If you love abandoned places, historic towns, and early 1900s Americana there is no better roadtrip than Route 66. I had the opportunity to travel the entirety of Route 66 in search for abandoned places, old cars, and ghost towns.
I put together this abandoned Route 66 map marking some of the ghost towns and abandoned buildings we visited along the way. This is by no means every single abandoned or historic place, but it should give you a good place to start.
Route 66 first cut through the American heartland in 1926, connecting Los Angeles and Chicago for the first time ever. This narrow two lane road passed through small towns and made getting to major hub cities a lot easier.
Thanks to the film Grapes of Wrath and the popular song (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, the two lane road became a permanent part of American culture by the mid 1950s.
Dozens of diners, gas stations, and tourist traps emerged over the years to help sustain travelers on their journey. So with all this popularity, why is Route 66 abandoned? You can thank president Eisenhower.
During the second World War, president Eisenhower saw how efficient and effective the German autobahn was, and decided to build a similar system back home.
In 1956 the Federal Interstate Act was instated. This called for four lane highways to be constructed all across the country. This could make evacuations more efficient from cities, as well as eliminate traffic congestion around heavily populated areas.
As the Interstate sprawled it’s way across the states, it eventually met Route 66 where it cut through it entirely, or simply bypassed it. With the interstate quickly gaining popularity traffic began to dry up down Route 66.
Diners, general stores, and even entire towns began to see drastically less travelers than they had in the past. As time went on business closed up shop, and small roadside towns began to disappear.
Thankfully much of the abandoned Route 66 is still intact and is able to be driven. You’ll find the remnants of 1950s hot rods, old ghost towns, and other abandoned buildings along the road nowadays. If you’re up for an adventure and lost abandoned places and American history, abandoned Route 66 is one for the bucketlist.