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Route 66 from V‌inita to Tulsa

Driving Route 66

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In this webpage we describe all the different alignments of Route 66 between V‌inita and Tulsa in Oklahoma.

US Highway 66 had several road alignments after it was created in 1926, here you will learn about its course across the towns from Vinita to Tulsa. We also include maps to help you find and drive the original roadbed of Route 66 and know all about the "missing" segments that have been abandoned.

Drive Historic Route 66 between Vinita and Tulsa, OK.

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Tulsa to Chandler

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KS-OK state line to Vinita

Historic Route 66 V‌inita to Tulsa

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Background on Historic Route 66

Route 66 on a Shell roadmap in northeast Oklahoma from 1948

1948 Shell Roadmap northeast Oklahoma
Click on map to enlarge
Credits

The thumbnail map (click it to enlarge) is a Shell Highway map published in 1948; you can follow U.S. Highway 66 from Galena KS (upper right) to Claremore OK (lower left), Vinita, the starting point of this leg of Route 66 is in the middle.

Below is a map that predates Route 66 by two years.
It was published in 1924 and it shows the car-worthy roads or "Auto Trails" that existed before the US Highway system was created in 1926.
Vinita is in the middle of the map, along highway "50", meaning the "Ozark Trails", it would become Route 66 in 1926; you can follow it from Vinita to Tulsa OK (on the lower right left corner).

1924 roadmap of northeastern Oklahoma
1924 roadmap of northeastern Oklahoma, See large sized map
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From Vinita to Tulsa

Vinita, starting point of this leg

We will start on the eastern side of Vinita after crossing I-44, and head west. The original 1926 alignment and successive ones used this alignment. It was paved in Portland cement in 1933 all the way to the Rogers County line west of Vinita.

See this map with US 66 alignment in Vinita

large US 66 highway shield in black and white letters painted on the asphalt
US 66 shield painted on the road in downtown Vinita. Click for street view. Credits

On the south side of Vinita there is a remaining segment of the 1926 alignment, bypassed when US66 was paved in 1933. Here Wilson St. takes a curve towards the west, and to your left (map) is the first alignment of US 66.

The Oklahoma DOT map of Vinita says that the Wilson St - Euclid St. are the "probable historic alignment (unverified)" they also point out a "Concrete Foundation" on the curve. The USGS map published in 1913, well before Route 66 was created, shows how Euclid St. (running east to west - left to right) meets Scraper St - S 4400Rd (running north to south - top to bottom). We marked the point with a red circle. You can also see Wilson St. with a NE-SW angled course from the upper right to the lower left.

You can see a black dot at the intersection; this is the "concrete foundation" mentioned by OK DOT. It was probably a gas station or the remains of "De Luxe Courts" with modern cabins and a gas station located 0.5 mi. south of the town.

Sharp curves like this one were dangerous and that is why the 1930s US 66 was moved to its present alignment, with a long soft curve.

USGS 1913 map of Vinita OK

1913 USGS map of Vinita

concrete foundations of old gas station?

Concrete Foundations by Route 66 Vinita. Click for St. View

West of this point the highway has an east-to-west course that was upgraded to four-lanes in the 1960s (it also carried US 60 and US 69). But after US 60 forks to the NW, Route 66 becomes a 2-lane highway once again and curves with a SW direction into White Oak.

White Oak

red neon sign with white letters

Neon Sign Country Court between White Oak and Chelsea, credits

Route 66 was paved here in 1933 and followed the 1926 alignment (Map in White Oak). The highway through White Oak is a two-lane roadway, and the four-lane alignment (paved in the 1960s) begins again west of the Rogers county line.

Chelsea

Craig County is followed by Rogers Co. and the segment west of the county line had been paved in 1931. And improved to a 4-lane alignment in the 1960s; the westbound lanes are the original roadway.

Head west towards Chelsea. See this 1926-60s map US66 east of Chelsea.

  • 1926-29 alignment. See this Map with directions. Just before you reach Pryor Creek, take a left, and head south along S 2460 Road, it soon reaches Pryor Creek, and crosses the "Historic Bridge" (more on it below), then it went along E 1st, took a left onto Cherry St. (now it has a zig-zag here as Cherry is cut off from E 1st.) and then right along E 6th to Walnut St (now OK-66), where it turned left to leave town.
  • 1929-32 alignment. The road kept along E 1st St to Walnut and then went south (Map).
  • After 1932. It follows what is now OK-66 curving southwards along Chelsea's "Main" Street, Walnut Avenue, see this map.

Historic Pryor Creek Bridge - Chelsea

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

At S 2460 Rd. (E 1st St.) and Pryor Creek. This bridge is 1⁄4 mile east of the town and it was built in 1926 to carry Route 66 across the stream.

Historic Pryor Creek Bridge, Chelsea, Oklahoma

steel bridge on narrow road among trees
Pryor Creek Bridge, Chelsea, Oklahoma, . Click for St. view

It has one single span, a modified Pratt Through Truss bridge (a bridge that has beams bracing it above the roadway). It is 123 ft. long and 19 feet wide.

Bushyhead

Route 66 heads towards Bushyhead, along the westbound lanes of the 1960s four-lane US highway 66, now Oklahoma Hwy. 66. It runs with a NW-SW course Map.

four lane route 66 running through Bushyhead, trees and meadows
Looking North along US 66 in Bushyhead OK. Click image for Street view

Foyil

The road reaches Foyil, where there are three alignments.

Restored Texaco gas station on US66 in Foyil

restored Texaco gas station, gabled canopy and building
Historic Texaco gas station, Foyil, OK. Credits
map showing US66 alignments in Foyil Oklahoma

Map of US 66 in Foyil. Click image to enlarge

The thumbnail map (click on it for a large sized map) shows these different alignments of Route 66 through Foyil. The red arrows on the top, show Foyil's 1926 to 1962 US66. Then it goes through the town, and meets the later four-lane alignment built in 1962 on the south side of Foyil.

East and west of Foyil, the original alignment is now under the 1962 westbound lanes. The 1962 4-lane road bypassed the town along its western flank.

The curved section in the map marked with a blue arrow is, according to the Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation, possibly the original 1926-31 alignment in Foyil. The red arrows along the curve mark the section originally paved in 1931 with Portland cement, south of the town.

This is the 1931-62 US 66 alignment in Foyil.

1931 Alignment in Foyil

narrow concrete road surface of US66

Original US66 from 1931, Foyil. Click for St. View

This 0.7 mile-long stretch of Route 66 begins at E 3rd St. and ends next to its intersection with the four-lane Route 66 built in 1962.

It is a narrow two lane road, paved with Portland concrete. Until then, the 1926-32 highway had a dirt surface. Route 66 curved through Foyil, and you can still see its SW tip, where it is cut off by the eastbound lanes of the later US66 alignment.

Through Sequoyah

The highway continues west, following the westbound lanes of modern OK-66, passing through Sequoyah and reaching Claremore. This alignment was the original 1926 one, paved in 1931 from Chelesea to Claremore. Map Foyil to Claremore.

Route 66 from Claremore to Tulsa

> > Book your hotel in Claremore

Claremore alignments

The thumbnail below shows a Shell Highway map (click on it for full size map) that dates back to 1948. Claremore is on the upper right corner, and Tulsa on the lower left.

  • 1926- 58 alignment. Route 66 was a dirt road when it was created in 1926. It entered the town along J. M. Davis parallel to the railroad and remained there until 1958. This is the 1926-58 alignment map
  • After 1958. In July of 1958 US66 was moved one block to the east, along what is now Lynn Riggs Blvd. a wide avenue map shows the 1958-85 alignment of US66
Route 66 on a 1948 Shell roadmap from Claremore to Tulsa

1948 Shell Roadmap Claremore-Tulsa
Click on map to enlarge
Credits

old Route 66 roadbed in the grass, next to modern highway

Old roadbed 1926-58, Claremore. Click for Street view

Above you can see the southern tip of the original 1926-58 alignment in the grass (red arrow), to the east (blue arrow) is the new 1958 roadbed.

West of Claremore, the highway was paved in 1930 for 4.2 miles, and met the next segment to Verdigris, which had been paved in Portland cement in 1926. The whole alignment between Claremore and Tulsa County line was upgraded to 4-lanes in 1957. Route 66 follows the westbound ones.

Verdigris

1925 Bird Creek Bridge on Route 66

Back in 1925, the Verdigris River's meandering course through Oklahoma between Claremore and Catoosa had only one bridge, a steel truss one, built that same year (Map 1925 bridge). When Route 66 was created the following year, its alignment was laid across that bridge.

However the bridge proved to be a bit too narrow (18 ft.) so a new alignment for Route 66 was built just south of it in 1936 (more on this bridge further down). See the Map of the 1936 bridge. The new roadbed had a wider and therefore safer bridge (24 ft).

This Map of the 1926-36 alignment (yellow line) shows the original course of Route 66 in the area. The roadbed can be seen running from NE to SW across the premises of Semi Pro's Inc. but the bridge is gone (yellow marker on map).

New Bridge (not classic Route 66 period)

The modern Verdigris River (violet marker on map) didn't exists, it is man-made, part of the McClellan - Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), an inland waterway system linking the Tulsa port of Catoosa with the Mississippi River.

This modern waterway was built between 1963 and 1971, and after it was built a new bridge was built to carry Route 66 across it. It was renamed Verdigris River and the former course of Verdigris River was renamed "Bird Creek". This "creek" was the original channel of Verdigris River until the 1971.

Therefore the bridge spanning "modern" Verdigris River is not part of the original Historic Route 66 alignment through Rogers County. Map of this non-US66 bridge.

This aerial photograph from 1967 shows the spot when there was no river there.

The three (1936, 1957 and 2011) Verdigris - Bird Creek Bridges

old 1936 steel span of Verdigris River bridge on Route 66, an entrance road to a restaurant

Old 1936 bridge at "Molly's Landing", Catoosa. Click for Street view

1936 bridge

Now gone, though you can see sections of the bridge on the western bank of the river (Catoosa), to your right on the north side of the highway. Now they are part of the entrance to "Molly's Landing" restaurant; see picture.

It was 24 feet wide, and built by M.E. Gillioz, of Monett Missouri, a large contractor during the early 1900s. The steel bridge had six spans ranging from 100 to 210 feet long. (three of them were Through K-truss, and the ends were Camelback Pony Trusses; two on the east, one on the west.

1957 bridge

In 1957 Route 66 was widened to four lanes and a second bridge was built, on the south side of the 1936 bridge carrying the eastbound lanes, it was a bit wider (28 ft) than the 1936 bridge, that carried the westbound lanes.

The second bridge was also built by Gillioz, and has the same spans as the older bridge.

The 1936 bridge was reconditioned and rededicated in 1957 and a monument was erected at the southeastern tip of the. It was built for safety reasons and replaced the original 1936 Route 66 bridge.

Below is a view of all three bridges, looking west along the eastbound (EB) lanes. To the right is the 2011 bridge carrying the westbound (WB) lanes.

Verdigris river, trees and three bridges of steel and concrete
All three bridges (1936, 1957 and 2011) at Verdigris River. Click on image for St. view
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Visit the 1936 Bridge spans

After crossing the river, to our right is the original 1926 alignment that can be driven; and if you turn right onto North Old Hwy 66 just ahead, to your right is the entrance of a "Molly's Landing" where you will see some of the old spans and the dedication monument.

1926-36 segment

Dead end ahead, runs from the end of the missing segment (yellow line in this Map of the 1926-36 alignment to what is now OK-66. It was replaced when the 1936 bridge was built. This is the Map of the part that can be driven (0.3 mi).

1926-57 segment

Until the four lane alignment was built, US 66 continued along the "Old Hwy 66" into Catoosa, as shown in this Map. It past on the eastern side of Arrowood Trading Post.

Across Catoosa

1954 USGS map US66 in Catoosa

1954 US66 map in Catoosa Oklahoma

1926-42: Through the town

Along Ford and S Cherokee St, crossing the downtown district. Map.

After 1942: East side of town

As a two-lane highway along what is now OK-66, this is the highway that Rittenhouse drove in 1946. Map

West of Catoosa until 1957

Both alignments met at Muskogee St. and until 1959 followed the alignment of this Map with directions, you can also see it in the image.

It has a bridge built in 1939 just south of E Pine St. shown below.

bridge, countryside, trees and cars
1939 bridge south of Catoosa, Route 66. Click on image for St. view

1957 alignment in Catoosa

It is the modern OK-66, from the Verdigris River bridge all the way to I-44's Exit 241. Map. The famous Blue Whale is on this alignment.

US 66 alignment into Tulsa

Summary of the Old Alignments of Route 66 through Tulsa

  • Original 1926-32 alignment. US 66 entered Tulsa via 193rd St. south, then a right onto 11th St., a right along Mingo Rd., a left along Admiral Place, a left onto Lewis and a right along 2nd, into the town. Then: Detroit, 7th, Cheyenne and 11th Street, to Maybelle and then across the 11th St. Bridge. On the western side of the River it followed Southwest Blvd. (in those days Quanah Ave.)
    > > US 66 1926-32 in Tulsa (orange line in map below)
  • 1932 to 1959. It was realigned west of Mingo Road along 11th St. to downtown.
    > > US 66 1932-59 in Tulsa (pale blue line in map below)
  • After 1959. With the Interstate I-44 there were more changes: I-44 became the Route 66 and 11th St. was Bus. 66 until deleted in 1973.

US 66 alignments through Tulsa

Map showing Route 66 alignment through Tulsa OK. Click map to enlarge

Map of US 66 in Tulsa OK
Map showing Route 66 alignment in Tulsa, Oklahoma Click on Map to Enlarge

Color Key to the Map of Route 66 in Tulsa: the Orange line is the 1926 to 1932 Route 66.
Pale Blue: US 66 alignment in Tulsa after 1932.
Black lines mark where the road is now cut and cannot be driven.

Buck Atom, a modern Muffler Man in Tulsa Oklahoma
Buck Atom, the Space Cowboy Muffler Man in Tulsa, OK.

This is the end of the itinerary, on the eastern bank of the Arkansas river in Tulsa.

Next Section

Route 66's alignments from Tulsa to Chandler

US 66 alignments from KS-OK state line to Vinita

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Credits and Sources

Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.
Route 66 Maps. Oklahoma D.O.T.

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