— Tulsa's Historic Route 66 —
Widely acknowledged as the "Father of Route 66,"
Cyrus Avery was born on August 31, 1871 in Stephensville,
Pennsylvania. After graduating from William Jewell College in
Liberty, Missouri, Avery moved to Indian Territory where he
was a manager of the Oklahoma City office of the New York
Life Insurance Company from 1898 to 1904. He then spent
three years in Vinita, Oklahoma working in real estate.
When he moved to Tulsa in 1907, Avery continued to
participate in residential development, although even then
his interests extended beyond single projects. Avery became
involved with local government, serving on the Tulsa County
Commission from 1913 to 1916 and on the Tulsa Water Board in
the 1920s when the board initiated the Spavinaw Lake Project
to bring water to the developing young city.
Avery had the foresight to understand the potential popularity
of the automobile and its impact on commerce, specifically
the tourist industry. He joined several transcontinental road
associations with the intent of promoting the construction
and maintenance of roads and interstate highways. As vice
president of the Ozark Trail Association, he orchestrated the
decision to hold the Association's national convention in Tulsa
in 1916. The Association promoted the Ozark Trail Highway,
which was designated in the early 1920s. It included
through Oklahoma and specifically through Tulsa.
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Cyrus Avery served as state highway commissioner from
1922 to 1926. In 1926 the Ozark Trail was one of the many
highways used to form U.S. Highway 66. Avery served as the
vice president of the renamed U.S. Highway 66 Association
In addition to public service, Avery was an entrepreneur and
a salesman. The original alignment of Route 66 traveled west
along East 11th Street and jogged one mile north along Mingo
Road to Admiral Place (known at the time as Federal Drive).
From there, Route 66 ran west along Admiral Place into
downtown Tulsa and continued across the 11th street bridge
out of Tulsa along South Quanah Road (Southwest Boulevard).
This alignment brought the new highway directly in front of
Avery's farmstead at the edge of Admiral Place.
Avery opened one of the new highway's first service enterprises, including a filling station, a tourist camp, and the Old
English Inn. The Mingo Road traffic circle surrounds the
historic location of Avery's properties, long since demolished.
In 1935-1936 Avery served as the Works Progress
Administration administrator for the Tulsa area. He retired
from sales in 1958, and died in California in 1963. Avery was
laid to rest in Tulsa at the Rose Hill Park Cemetery located on
Admiral Place and South Yale Avenue.