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Branson Reynolds
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I grew up in a tiny town on the plains of western Oklahoma but have been living in Durango, Colorado. which is surrounded by some of the most beautiful country in North America, for 30 years.
I grew up in a tiny town on the plains of western Oklahoma but have been living in Durango, Colorado. which is surrounded by some of the most beautiful country in North America, for 30 years.

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Cars and Cans along Rt 66
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West Needle Mts north of Durango, CO.
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Ghosts of the Mother Road
By
Branson Reynolds
 
From Chicago to LA, the boom-bust cycle along Route 66 had a significant impact on the towns it passed through. From its earliest days, the continual and steadily increasing flow of travelers brought prosperity and growth, but when Interstate 40 began to replace the old highway, the good times ended for many towns.
 
Most of the eastern towns along Rt. 66, where the population density was greater and the economies more stable, survived. But many small towns in the west which had boomed with the arrival of Rt. 66 went bust when, beginning in the late 1950’s and continuing gradually over the next 25 years, Rt. 66 was bypassed section by section by Iinterstate 40. Bumper-to-bumper traffic one day became empty streets the next. And the regular flow of money dried up overnight.
 
Doors were closed, windows boarded shut, and people who depended on the highway for their survival packed up and left, leaving their homes and businesses to slowly decay with the passing years. Towns that survived the bypass have begun to prosper again with the renewed interest in Rt. 66 in recent years. But for others it was too late and no effort was made to attract Rt.66 enthusiasts. 
 
Standing in the silence and emptiness of Main Street in Texola, Oklahoma one pleasant Sunday morning in September was like being in a timeless and melancholy dream, as void of people as it was of cars. The largest westward migration in the history of the country once passed through here.  Now it is a ghost town.  From a small cluster of buildings in the distance next to I-40 came the sound of a lone church bell. The melancholy was complete.
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For a somewhat “Ghostly” and definitely interesting Rt. 66 experience, take the old highway west from Sayre, Oklahoma through Hext, Texola, and into Texas through Alanreed and on to Conway. Here you’ll find great examples of the old highway from the 30’s, with one particularly interesting section, shrouded in overhanging branches of large elms, beginning just west of Eric. While this section of the old highway is only accessible in a few places and can only be driven for short distances before being blocked by fallen tree limbs, it has a real feel of being from another time. And the rusted rails of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe route are still there and plainly visible, though mostly hidden by grasses and shrubs. This is a rarity as nearly all of the rails were removed long ago for their scrap iron value. And in Texola, which is “officially” classified as a ghost-town, drive the side streets and see stately old collapsing houses which are a reminder of when Texola was a thriving community along the lifeline of commerce through the Southwest.
 
To see more photographs and for information on my Rt 66 tours, visit my website at www.bransonreynoldsphoto.com
 
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2014-04-18
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Hi,
I was born in Oklahoma n 1946 and took my first Rt 66 trip 6 months later in the summer of 1947. I've traveled it many time since. I'll be sharing some of my thoughts, feelings and "Stories from the Road" in the future. Here is one of my stories. Please tell me what you think.

Sixty-Six on Sixty-Six
Which Came First, the Gasoline or the Road

Well, what’s the name going to be? Time’s running out and we’ve got to make a decision. The year was 1927, and some executives of the newly formed Phillips Petroleum were driving on Route 66 from Tulsa, Oklahoma to company headquarters in Bartlesville to present a name for their new gasoline that would soon be on the market. 

Most gasoline stations in those days were individually owned and without ties to any particular distributor. Phillips Petroleum planned to expand throughout the country and build brand recognition with stations standardized in appearance and offering a high-grade of gasoline with a name that drivers would recognize and develop a loyalty to.

Phillips 66 had been suggested as a name because the company headquarters and refinery were located on Route 66, but it was felt that this name was too limiting. The new gasoline needed a distinctive name with flare. Why use “66”, which meant nothing to most people and related only to a road through Oklahoma that had just been designated the year before and was mostly dirt.

While driving to the meeting, a member of the group commented that the car in which they were riding was “going like sixty” on the new gas. The driver, glancing at the speedometer, replied, “Sixty nothing, we’re going sixty-six!” 

During a discussion just before the meeting with a chemist who had helped develop the new gasoline, the coincidence of doing 66 on Route 66 was mentioned, and the chemist commented that another coincidence was that the octane of their new gasoline was also 66. 

When the meeting started, one of the executives was asked what name they had chosen for their new gasoline. Without hesitation the reply came back, “We’re calling it Phillips 66, and soon it, as well as this new road, will be known throughout the country.”
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Route 66
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