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WATCH: Max King Runs Historic Route 66

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Route 66 was the first road to travel all the way across the United States. In an age before high-speed, six-lane freeways, the road was a draw for thousands of Americans to explore the country slowly, winding around mountains and through small towns.

When the first freeway was built in the late 1970s, Route 66 was all but forgotten. Many of the small towns along its shoulders dwindled and were abandoned.

Last year, Oregon-based runner  Max King set out to explore sections of the country’s original coast-to-coast highway on foot, stopping along the way to talk to some of the people who have been instrumental in maintaining it and keeping it’s history alive.