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Route 66 Enthusiasts Seek National Trail Designation

Route 66 Airstream trailer
David Kafer
National Trust for Historic Preservation
An Airstream trailer with the message "Preserve Route 66" started on a five-week tour of the Mother Road on Monday in Chicago.

Historic preservationists are making their case for preserving Route 66 by kicking off a five-week, 2,400-mile journey along the Mother Road.

Jason Clement, director of marketing campaigns with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said the group wants the highway to be designated as a National Historic Trail to provide federal funding.

Current funding for the highway through the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Program is set to expire next year.

“Rather than have the preservation and stewardship of Route 66 dependent on a program that needs to be reauthorized every couple of years,” Clement said.

Clement said federal funding would help existing Route 66 tourist sites and help create new ones along the historic highway.

“There would be technical assistance offered by the National Parks Service as well as financial assistance to actually help people make the decision to restore their property or their attraction,” Clement said.

Clement is riding with other members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the Airstream trailer that stopped at the Route 66 Museum in Pontiac on Monday; and Memory Lane Parade Road in Lexington, State Farm headquarters in Bloomington, the renovated Sprague Service Station in Normal, Palms Grill Cafe and the Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Statue in Atlanta on Tuesday, among other Route 66 sites.

The group plans to reach Los Angeles on Aug. 3.

The U.S. House has approved designating Route 66 an historic trail. The measure, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, awaits a vote in the Senate. 

Route 66 would be the first highway to get the federal historic trail designation.

More information is available at PreserveRoute66.org

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.