In our opinion, Route 66 is the world's best touring path. The fabled road has served as a channel for American businesses, the focus of national art and culture and a symbol of good old American freedom for nearly 100 years. So, it's no wonder that Route 66 isn't just the holder of a world record in our eyes, but is host to an array of other record-breaking achievements.
Let's have a look at some of the global jaw-droppers you might spot along your journey.
The World's Largest Totem Pole
Just north of Foyil, Oklahoma, you'll find Totem Pole Park. Open only during daylight hours, the park is home to a gift shop and – you guessed it – the World's Largest Totem Pole.
The pole itself is 2.74 m at its base and 10 times as tall! It was completed in 1948 by Nathan Edward Galloway. Born in 1880 in Springfield, Missouri, Galloway learned how to carve wood at a young age, leading him to become an especially proficient craftsman. Most notably, Galloway worked at an orphanage in Oklahoma where he taught manual arts to the boys.
After retiring in 1937, he began work on the totem. Galloway drew inspiration from images of Native American totem poles in postcards and National Geographic. The traditional poles were carved from tall red cedar poles – but not this one. Instead, Galloway built the totem from red sandstone framed with steel, scrap metals and wood. The pole was then covered in concrete, and 200 bas-relief images were carved into it and painted. The totem is hollow, meaning it's possible to climb the internal ladder up nine storeys to its peak.
The World's Tallest Non-operating Oil Rig
Another win for Oklahoma! Elk City lies along Route 66 and is home to several historical buildings, a sprawling museum complex (featuring the National Route 66 museum!) and a particularly noticeable oil rig.
It does seem fitting that the 55 m tall oil rig can be seen all across the downtown area – after all, Elk City calls itself the Natural Gas Capital of the World. That's because the petroleum industry has long been the heart of the city's economy, being based in an area rich in oil and natural gas.
The rig itself is known as the Parker Drilling Rig #114 and was once used to dig a record-breaking nuclear test hole in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It was then relocated to the Anadarko Basin to drill for natural gas. Only in 1991 was the rig was reconstructed in the centre of Elk City to stand as a symbol of prosperity.
The World's (second) Largest Rocking Chair
There's something about the United States and big chairs. You'll find roadside attractions in the form of enormous seats throughout the country – but not too many of them rock like this one.
On April Fool's Day in 2008, the Route 66 Red Rocker was built by Danny Sanazaro, a local business man in Fanning, Missouri. He hoped it would act as an attraction to bring customers to his archery and feed store and remembered a big rocking chair he'd seen as a kid on a family road trip. He'd also heard of a 10-metre-tall rocker in Franklin, Indiana – Big John – that he knew he had to beat. So, he built his 12.8 metre Red Rocker.
His plan worked – and the chair quickly became an iconic part of Route 66's americana. Unfortunately, in October 2015 a rocking chair in Casey, Illinois was erected at 17.09 m tall, beating the Red Rocker out. Regardless, the chair remains an important part of the road's spirit and still stands. However, it no longer rocks and can only be sat in one day a year – "Picture on Rocker Day".
There's no better way to witness some of these massive – and we really mean massive – American achievements than on a road trip with like-minded people. Join us for our next tour of Route 66 for the full, unforgettable package.