ATLANTA — A motorist traveling Route 66 in 1926, the year the highway was officially commissioned, might have had trouble finding a gas station.
“If you wanted gas for your automobile, you had to go to the local hardware or grocery store,” said Bill Thomas, director of the Atlanta Betterment Fund. “You would find a single gas pump the owner had put in to make a little cash.”
Times evolved to the point where automobile traffic increased and service stations were born — and historians point to the Original Mother Road as one of the reasons.
Now, Thomas says, Route 66 is poised to help create the next big transportation infrastructure development: charging stations for electric vehicles. Thomas believes Route 66 can once again lead the way.
With that in mind comes Illinois’ First Electric Vehicle Cruise-In, scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8 in Atlanta.
“It is a different spin on an old tradition,” said Joe Mikulecky, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal EVTown Task Force, which is assisting Thomas. “It should be a lot of fun and should draw attention to the goal of creating more charging stations along the Route 66 corridor.”
Thomas said discussion about an electric vehicle cruise-in started about two years ago.
“Normal is doing a wonderful job of promoting electric vehicles and we really hope that this event will take it a step further for our efforts,” he said.
According to Mikulecky, there are 140 electric vehicle owners in the Central Illinois area; 18 charging stations will be available at the cruise-in for no fee. All electric and hybrid car owners are invited. There will be hourly door prize drawings, vintage music, food and information on how Atlanta is working to establish charging stations along Route 66.
“Everybody is invited no matter what they drive, but what I would really like to see is some thing different,” he said. “In the early 1900s, there were vehicles that had to be recharged. I am not sure exactly how it worked, but it would be fascinating to see something like that at the event.”