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.
What is the Route 66 Experience?
Located on the North end of Riverside Drive next to the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza, the proposed Route 66 Experience will be a multi-faceted center designed for maximum value and delight. Alongside its signature interpretive center, the Route 66 Experience will include a drive-in movie theater, two restaurants, visitor information center, retail shop, resource center, event space for rent, office or commercial space for lease, elevated pedestrian walkway, and three-level underground parking. Slated to open in 2022, the Experience is poised to bolster Tulsa tourism not only by attracting new visitors, but also by educating those already here about what Tulsa has to offer.
With a mixture of permanent displays, rotating artifact collections, temporary exhibits and fully interactive audio-visual experiences, the interpretive center will be the definitive Route 66 destination for families and enthusiasts alike. This home of ultra-modern storytelling will resonate for the content that's presented and for the way it's experienced.
Tesla is a natural for Tulsa!
Once the oil capitol of the world, Tulsa has embraced new kinds of energy, including electricity and wind.
As of 2020, Oklahoma has more fast chargers for electric cars per capita geographically spread throughout the state than any other state.
Francis Solar, headquartered in Tulsa, is the leader in installing fast chargers throughout the region. EV owners can find a charging station within 50 miles of their vehicle anywhere in the state.
American Electric Power/Public Service Company of Oklahoma is a strong believer in alternative energy and spends millions of dollars each year researching various ways to generate electricity. They are also a very strong community partner, supporting STEM and other educational initiatives.
Tulsa was home to Cyrus Avery. Like Elon Musk, Avery was a pioneer – donating the land to create Tulsa’s first Municipal Airport so that this growing city would attract business and commerce – and identifying a direct source for clean water (Spavinaw Lake) so that Tulsa would be a healthy city.
Avery was also known as the Father of Route 66. Tulsa is the capital of Route 66, where East meets West, thanks to Mr. Avery, who in 1926 convinced the federal highway department that Tulsa, with the first concrete and steel-reinforced bridge crossing the Arkansas River anywhere in the United States (built in 1917), was the “safe” way for these automobiles to travel from Chicago to Santa Monica. The federal highway department agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Oklahoma has 410 navigable miles of Historic Route 66 crossing the state, the most of any of the eight states through which Route 66 passes.
Imagine driving a Tesla on Historic Route 66 – crisscrossing Oklahoma, visiting charming towns full of history, and exploring a western and Native American heritage unlike any other.
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.
Chief Information Officer
Shannon Moudy is the CIO of the Route 66 Alliance.
Moudy envisions, creates and develops technology-based, multi-million dollar revenue and growth initiatives, based solidly on industry leaders best practices. He has served as a valued member of senior executive teams and organizations such as NORDAM, Benham, Spartan Aeronautics, and Media Encounters LLC. Founding Board Member of Tulsa Technet. VP of Information Security and Technology for Defense Technology Group working with Department of Justice and Department of Defense..
Designer and developer of a phone system for numerous law offices, medical centers, government facilities (including 911 centers) and executive centers across the nation, using open-source technology in an unconventional way for success.
Shannon designed an Internet Radio Station utilizing open-source technology focused on a variety of music, community organizations, businesses and municipalities with a global listenership.
Rhys Martin Advisor
See what our Executive Director & CEO, Ken Busby and Founder, Michael Wallis have been up to lately in our newest blog posts!
National Trust places Route 66 on its endangered list
July 3, 2018National Trust places Route 66 on its endangered list by Ron Warnick The National Trust for Historic Preservation on Tuesday included Route 66 among its annual 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list ...
Could new legislation lead to a Route 66 economic revival?
June 29, 2018Could new legislation lead to a Route 66 economic revival? June 29, 2018 6.35am EDT Author Daniel Milowski Ph.D. Student in History, Arizona State University The 2,448 mile-long highway that once woun...
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...
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