Historic Route 66 Texola - Amarillo
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Texola to Amarillo Historic Route 66
Below is a map published in 1924 (two years before US 66 was created). It shows the different "auto trails" of that time. These were mainly dirt roads that could be driven relatively safely by cars.
You can follow the trail "3" from Texola to Amarillo, this trail was the "Postal Highway". Trail "50" entering Amarillo from the South was the "Ozark Trail" it ran from Oklahoma City westwards to the south of what would later become Route 66.
Years later, in 1956, Route 66 was a paved highway, and as you can see below, some parts a were four-lane divided highway all the way to Jericho, and the final part near Amarillo.
Starting point: State line by Texola Oklahoma
Route 66 in Texas begins at state line, less than one mile west of Texola, Oklahoma. The four lane alignment runs with a SE-NW course for half a mile and meets I-40, curving to adopt an east-west course as the South Frontage Road of the freeway and also narrowing down to two single lanes. Here is the fomer railroad depot of Benonine on the north side of I-40 (the tracks of the The Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway, now long gone, ran to the north of the highway).
Route 66 ran along this alignment from 1926 until it was replaced by I-40. Six miles from the start of your journey you will cross the "Historic Bridge" (map).
Route 66 Bridge over the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Located on the Interstate 40 Service Road, about 30 feet (10 m) to the south of I-40. The five-span steel bridge was built to allow the old Route 66 to span the former CRI&G Railroad (Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad). The railway bed ran 25 feet (7.6 m) below the bridge's deck.
It was designed by M. L. Grady and built by E. T. Prater in 1932. It cost $28,568.74. It is 125 feet (38 m) long and the roadway is 24 feet wide (7.3 m).
Its main span has steel-I-beams encased in concrete, which was quite unique because it made the structure lighter and therefore cheaper. The other spans were built with reinforced concrete as were the retaining walls slabs.
The concrete casing protected the steel structure and also those driving across the bridge from sparks and smoke from the steam engines running under the bridge.
Route 66 traffic crossed this bridge until 1960 when Interstate 40 was completed. Nowadays, the historic U.S. 66 roadbed is part of the I-40 frontage road system.
CRI&G began operating as a chartered company back in 1847. It was the first railroad to bridge the Mississippi and its demise in 1980 was the longest one in the history of U.S. railways. The tracks (rails and ties) that ran below the bridge have been removed.
The bridge stands today as it did back in 1932. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
1940s four lane highway
In the 1940s the road was upgraded to a four-lane divided highway, the current S. Frontage Rd. carried the eastbound lanes. The westbound ones are now buried under I-40's eastbound lanes.
From the 1970s, to 1985 when Route 66 was decertified, the modern westbound lanes of I-40 were built, and the original Route 66 became its South Frontage Road.
Head west along Route 66 from the Shamrock Conoco Station (mile zero of your next leg) and head west along Bus I-40 (West 12th Street); it then becomes State Spur 556. Don't take the fork (1 mi) that, to the right, enters I-40's north Frontage Rd. Stay on the south service Rd. and head west.
Take care with the traffic leaving I-40 (1.5 mi). When you reach the crossing of Farm to Market Rd. 1547 (5.3 mi), you can drive to the other side of I-40 (right turn) to visit the small village of Lela, that lies to the north of I-40 (Exit 157). Part of the town's block that faced US66 now lies under the freeway.
From: Lela to McLean
Keep westbound along Route 66 and you will reach the McLean (18.6 mi). Here the original 1926-70s alignment took a SE-NW course into the town. This is cut off from the S. Frontage Rd. by I-40 (map) so you can enter McLean just ahead at Exit 143, pass under I-40 and drive into the town along its 1st St.
The USGS map from 1963 shows that US66 was a divided four-lane highway at that time, and its eastbound lanes ran along Railroad St. while the westbound ones took 1st St.
The 1926-32 alignment, unpaved. Ran south along FM Rd 2695 and then west along a course south of the railroad (roughly the one followed by BB Rd. nowadays), it entered Alanreed along its Main St. (map).
The first paved alignment in 1932-36 (solid blue line in the map below), curved sharply on the western side of McLean and followed the now abandoned Rock Island and Gulf Railway. It took what is now 26 1&frasl2 Rd. and ran on the north side of the tracks, following its winding alignment until a point where it took a straight course into Alanreed, leaving the tracks.
The first part of this alignment is this one Map #1, and can be driven. Then comes a section where the road is no longer in use, abandoned (Map #2), and finally a section on the western tip that once again can be driven: Map #3. Please note that these roads may run inside private property!
In this Satellite View you can see the abandoned roadbed, paved and in very bad shape.
You can see some of the 1930s original paving, now abandoned, to the south of the S. Frontage Rd. (red arrow in image below, and see this satellite image where it describes a curve).
West of Alanreed
After driving through Alanreed keep west along the south Frontage Road of I-40. The 1926-32 road curves towards the southwest but at Exit 132 of I-40 you have to leave the old road here (map to this point) because it becomes a dirt surface road further ahead and then becomes a dead end in "Rockledge" (map) it then ran close to the old railroad until it reached Co. Rd. 12.
In 1936 it was paved (map of 1936 paved section) and west of this point followed what is now the eastbound lanes of I-40.
The infamous muddy stretch of the Jericho Gap starts here at Rockledge. The less adventurous should stick to I-40 for the next few miles.
In 1933 the highway was moved to then north, and is now under the roadbed of I-40, however a segment of the original aligment survives (map) and can be driven.
Click on the thumbnail map, to see large sized map showing Route 66 alignment through Jericho TX
A safer course: Follow I-40 west and leave it at Exit 124, get on to TX-70 southbound, cross to the south side of I-40. Here you can visit the old Jericho Cemetery, a few miles southwest of the Exit and drive the western part of the Jericho Gap into "Boydston" (map) where it ends. There is a missing section, so you can't drive it into Groom.
Otherwise keep on the I-40 westbound and take the overpass at Exit 121 and drive along the south service road westwards.
At Exit 114 (30 miles) the I-40 Frontage Road becomes I-40BUS and goes into the town of Groom (along Front St.), crossing Main St.
Route 66 continues west of Groom, below is the description of the road to Conway:
The 1926 to 32 alignment reached Groom from the east on the North side of the Freeway along Hudson Rd. (map).
Groom to Conway
Leave Groom along Route 66 and head west, the road meets I-40 again at Exit 110. Drive along the south service road (west) and pass Exit 105 which is an I-40 overpass with CR-V on the south and FM-2880 on the north; here was a small but now defunct town: Lark.
At the next large intersection you will find CR-O on the north, leading to I-40's Exit 98 and TX-207 which goes straight ahead, westwards. Take it; this road is the Texas Historic US-66 (TX-207).
Shortly after, there is yet another crossing: FM 2161 heads west; this road is the old US-66, it continues west towards Amarillo. At this crossing is the site of the small town of Conway.
From Conway to Amarillo, TX
This segment of US 66 was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The road curves slightly after crossing CR I at the point where FM 2 branches of on the left (this left fork was the 1926 original alignment). Keep on U.S. 66 until meeting I-40 by Exit 89. That is where the Historic segment ends.
Towards Amarillo Along the 1926-32 alignment
The 1926 to 32 alignment of Route 66 approached Amarillo through the Southeast, from Conway to Washburn, and along US 287 into Amarillo. See this Map of the 1926-32 US66
After 1932 it took a course further to the north.
To Amarillo along the later alignments
Stay on FM 2161 and at the freeway turn right to take the overpass across I-40 to its northern side. Here leave FM 2161 taking a left onto the North frontage Road of I-40.
Pass the next Exit 87 (FM 2372) and keep west along the north frontage road. There is a rest area just after the exit (see the Peace Farm on the right).
Routes into Amarillo
After passing CR D, 305, 307, and 309, you will reach I-40's Exit 85.
At this point there are two alternative routes to reach Amarillo
Click on the links below to zoom into the different maps of US66 in Amarillo.
Alignments of Route 66 Through Amarillo.
Click links for large size images
Color Key to these maps of Route 66 in Amarillo: Pale Blue: driveable Historic Route 66 alignment; Blue line: older Route 66 alignment now cut by the airport. Black: roadbed now gone or buried under airport.
1. Follow Old US 66 as much as possible
Marked by the Blue line in the map above. See map.
Cross BL 40 towards the south, and keep on FM 2575 (which runs on the north side of I-40), cross CR A , then it becomes NE 8th Ave. follow it until it ends (18 mi.) with a sharp right curve (B Ave.) See this Street view of dead end.
The original alignment of US hwy 66 kept straight west but the airport was built and the road no longer exists. You have to detour around the airport.
Going around the Airport (map). Take the following course to meet US 66 on the western side of the airport: Go along B Avenue northwards until it meets BL-40 ⁄ US 60 - E. Amarillo Blvd. and take a right, westwards onto it.
At Folsom Rd. take a left along Folsom and go south until Triangle Drive, Triangle is U.S. 66. Drive east to the airport and the now vanished US 66, covered by the runway.
Into Amarillo (map). Turn around and go west along Triangle Dr. until TX 335. Triangle continues west after N. Lakeside Drive ⁄ TX 335 but to cross the highway you must first go north to E. Amarillo Blvd by taking a right, then take a left to cross the overpass, and another left to go along the west side of TX 335 back to Triangle Dr.
At Triangle, take a right and keep westbound until meeting Amarillo Blvd. again. Here is an old Route 66 motel, the Historic Triangle Motel.
Take a left onto Amarillo Blvd. It crosses the tracks and at N. Pierce St. (US 87) reaches downtown Amarillo. End of the Journey.
2. Keep on the main roads
Shown in this map. At the crossing at Exit 85, take a right entering BL-40 and head northwest till you reach US 60 -E. Amarillo Blvd. (16.4 miles). Turn left with BL-40 towards Amarillo. Cross (22.2 miles) TX-335 and slow down to see Triangle Motel on the left side of the road just before it intersects Triangle Dr.
Keep on straight along Amarillo Blvd till you reach Pierce St. (US 87) in the center of the city of Amarillo.
Route 66 1926 alignment and the 1956 Alignments Split Here
At Fillmore and East Amarillo Blvd. the original Route 66 alignment turned south along S Fillmore St. and headed into Downtown Amarillo (now it does so along Pierce St.)
Only in 1956 did Route 66 bypass the city center, as a "Beltline", that curved around the city along W Amarillo Blvd. The older alignment became B.R. 66. See Map of Beltline 66.
Route 66's alignments from Amarillo to Glenrio
Route 66's alignments from Clinton to Texola
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