You know or may suspect that much of the success of Route 66 was organic, effective timing with the emergence of the automobile (early 1900’s), the Good Roads Movement (into the 1920’s) and the misfortunes of the Great Depression (1929) and the Dust Bowl (1930’s) which caused a westward migration of the afflicted in search for something better. With this, Route 66 became a thread in the fabric of American life, an icon, piece of pop culture.... right?
Well, you may not know that the Mother Road’s fame is also due to active marketing right from the beginning. The number 66 was specifically selected for how it sounded, and the US. Highway 66 Association (est 1927) was created to get the thing paved and promote it for travel. That association is now the Main Street of America Association. Here’s a little snippet of this marketing effort from the Mohave County Miner (now the Kingman Daily Miner) printed in December of 1934:
Advertising U.S. Highway 66 will be done the coming year through automobile tags which are made of metal and are very attractive, it was learned at the directors’ meeting of the Mohave County Chamber of Commerce last night. These metal disks contain the words “U.S. Highway 66” and include “Los Angeles to Chicago” and the names of the states through which the highway passes. The tags cost only $1.00 and includes a membership in the US. Highway 66 Association.
Just a little fun history of our Old 66. You can find this little snippet and others in the Mohave Museum of History & Art's collection of monthly newsletters, under the 50, 80 and 100 'years ago' sections. The above mentioned article is from the December 2014 issue.