By David Knudson
(Shire, Paperback, 9780747811329, 56pp.)
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
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As early as 1916 - just eight years after Henry Ford's Model T revolutionized the automobile industry - Congress embarked on legislation that would link America's major cities by highway. But it wasn't until 1925 that the government began executing its plan for national highway construction. In summer 1926, Route 66 was born, connecting Chicago to Los Angeles and marking the country's first major east-west thoroughfare. By 1930, Route 66 was in important route for both truckers and travellers alike, and by 1939 it became known as 'The Mother Road' thanks to John Steinbeck's classic 'The Grapes of Wrath'. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Americans travelled this great road - from those heading west during the Great Migration to escape to Dust Bowl and the Depression, to postwar families taking road trips across the country. By the 1970s, however, four-lane highways, expressways, and tollways had taken over, and Route 66 fell into disrepair. In this book, Route 66 authority David Knudson traces the fascinating story of The Mother Road, in a colorful guide that examines the origins and demise of the road, the roadside attractions and cottage industries it spawned, and the efforts to save and restore it.
David Knudson is founder and executive director of The National Historical Route 66 Federation (www.nationalroute66.org), which works to preserve and promote the road. Knudson founded the Federation in 1994 after completing a trip across the country, during which he was unable to locate old section of Route 66. The National Histoic Route 66 Federation is a worldwide, nonprofit organization dedicated to directing the public's attention to the importance of US Highway Route 66 in America's cultural heritage and acquiring the federal, state and private support necessary to preserve the historic landmarks and revitalize he economies of communities along the entire 2400-mile stretch of road. Knudson and the Federation were instrumental in getting Congress to pass the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act in 1999. Formerly a partner with the Los Angeles-based advertising firm of Walker, Knudson and Campbell, Knudson also serves on the advisory council of the National Park Service's Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.