Begun in 1926 to connect Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 was the country's first major east-west thoroughfare. By 1930 it was an important route for both truckers and travellers alike, and in 1939 it became known as 'The Mother Road' thanks to John Steinbeck's classic The Grapes of Wrath . Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Americans travelled this great road - from those heading west during the Great Depression to postwar families taking road trips across the country - but by the 1970s four-lane highways, expressways, and tollways had largely supplanted it, and Route 66 fell into disrepair. In this book, authority David Knudson traces the fascinating story of The Mother Road from origins to decline, including the roadside attractions and cottage industries it spawned and the efforts to save and restore it.
David Knudson is founder and executive director of The National Historical Route 66 Federation (www.nationalroute66.org), which works to preserve and promote the road. Knudson founded the Federation in 1994 after completing a trip across the country, during which he was unable to locate old section of Route 66. The National Histoic Route 66 Federation is a worldwide, nonprofit organization dedicated to directing the public's attention to the importance of US Highway Route 66 in America's cultural heritage and acquiring the federal, state and private support necessary to preserve the historic landmarks and revitalize he economies of communities along the entire 2400-mile stretch of road. Knudson and the Federation were instrumental in getting Congress to pass the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act in 1999. Formerly a partner with the Los Angeles-based advertising firm of Walker, Knudson and Campbell, Knudson also serves on the advisory council of the National Park Service's Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.