, the route still attracts travelers and tourists. Many are foreigners — Germans and British in particular — who are fascinated by an America that has all but disappeared in the rear view mirror.

craig.sailor@thenewstribune.com

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