The second part of the road trip took me from Bakersfield down into the desert. The route takes us down into the LA area, then east on Route 66, and then on to Palm Springs. After a few days of R&R, the leg continued north, some more time on 66, then up into the Mohave National preserve. Here’s the route (and if you missed Part 1, its right below this post):
GHOSTS OF THE INLAND EMPIRE
If El Camino Real represents the primordial, this route reflects a more recent past, the automotive past and the immense changes that have occurred in Southern California in the last 75 years. As most everyone knows, Route 66, i.e. the “Mother Road” ,was a conduit for midwesterners answering the call of a paradise, real or imagined , in California. Some vintage postcards reveal the era of road travel at that time- the roadside attraction (gas,food,lodging) en route, and the promise of California, orange groves and endless sunshine.
Old Route 66 through the inland empire can be generally traced from Colorodo Blvd. in Pasadena, and eventually out on Foothill Blvd all the way to San Bernadino. For the most part of course, little remains of the original road and its abundant roadside attractions, but some do still exist, which makes for a fascinating contrast.
Most of this route is the same , mile after mile of mind-numbing sprawl. But every couple miles, you trip over something, either the result of an expressed devotion to preserve it, or the result of a lack of economic development in the area. some communities embrace their 66ness, others have completely eradicated its presence
Unlike much of what one sees today , many of the old attractions bursted with whimsy, vernacular expressions of the uniqueness of the place, or of what the building offered, up to and including actually becoming what it sold. En route to Route 66, I stumbled on two great examples:
Yes, that’s a drive-thru donut. (Urban Ambles drove through a donut and a tree on this trip).
Of course, when the building itself isn’t a sign, strip buildings have always had to rely on signage to get people’s attention. That too seems to be a lost art.
5 thoughts on “California Road Trip-Part 2: Route 66 and Other Blue Highways”
Regarding 66 in the San Gabriel Valley (in all of LA County, and western San Bernardino County for that matter), it’s important to remember what the development was.
From Pasadena to San Bernardino, “little remains of the original road and its abundant roadside attractions” is really a matter of percentages. Most of this stretch of highway was surrounded by citrus groves and vineyards into the 1950’s, the heyday of Route 66. At around this same time, the Interstate Highway System was being developed, and the lines of I-210 through portions of this were already being drawn.
So, while it would seem that “little remains,” the reality here is that a large PERCENTAGE of the roadside attractions actually DO remain. It’s just that suburban sprawl has encompassed them.
Next time you head to the Los Angeles area, drop me a line and arrange for a tour of Route 66 in LA County. I guarantee you that you will be amazed at what is actually there worth seeing, including:
1) The only vehicle tunnels ever to be a part of Route 66.
2) The first freeway portion of Route 66.
3) The only National Scenic Byway fully contained in a metropolitan area.
4) The most “alignments” in any one stretch of Route 66.
5) The oldest still-in-use-bridge along Route 66.
6) The oldest museum in Los Angeles.
7) Thirty-five National Register of Historic Places landmarks within the Route 66 corridor in LA County alone.
Needless to say, MUCH remains along 66 in Southern California, you just need to know where to look!
I will look you up the next time I am down there. Had I more time, and been focused just on Route 66 in the LA area, I am sure I could have dug deeper, my brief stint on 66 was in the context of a larger California trip. Thanks very much for the comment.
i just happen to step into your blog and i just must say i really like it ,you got yourself a new reader !
really nice blog!!
nice layout as well.
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