OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, recently was appointed to the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka.
The commission was established by legislation passed in 2019 to plan, coordinate and implement programs and special events to celebrate the historic highway’s centennial in 2026 with the support of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
"Route 66 is important to the entire state of Oklahoma," Dills said. “I’m glad to be a part of planning the recognition of this historic roadway and to help map its future preservation and develop the economic possibilities from this state and national treasure."
"With its unique places to stay, eat and shop, and the memories it evokes of the great American road trip, Route 66 will continue to draw travelers well into the future," McCall said. "I have every confidence that Representative Dills' input on this commission will result in a centennial celebration that will properly recognize the importance of this cultural icon in our state."
“As chairman of the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission, I am thrilled to welcome Representative Sheila Dills as our newest member," said Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. "Nothing gives the authentic American experience better than Route 66, and we are working hard to plan a celebration that will honor the road’s iconic heritage and history. I am confident that Representative Dills will be a valuable asset in making that happen.”
The commission will hold quarterly meetings this year at the Oklahoma History Center. Meeting dates and future agendas can be found online at https://www.okhistory.org/about/commission.
According to the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission Act, Route 66 is one of the original highways within the US Highway System, designated on Nov. 11, 1926, running from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The Act continues:
From the outset, public road planners intended U.S. 66 to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities along its course as small towns had no prior access to a major national thoroughfare. This was certainly true in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s stretch of Route 66 runs from Miami through Tulsa and Oklahoma City to Erick, passing through cities and towns of all sizes and vast expanses of rural landscape, before entering Texas and continuing to Santa Monica, California.
The centennial is an opportunity to celebrate the important history of Route 66 in Oklahoma through commemorative, educational and community events, including programs and exhibits about the history of how local communities grew and changed with construction of the highway; the development of a modern transportation system; the cultural impact of Route 66 both within the United States and internationally; the portrayal of Route 66 in music, artwork and folklore; and how we maintain the mystique and appeal of Route 66 for future generations.
The study, preservation and maintenance of Route-66-related resources has been a public/private partnership in Oklahoma for decades. Government agencies, private organizations and individual citizens have played critical roles in these efforts, and the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission shall seek input from these partners and the general public as it develops plans for the celebration and encourages their participation.
The significance of the Oklahoma stretch of Route 66 is demonstrated through its status as both a state and a National Scenic Byway and as a segment of the Route 66 National Historic Trail (legislation for NHT designation is pending in the US Congress). Dozens of Oklahoma properties are related to Route 66, such as roadbed segments, bridges, commercial buildings, service stations and tourist attractions, and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The significance of the highway is further recognized through the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s selection of the entire length of the highway as one of its National Treasures.