Route 66 is a major tourist attraction drawing visitors from across the nation as well as international visitors.

MIAMI – A grassroots effort is underway toward the goal of preservation of the remaining portion of old Route 66 in Ottawa County.

Kaisa Barthuli, Program Manager with the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, will be hosting a public meeting at 10 a.m. on Aug. 30 at the Coleman Theatre Ballroom to discuss the Historic Ribbon Road that is located south of Miami.

Local resident Gale Black has asked Barthuli to come and facilitate a meeting to discuss the future of the road. Black is passionate about preserving what is left of the original Mother Road and hopes others will join the project.

Route 66 is a major tourist attraction drawing visitors from across the nation as well as international visitors.

The road is one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, and became one of the most famous roads in the United States. The original highway ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles.

“What I want everyone to think about is that 365 days a year people have been coming through the city of Miami and down the streets and down the turnpike looking for a place called the old lap or ribbon road, the beginning of old Route 66, since 1926,” Black said. “It got its name 'lap road' because either way you traveled the driver had to keep a set of wheels on the pavement when he met the oncoming traffic, and the other had to do the same thing when they met, and they lapped off the road and back on and drove on.”

Black has also reached out to the Oklahoma State Preservation office and Oklahoma Route 66 Association to take part in the meeting.

“I've ridden the old road myself as a kid with my mom and dad and brother to Tulsa in an old truck,” Black said. “It was about six and a half to seven hours from Picher, but it was fun with us kids hanging in the back of the truck and going down that highway, singing and doing what kids do.”

Black has been in touch with several bordering land owners to the old road who have agreed to work together toward a plan to repair or preserve it. Black says the area has been well kept but needs a concerted and organized attempt for preservation to occur.

Finding funding for such costly work has been a hindrance toward the site's preservation.

Black believes as many do, that preserving the old road is beneficial and vital to tourism in Miami, Commerce, Afton and northeast Oklahoma.

Stone monuments and signage mark the portions of Route 66 still intact and maintained by Ottawa County.

“All the people in the county need to know about this, and then the business people of Ottawa County should take heed because traffic comes from the turnpike through Miami to old Route 66,” Black said. “It's beneficial to the county.”

Black dreams of an entrepreneur to take interest or tourist business enterprise to be established near the old Route 66 roadway to become even more of a tourist draw and place for historical information to be found.

“It would be great to have a museum or restaurant there, and a turn around for buses,” he said. “Now comes the part of how we're going to get it fixed. We are going to have to look for contributions and volunteer help, and charitable fundraisers to restore the road.”

Black said it would be a pity for the community to let such a historical and tourist treasure deteriorate further.

“It's a benefit to all and our history, and many businesses and casinos use it in their literature and advertising and to draw people,” he said. “We need to restore it while we still can.”

The public, businesses, and groups interested in the preservation project are invited to join the meeting or send a representative to take part in the discussion.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.