50 Years of Highways and Mission 66

Mission 66 Visitor Center at Mount Rainier : NPS PhotoThis is a month anniversaries. Along with the 100 year anniversary of the Antiquities Act, today (June 29) is the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway system. On this day in 1956, Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act into law, creating a network of roads that today total over 46 thousand miles.

What does that have to do with our National Parks? In two days from now, there is another important 50 year anniversary. On July 1, 1956, congress approved money for a program within the NPS called Mission 66. The program was a ten year project started in 1956 and was to be completed in 1966 for the fiftieth anniversary of the National Park Service. The program pumped nearly $1 billion in visitor services development into parks across the entire country. Many visitor centers were built as part of the program.

I think that there is a link between the Highway Bill, Mission 66, and the growth in visitation at our Parks over the last 50 years. Where would the classic American road-trip be without either the Interstate Highway System to drive on, or the National Park to visit?

Call To Action
(or put another way, I could use your help)
I think Mission 66 would be a good topic for discussion on this website. I'm sure that there are folks reading this that know a lot more about this program than can be found with simple searches on the web. I would like to hear from you! If you were involved with any projects, or know any good stories about the development with Mission 66, tell me about it. Know a particularly good book or website that has accurate information about the program? Do you think Mission 66 was ultimately a success or failure? What will we be saying about this program in 50 years from now? I would like to know what you think, send me a line! I can be reached at the tip line email address (tips-at-parkremark-dot-com, linked on the right side of the page). I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.