Strange 66: Myth, Mystery, Mayhem and Other Weirdness on Route 66

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STRANGE 66: MYTH, MYSTERY, MAYHEM, AND OTHER WEIRDNESS ON ROUTE 66

Award-winning author Michael Karl Witzel talks with Big Blend Radio about his latest book, ‘Strange 66: Myth, Mystery, Mayhem and Other Weirdness on Route 66.’


“There exists another part of the road that most people never experience, a so-called unseen dimension.”

When you open STRANGE 66 (Voyageur Press) take a look beyond the all-American sheen to the seedy, creepy, and just plain weird stories behind America’s most famous highway, the one and only Mother Road.

Route 66 conjures images of an innocent golden age of car travel: shiny V8s powering down hot, two-lane blacktop, sucking 20-cent-a-gallon gasoline, and periodically depositing their many occupants at mom-n-pop greasy spoons, neon-lit motels, and tourist traps. But America’s Mother Road wasn’t all about ruddy-cheeked, summer vacationers. Route 66 and the regions it traverses have a side more seldom seen, rich with weird tales (mimetic architecture, paranormal phenomena, and even cryptozoology) to the downright sordid and seedy (murder, mistreatment, and other assorted mayhem).

In STRANGE 66, bestselling Route 66 authority Michael Witzel explores the flip side of Route 66 to offer details on infamous Route 66 locations that once served as hideouts for the James Gang (Meramec Caverns), Bonnie and Clyde (Baxter Springs, Kansas), and Al Capone (Cicero, Illinois). There are the stories of unspeakable crimes committed along 66, such as the Stafflebeck “murder bordello” in Galena, Kansas, and Arizona’s “Orphan Maker of Route 66.” Witzel also explores the people who passed through the region, including the Dust Bowl exodus and the Trail of Tears tribute in Jerome, Missouri. 

It’s not all crime and seediness, however. Witzel explores the memorable offbeat structures and attractions along Route 66, as well as roadside tributes and monuments. These have entertained, astounded, and sometimes puzzled hundreds of thousands of travelers through decades, places such as the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ, the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX; Galloway’s Route 66 Totem Poles in Foyil, OK and of course, exactly what corner you’ll want to stand on in Winslow, AZ
  

All of these stories culminate in a look at Route 66 unlike any other, completely illustrated with modern and archival photography and written by an acknowledged authority on the Mother Road.

Michael Karl Witzel is a photographer, historian and folklorist devoted to American roadside culture. An award-winning author, he has penned several books, including American Drive-In, The American Gas Station, The Sparkling Story of Coca-Cola, Cruisin’: Car Culture in America, and The American Diner.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

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About the Author:

Michael Karl Witzel is a photographer, historian and folklorist devoted to American roadside culture. An award-winning author, he has penned several books, including American Drive-In, The American Gas Station, The Sparkling Story of Coca-Cola, Cruisin': Car Culture in America, and The American Diner.

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