|Streetcar in El Reno (Photo courtesy of the Canadian County Historical Society Museum)
U.S. Route 66 was one of the United States' 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.
In Oklahoma, Route 66 spanned 432 miles. After traveling through Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, the Mother Road entered Oklahoma near Commerce, and headed southwest to Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Yukon and into El Reno.
In general, it followed the route of present-day Interstate I-44. From El Reno, Route 66 continued west to Bridgeport, Weatherford, Elk City and Erick into Texas.
El Reno was established in 1889 and is located at the intersection of two historic highways: Historic U.S. Route 66 and the Chisholm Trail (U.S. Highway 81). It is located about 25 miles west of downtown Oklahoma City.
The city began as a railroad town and was home to three Land Runs.
Today, El Reno is the county seat Canadian County, and has a population of about 20,000 residents.
It is a festival town and boasts many heritage celebrations, historic properties, and the only rail based trolley operating in the state of Oklahoma. In 2001, El Reno was the first city in Oklahoma to re-establish streetcar service in the downtown area.
El Reno is also known far and wide for its hamburgers, and as "Fried Onion Burger Town". On the first weekend in May, El Reno cooks the “World’s Largest Fried Onion Hamburger,” a 750-pound burger with all the trimmings.
Some travelers on Route 66 in El Reno that need a break spend some fun time at the El Reno Bowl at 2412 Sunset Drive. It offers league bowling and a snack shop, and hosts a vareity of activities such as birthday parties and special events. Phone 405.262.3611
|Map of Historic Route 66 in Oklahoma showing the location of El Reno
Mural: Welcome to Historic Downtown El Reno
|El Reno Oklahoma Mural
The Crossroads of Ameria ... on Historic U.S. Route 66
Intersection of Route 66 and the Chisholm Trail
|El Reno Mother Road Monument
Stop for a great photo-op!
NE corner of W Wade & S. Choctaw Ave
Canadian County Historical Museum
The Canadian County Historical Museum in El Reno is recognized as one of Oklahoma's outstanding museums. Located in historic Heritage Park the museum sits on the 98th Meridian, which is an important marker from the state's territorial days.
During the Land Run of 1889, it was the boundary between the eastern lands open for settlement and the western lands settled by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
The museum is a complex made up of a series of buildings from the old west that have been renovated and are open to visitors. Route 66 travelers will enjoy the opportunity to explore a barn, the Darlington Indian Jail, church and the Possum Holler School as well as many other historically significant sites. The old Rock Island Depot (photo below) has been fully restored and now holds the museum's memorabilia for display.
The Museum is located at 300 South Grand in El Reno. Admission is free, donations are accepted. Phone 405.262.5121
Fort Reno had its origins as a temporary camp in July 1874 to protect the Cheyenne-Arapaho Agency at Darlington following an Indian outbreak that led to the Red River War of 1874. Situated three miles west and two miles north of present-day El Reno in Canadian County, the original military camp was enlarged and officially created as Fort Reno on July 15, 1875.
The Fort Reno Visitor's Center and Museum is located at 7107 West Cheyenne Street in El Reno. Phone 405.262.3987
Route 66 Pedestrian Tunnel in El Reno, Oklahoma
Located at 617 South Rock Island Avenue (Route 66), is a pedestrian tunnel. Built by the WPA in 1936, the tunnel provided safe passage for children to get to an elementary school on the west side of Route 66.
West of El Reno on Route 66: The Pony Bridge
This well known bridge on Old Route 66 over the South Canadian River is located near Bridgeport, OK, between El Reno and Hydro. Built in 1934, it remains the longest truss bridge in Oklahoma and the entire Mother Road route.
The 38-span pony truss bridge is 3,944 feet in length, and officially named the William H. Murray Bridge. Pony trusses are bridge trusses that don’t connect at the top.
The bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places will be closed beginning in 2022 for a two year reconstruction. The bridge will be widened to current standards, but the trusses will be reinstalled along the sides to retain its historical value.
A bit further west: Lucille's Service Station & Roadhouse in Hydro
Lucille's Service Station, a classic gas station built in 1929 along Route 66 near Hydro, is one of only two upper-story, out-thrust porch style stations left on Oklahoma's stretch of Route 66.
In 1941, the Hamons family took over the operation of the station and Lucille Hamons, ran the business for 60 years. Lucille, who quickly became known for her friendly assistance to motorists, earned the nickname "Mother of the Mother Road."
More Information about El Reno and Route 66
We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards dealing with El Reno and Route 66.
What was Route 66 like in its earlier years, as visitors drove through and around El Reno? What did all the service stations, motels and public buildings look like when they were new?
What did the traveling public experience on the Mother Road? We wonder such things when we travel Route 66 today.
Those earlier times in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were not always captured on film. But the use of colorful postcards was common in those decades.
These portray the historic road in its prime and help us to visualize, and appreciate, "earlier times" as we drive Route 66 today around El Reno.
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.