I decided to write Haunted Route 66 because I wanted to chronicle some of the more interesting and bizarre tales of the "Mother Road." However, the project took on a life of its own: Rather than simply collecting ghost stories, I found myself driving down a road -- metaphorically and physically -- toward something profound.
As I made my way through Route 66's history, I wondered what it would have been like to drive along the road in it's heyday. This was once a bustling place and, In addition to the hauntings covered in the book, I began to appreciate the real ghosts of Route 66: empty shells of gas stations, restaurants and hotels. I thought about the people who had traveled the road over the years and realized that many of the stories I was telling in Haunted Route 66 were really about them. The ghosts I was writing about were just normal people pursuing their aspirations and dreams down an American road.
Another thing that I started to realize was that, in its prime, the people traveling along this road had a much different mindset than we have today. These people were -- for the most part anyway -- more interested in quality rather than quantity.
Our world has certainly changed in the 87 years since Route 66 was commissioned.
John Steinbeck may have put it best in his classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, when he wrote: "They's a change a-comin. I don't know what. Maybe we won't live to see her. But she's a-comin'. They's a restless feelin'. Fella can't figger nothin' out, he's so nervous." Maybe that is what Route 66 can give to those who have that restless feeling, an opportunity to reach back in time to a more carefree and uncomplicated way of life.
For a history buff and longing for a simpler time, driving down and researching Route 66 felt like a homecoming for me. The stories I found along the road provided an opportunity to explore a new and rather mysterious world. I didn't meet any ghosts, but I was haunted by the image of what our greatest highway once was.