Drive-thru car show raises $16K, keeps California Route 66 Museum afloat through 2020

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California Route 66 Museum - front of building
California Route 66 Museum

The California Route 66 Museum has received a reprieve. Closed by California’s second statewide shutdown since the coronavirus pandemic began and facing permanent closure due to a lack of funds, the non-profit museum has received a much-needed financial boost from the collector car community.

A recent drive-thru car show attracted hundreds of collector cars and brought in $16,000 in donations, much to the relief of museum director Sue Bridges.

“We were blown away by the support,” Bridges says. “We had cars wrapped around the museum—over 300 hundred cars and motorcycles. This will keep us going until January, even with the museum dark.”

The California Route 66 Museum, housed in a 4500-square-foot building the Old Town section of Victorville, California, is located about 85 miles east of Los Angeles and 100 miles from the western end of Route 66 in Santa Monica. The eastern end of the historic highway is in Chicago.

Route 66, opened in 1926, is 2448 miles long, and it became a well-traveled route as the rise of the automobile made travel more available and affordable. As expressways became the preferred highways of choice, traffic waned on Route 66 and it was decommissioned in 1985. However, it is still popular among car enthusiasts looking for a bridge to the past.

The Southern California museum opened in 1995 and contains artifacts and memorabilia related to the famous Mother Road. Prior to the COVID-19 health crisis, it averaged about 24,000 visitors annually.

Bridges says it takes about $4500 per month to keep the museum going—$2200 for mortgage, utilities, and insurance, and $2300 to cover the museum’s four paid positions: two cashiers, a gift shop manager, and Bridges’ position. Only $1200 came in during the three weeks the museum was open in June, before California Governor Gavin Newsom closed the state for a second time.

As the July fundraiser neared, Bridges sounded hopeful … and also seemed to predict what might happen.

“The car clubs around here have been very supportive over the years,” she said,  “and we’re hoping it continues.”

Donations can also be made online through PayPal (cart66musm@gmail.com) or mailed to: California Route 66 Museum, P.O. Box 252, Oro Grande, California 92368.

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