Route 66 has such a rich history. Although it may not be the longest or oldest road in the US, it still is quite popular. John Steinbeck gave it a nickname and called it the “Mother Road”. That nickname has been used since.
But do you know who the father of the “Mother Road” is? That man is no other than Cyrus Avery, a businessman in Oklahoma. Let’s tell you more about this man and why he became the father of Route 66.
Who Is Cyrus Avery?
Cyrus Avery is a businessman in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although he was born in Pennsylvania, he moved to Missouri at a young age. After getting married to Essie McClelland, they moved to Oklahoma City where he worked as an insurance agent.
He also went into real estate loans and he also invested in the oil industry. That’s when the Avery Oil & Gas Company was created. Furthermore, he bought a farm around Tulsa and then diversified to agriculture.
Cyrus Avery And Route 66
He wanted to help his state prosper and one way to do that is to connect it to highways. That’s why he pushed for the creation of a highway that starts from Chicago to Los Angeles. This route would also pass through Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
He was one of the members of the commission that wanted to create Route 66. As Avery argued that it would be a major highway, he initially liked to call it highway US 60. This name was supported by Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. However, Kentucky didn’t agree with it.
The highway was originally assigned as U.S. 62. However, Avery disliked that number so he was pushing for the U.S. 60. After failing to get that number, he found out that U.S. 66 isn’t used so he opted for it.
He also pushed for the creation of the U.S. Highway 66 association. This would result in paving the road and promoting it for travelers or tourists. As part of their promotion, the association persuaded C.C. Pyle to organize a footrace that runs through Route 66. This was known as the Bunion Derby that captured the attention of about 200 runners. They started at Los Angeles to Chicago through Route 66 then eastward to New York.
He did a lot for Tulsa. From developing the municipal airport to establishing the public water system. He also loved farming and did it not just to profit. He did try to run for governor and Tulsa county commissioner but was unsuccessful on both accounts. Nonetheless, he is still honored in Tulsa and there is a bridge, street, sculpture, and plaza named after him.