There have been countless books written about Route 66, the road that connected Chicago with Los Angeles before the birth of the interstate highway system, but this may be the most comprehensive. It is an alphabetical listing of all the towns, personalities, cafes, curio shops, motels and other landmarks associated with the historic highway.
This is a big coffee table kind of book with more than 1,000 illustrations, including both historic and modern day photos. Flip through the pages, and no matter where you land, you will find an intriguing photo or two and fascinating lore.
Go to the beginning of the “K” section, for example, and you will see a picture of the five-story Kentwood Arms Hotel in Springfield, Missouri, soon after it opened in 1926, read a description of it from a 1927 AAA directory, and learn that is now a college dormitory. The Kentwood Arms listing is followed by the Kima Café, which opened in Kingman, Arizona, in 1938 and continues today as Mr. D’z Route 66 diner. The entry is illustrated with a photo of the diner’s huge sign that depicts a hamburger, fries, a root beer and a classic car. The encyclopedia notes that, “In May 2006, Oprah Winfrey filmed a segment for her television program here and declared the root beer to be the world’s best.”
There is something to intrigue the reader on every one of this book’s 288 pages. This is a rich treasure for anyone who harbors nostalgia for Route 66. The collection of photos is impressive, and the entries are informative and entertaining.
The encyclopedia’s author is Jim Hinckley, who has written several books on Route 66 and maintains a website on the subject at route66chronicles.blogspot.com.
The Route 66 Encyclopedia is published by Voyageur Press with a cover price of $45.