Pouring more than 2,400 miles of concrete turned out to be a pretty expensive project, especially back in the 1920’s. So, the state of Oklahoma came up with a solution: a road that’s half as wide should cost half as much. To save money as they paved parts of Route 66, they poured the concrete just 9 feet wide, creating just one hard-surfaced lane. Hey, it’s not like that “automobile” thing was really going to catch on, and there would ever be two cars on the road at the same time!
Incredibly, two sections of Oklahoma’s “Sidewalk Highway” or “Ribbon Road” still exist, and are drivable. The northern section is easy to find, just outside of Miami, Oklahoma.
Route 66’s single paved lane takes you past farmland and just a few homes. The road is concrete, with a thin (and sometimes missing) layer of asphalt on top. Truth be told, the road would probably have been smoother, if they hadn’t added this extra layer of pavement, and just kept the original 1922 road surface exposed.
The road makes a couple of turns, but it’s easy to follow the old route (after all, there aren’t many other one-lane roads around).
The southern section of the Ribbon Road looks a lot like the northern section, and passes through a similar landscape. However, this part of the Sidewalk Highway is smoother than the section near Miami. While it may be easier to drive faster here, you’ll still want to go slow, to preserve the fragile, old road itself.
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.