From Oklahoma City to the west end of this state, the historic Route 66 towns get fewer and farther between, so checking out each Mother Road community out along the way is not much of a burden. When traveling through this end of Oklahoma, the western theme is more frequently seen and the signs of hardship are more common. The communities that could not rebound after being bypassed by the modern interstate freeway ended up turning into Route 66 ghost towns, while only a lucky few small communities harbored enough local commerce to not fade away into the past.
Elk City is one of few remaining places that offers modern amenities when traveling west on Route 66 Oklahoma near the Texas border. When approaching the border, there is a string of ghost towns that have continually struggled to stay on the map. The gas stations are closed and most of the old shops are boarded up. This makes Elk City a last vestige for soaking up some good old fashioned Route 66 culture at its finest before crossing the Texas State Line.
The Route 66 theme runs thick in Elk City, just like it always has. Many of the restaurants, shops and motor inns have not changed since the golden age of automobile travel back in the 1960s, so this adds to the charm. Because Elk City is a center of commerce for this region, the upkeep of the old Route 66 attractions has been well funded, so this old traditional Mother Road stopover is far from being an abandoned ghost town. A visitor will see fresh coats of paint and modern new business growth, so the future of Route 66 looks to be solid in this old town.
There are a few old Route 66 motor inns that still have the original neon marquis in Elk City, which do make for good photo opportunities. Many of the original business buildings still stand along the Route 66 alignment through town and these old landmarks are like living time capsules from the past. Classic Route 66 style museums also abound in Elk City and there are several to choose from. Each of the local museums revolve around a western Route 66 theme, so these are great places to learn a little something about the Mother Road when passing through. The Old Town Museum, Farm & Ranch Museum and the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum are all within walking distance of each other, so this is a good spot to stretch the legs after traveling many miles.
The National Route 66 & Transportation Museum definitely is the place to visit if you happen to be a true Route 66 fan, because the exhibits are so extensive. A vast collection of Route 66 artifacts and interactive information is housed in a series of buildings that have architectural designs that commemorate important Oklahoma Route 66 landmark sites. The diverse cultures that shaped the local Route 66 history are also featured here, so this museum is well worth looking into when touring the town.
As mentioned previously, from Elk City to the border of Texas things do get to be a bit depressing on Route 66. Passing through the communities that are struggling to keep from being designated as ghost towns is a sobering experience. In fact, this ghost town section of Route 66 pretty much does not end till arriving in Amarillo, Texas, so this truly is one of the loneliest stretches of the Mother Road. The Route 66 museums in Elk City are both a shining beacon of the past and an indicator of depressed conditions further west, so a tour of this town is well worth doing!
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