The perfect road geek pit stop

The perfect road geek pit stop

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
February 1, 2021

There's no getting around the fact that we here at ADOT generally, and on this blog specifically, are road geeks. Highway history, engineering, construction, etc., is what we find fascinating.

And we get excited when other folks out there show interest as well. That's why we can't help but pass along this photo, shot by an employee while on vacation in northern Arizona recently. Now, for anyone out there not versed in vintage automboiles, that's a rusted-out 1932 Studebaker sitting just a stone's throw away from modern Interstate 40. 

But the best part is, that's not just an abandoned car our employee just happened to stumble across and thought would make for a nice photo. No, this particular vehicle was placed in this specific spot to commemorate something special.

Who exactly would want to stage a nearly 90-year old car out on the Colorado Plateau, you ask? Well, for that look no further than the National Parks Service. The federal agency set up the car and a small pull out to see it inside of Petrified Forest National Park on the north side of Interstate 40 back in 2006. You see, this old Studebaker now sits right where the Mother Road itself, US Route 66, used to pass through – the only national park the highway crossed, by the way. What's more, from where this not-so-mobile automobile is (or from a nearby bench shaped like the hood of a classic car) visitors can see the original road bed and historic telephone poles of what was once the "Main Street of America."

We don't think we need to tell you the importance that US Route 66 used to have as it crossed through eight states on it's 2,000-some-odd-mile journey between Chicago and the Pacific Coast. As our 2012 Transportation History notes, it has already been the subject of songs, movies and even an eponymous television series. Even today we still ocassionally write blogs about its legacy, including not too long ago when we invited you to get your kicks on the extant portion that runs between Seligman and Kingman. 

Next time you are traveling up that way, why not pull over? You can look out and imagine for a second the thousands of 1930s Dust Bowl-stricken workers heading toward California, the World War II-era military convoys or the 1950s families packed up in station wagons on their way to visit Meteor Crator or maybe even Two Guns.

We don't know about you, but to us that sounds like the perfect pit stop.