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Buses, a space cowgirl and the Mother Road's "capital" – the latest Route 66 developments in Tulsa

Tulsa's Route 66 Historical Village.
KWGS File Photo
Tulsa's Route 66 Historical Village.

With a new roadside attraction and millions of dollars in transit investment, development along T-Town's stretch of Route 66 is speeding up. Now, Tulsa can claim itself as the route's "capital."

Tulsa's stretch of historic Route 66 has seen three developments in the past week as the famous highway nears its 100th birthday.

Faster bus routes for Route 66 in Tulsa

Last Wednesday, MetroLink Tulsa announced it had been awarded $12.7 million in federal grant money. MetroLink says that money will help to close a reported $15 million funding gap to build the Route 66 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service. The city will make up for the remainder of the gap.

"When it is up and running in two years, when the centennial starts in June of 2026, we will have 20 minute frequency," said Scott Marr, General Manager of MetroLink Tulsa. "[It will be] no different from our BRT on Peoria."

Buck Atom's partner-in-crime arrives

On Friday, a 19-foot-tall resident arrived in Tulsa. "Stella Atom" is the latest attraction along Tulsa’s historic roadway.

Left: the Stella Atom outside Buck Atom's on 11th Street in Tulsa. Right: A Tulsa "AERO" bus pulls up to the Denver Avenue Station downtown.
Ben Abrams
Left: the Stella Atom outside Buck Atom's on 11th Street in Tulsa. Right: A Tulsa "AERO" bus pulls up to the Denver Avenue Station downtown.

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios along 11th Street installed a space cowgirl statue to complement the famous Buck Atom statue.

“She’s got her space ray-gun, her jetpack, her super cool cowboy boots," said Mary Beth Babcock, the owner of Buck Atom’s.

Stella was constructed in both Virginia and Illinois.

Babcock said she’s excited about Route 66’s future and for more people discovering Tulsa’s Americana.

“We love to be able to celebrate the history of Route 66," she said.

The Buck Atom statue was installed in 2019.

Tulsa is now Route 66's "capital"

On Monday, the City of Tulsa said its Route 66 Commission copyrighted the term "Capital of Route 66," hoping the designation will serve as a boost for tourism.

"When somebody that’s researching their trip for the centennial is going look at Tulsa, they’re gonna see ‘Capital of Route 66’ and ask ‘what does that mean?’," said Rhys Martin, President of the non-profit Oklahoma Route 66 Association.

"They’re gonna look at all the investment the city has made into Route 66," he said.

Via a press statement, Mayor G.T. Bynum said Route 66 is "an integral part of Tulsa’s identity."

Tulsa's Route 66 Centennial celebrations are slated for 2026.

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.