The HOME page outlines why Route 66 signage is important to the economy of Route communities and the comfort and safety of it's travelers.
These signs also remind local residents that they are fortunate to have this historic, and often forgotten highway passing through their states and their towns. You have to look long and hard to find anyone who would not support efforts to preserve and restore old buildings, and open new businesses along the Mother Road. It's been that way for over eighty years, and the revival of Route 66 is well underway, and along with that additional visitor traffic comes the need to install improved signage, especially along the original, Historic route.
This page will show you an example of signage, past and present, used to denote Route 66, and examples of proposed signs that will indicate changes in direction.
The most common sign used to mark the Route when the highway was commissioned by the Federal Government in 1926, was the black and white shield that included the name of the state. Only eight state names were used on these signs in the U.S., and these signs were removed around 1985 when the Route was de-commissioned. Other designs were used, but this was the most common.
Signs of Yesterday
Signs of Today
Today, the most common sign used to mark Route 66 is the "Historic Route" sign. These signs show the original shield design with the state name, and serve as "markers", telling travelers that they are on the historic route. A few have arrows to mark turns, but these are rare. Many of these signs have been stolen over the years and have not been replaced, further compounding the confusion situation. Some replacement signs have actually been placed on private property to help prevent their theft.
Signs of Today and Tommorow
This method of marking the Route was used many years ago, and is still popular today. Stenciling the Route 66 sign onto the road has many advantages.
It is inexpensive, quickly applied, not easily stolen and effective.
Some critics say it is "distractive", and some communities and states will not allow stenciling, but that attitude is changing. San Bernandino County, CA. has authorized the stenciling of the Route 66 emblem, along with many communities in most states. Directional turn arrows can be added and placed ahead of the turn.
Once proper signage becomes adequate, these stenciled signs may be allowed to simply fade away.
EXAMPLES OF SIGNS THAT WOULD HELP ROUTE 66 TRAVELERS FIND THEIR WAY TODAY
Stenciled Signs on the pavement
Most of the eight Route 66 states are now members of the National Scenic Byways Program, and are presently replacing older historic signage with the new blue and white Historic Byway signs that feature the Route 66 shield. Each state D.O.T. and/or Route 66 Association will decide where these large and expensive signs will be placed, however it is possible that there will not be enough signs to mark all the turns, so many Route travelers will continue to miss turns and become lost. Some states may continue to use their existing signs. Perhaps they will consider using the old signs to mark the turns?
Signs on the Street
The sign shown in the photo does not exist. It was "photoshopped" into the image of an actual Route 66 intersection where the Route makes a 90 degree left turn.
Imagine how a Route traveler could possibly know to turn here without this sign or guide book in hand! Then imagine what would happen if a tour group of twenty sports cars missed this turn and continued straight.
Route communities needed to install this type of sign years ago, yet intersections like this one still exist, with no plans to improve the situation in the future. Why?
Signs on Private Property
The faded sign shown in the photo was painted many years ago on a building in Galena Kansas,...most likely to promote that business' location on the famous road.
Today, with bureaucratic delays and the lack of interest by some community and state leaders, it is time to consider placing metal and painted directional turn signs on private property near unmarked intersections, to help our visitors find their way. This step would be a tremendous aid to travelers until better, "official" signs are erected along the right-of-way.
Pro-active Route 66 communities are usually the smaller towns that understand the economic benefits that result from their signing, promotion, restoration and preservation efforts.
Carterville, MO. has only two thousand residents, yet it has more Route 66 pride and participation than cities one-hundred times larger. Miami, Oklahoma promotes it's Route 66 heritage on Interstate 44 with a billboard, and greets arriving visitors with directional signage that shows their pride that larger Route 66 cities seem to have forgotten. Route travelers will simply pass through those bigger towns, knowing that the small town spirit awaits just down the road.
The sign shown in the photo was in place in Carterville, MO. for many years, and was replaced with a new "Scenic Byways" sign. It could serve a better purpose elsewhere, but here it indicated a left turn where there is no other way to go but left!
Elsewhere in Missouri, many Historic Route 66 markers (like this one) were once installed a hundred or more feet "AFTER" the turn. Had the signs been installed with an arrow to indicate an upcoming turn, the message would be, "..turn here and you will be on Route 66". New signs have since been placed by the Missouri Route 66 Association and the MO. D.O.T. to actually help our visitors.