Heritage, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 1991 Page: 12
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The Panhandle's Main Street
By Jamie Wise
The Amarillo Cottage Camp was the only tourist court between Oklahoma City and Tucumcari when
it was built in 1923-1924 on Amarillo's West Sixth Street. Photo circa 1929.
Photo courtesy of Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas.
R oute 66. It is a name that evokes
images of red Corvettes, huge horizons
and neon lit cafes. There is
magic in the name. The country that was
opened up by the highway brought poetry
to the minds and hearts of many who traveled
Route 66 embodied Manifest Destiny.
It intensified the westward movement begun
by settlers in wagons and on horseback.
The highway carried motorists-just as
Bobby Troup wrote in his song, Get Your
Kicks on Route 66-from Chicago to L.A.;
through St. Louey and Joplin, Missouri;
Oklahoma City; Amarillo; Gallup, New
Mexico; to Flagstaff, Winona, Kingman,
Barstow, and San Bernardino. It ended
abruptly at the Pacific Ocean in Santa
Monica. Our mobile world was spawned, in
part, by the paving of this route, which
crossed eight states, three time zones, and
two-thirds of the continent in its 2,282
The need for good, well marked and
well maintained roads was recognized early
in American history, but the impetus to
make improvements to the road systems
during the 1800s was set back by the establishment
of rail travel and the disruption of
the Civil War. People endured rutted,
dusty, or muddy roads, with the endless
frustrations of repairing wagon wheels, and
later flat tires and over-heated radiators.
Wrong turns were a fact of life on poorly
marked trails. The first effective push for
improvements to the system was spurred by
Henry Ford's mass production of the automobile
after the turn of the century.
At that time, Amarillo was a thriving
ranching center for the Texas Panhandle.
It had grown up out of the vast flatland as
a result of the arrival of the Fort Worth and
Denver City Railroad in 1887. The automotive
age dawned in Amarillo in 1904.
Soon thereafter organizations arose to support
it. The Texas Good Roads Associ
ation and the Ozark Trail Association
began working to establish paved roads
across the Panhandle. Amarilloans were at
the forefront of this movement that would
lead to the creation of Route 66. With
hopes that Amarillo would become the
hub for highway traffic in the southwest,
plans for a Panhandle-Pacific Auto Highway
were set in motion by 1913.
The grassroots movement that advocated
a better network of roads was nationwide
but was fragmented and needed further
support from the federal government.
Help came over the next few years in the
form of federal highway acts. One such act
passed in 1916, assisted in the financing of
urban and rural paving across the United
States. Most importantly, in 1921, an act
was passed to initiate a national highway
system. Momentum was gained through
the efforts of Oklahoman Cyrus Stevens
Avery. Through a driving interest to see a
good national road system built, he became
12 HERITAGE * WINTER 1991
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 1991, periodical, Winter 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45422/m1/12/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.