Route 66, The Mother Road | California

 “… and they come in to 66 from the tributaries, side roads, from the wagon track, and the 66 is the mother road…”—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939.

Route 66, also known as Will Rogers Highway, is arguably the most famous original highway of the USA. It was established in 1926 and it ran from Santa Monica, California to Chicago, Illinois. As time rolled on it was bypassed by the Interstate road system and was officially removed from the US highway system in 1985.

However, as a historic reminiscence, its remnants are now labelled as a scenic byway with ‘Historic Route 66’ signs. Many roadside reminiscences and curiosities are left reminding the traveller of the exciting past when the country was developed for long-distance car travels.

While some historic motels and gas stations are still in use, many are abandoned and prone to decay. In August 2016 photographer Ralph Graef created a portrait of the Historic Route 66 from California to New Mexico. Within this series, the photo ‘Gassing up at Roy’s’ won the travel category in the Sony World Photography Award 2017 and the Germany National Award in the same contest.

As Nat King Cole rolled it out in his 1946 hit: ”Well if you ever plan to motor west, travel my way, take the highway that’s the best. Get your kicks on Route 66.”

Enjoy the ride with a selection of the images, below.

For more of Ralph’s work visit his portfolio website or check out his Behance profile. 

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