• RonTom: On the Mother Road

    On the Mother Road

    By Ron B and Tom O

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    What is RonTom?

    We are two "Old Timers" with a passion for aviation and a penchant for telling stories. The result is some aviation/flightsim storytelling based on some real-world locations that we think are fun and/or interesting. We hope that this semi-regular feature will inspire you to learn or explore or fly somewhere new. (If you have locations that you'd like to have us visit, please feel free to e-mail: [email protected]).

    On the Mother Road by Ron B and Tom O

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    U.S. Route 66 or U.S. Highway 66, known also as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America and the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The route, established on November 11, 1926, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).

    The highway has been recognized in song: (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66), television (Route 66), and film (Cars), as well as literature (The Grapes of Wrath).

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    The route was officially removed from the highway system in 1985 after it had been replaced in its entirety by segments of the Interstate. Portions of the road have now been designated a 'National Scenic Byway' and the name, 'Historic Route 66', has returned to many road maps.

    More than any other American highway, Route 66 symbolized the new optimism that pervaded the nation's postwar economic recovery. Today, steeped in myth and nostalgia, it has become an icon of free-spirited independence for all who travel its path.

    So, join us, for some 'kicks ... on Route 66 ... '

    Tom: KMDW > KTCC

    The first stop on our Mother Road is Lou Mitchell's Restaurant in downtown Chicago. With a 'breakfast to go' and a 'donut hole or two' (also a Mitchell's tradition) we're off to the airport. Flying out of Midway it took little time before the nation's 'breadbasket' came into view, and that view will be with us for quite some time.

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    This region consists of some of the richest farming land in the world. The area's fertile soil combined with the steel plow made it possible for farmers to produce abundant harvests of grain and cereal crops, including corn, wheat, soybeans, oats, and barley. It may well be fly-over country but remember, the area accounts for an estimated 40% of the entire world's food production.

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    Route 66 served as a primary route for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930's, and the road supported the economies of the communities through which it passed. It was also of particular significance to the trucking industry, which even by 1930, had come to rival the railroads in the shipping business.

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    People doing business along the route became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway. The towns and highlights are too numerous to list but the numbers of eateries, service stations, motels, and 'tourist stops' popped-up faster than a New York minute, and naturally, those same folks later fought to keep the highway alive in the face of the growing threat ... being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.

    Farm by farm and town by town drift by and soon Bloomington is off the right wing followed by Springfield, home and final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, off the left. As the Mississippi comes into view 'Chain of Rocks Bridge' spans the river on the north edge of St. Louis. The bridge at one time was used as Route 66, but now carries only walking and biking trails.

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    The name comes from a large shoal, or rocky rapids, called the Chain of Rocks, which made that stretch of the river extremely dangerous to navigate. In the late 1940's the Army Corps of Engineers built an 8.4 mile-long (13.5 km) canal to bypass the treacherous reach.

    In a few minutes, Saint Louis and the impressive Gateway Arch welcomes you to the west and a brief stop to stretch the legs seem in order. Back in the air the route turns to the southwest but the landscape below reminds you that you are still in the heartland. Cuba passes by (remember 'Where in the World #124') and at Rolla you enter the Ozarks.

    A land of lush green forests, hills and valleys, lakes and streams. Once heavily logged and mined tourism is now the new growth industry. Springfield (Queen of the Ozarks) is just up ahead and once past only Joplin remains before we enter the American frontier.

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    A good place to stop (Joplin) for the evening, and after dinner and a movie (at the '66 Drive-In Theatre'), the historic 'Boots Court Motel' in nearby Carthage ended the day. Believe it or not, that motel even had radios in every room!

    The next day the Ozarks loosened their grip by Tulsa and the landscape began to open up, and once past Oklahoma City, one is 'home on the range'. Both are now big-time cities with diverse economies and the presents of many multi-national corporations, but energy (oil) is still king.

    The land is also starting to rise up and it may be time to add a little altitude to our flight plan, just to be safe. Next up (as the song goes), is Amarillo.

    Considered the regional economic center for the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, as well as eastern New Mexico, the meat packing industry in Amarillo is a major employer. One-quarter of the United States 'beef supply' is processed in the area. (Think about that when you bite into your next burger).

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    Just beyond is 'Cadillac Ranch'. Created originally by two architects and an art student in 1974, the sculpture consists of ten Cadillacs (1949-1963), all buried nose-first in the ground. If not familiar with the story and history, it is worth looking up.

    The 'Mid-Point Cafe' is now in view and time to set her down for the day. Tucumcari is our next stop and Mr. B. will take us from here to the coast. Another evening at a historic property and in the morning, the 'wild west' awaits.

    RonTom3: On The Mother Road     RonTom3: On The Mother Road

    Tags: rontom

    3 Comments
    1. sfgarland's Avatar
      sfgarland -
      Great article ... brings back memories of being on parts of that route as a child. Thank you!
    1. b52bob's Avatar
      b52bob -
      Did this flight on XP-11 using a file at x-plane.org (can’t remember the name). Basically you begin at any Chicago airport and follow the “Route 66” balloons usually at 5000 ft in the sky. Follow along with the avimap and see all the towns and cities on the way. I flew quite a few flights stopping at various cities using the different aircraft in my hangar. There are also “balloons” along the way showing attractions. Great fun for a couple of weeks fun flights.
    1. AlyMac's Avatar
      AlyMac -
      A good read - thanks. This is one I'll have to fly with the Dakota
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