||75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee
by Rich Williams
In 2001, Historic Route 66 will be celebrating the 75th Anni-
versary of its 1926 designation as a U.S. Highway. The Association has already
anticipated the event as important to our local communities. We are setting
up meetings with the City of Albuquerque, participating Chambers and Visitors
Bureaus along Route 66 and with the New Mexico MainStreet Program. Our goal
is to have in place a statewide strategy and calender to promote our Route
66 communities during 2001.
We will be working with Tourism Associations and Visitor and Convention
Bureaus and local/regional performers and events people to develop programs
and activities. Using the assets, the historic buildings and the scenic
byways of the remaining portions of New Mexico's historic highway, we intend
to build awareness of the roadway, the histories of the people who traveled
it, the importance of preserving the legacy and using those cultural, scenic
and architectural features to generate economic revitalization through heritage
tourism. Our goal: to create new tourism markets for our Route 66 communities
and capture tourism dollars, strenghtening their local economies.
Preparation for this important event has actually been underway for several
years. Former Governor Bruce King and U.S. Senator Pete Domenici have been
long-time champions for preservation of the roadway, having lent their support
to legislative initiatives and funding.
In 1992, the Association received a grant from the N.M. Department of Tourism
to develop a corridor management plan: New Mexico Route 66: A Plan For Its
Revitalization. Concurrently, the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division
hired Association member and Historian Dr. David Kammer to research and
write the study: The Historic and Architectural Resources of Route 66 Through
New Mexico. In 1993, the N.M. Tourism Department followed up on these two
foundational studies with a GIS plan for management of the New Mexico Route
66 corridor. All of this research has set up a strong foundation from which
to launch a tourism strategy.
In December of 1994, the remaining portions of historic Route 66 were designated
a State of New Mexico Scenic Byway.
The State Highway and Transportation Department's Scenic Byways and Trails
program coordinator, Kathy Arrelanes, oversees designation and funding of
our state's unique roadway and trail resources. The state designation is
important for Route 66 New Mexico because the designation is recognized
by the Federal Highway Administration to qualify for Federal Scenic Byway
Funds (Historic Route 66 has not yet been designated a Federal Scenic Byway).
At the national level, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici introduced legislation
delegating the Park Service with the task of studying and identifying a
federal strategy for preservation and corridor management of the roadway
from Chicago to Santa Monica. That study, Special Resource Study: Route
66, was completed in 1994. Its recommendations have been introduced into
the current U.S. legislative session by Senator Domenici with the backing
of Senator Bingaman to designate Historic Route 66 as "America's Main
Street." (see last issue Vol. 5, No. 3 Summer 1998).
In 1996 and 1997, the Association supported the New Mexico MainStreet Program's
application for Federal Scenic Byway Funds to enhance education and preservation
efforts statewide. To that end a local brochure project, a historic signage
project, a web site, an interstate signage project, and a statewide Route
66 cultural resources brochure were funded. All will be completed by the
end of 1998.
We have applied for a second phase of funding to plan for the 75th Anniversary,
update our corridor management plan, develop promotional and advertising
materials for the 75th Anniversary, which all our Route 66 communities can
There are many other projects the Association continues to undertake. Along
with our mission statement, the Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors
is prioritizing activities that point to one focus the Diamond Jubilee.
We are directing all our resources and energy to make sure our Route 66
communities can capture tourism dollars, create new markets for their local
economies, and strengthen the revitalization activities and funding of their
We see this as a collaborative effort. It will take the resources of partnering
state and city agencies, Chambers and Visitors Bureaus, Tourism Associations
and our Route 66 Association members to make this a memorable 75th Anniversary
for our roadway.
2001 will be an exciting year for New Mexico Route 66. There will be plenty
more to do in the months ahead to plan our celebrations. We look forward
to working with you all on the Diamond Jubilee.