The Mother Road - My favorite 25 miles

 Route 66
Travel log
The Mother Road - My favorite 25 miles
Mom, Mother Road & Me
The Mother Road and The Queen of Roads
This article was published in Volume 18, Number 4 Winter, 2012 of the Federation Route 66 News. See the original article here.

The Federation Route 66 News is published quarterly by the National Historic Route 66 Federation - dedicated to promoting and preserving the “Main Street of America”.


I, like many of my fellow 66’ers, have traveled the whole length of Historic Route 66 from the corner of Jackson and Michigan in Chicago to the Santa Monica Pier.  I have also traveled many segments of it numerous times.  I really can’t get enough of it !!

I truly believe in the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: Life is a journey, not a destination.  Isn’t that what all of us believe who love to travel the road ?  Each time we travel part of Route 66, we forsake speed and efficiency for the slower-paced time and beauty (sometimes pretty rustic) of yesteryear.

Having said that, and reflecting on the wonderful places and people I’ve meet, I have decided to offer my favorite small segment of America’s Main Street. 

Oklahoma – actually only 19.72 miles (per MapQuest) ; I’m starting in Commerce and heading south and west to Afton.
Here are a few of the points of interest:

This town has one huge thing going for it – the birth place and childhood home of Mickey Mantle.  His home is at
319 S. Quincy St.  There is a nice plaque on the vacant home. The local high school baseball field is named for his father “Mutt” Mantle.

A sign on Old 66 states that Commerce is going to build a museum to Pinstripe. I saw that same sign in 2002. C’mon Commerce – just do it!

Being raise in Southern Indiana, I am used to seeing piles of unusable, discarded limestone. Perhaps you’ve noticed the piles of earthen matter in this area;  it is called “chat”. 
Chat is a term for fragments of waste rejected in the milling operations that accompanied zinc-lead mining in the first half of the 20th century.  The EPA is working in the tri-state area to clean up this contamination. “Only” 100 million tons of chat remain of the estimated 500 million tons left behind.  One use of it is as a material to improve traction on snow covered roads.  (I sure could have used some chat in Indiana in January and February this year !!).
  Home of the Commerce Comet - #7 Hall of Famer – Mickey Mantle.

Don’t mis-pronounce the name of this town or you may get run out of it.  Not really, but they do insist you say “My-am-uh”.  If you’re hungry, stop at Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger – note their great 1965 neon sign below.   Also, don’t miss taking a quick browse in the 1929 Spanish mission-styled Coleman Theatre on Main St.  It is still under restoration and the folks there are doing a magnificent job on it.  Phantom of the Opera is played here with a live organist twice a year.  With incredible luck (no pre-planning), I hit town on one of those two days.  Wonderful !!!

Waylan’s Hamburgers in Miami, OK is a popular stop for Route 66 explorers   1929 Spanish mission-styled Coleman Theatre on Main St. in Miami, OK.

The Sidewalk Highway aka The Ribbon Highway
Continuing south, ladies and gentlemen, you are in for a rare treat !!  I have been on this stretch of old, old, Route 66 three times.  It is a slight detour off the “old R66”, but you will be rewarded.  This little stretch is one of the earliest roadbeds of portland cement still in existence – poured in 1922 and served as Route 66 until a newer alignment in 1937. You can still see the concrete base and the two curbs – only nine feet apart !!  Thus the name – sidewalk or ribbon highway. 

The photo below was taken on a section between Afton and Narcissa.  Turn west at the NE Technology Center and travel about a half mile or so – you’ll be where the photo below was taken. There are at several other sections of the Sidewalk Highway in the area, I’ve explored them all – this is my favorite.


This photo was taken on the 9 foot ribbon highway on a section between Afton and Narcissa, OK. The wheelbase of the Mustang is 107 inch


The beautifully restored Afton Station in Afton, OK is a must-stop. Great hospitality and great Packards.

Real simple – see the Packard sign – stop !  Attached to a beautifully restored Afton Gas Station, a former D-X station that now serves as a welcome station for travelers, you'll find a museum with an impressive collection of about twelve Packards.  The welcome center and Packard Museum are more of a hobby than a business to the owners, so they may or may not be there.  Go ahead - peek in the windows if they’re not.

Well, there you have it folks - my favorite slice of the highway.  Sorry Chain of Rocks Bridge, Elbow Inn, Cadillac Ranch, and the neon of Tucumcari; maybe someone else will choose you as part of their favorite segment of Historic Route 66.

I hope to see you on the road, look for me – I’m gonna leave the Mustang at home; I’ll be driving the Studebaker!

Photo - 1955 Studebaker President Speedster