WAYNESVILLE, MO. -May 22, 2020- As many Route 66 travelers are longing to hit the storied pavement again, Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman signed a city proclamation Thursday evening recognizing the upcoming thirty-year anniversary of Missouri’s designation of Route 66 as a historic district.
Five years after U.S. 66 was decommissioned, on July 10, 1990, Missouri became the first state to award the highway historic status.
The legislative bill was sponsored by Missouri State Representatives Jim Mitchell of Richland and J. Dan Woodall of Springfield. It had won unanimous support in the General Assembly.
The bill was signed by Governor John Ashcroft during a ceremony at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville. At the time, Mitchell noted that it was a historic day for Pulaski County because it was the first time a bill had been signed there.
On the day of the signing, Governor Ashcroft said he hoped the official designation would stir nostalgia and recreate interest in Route 66 and the small towns along it.
Governor Ashcroft’s prediction nearly 30 years ago has been realized. Missouri’s recognition of the Mother Road helped to spur the Route 66 revival.
Waynesville’s role in hosting that historic bill signing ceremony cemented the small town’s legacy as an important part of the Route 66 story- the birthplace of the byway.
In the proclamation Mayor Hardman states, “We proudly celebrated the Highway’s rebirth then and we continue to celebrate Route 66 now, as we build our town and community around its rich history as the Birthplace of the Byway.”
Former State Representative Mitchell attended the proclamation signing Thursday evening. “The historic designation of Route 66 in Missouri is still having a positive impact on the small towns and cities along Route 66. I get a kick out of seeing folks from around the country, and the world, getting their kicks on Route 66 in Waynesville,” he said with a smile.
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau Executive Director Beth Wiles added, “The Tourism Bureau is proud to honor Waynesville’s rich legacy as the birthplace of the byway.” She hopes to see even more Route 66 enthusiasts exploring downtown Waynesville as the town’s claim to Route 66 fame gains more recognition. She stated, “The story of Governor Ashcroft signing the bill at the courthouse needed to be dusted off and retold. Waynesville is a significant part of the rebirth of Route 66.”