California Route 66 Museum in Victorville, CA
PHOTO CREDIT: Ian Curcio
It has a lot of stops from Chicago to L.A., and the folks at the California Route 66 Museum want to make sure travelers along the Mother Road know that Victorville is worth a visit. The museum was founded in Old Town Victorville in November 1995, taking up quarters in the former Red Rooster Café, a roadhouse used in the filming of the “Jazz Singer” remake with Neil Diamond.
The area around the museum was once lined with such establishments, and the place itself is a definite throwback to the glory days of Route 66.
“We’re a stop on the road, and we get a lot of people heading out from Chicago because this is their last chance to get souvenirs before they end up in Los Angeles,” says Paul Chassey, a longtime volunteer and member of the museum’s board of directors.
“When they get to Santa Monica, they usually fly home.”
The museum does get some travelers heading the other way, and it does a brisk business in T-shirts, mugs, signage and other Route 66 items. It also serves as home to a growing exhibition of historic Route 66 memorabilia, as well as the major remnants of Hula Ville, which was once one of the Mother Road’s most interesting attractions.
Hula Ville got its name from a nine-foot dancing hula girl sign that drew in travelers. The museum also is the base for an increasingly popular auto show, which serves as the major fundraising event. The special events are fun but the typical museum visitors are people interested in the history of Route 66.
“Day in and day out, it’s people from around the country, and from Europe and Asia, who come in,” Chassey says. “They’ve heard about the mystique of Route 66, and they’re driving it. We’re one of the stops along the road, and so we’re something they’ve got to do. They really want to see what the roadway looked like back in the 1950s.”