"Reading that book was my inspiration for the idea," said Kristen Moudy, Executive Director of Wheeler Chamber of Commerce and Wheeler Economic Development . "I just knew we had to come up with a way to celebrate the unique treasures in our communities."
The book was D.C.based journalist Stew Magnuson's Texas installment of his Highway 83 Chronicles Series. Magnuson, who grew up spending summers along U.S. 83 in Nebraska, returned to the site of his initial research for a multi-city book tour as part of the "Wild & Free on 83" event organized by Moudy and other tourism leaders in surrounding counties.
Pooling their resources, the communities put on a jam packed schedule of events ranging from car shows to pool parties to helicopter rides. The promotion was heavy on heritage, too, with sites of interest posters mounted throughout the region, streamers and banners marking the historic highway, and special museum exhibits.
For the "Last American Highway" in Texas, the first Wild & Free on 83 event was just the start of a new road-trip tradition.
The communities of Childress, Wellington, Shamrock and Wheeler invite you to pave your own adventure on US 83 and mark your calendars for the first weekend in August to take part in Wild & Free on 83.
U.S. Highway 83, which extends 1,883 miles from the Canadian border in North Dakota to Brownsville, Texas, is one of the five longest highways in the United States. It is the longest highway in Texas at about 895 miles and is also dedicated as the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Highway. In account of its route through sparsely populated heartland and its survival unreplaced by Interstate routing, author Stew Magnuson calls it "The Last American Highway."
Historic highways bring travelers to more than a single destination - as well as lead them to appreciate the spaces and experiences between. We hope to see you on the road!