Route 66: Famous Roadway Ends in SM

The end of Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier       Courtesy: Dan Rice
The end of Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier Courtesy: Dan Rice

Dan Rice, past president of the California Historic Route 66 Association, will talk about the famous roadway on Sunday, March 3 at 1:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Santa Monica Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

This storied highway, stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, was completed in 1926 and extended to Santa Monica in 1936. But where in Santa Monica? Several locations lay claim to being the terminus; Rice’s lecture will unwrap the mystery.

Route 66 was glorified during the Depression as the path to hope, opportunity and a new life. The lecture offers a virtual tour of “The Mother Road,” so named by John Steinbeck in his book “The Grapes of Wrath,” which described the westward flight of the “Okies” during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Rice will discuss the background of America’s Main Street, and how everyone from real-life characters like Jack Kerouac and Al Capone to fictional ones like Forrest Gump “got their kicks on Route 66.”

With the advent of the interstate highway system beginning in the Eisenhower Administration, Route 66′s dark days were to come. In recent years, however, “The Great Diagonal Way” has enjoyed a nostalgic resurgence, hosting large numbers of road-tripping visitors every year.

The lecture is free, but reservations are advised. Register by calling (310) 496-3146 or visit smconservancy.org/route66.

Rice has traveled the road 27 times, and is current national vice president of the Route 66 Alliance; he also hosts the upcoming TV series, “Road Scholar.” Rice’s shop, “66 – to – Cali” may be found on the Santa Monica Pier.