El Reno photographer aids in highway's renewal

By Robert Medley Published: March 30, 2008
EL RENO — Larry Nance rode a motorcycle on Route 66 so he could stand on a corner in Winslow, Ariz.

He slept in the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz. Along the way, he snapped countless photographs on his personal odyssey down the Mother Road.

Nance, 54, an El Reno photographer, is capturing images of the fabled highway that are shaping preservation efforts and promoting tourism in Oklahoma.

"We are behind here compared to what some of the other towns are doing, especially in New Mexico,” Nance said. "We need to preserve Route 66. I photographed all of that to show people here who want to work on these projects to bring back the nostalgia.”

Last year, Nance rode his Harley Davidson Road King Classic across Route 66 from El Reno to Santa Monica, Calif. Photographs he took along the way have inspired projects to promote and preserve the fabled roadway in his hometown.

El Reno Community Development Director Robert Coleman said Nance's photos will guide the city's Route 66 corridor management plan. Ideas are forming for more landscaping, roadside parks and other ideas to attract tourists.

"He's a great photographer, and he's going to be an asset to us when we start on some of our projects,” Coleman said.

Bringing back nostalgia
For Nance, preserving Route 66 isn't just about the benefit of future projects; it's also about regaining some of the memories he missed out on years ago.

At age 5, Nance was diagnosed with epilepsy. Family trips along Route 66 often were disrupted when he would suffer seizures. Nance said he remembers seeing roadside gasoline stations and motels but not being able to stay and visit due to his illness.

On one vacation trip, his seizures flared up and his father didn't want him to stay overnight at the Wigwam.

Route 66 photographs taken by Larry Nance are being used to spur revitalization plans for the fabled roadway in El Reno. BY JACONNA AGUIRRE, THE OKLAHOMAN

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