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Oklahoma Route 66

Route 66 cityIn Oklahoma travelers will pass through a number of small towns on the way to Vinita, which is located in northeastern Oklahoma in a region of the state known as Green Country. It sits at the base of the Ozark Highlands topographical region in a mix of prairie and forest. Vinita was established in 1871 by Elias Cornelius Boudinot. The city was first named Downingville, a primarily Native American community, it was the first city in the state with electricity. In 1889, gunman and lawman Tom Threepersons was born there and other noteable residents were Gene Autry, actor, singer and the former owner of the Anaheim Angels in California. Yvonne Chouteau, ballerina, Jim Edgar, the former Illinois governor, TV personality Phil McGraw of Doctor Phil Show, Jay Red Eagle, a Cherokee indian flute player and Will Rogers, the actor, singer, politician, cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist and social commentator. There is the McDonald's bridge-restaurant built over the top of Interstate 44, called the Glasshouse McDonald's and the world's largest McDonald's restaurant in terms of area, occupying 29,135 ft. The city was later renamed Vinita after Vinnie Ream and was incorporated in 1898.

Being the longest family owned Oklahoma restaurant continually in business on Route 66, Clanton's Cafe has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and in Gourmet Magazine for its exceptional chicken fried steaks. Travelers on Route 66 can stop by to order hand-breaded, deep-fried fries any time of year. From a catfish dinner to juicy hamburgers to a tender 8 oz. steak and more, you haven't tasted the best of Southern cuisine until you've been to Clanton's Cafe. Vinita has the Calf Fry Festival which was started in 1979 by rancher and banker Jim Shelton, veterinarian Dr. John Myers, and insurance agent Larry Green. These days sponsored by the Vinita Area Chamber of Commerce, the festival highlight is the calf fry cooking competition. Other cook-offs include beans, cobblers, salsas, and breads. Visitors interested in more than local food can partake in festivities ranging from handicrafts displays, cowboy games, a baseball tournament and others.

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Route 66 cityAfter passing through numerous other small town the highway goes through Tulsa, which is the second-largest city in Oklahoma and the 45th largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census. Tulsa was first settled between 1828 and 1836 by the Lochapoka Band of the Creek native American tribe. In 1921, it was the site of the infamous Tulsa Race Riot, one of the largest and most destructive acts of racial violence in the history of the United States. For most of the 20th century, the city held the nickname Oil Capital of the World and played a major role as one of the most important hubs for the American oil industry. Tulsa, along with several other cities, claims to be the birthplace of U.S. Route 66 and is also known for its Western Swing music. Located in what is referred to as Tornado Alley, the city frequently experiences severe weather including tornados. It is situated on the Arkansas River at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and is considered the cultural and arts center of Oklahoma. Tulsa houses two world-renowned art museums, full-time professional opera and ballet companies, and one of the nation's largest concentrations of art deco architecture. In 1925, Tulsa businessman Cyrus Avery, known as the Father of Route 66, began his campaign to create a road linking Chicago to California by establishing the U.S. Highway 66 Association in Tulsa, making it another city claiming the nickname of the Birthplace of Route 66. Once completed, U.S. Route 66 took an important role in Tulsa's development as the city served as a popular rest stop on the highway for travelers, who were greeted by Route 66 icons such as the Meadow Gold Sign and the Blue Whale of Catoosa. During this period, country singer Bob Wills and his group The Texas Playboys began their long performing stint at a small ballroom in downtown Tulsa named Cain's Ballroom. It became the home base for the group, which is largely credited for creating western swing music. This famous venue continued to attract famous musicians throughout its history, and is still in operation today.

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Route 66 cityLeaving Tulsa in the direction of Davenport the highway goes on to Oklahoma City, which is the capital and the largest city in the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City ranks 30th among United States cities in population. The city features one of the largest livestock markets in the world. Oil, natural gas, petroleum products and related industries are the largest sector of its economy. The city is situated in the middle of an active oil field and oil derricks dot the capitol grounds. The federal government employs a large workforce at Tinker Air Force Base and the United States Department of Transportation's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. Oklahoma City lies along one of the primary travel routes into Texas and Mexico. Ever since weather records have been kept, Oklahoma City is on record for having been struck by nine strong tornadoes, eight E-F4's and one F5. On May 3, 1999 parts of southern Oklahoma City and nearby communities suffered one of the most powerful tornadoes on record.

The Donald W. Reynolds Visual Arts Center is the new downtown home for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The museum features visiting exhibits, original selections from its own collection, a theater showing a variety of foreign, independent, and classic films each week, and a restaurant. OKCMOA is also home to the most comprehensive collection of Chihuly glass in the world including the fifty-five foot Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower in the Museum's atrium. The newly renovated art deco Civic Center Music Hall has performances from Oklahoma City Ballet and opera to traveling Broadway shows and concerts. Stage Center for the Performing Arts is home to many of the city's top theater companies. The building that houses Stage Center, originally called the Mummers Theater and designed by John M. Johansen, is a modernist architectural landmark, with the original model displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The Museum of Osteology houses more than three hundred real animal skeletons. The Museum is a unique educational experience. Focusing on the form and function of the skeletal system, this 7,000 sq ft or 650 square meter museum displays hundreds of skulls and skeletons from all corners of the world. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has galleries of western art and is home to the Hall of Great Western Performers. In contrast, the city is also home to The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum that began construction in 2009, on the South side of Interstate 40, southeast from Bricktown. The American Banjo Museum, located in the Bricktown Entertainment district, is dedicated to preserving and promoting the music and heritage of America's native musical instrument – the banjo, a collection valued at $3.5 million. An interpretive exhibits tells the evolution of the banjo from its humble roots in American slavery, to bluegrass, to folk and world music.

Route 66 cityOne of the more prominent landmarks in downtown Oklahoma City is the Crystal Bridge at the Myriad Botanical Gardens, a large downtown urban park. Designed by I. M. Pei, the Crystal Bridge is a tropical conservatory and the park has an amphitheater, known as the Water Stage. In 2007, following a renovation of the stage, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park relocated to the Myriad Gardens. The Myriad Gardens has gone through a massive renovation in conjunction with construction of the Devon Tower directly north of it. The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is home to numerous natural habitats, WPA era architecture and landscaping, and hosts major touring concerts during the summer at its amphitheater. Oklahoma City also has two amusement parks, Frontier City theme park and White Water Bay water park.

Frontier City is an Old West themed amusement park. The park also features a recreation of a western gunfight at the OK Corral and many shops that line the Western town's main street. Frontier City also hosts a national concert circuit at its amphitheater during the summer. Walking trails line Lake Hefner and Lake Overholser in the northwest part of the city and downtown at the canal and the Oklahoma River. The majority of the east shore area is taken up by parks and trails, including a new leashless dog park and the postwar era Stars and Stripes Park. Lake Stanley Draper is the city's largest and most remote lake.

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Route 66 cityFrom Oklahoma City heading pretty much directly to the west to the border with Texas is the town of Texola in Beckham County, Oklahoma. Texola is not directly served by the current Oklahoma state highway system. However, the town can be accessed from I-40 at Exit 1. Route 66 passed through the town, bringing scores of travelers for decades until I-40 was completed and opened to the north in 1975. The History of Texola dates back to the early 1900s. Before being named Texola, the town had been called Texokla and Texoma. Due to its location near the 100th Meridian, the town was surveyed eight different times, which meant that some early residents had lived in both Texas and Oklahoma without ever having moved. The 1910 census showed 361 people living in Texola.

After a slight drop in the population during the 1910s, Texola again grew rapidly in the 1920s. The population peaked with 581 residents in the 1930 census. The arrival of Route 66 had a positive impact on the local economy, with cotton production increasing during the decade, necessitating the need for two additional gins. As the town prospered, amenities such as a ten-acre park and an auditorium capable of seating 300 people were added to the community. The population again declined in the 1940s and continued to do so for the remainder of the twentieth century. By 1980, Texola was a town of 106 residents. When the next census was conducted in 1990, Texola had lost nearly 58 percent of its population, leaving just 45 residents in the town. That figure rose by two, up to 47 in 2000. But by 2013, the population had decreased to 0 which made Texola a ghost town.

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Route 66 city Before heading down the highway into Texas, a stop in Elk City, Oklahoma will bring you to the National Route 66 Museum Complex which houses the National Route 66 Museum, the Old Town Museum, the Transportation Museum, the Farm and Ranch Museum, and the Blacksmith Museum.

Each museum is located in separate buildings, which together depict a facsimile of early Elk City complete with general stores, a bank, a railroad depot with a train caboose, an opera house and other buildings. Next along the highway is Clinton, Oklahoma which has the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum complete with restored autos, photographic exhibits, a recreation of a 50's Diner and music of the eras in which Route 66 flourished. Recently refurbished by donations from the residents of Clinton, Oklahoma, the museum is one of the better exhibits and includes an extensive giftshop.

Just down the highway from Clinton is Sayre, Oklahoma, where in 1940, film director John Ford would used Sayre's Beckham County Courthouse in the film The Grapes of Wrath, based on the famous book by writer John Steinbeck. A famous resident of Sayre was balloonist Maxie Anderson. Born in Sayre, during the height of the Great Depression on the 10th of September 1934, Anderson along with Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman were the first people to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon, the Double Eagle II, in 1978. The gondola from their balloon is displayed by the Smithsonian Museum.

Choose a city destination to view available accomodation while motoring down Highway Route 66 for any of the towns listed above.

Rt.66 State Illinois

Rt.66 State Missouri
St. Louis

Rt.66 State Oklahoma
Oklahoma City

Rt.66 State Texas
Dixie Jo's Alanreed Travel Center

Rt.66 State Arizona
Bullhead City

Rt.66 State California
San Bernardino
Rancho Cucamonga
Santa Monica

Rt.66 State New Mexico
Santa Rosa
Santa Fe/Glorieta
Santa Fe/Canoncita
Santa Fe

Rt.66 State Kansas
Baxter Springs/Riverton
Baxter Springs

States | Illinois | Missouri | Kansas | Oklahoma | Texas | New Mexico | Arizona | California

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EagleRider Route 66 Self-Drive Motorcycle Tour - a 15 day journey on the historic U.S. Route 66 highway from Chicago to Santa Monica on a Harley-Davidson. Check it out

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