Checking out sections of old historic Route 66 does become much easier when traveling on Interstate Highway 40 west of Oklahoma City. This is because Interstate 40 either parallels Route 66 or it shares the same blacktop as the old Mother Road all the way to California from here. Unlike with I-44, which intersects with I-40 in Oklahoma City, there are no toll booths on the I-40 going west, so making good time is cheaper to do. The toll booths on I-44 are basically designed to commit highway robbery and they become more frequent in the Oklahoma City area, so getting off the freeway to tour Route 66 through the big city is a viable option. The money saved when avoiding the tolls will easily add up to the price of a tank of gas, so it is best to just go with it, unless one wishes to avoid getting caught up in the Oklahoma City rush hour traffic.
When heading west on I-40 from Oklahoma City, the wild west theme of comes to the forefront. It is as if the east of the Mississippi culture is left behind where the spaces between towns becomes farther between. I-40 and old Route 66 share the same path through this region, so it is easy to make up lost time on the freeway with the higher speed limits. The long miles are gobbled up quickly on the freeway, while there are plenty of opportunities to drive at a slower pace on the old stretches of Route 66.
Just before reaching Clinton when going west on I-40 (Route 66), the town of Hinton comes into view. Those who exit the freeway to check out this small town will quickly realize that this is tribal land, which is another indicator of truly being in the west. Many Eastern and Great Plains native tribes were forcibly relocated to this region of Oklahoma back in the 1800s by greed driven European immigrants, so Hinton is a good place to learn a little something from cultural exchange.
The tribal nations played a key part in operating Route 66 tourism enterprises starting back in the early days of the Mother Road. Native traditions abound in this region, as well as modern money making tribal enterprises. The tribal casinos in Hinton offer an entertaining spot to take a break from the road, before calling it a day. If one is lucky in the Wichita Tribal Casinos in Hinton, it might be possible to win back the money that was stolen the OK City toll booths!
By the time one arrives in Clinton, it becomes evident that this is Cherokee Nation territory. East of the Mississippi, the Cherokee are famous for operating great trading posts and the Cherokee Trading Post in Clinton is the grandaddy of them all. This trading post has been around since the golden age of Route 66, so as can be imagined, there are plenty of Mother Road memorabilia items and unique hand crafted gifts to be found in this shop.
Route 66 is the main drag through Clinton and this old road is easy to catch from the Cherokee Trading Post on the outskirts of town. The town of Clinton first started taking shape back in the early 1900s, so Route 66 history abounds in this place. Clinton suffered an economic downturn when I-40 bypassed old Route 66, but there were enough big businesses and government facilities in the area to keep this small town on the map. The town of Clinton is now famous for being a nostalgic Route 66 stopover for travelers heading west on the high speed freeway.
Clinton still offers some old fashioned Route 66 hospitality and the timeless pace of this town adds to the charm. For a road weary traveler, Clinton has a nice mix of old fashioned Route 66 style restaurants and motor inns. Clinton also has plenty of chain restaurants and modern motels, which appeal to those who simply need some reliable internet service.
There are a few Route 66 attractions in Clinton that are worth checking out. The historic Cherokee Trading Post, White Dog Hill Restaurant and the Mohawk Lodge Indian Store offer plenty of old fashioned Route 66 style shopping and good times. For fans of the Mother Road, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton is well worth looking into. Clinton is also one of the first cowboy communities that one will pass through while going west, so there are opportunities to shop for some suitable western attire for the rest of the westward trip.
Clinton is one of the last thriving towns that will be found when traveling west through Oklahoma on Route 66. Western Oklahoma was hit hard during the Great Depression of the early 1930s and the I-40 Bypass made things even worse. Basically, one will see one ghost town after another well into Texas from just beyond Clinton and Elk City, so be sure to enjoy the civility while you can. This makes Clinton a great choice for a last chance stopover with modern amenities, before touring good old historic Route 66 Oklahoma all the way west into the Texas Panhandle!
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