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Salute the Route

Route 66 celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and festivities abound along Texas’ 178-mile stretch. Amarillo’s Sixth Street/Old Route 66, where you’ll see this mural, boasts great shops and vintage stores.

Route 66. The Mother Road. America’s Main Street. As the oft-recorded tune goes, “It winds from Chicago to LA, more than 2,000 miles all the way.” Perhaps the best-known road in America, Route 66 celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, with towns and cities along the entire stretch holding festivities. No place whoops it up like Texas, where Route 66 traverses some 178 miles.

As you drive those Panhandle miles between the Oklahoma border and the New Mexico state line, you'll pass through such towns as Shamrock (home to the old U-Drop Inn–now closed but still a prime example of Route 66 roadside architecture) and McLean (where the Devil's Rope and Route 66 Museum displays an impressive collection of barbed wire and Route 66 memorabilia; 806/779-2225). Next up is Groom (the leaning water tower was built that way to attract travelers); then Amarillo (shop for kitsch and antiques along Sixth Street, the city's two-mile stretch of the original road). Stop in Vega next (visit Dot's Mini-Museum), and stay the night at the vintage Vega Motel; then sally on to Adrian (midpoint of Route 66 and home to The Midpoint Cafe–a must for pie and coffee). Call the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce (806/267-2828) for the scoop on these last three attractions.

Most of the year, this road trip lends itself to an easygoing exploration of the flatlands, but if you plan your excursion around this year's birthday fetes, this is what you'll find: From June 27-30, the Texas Old Route 66 Association and the U.S. Postal Service sponsor a series of events that include special Route 66 stamp cancellations in Shamrock and McLean (June 27, 8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m., respectively); Groom, Bushland, and Wildorado (June 28, 8-10 a.m., noon-1 p.m., and 2-4 p.m., respectively); Vega and Adrian (June 29, 8-11 a.m. and 1-5 p.m., respectively); and in Amarillo on June 30 with an all-day Family Day event (games, food and drink, and live music) in Sam Houston Park. Just down the street on June 29-30, you'll find the Made in America Tour: Route 66, during which some 1,500 Harley riders convene to enjoy food, entertainment, and motorbikes.

For more information, call the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Council, 806/374-1497; www.amarillo-cvb.org. The Texas Travel Information Center, at 9400 I-40E (806/335-1441), can also help.

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From the March 1998 issue.

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