Clinton, Oklahoma: Route 66 Museum

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As you arrive in Clinton on Route 66, one of the first Old Road sights you see is the impossible to miss sign, for the Glancy Motor Hotel. Even without much neon, this is a beautiful, funky old sign.  The motel is pretty funky too, and during my visit, I couldn’t quite figure out if it is still in business. What appears to be (or used to be) the office now looks vacant and junky inside.  The pool was empty, too.  However, it looked like there were still some people either staying or living in some of the rooms.  I wouldn’t count on it for an overnight stay, unless you make contact ahead of time.

The Glancy used to be next door to the Route 66 landmark Pop Hicks restaurant.  Sadly, Pop Hicks burnt down in 1999.  At the time, it was the oldest operating restaurant on Route 66.

Heading west: Route 66 enters Clinton on Gary Boulevard (Business 40).  However, it turns away from the business loop at 10th Street, headed south.  10th turns into Neptune Drive, which then curves onto Commerce Road.  Eventually you end up back at I-40, and Route 66 is once again a frontage road.  Strangely enough, if you want to visit Clinton’s Route 66 Museum, you’ll need to stay on the business loop (Gary Blvd).  If you’re arriving on the interstate and only care about seeing the museum, use exit 65.

Clinton has a tidy little downtown business district, just one block south of Gary — so you’ll need to make a couple of turns to drive through it.

If you continue on Gary Blvd. to the west side of town, you’ll see the retro-modern (and often photographed) Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.  I’m not the type of person who spends a lot of time in museums — why look at displays about Route 66, when the actual Route 66 is nearby?  But, I decided to invest a little time here, anyway.  The price is right–just a couple of bucks for admission–and if you skip the less-than-impressive movie at the end of the museum tour, you won’t lose too much time here.

The museum focuses mostly on Oklahoma’s Route 66 history, but other states aren’t forgotten.  Inside are several rooms, and each room focuses on one particular decade. For example:

The 1920’s room explains how the road was built, using mostly human and horse power, and very few machines.  On display you’ll find a chunk of the original Portland cement road surface, complete with curb.

Other rooms are decorated with vintage cars from each time period…

… and some beautiful neon.  It’s all explained here–the dust bowl, post-war vacations, the arrival of interstates and the decline of the old road.  Old gas stations and roadside cafe’s are recreated, too.

But seriously, skip that movie at the end.  I know you’re afraid you’ll miss something, but I swear, I could make a better movie if I drove around for a couple of weeks with a camcorder.  Of course, I am a TV producer, so maybe I’m being a little too picky.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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