Route 66 - Oklahoma - Miami to Afton

Continuing west from Commerce, we came to Miami, the first town in Indian Territory which legally sold  land to the white man. By the way, you probably pronounced it wrong. It's not Miami, as in the city in Florida, it's pronounced "my-am-uh," the pronunciation of the Miami Indian tribe from whom it took its name.

The "Sidewalk Highway" outside
Miami, Oklahoma
Just south of Miami, we took an interesting section of the original Route 66 called "The Sidewalk Highway" or "Sidewalk 66."  Built in 1922, the roadway is only 9 feet wide. Originally just a dirt road between Miami and Afton, the road was in dire need of being paved because when it rained, it became an impassable mud pit. According to local legend, there was only enough money to pave it half way, but one of the local officials came up with an idea - if they only had enough money to pave it half way, then they could pave half of it all the way! Thinking half a paved road was better than no paved road, the citizens agreed.

Later, a different alignment of Route 66 was laid out and the Sidewalk Highway never was widened. Today it is fragile - cracked and broken in most spots and sparse graveled and dirt on the sides. It is still open to traffic, but it is not advisable to drive it if it is raining and larger vehicles should not attempt it as the road cannot handle the weight.

Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma
We passed through the little town of Narcissa, the only town located on the Sidewalk Highway and came to the community of Afton. Established in 1886, the town was named by a Scottish railroad surveyor for his daughter who had been named after a river in Scotland which had been immortalized by Robert Burns in his poem Afton Water. Today, Afton's claim to fame is Afton Station, an old 1920's DX gas station on Route 66 which has been completely restored by David and Laurel Kane. It houses an informal Route 66 museum, the world's largest Route 66 post card collection and one of the best Packard automobile collections anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, it was closed when we came through so we had to be satisfied with just looking through the windows at all the interesting items inside.

The 1922 DX service station that is now
Afton Station.
Sign in Afton Station

Sign in front of Afton Station. I particularly love
the "Old-Fashioned Tourist Trap" wording
at the bottom.
The old Palmer Hotel and CafĂ© in Afton
Directly across the street from Afton Station is the remains of the Palmer Hotel and Cafe. Once the most prominent business in town (after the bank, of course), the original wooden building burned down and was replaced in 1911 by the now abandoned brick building you see today. Afton was a railroad town and the hotel mostly served the rail workers until Route 66 came in. Once the Mother Road came to town, the hotel did so much business that a restaurant was opened around 1940. The old timers tell that single male travelers and the rail workers could find female companionship in the rooms if they knew who to discreetly ask. Later, the railroad roundhouse and turn-table were taken out of service and demolished and the interstate highway took away the Route 66 traffic. The Palmer Hotel and Cafe and the building that held them has been abandoned and boarded up for years, serving now only as a reminder of what once was.

The old Avon Motor Courts
Leaving Afton, just a short distance outside of town, we came across the remains of the Avon Motor Court. This was one of The Mother Road's little surprises for us as we didn't have it on our itinerary and I didn't remember reading about it during my research before the trip. And I still haven't found much on it since then either. Very picturesque and interesting, I couldn't resist stopping and spending a good amount of time here. We had walked a lot that day and my poor, broken and bruised toe (here's the story) was barking at me, but I hobbled around taking pictures so long that Youngest-daughter finally gave up on me and waited in the truck.

Once providing welcome rest and shelter to
weary travelers, now there is no shelter, just
weeds and a little trash.
When we finally left the old Avon Motor Court to continue our journey west, the sun was getting low and we wanted to make it to 2 more places before stopping for the night. We would have to hurry if we made both before looking for a hotel in Claremore.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state: