Nearly 14 years after they were first envisioned, historical markers have begun appearing along Tulsa’s stretch of Route 66 in an effort to entice tourists to stop and linger for a while.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Rhys Martin, chairman of Tulsa’s Route 66 Commission. The markers, he said, will provide “a great incentive to slow down and really explore Tulsa rather than just take a few photos and keep driving.”
A master plan first called for the historical markers in December 2005, more than a decade before former Mayor Dewey Bartlett created the Route 66 Commission and tasked it with promoting tourism and development along the Mother Road.
Featuring tourist-oriented stories and historical photos, the markers will appear at 29 locations spread along the 26 miles of Route 66 that pass through Tulsa, with most of them coming on the highway’s post-1932 alignment along 11th Street. Other markers will stand along the highway’s 1926 path down Admiral Place.
While enthusiasts had been wanting the signs for a long time, the Route 66 Commission launched a concerted effort about 18 months ago to make the project happen, said Ken Busby, executive director and CEO of the Route 66 Alliance.
“It was necessary to get buy-in all along the 26 miles of Route 66 in Tulsa, telling as many stories as we could and finding appropriate historic photos and writing accurate narratives,” Busby said. “It simply wasn’t possible to include every story, so we had to make sure that as wide a range of interesting stories as possible would be included.”
The city spent $30,550 to design the markers and $80,619 to manufacture and install them, funded through Vision 2025 sales taxes, officials said.
“Many of the markers include a map to guide you from marker to marker,” Busby said. “And these markers tell interesting stories about Route 66 businesses and the people that made Route 66 great. It will be another draw for cultural tourism to our community.”