Route 66 was commissioned in 1926 and fully paved by the late 1930s. It ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, creating connections between hundreds of small towns and providing a trucking route through the Southwest. While not the first long-distance highway, or the most traveled, Route 66 gained fame beyond almost any other road. Dubbed the Mother Road by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 carried hundreds of thousands of Depression-era migrants from the Midwest who went to California hoping for jobs and a better life.
U.S. 66 route marker, 1930s
Pavement from Route 66 near Bridgeport, Oklahoma, 1932
Phillips 66 service station sign
Oakland sedan, 1929
In the 1930s many families who moved to California piled their possessions onto their car and headed West on Route 66.
1931 Ford Model AA stake bed truck
The flat all-season route of U.S. 66 led to an increase in long-distance trucking. By the 1930s, individual truck owners and small fleets carried many types of goods. Farmers also used Route 66, and in the 1940s military traffic and heavy demands on freight trains again increased truck traffic. This truck is similar to ones used on Route 66.