Since 1999, the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program has provided millions of dollars for the upkeep of the many iconic and historic stops along the main street of America. The program is set to expire in 2019 however, and that's something many local historians are not happy about.
Thanks to the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, historic hangouts like Nelson's Old Riverton Store have been able to preserve their architecture and history. Many sights along the 2400 mile highway, like the Boots Motel in Carthage, Missouri, can claim the same thing.
While some may argue that taxpayer dollars aimed at preserving American history should be spent on museums, local historian Scott Nelson argues a well maintained Route 66 provides thousands of miles of education.
"Route 66, if you maintain it, people will come. And that's part of keeping things on route 66 that have been here for so many years, that folks come to see," said Nelson. Others in favor of extending the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program argue it does more than just preserve history. They say it helps preserve an American way of life.
"Tourism means dollars. Whether we want to say we're in it for the history or not, when you create a tourist area, you create dollars for that community," said Mary Billington, museum director of the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum.
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