U.S. Route 66 was one of the United State's first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west.
"The Mother Road" was established on November 11, 1926, and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Most travelers seem to start their journey on Route 66 in Chicago, and head westbound. That is the direction we take on this website. But others start in Santa Monica and drive eastward to Chicago.
The route through Kansas was the shortest of all the states, only about 30 miles. After traveling through Kansas, it entered Oklahoma, and headed southwest through Commerce, Miami, Afton, Vinita and Chelsea. In general, it followed the route of present-day Interstate I-44.
The Rogers County community of Chelsea lies at the intersection of State Highways 28 and 66 (Historic Route 66), nineteen miles northeast of Claremore, the county seat, and forty-seven miles northeast of Tulsa.
Chelsea began as a stop on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) in 1881. It was named after an area in London, England, by Charles Peach, a railroad employees who was a native of London.
Today it is home to more than 2,000 residents, and a popular stop by travelers on Route 66.
|Map of Historic Route 66 from Commerce to Tulsa showing the location of Chelsea
Welcome to Chelsea, Oklahoma
Welcome to Chelsea, Oklahoma ... Established 1889
Pryor Creek Bridge
The historic Pryor Creek Bridge was built in 1926 and carried U.S. Highway 66 traffic from then to 1932, when a new alignment bypassed the bridge. It is of "Modified Pratt Through Truss" design,123 feet long and 19 feet wide.
Located near Chelsea, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Chelsea Route 66 Pedestrian Underpass
The tunnel dates to a time when four-lane Route 66 was so busy that locals built a tunnel so pedestrians could cross under the highway safely. Today, it can still be walked through, at Walnut Street and West 6th Street in Chelsea.
Get your kicks UNDER Route 66!
|Chelsea Route 66 Underpass - entrance
|Route 66 Underpass Mural - interior
The Bob Waldmire U-Haul Truck
Robert "Bob" Waldmire was an American artist and cartographer who is well known for his artwork of U.S. Route 66. Sadly, he passed away in 2009. In 2004, Bob earned the National Historic Route 66 Federation's John Steinbeck Award for his contributions to the preservation of Route 66.
His official website, BobWaldmire.com, remains in operation and is currently being maintained by his brother Buz Waldmire.
In 2007, Bob painted a giant mural on one side of an old U-Haul truck for Ken and Marian Clark of Tulsa. Later, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association secured the U-Haul truck and has been displaying it near the pedestrian underpass in Chelsea. Waldmire used the truck for moving possessions from his native Illinois (where his family runs the Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield) to his remote homestead in southern Arizona.
The Chelsea Motel is located at the intersection of Historic Route 66 (N. Walnut Street) and E. First Street in Chelsea. It dates to circa 1936, and was alerted to Route 66 travelers by its large, elaborate neon sign that has survived into modern times. The simple stucco rectangular building consisted of six motel units; behind the motel was a smaller building that served as the motel office and home of the owner.
Today, the motel is privately owned and used for storage. It is not accessible to the public but can be viewed from the public right of way. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Seen below is a staff photo of the old
Chelsea Motel taken in November of 2018.
Bridge No. 18 at Bud Beck Park
Bridge #18 was a pony truss structure built in 1930 over Pryor Creek. Parts of the bridge were moved to Bud Beck Park in Chelsea in May of 2017, seen in the photo below. The park is located at 1101 Walnut Street (Route 66).
A museum stands on the property called the “Fiddle House” which showcases Galloway’s fiddles and other creations.
The park is located just 3.5 miles off the Mother Road.
Totem Pole Park
More Information about Chelsea and Route 66
MORE OKLAHOMA ROUTE 66
Oklahoma Route 66 Passport
The Oklahoma Route 66 Passport from the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department helps Route 66 travelers find new destinations to explore and document their progress along the way. A new updated passport (yellow) is being offered beginning in 2023.
The Route 66 Passport, which is available free at TravelOK.com, features 66 of the state’s memorable Mother Road attractions. It includes iconic stops like Catoosa’s Blue Whale, Stroud’s Rock Cafe and Clinton’s Oklahoma Route 66 Museum along with many newer favorites.
Get your passport stamped at each stop, then take it to a Tourism Information Center to be verified and earn an exclusive Route 66 coin.
Both the new yellow and previous red Route 66 Passports are now available in a digital format. Download the official TravelOK Trip Planner app on the Apple App Store or Google Play to get started. When you get to each stop, you'll find a code displayed that you can enter to digitally check in.