SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — For decades, Americans made their cross-country journeys on Route 66, and though it may no longer be possible to navigate it uninterrupted, the stories left behind help define the old highway as the Main Street of America.

Now, to celebrate the highway’s 100th anniversary, historians from the Illinois State Museum in Springfield are looking for people to detail their personal experiences with the original Route 66 in Illinois, to cement them in history.

The highway was established on November 11, 1926. The road signs were erected only a year later, offering guidance to travelers making the trek from Chicago to L.A., and every city in between.

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Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985 after it was replaced by segments of the Interstate Highway System, but the decades-old road had already mounted itself as a cultural tenet, recognized in classics such as John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and in the hit song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.”

Museum historians are now looking for people who traveled, helped build or conducted business along the road in Illinois, to record and share their stories as part of the highway’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2026.

“These interviews will help illustrate the significance of this important transportation achievement,” Erika Holst, the museum’s curator of history, said.

Museum officials say they are specifically searching for the following people for interviews:

Those who have memories of driving on Route 66 or traveling the highway with family or for business.

Those who were involved or whose families were involved in the operation of restaurants, hotels or auto service businesses along the route. in Illinois.

Anyone who participated in the building, maintenance, or rerouting of Route 66.

First responders who worked along the route.

Those who have any other firsthand experiences with Route 66 to share.

According to museum officials, once the interviews are conducted and recorded, video recordings and transcriptions will be made available to the public in an online database as part of the anniversary celebration.

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“This project also gives us an opportunity to preserve memories of Illinois citizens for posterity,” Amanda Bryden, registrar for the history collections of the Illinois State Museum and Illinois Historic Sites, said.

Those looking to participate will be asked to sign a permission form granting legal rights to conduct and preserve the interview and monetary compensation will not be offered, officials said.

For more information on how to share a story, contact Route 66 project coordinator Judy Wagenblast at jwagenblastp@gmail.com.