About California Route 66 - Info & History
Route 66 that passes through
extends from the Colorado
Needles, all the way to the Pacific Ocean at
Santa Monica. Traveling through deserts, mountains, ghost towns, metropolitan areas, and beach
communities, California's 320 miles of the Mother Road provide a wide variety of geography,
cultures, architecture, and photographic opportunities.
Long before Route 66 was built in 1926,
California had attracted adventurers,
explorers, gold seekers and other hardy pioneers to this land of abundant
resources. Only those very hardy made the crossing of the Mojave Desert to reach
this Promised Land, which was isolated by its mountains and its deserts.
However, Route 66 finally made the
Golden State accessible to thousands of travelers seeking the dream
that California provided. Before Route 66, California had long become independent,
relying only on itself for many of the new inventions of the early 1900s,
supplying its own manufacturing of automobiles and appliances, and other
materials, due to the high transportation costs to move items from the East.
At the time, only one railroad
line, with a single track, entered the southern portion of California. When
Route 66 came through, this
all changed as thousands of people poured into the state, along with
cargo loaded upon trucks traveling the new road.
After crossing the dreaded Mojave Desert,
travelers breathed a sigh of relief as they approached the fertile San
Bernardino Valley. The tourist industry flourished in these
early years as it sprouted services, cafes, and motels that the many
travelers had been without while traveling the long stretch of the
In the 1930’s, during the dust bowl days of the
Midwest, thousands fled to the "Paradise” of California, to such a degree
that California got scared. An independent state that had long been isolated, the "powers that be”
got worried about all of the people flooding California and instituted
highway inspection stations to weed out the "non-worthy.” Disguised as agricultural stations, many people were quickly
disappointed when they were turned away by the lack of money required
to pay the bribe to enter the state. According to the legend,
some of these "would-be” Californians, without money or means to move
forward, simply walked out into the desert, never to be seen again.
In the end, it took federal authorities to break up
this illegal ring of inspection stations; however, to this day,
agricultural check points still exist before entering California.
Like other states, many of the vintage icons along the old Mother
Road have been
obliterated in California, by the bustling
population's desire to build "new and shiny,” especially in the
cities, where you will need to search a little harder to find
the Route 66 era views.
However, you will still find several
vintage icons in the lonely
towns of the Mojave Desert, as well as peeks of old buildings
tucked between strip centers in the suburbs, and numerous historic
landmarks on the Route 66
corridor in Los Angeles
the Mojave Desert, where the towns were bypassed by I-40, the few
remaining remnants are quickly eroding, so be sure to take lots of
95% of the original road is still drivable through
California and the California Route 66 Preservation Foundation is working hard
to preserve those remaining icons of the past. In fact, some of the
most fascinating points of interest along old Route 66 can be found near the very western end
of the old route, where
County has 34 National Registered Historic Places on or within one
block of the Mother Road.
Roy's Cafe & gas in Amboy, California, Dave Alexander, 2015.
This image available for photographic prints
In any event, you will begin your trek across California at
which provides a peek of several vintage motels before you move into the Mojave
Desert and the lonely ghost towns
Goff, Essex, Chambless,
Ludlow before rejoining I-40.
Take a side trip to the historic ghost town of
your way into
Barstow. In Barstow, you
can still see many vintage icons, including the El Rancho motel which was
constructed from railroad ties, and the restored Harvey House Hotel and
depot which houses the
Route 66 Museum.
continues along the path of the Old Trails Highway to
where you can take a peek at the California Route 66
As you continue your journey
Bernardino Valley, you
will quickly know that you are entering the sprawling
proper; however, San Bernardino provides a view of
several vintage businesses as well as the world's first McDonalds, which is now
And, don’t miss the infamous Wigwam Motel on
the border between
Bernardino and its suburb
Rialto, that once
rented its rooms by the hour with its sign displaying "Do It In a Teepee.”
Rancho Cucamonga, don’t miss the old 1920s gas station, and the Route 66
and Museum. As you pass through
Upland, grab a buffalo burger at the landmark Buffalo Inn, before
making your way on to Pasadena.
the original road survives for 80 miles through Los Angeles and
its suburbs, where it is known variously as Foothill Boulevard, Colorado
Boulevard, Huntington Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and
Boulevard until you reach the western end of the Mother Road
at the Santa
out the historic 1913 Colorado Street Bridge
in Pasadena, continue to downtown
where you can see dozens of historic buildings, and move on through
and Beverly Hills for a peek at the "stars" before finally reaching
of America, updated March, 2017.
You can still stay at the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California.
December, 2005, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for photographic prints
Custom Needles Postcard
California Route 66 Slide Show:
All images & more available for photo prints &
Legends' General Store
66 Posters & Prints - From Chicago to
Los Angeles, and everywhere in between, see colorful posters depicting
many of the icons, colorful business, and fun characters along the more
than 2,000 miles of the beloved
These are original designs that you
will NOT find anywhere else!
Posters measure 11"x17" are are produced on semi-glossy, 12 point