The Route 66 Experience
The Route 66 Alliance, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and enhancement of historic Route 66 – past, present, and future.
The Alliance supports the efforts of organizations and people in each of the eight Route 66 states to preserve historic sites, architecture, institutions, merchants, and attractions that touch the lives of millions of people from around the world who travel the length of the historic highway. The Alliance also partners with the eight state associations to encourage tourism and economic development along the Route 66 corridor.
Many key Route 66 influences and activists have endorsed the creation of the Route 66 Alliance. Each one recognizes that the highway needs a national voice. Each also understands that everything that is preserved and protected in one of the states benefits attractions and people in all of the Mother Road states.
The Route 66 Alliance chose Tulsa, Oklahoma, as its headquarters, in part, because of the community’s commitment to its Route 66 heritage. The city is centrally located and plays an important role in the creation, development, and history of Route 66. Currently the route 66 Alliance office is located in the Tulsa Historical Society where Alliance co-founder Michael Wallis serves as Historian-In-Residence.
Legislation for first public highways
More comprehensive legislation to execute plan for national highway construction
Great Depression halted work on Route 66 – put back to work in 1933
U.S. 66 Highway Association formed by Cyrus Avery and John Woodruff to promote early completion of and secure permanent maintenance of U.S. Highway No. 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles
Chicago to Los Angeles branch, which spanned 2,300 miles, is continuously paved
“Get your kicks on Route 66” released by Nat King Cole
“Route 66” TV show staring Martin Milner and George Maharis showed every Friday
Federal Aid Highway Act / National Interstate and Defense Highways Act provided finances to improve the national interstate and defense highway system, which was pushed into law by President Eisenhower after returning from Germany and seeing the Autobahn – this was the largest public construction project in the U.S. at that time
Interstate Highway system connected east and west coasts of the nation and afforded drivers the opportunity to travel the distance more quickly than on Route 66
U.S. 66 Highway Association disbanded due to “death by interstate”
Last branches of Route 66 yield to the interstate system
Route 66 formally decommissioned
Senator Pete Domenici and Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico pushed a Route 66 preservation bill through Congress – $10 million approved by President Clinton
U.S. 66 Highway Association reestablished following the consolidation of Route 66 Alliance and National Historic Route 66 federation
Executive Director & CEO
Ken Busby is the Executive Director & CEO of the Route 66 Alliance. Previously, he served as Executive Director & CEO of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa for twelve years. Prior to that, Busby was the Director of Development for Tulsa Zoo Friends and was with Gilcrease Museum for eight years, serving as Membership Director and Director of Communication. A native of Tulsa, Busby holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and French from the University of Tulsa. He has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University at Bloomington. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Busby is also a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XVII.
Busby is the immediate past chairman of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust. He was elected to the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts in 2010, and is past chairman of that Council. He also serves on the executive committee of the Tulsa Symphony and Workforce Tulsa, and serves on the Regional Tourism Marketing Committee for the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Visit Tulsa. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Tulsa and serves as a consultant in the areas of fundraising, grant writing, strategic planning, and board development for nonprofits across the state. In 2008, Busby received the Governor’s Arts Award for Community Service and the Global Vision Award from Tulsa Global Alliance. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Holland Hall. In 2013, the Association of Fundraising Professionals named him its Outstanding Fundraising Executive, and in 2015, Busby was named the Leadership Oklahoma Distinguished Graduate.
Michael Wallis is a best-selling author, award-winning reporter, historian, and biographer of the American West. He is a popular speaker and in 2006 joined an all-star cast in Pixar Studio’s animated feature film CARS as the voice of the Sheriff of Radiator Springs. The film was a celebration of Route 66 and the Sheriff has continued to direct traffic in CARS 2 and the upcoming CARS 3.
Michael has published 18 books and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times. His book Route 66: The Mother Road is credited for sparking a resurgence of interest in the historic highway. Other titles by Michael include The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate; Billy The Kid: The Endless Ride; David Crockett: The Lion of the West; and The Wild West 365.
Following a career with Computerland, where he started the retailer’s government and corporate divisions, Rick Freeland founded Voice Mail Systems, Inc. and launched the first voice mail system, replacing the “while you were out” pink notes found in millions of offices. He worked as a systems engineer for Centigram, traveling throughout the country to install and trouble-shoot large voice mail systems. Rick also assumed the leadership of a bankrupt Voice-Tel Systems franchise in Washington D.C. and converted it to a successful business serving more than 5,000 customers.
Rick’s love affair with Route 66 began years ago after a family trip along the highway. Since his first journey he has cruised the length of the eight-state corridor in his classic Corvette many times. Through his work with the Route 66 Alliance Rick has been able to support the business efforts of many people and places along the highway.
Alina Osika currently serves as a part-time marketing intern for the Route 66 Alliance. During the day, she is the Development Associate for the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. Prior to relocating to Tulsa in 2015, Alina enjoyed being a student and a flute performer, and starting her career as an arts administrator in her hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. While pursuing her Master’s Degree in Arts Leadership and Administration at Colorado State University, Ms. Osika served as one of two Graduate Teaching Assistants for the Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Arts Advocacy, and the Public (LEAP) Department. She concurrently served as the Graduate Marketing Coordinator for the Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement (SLiCE) Office at the University. In addition to these positions, Alina also single-handedly coordinated Streetmosphere, the City of Fort Collins’ signature summer cultural program. Other positions included a marketing internship with the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, an education internship with the Pittsburgh Opera, and a summer production and marketing internship with Streetmosphere in Fort Collins, CO.
See what our Executive Director & CEO, Ken Busby and Founder, Michael Wallis have been up to lately in our newest blog posts!
City Council and local leaders tour Route 66 through Tulsa
August 2, 2016Originally published in the Tulsa World. Written by JARREL WADE, World Staff Writer on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. With some Vision Tulsa sales-tax money going to help commercial revitalization, includi...
What has Executive Director & CEO, Ken Busby been up to lately!?
August 2, 2016Executive Director & CEO, Ken Busby presents at the Home & Garden Expo of Oklahoma at the River Spirit Expo Center. Special thanks to Daniel Sharples for creative help in arranging the booth a...
Exciting things to happen in Tulsa!
June 18, 2016“Tulsa’s new Route 66 Commission to promote tourism, development along historic highway” Tulsa World – Michael Overall, World Staff Writer Saturday, June 18, 2016 When she stop...