There’s no clearer contrast between the charms of the old road and the anonymity of the Interstate than tiny Hydro, about midway between Oklahoma City and Clinton on the west bank of the Canadian River.
A wonderful length of old Route 66 runs along the north side of I-40 exit 89, right past the ancient service station and souvenir stand operated by Lucille Hamons from 1941 until her death in 2000. Though it’s just 50 yards from the fast lane of the freeway, visiting Lucille’s place to buy a soda or a postcard and have a quick hello with the energetic proprietor was a Route 66 rite of passage. Lucille’s inspired the creation of a replica roadhouse on the north side of I-40 in the next town to the west, Weatherford, called Lucille’s Roadhouse (580/772-8808).
West of Lucille’s, a surviving six-mile stretch of old Route 66 pavement follows the lay of the land up and down, offering a better sense of the landscape than does the faster but duller new road, which was completed in 1966.