Friday, 20 May 2016

Route 66 Effected Many Small Towns

Last year, when I travelled down Route 66 there were several areas that I chose to past by mostly because their locations were further afield from The Mother Road than I wanted to venture at that time.  If the truth be known there are so many areas in and around R66 that have been devastated by its demise, an entire career could be made just documenting those areas.

This time I was determined to search out and record some of the less glamorous places that felt the full brunt of Route 66 being decommissioned.  The route was established November 11, 1926, and fully decommissioned on June 27, 1985, though the demise of many of the towns started years prior as the road was slowly replaced by the interstate.

Today I found myself visiting Geary, Bridgeport and Foss Oklahoma.  Even though after seeing so much decay along the old Route 66 path last year it still saddens me when I continue to witness what at one time must have been bustling small towns living of the proceeds that were generated from Route 66 being well travelled.

One of the side effects of getting to these places is that the roads, or what’s left of them, sometimes leave much to be desired resulting in your travel itinerary going out the window.

This is what the GPS called a "country road".  Passable, but just.

My first stop was Geary Oklahoma.

Geary is nearly an empty void.  I thought it strange and yet telling that one of the few remaining operations on the main drag was a taxidermy shop.  I kid you not.  So much of the town consisted of burned out and decaying houses and buildings.  One of the strangest sights was that of the local sheriff prowling the streets in his huge modern menacing looking black patrol car.  Given that there is hardly a shop operating and most homes are either deserted or burnt down, what’s the point? I’m surprised that they can even allocate funds to fuel the darn thing.

One of the few remaining operations in Geary, OK
Normally a business on Main St. would come with a roof and doors.
Even the US flag looks sad

Further along is Bridgeport, OK. 
This is one of the better structures
No doubt the mail will be arriving late today.
An even sadder place.  In fact, this place actually made my skin crawl.    

I met one William Alexander who was cradling a Giant Bernese Mountain pup in his arms.  William was quick to rush out of his trailer to offer me insight into the life and times of Bridgeport.  According to William the post office closed down in the mid 70’s and the town in its heyday supported not one but two hotels.   
What's left of one residence and it's backyard
Those who still live there, for reasons William couldn’t fully explain, choose to stay when according to William “those who had the good water decided to leave”.  “It was all about water”.   William couldn’t articulate what he meant about the water and I felt it was wiser not to press for more information.  Maybe the answer really is in what's in the water.

William’s belt buckle perhaps gives a clue.

William's Mail Box
Next came Foss, OK. 

To call it a town is really a bit of a stretch.  Even calling it a hamlet is an overstatement.  One of the main businesses was a pontoon boat business.  The nearest water for such a craft is 900 miles away.   Only two items told me I was in Foss.  The stone and a very old jail holding cage.   That's it. No post office, town hall, rec centre, just a rock and cage.

This is Foss, really!
Ok, so there's a bit more...
Not all was a depressing as these three stops were.   

On the brighter side while swinging through Bristow I came across Dakota all dressed up in his high school graduation cap and gown on his way to the library to do some research.  He graduates next week so I’m guessing this is his dress rehearsal.  A Sweet kid with a dream of becoming a computer repairman.  
Dakota, all ready for his graduation
Also, dropped by to say hi to Jerry at the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum in Warwick.  I tried looking for the actual town, couldn’t find it.  Jerry said his shop was all that was left of the town.

Gerry, one happy individual
 There is still humor to be found along R66, though I sure it wasn't intended.

Note the guy checking things out
I made it as far as Elk City and tomorrow hope to eventually reach Gallup, New Mexico.


No comments:

Post a Comment