Heritage, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 1991 Page: 13
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president of the Associated Highways
Association of America in 1921, and was
later designated the leader of the American
Association of State Highway Officials.
Avery was instrumental in the realization
of Highway 66.
In 1925, after debate over the routing of
the highway, a south-central route through
the western states was selected. The rationale
that Avery used for this routing was
commerce, and he proposed that the highway
follow an established major commercial
route from Chicago through Oklahoma
to Los Angeles. Parts of old Indian and
wagon trails, including the Old Gold Road
and the Beale Wagon Route, were the
highway's predecessors. It also gained the
nickname Old Wire Road for snaking
along beside stretches of the telegraph
The process of establishing the highway
was fraught with conflict and compromise.
The highway's name was a fluke of bureaucratic
circumstance. It was initially to be
named Highway 60, but that number had
been planned for use elsewhere. A prolonged
debate ensued after production of
the Highway 60 signs had already begun. In
the end, Avery's group yielded and finding
the number 66 available chose it instead.
Over the next few years, a great deal of haggling
also occurred on the local level over
the exact routing of the highway through
The post World War I era brought a
surge of auto travel. Many travelers with an
enthusiasm for camping headed for the
appealing climate of the southwest. Amarillo
housed many of these tourists in a municipal
camp located downtown and one
block from Highway 66.
Because of federal aid and its early involvement,
Amarillo, in 1921, sported one
of the first segments of paved-gravelhighway,
leading west out of the downtown
area. Initially, this stretch of highway,
called West Sixth Street, extended
out to the new suburb of San Jacinto
Heights. It embodied characteristics of
both the small town Main Street and the
highway strip, providing filling stations,
family restaurants, and tourist camps, as
well as groceries, barber shops, and laundry
facilities. A year later, the highway was
extended further west as part of the Ozark
The discovery of oil and natural gas in
the Panhandle bolstered the economy of
the region and caused the suburbs of Amarillo
to grow. The boom years of the 1920s
in San Jacinto Heights witnessed the passage
of streetcar to bus service, the arrival of
the White Way as lights were introduced on
every block, and general economic prosperity.
By 1925, San Jacinto Heights had
become the fastest growing suburb in
The oil and gas boom also brought
growth to the small towns of the Panhandle.
Shamrock, McLean, and Alanreed
were among those that had sprung up
during the construction of the railroads.
These towns would later benefit from their
location along Route 66.
Highway 66 was officially designated in
1926, at which time only 800 miles were
paved. The road would not, in fact, be completely
paved for another eleven years.
That same year, Amarillo's Sixth Street
was extended to the city limits, and the following
year the San Jacinto Heights segment
received a brick surface.
HERITAGE * WINTER 1991 13
This Phillips 66 station was restored by the Old Route 66 Association of Texas.
It was built around 1925-1926 in McLean and was in operation until the 1950s.
Station on Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas.
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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/m1/13/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.