Top Menu

Mother Road: Get Your Kicks on Route 66

A BGES “Historic Roads of America” Program

September 30 – October 10, 2016

With Neil Magnum and Len Riedel from Chicago, IL

Route 66When I was a young man one of the memorable television shows featured a young clean faced kid who was a drifter–Martin Milner, on a show known as Route 66. Milner recently died and was perhaps best remembered for his role with Kent McCord on the police drama Adam 12. Anyway Milner helped us connect with the heartland of America, muscle cars and the wide-open highways–Route 66 was the quintessential American Road trip.

Established in 1927, Route 66 was a major axis between Chicago and Los Angeles. The nearly 2500 mile road passed middle America and southwestern America to the beach at Santa Monica. Eventually as more money went to the newly conceptualized Interstate highway system, Route 66 died and was disestablished in 1985. Still the trip and route were forever memorialized in a 1946 song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” that was recorded by Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry and even the Rolling Stones.

There is no shortage of canned Route 66 tours with the operative word being “canned.” Large tour companies batch load people on large buses and stop at the same tourist stops and arrive in a prescribed number of days. This program will be different. BGES is emphasizing the history associated with and along the route. You will see plenty of the traditional Route 66 artifacts and museums along the road; but, you will also get battlefield tours and visits to historic sites along the entire route. It is a multi-pronged event.

BGES is also featuring its enhanced “spouse travels for cost” program. This guarantees the registrant his or her own row on the bus thus there will only be 25 rows of seats sold for this 10 day road trip–you will have plenty of space to stretch out. Those traveling with spouses may share your hotel room with them and your row on the bus. Because of cost and at demand, we also allow shared registration in which two travelers may arrange to travel on this program sharing a row and room. We are not responsible and will not arrange room mates nor will we be responsible for shifting around rooms or seats for people electing to enjoy this discount.

The spouse’s discount is a special recognition and an appreciation that some travelers would not be allowed or able to make a long trip without their spouse regardless of their spouse’s interest in the theme and so we make provisions for them to accompany us at a dramatically discounted rate.

Neil and I have spoken about this trip for years and now it is about to be a reality. I hope you will respond quickly and positively. The sooner we fill the better the arrangements.

Route 66 is one of those “Someday Tours,” those trips that you promised yourself you would do “someday.” Well someday is today–this is the tour you have been waiting for. Only 25 rows are available and four are already spoken for.*

If this trip sells out we will consider adding a reverse trip on Route 66 from Santa Monica to Chicago from October 12-22, 2016. That tour will be formed ONLY IF AND WHEN THIS TOUR SELLS OUT. NO RESERVATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR IT UNTIL THAT TIME.


Friday, September 30, 2016

7:30 PM: Check into your hotel in Chicago at leisure. If you haven’t been to Chicago I recommend you arrive early and look around and have an early meal–maybe a Chicago style pizza–the transportation system is pretty easy to navigate. We will meet at 7:30 PM to say hello, share introductions and overview our coming travels.

Before adjourning we will provide nametags, say hello, outline the program and provide the reading books. Lodging provided.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Early up with bags on board by 8 AM with an 8:15 departure. We are going 200 miles today finishing in Springfield, Illinois. Route 66 is many things for many people. We will never forget the flavor of the route and will return to the theme daily; however, this is a tour of primarily major historical sites along the road all the way to California. We will take photo ops as they occur and we may change this based upon our site survey in late April. Before leaving Chicago we will drive past Al Capone’s headquarters and the Palmer House where Major Marcus Reno (Little Big Horn) was tried by court martial. We will make a rest stop at Ambler’s Texaco station in Ambler and then see the Sinclair Gas Station in Odell, it was opened in 1932. We will later stop at Funk’s Sirup and Cozy Dogs shop. We will break for lunch at the first truck stop on Route 66: the Dixie Trucker’s Home. Our major stop for the day will be at the Abraham Lincoln sites and tomb in and around Springfield. Lodging in Springfield provided–because of the many opportunities to partake and indulge your own tastes along the route no meals are included today.

Sunday October 2nd, 2016

Today is a short day mileage wise–hardly 100 miles as we go to St. Louis but it is rich in stops and sites to see. Please have your bags on board by 8:15 and we will leave at 8:30. Have your camera out to get a picture of the legendary Downey Building in Atlanta (Illinois) and the Ariston Café in Litchfield. There are few authentic parts of Rt. 66 left and we will take you to some original brick road segments north of Auburn. You can test your courage walking across the Mississippi River on the Chain of Rocks Bridge. We will then visit key sites in the St. Louis area, The Arch, the courthouse where the Dred Scott case of 1857 was heard and General Grant’s Farm. Again the different offerings will let you decide when and where you want to eat so no meals are included but your lodging is.

Monday October 3rd, 2016

Bags on board at 8:15 departing at 8:30 AM for another great day! We are heading to Joplin, Missouri to see a great story of courage and to visit an important site on Route 66. A few years ago the entire town of Joplin was destroyed by an F-5 tornado. The reclamation is remarkable and they deserve our business. Who could imagine emerging stronger from such a natural disaster. Before we get there though we have a lot of Americana. Photo ops will include but not be limited to the Meramec River Bridge, Big Chief Restaurant, Red Cedar Inn, Wagon Wheel Motel and the Pulaski County Courthouse. We have elected to stop at Meramec Caverns a site of Civil War significance and also to Jesse James who hid out here. We will also visit the Wilson Creek Battlefield site of the first major engagement in the west during the Civil War and the battle of Carthage a bit further west. We will call it a day in Joplin. We will take a lunch break where you can pick your pleasure. Lodging will be provided. Dinner is on your own.

Tuesday October 4th, 2016

We are moving west and today will track through parts of Kansas and middle Oklahoma. This is a real bonus for Civil War buffs as we will visit sites that don’t normally earn tours of their own. Leaving at 8:30 AM we will drive through the Galena historic district and then tour the Baxter Springs battlefield. The Civil War will be in our rear view mirror for a while and photo ops will include the Brush Creek Bridge, a stretch of the original and unchanged Route 66 in Quapaw. Sports fans will love the photo op at Mickey Mantle’s home in Commerce. We will also get to shoot the Round Barn in Arcadia. We finish the day in Oklahoma City where we will see the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Lodging is provided.

Wednesday October 5th, 2016

Today we transition from a Midwestern tour to a western tour. You will notice a marked difference in the terrain as we reach for the great Pacific coast. Departing at 8 AM today we will drive through the El Reno historic district and stop to tour Fort Reno. We will enjoy photo ops at Lucille’s and Provine Service Stations before visiting the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. We will then head to an important but often overlooked Custer site–the Washita Massacre. While heading there we will drive through historic districts in Elk City, Sayre and Erick. While heading to Amarillo, we will take photo ops of the famous shamrock of the Finn Tower Gas Station and the U-drop Inn. We will finish today in the Amarillo Historic district before heading to the hotel. Tonight we will have a group meal at one of the great western institutions anywhere–The Big Texan. Many of you can ride over in their limo with the long horns on the hood. Lodging and dinner at the Big Texan are provided.

Thursday October 6th, 2016

Our departure at 8:15 AM lets us head to our major stop of the day the magnificent Palo Duro Canyon. We will visit the Palo Duro battlefield from the Buffalo Red River Indian War. It takes place on the upper rim. The balance of the day will be past pristine western landscapes with photo ops at the Vega Motel and the Glenrio Historic District. We will drive through the Park Lake Historic District ending the day in historic Albuquerque. We will include dinner in Old Town Albuquerque. Lodging and dinner provided.

Friday October 7th, 2016

Today is “Never is heard a discouraging word” day, we will move across the great natural beauty of the west for two special days. After our 8:15 AM departure we will head to Acoma Pueblo and the Painted Desert National Monument. Drive by and photo ops include Rio Puerco, Wigwam Village Motel and the La Posada Historic District. We will have lunch at the Fred Harvey House. We will finish the day touring Meteor Crater. We will spend the next two nights in Williams. Lodging and lunch are provided.

Saturday October 8th, 2016

We are staying in Williams again tonight so leave your bags in your room. Today we take the Grand Canyon Railroad to the Grand Canyon where we will spend the day. You will have visited the two largest and perhaps most picturesque natural canyons in the country. Lodging and transportation provided.

Sunday October 9th, 2016

Load up your bags by 8 AM we are on the road again to visit the Seligman Historic District, the Peach Springs Trading Post and Route 66 Museum in Kingman. The travels will include photo ops at Kingman Commercial District, Old Trails Bridge and the Truxton Trading Schoolhouse. We will travel through Oatman en route to our overnight at Needles, California. Lodging provided.

Monday October 10th, 2016

Our final day takes us to Santa Monica Pier where your certificate awaits. We have photo ops en route at El Garces, the Harvey House Railroad Depot, Wigwam Village #7. The Aztec Hotel, Foothill Blvd. milestone, Bekins Storage Building, Arroyo Seco Parkway and finally a walk around Santa Monica. We will be finished by 3 PM and you can depart at leisure. We will dismiss at LAX International Airport. You will have completed something special. Thank you and come again.

About the Faculty

Neil Mangum is one of the nation’s foremost historians and is an expert on George Custer. A retired National Park Service official, Neil served as Superintendent at the Little Big Horn National Battlefield as it transitioned from Custer National Battlefield. The popular Mangum only allows himself four or five tours a year and BGES is fortunate to enjoy his favor. He enjoys the cliental and the small folksy nature of the group that is usually well prepared. Neil is author of The Battle of the Rosebud: Prelude to the Little Big Horn. He has a following and most people on this trip will have travelled with him before which makes this event even nicer.

Len Riedel is the founder and Executive Director of the Blue and Gray Education Society. He is the editor of National Geographic Society’s The Civil War, A Traveler’s Guide. He has taken people to over 400 different battlefields over the past 22 years.

Hotel Information

Your registration fee includes includes 10 nights single or double occupancy lodging. Hotels will be announced and contact information provided before the event. IMPORTANT–IF YOU DO NOT DEPART THE EVENING OF OCTOBER 10TH YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE RESERVATIONS AND PAY FOR A HOTEL AT THE LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.


The servicing airport is Chicago Ohare (ORD). Chicago Midway (MDW) is a reasonable alternative. You will have to make your own arrangements to get to the hotel. We will also make arrangements for those who drive in to leave their cars at the headquarters hotel or public parking (will be at an additional expense). When the program finishes in Los Angeles, you may arrange a flight home from LAX or catch Amtrak–it has a train that returns to Chicago in a day and a ½ departing late on October 10th. Both options will run around $200 per person which is an additional cost.

Key Publications and Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. All can be purchased when you register.

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. The books can be purchased when you register.

  • Len Riedel, Ed. The Civil War, A Traveler’s Guide
  • Jerry McClanahan: EZ 66 Guide for Travelers
  • Michael Wallis: Route 66, The Mother Road
  • National Historic Route 66 Federation: Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide
  • Susan Kelly and Quinta Scott Route 66, The Highway and it People
  • David Wickline, Images of Route 66


Registration includes 10 nights luxury lodging, breakfasts where the hotel includes them as part of the registration, a lunch, 2 dinners, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian, tour director, all admissions and transportation. We will also provide snacks, bottled water and a limited selection of sodas.


Register for this program online using our secure Sutler’s Tent ecommerce site: Register for The Mother Road: Get Your Kicks on Route 66.

Register by mail, or fax

Download a printable itinerary and registration form.