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Route 66, America's 'Mother Road', revs back to life

Updated: 2017-06-05 08:11
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Route 66, the iconic US road threading through eight states from Chicago to Santa Monica, offers a glimpse of a bygone era of history.[Photo/Agencies]

For decades, Route 66 captured the imagination of travelers the world over, offering a glimpse of a bygone era of US history, when people hit the road in search of adventure and a better life.

The two-lane highway established in 1926 and coined the "Mother Road" by John Steinbeck seemed to encompass the essence of the United States, threading through eight states from Chicago to Santa Monica.

But after it was decommissioned in the 1980s in favor of larger and faster thoroughfares, Route 66 appeared headed for the dustbin of history as the mom-and-pop stores, kitschy motels, diners and gas stations that lined the road gradually shut down.

"Entire towns folded up, and what had been a 2,400-mile (4,000-kilometer) carnival became-to a large extent-a 2,400-mile ghost town," explains David Knudson, founder and executive director of the nonprofit National Historic Route 66 Federation.

In recent years, however, the iconic road that has been immortalized in countless books, movies, music (Get Your Kicks on Route 66) and a TV series has been experiencing a nostalgia-driven revival that is attracting tourists from around the globe.

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