End of US highway 666
|Approx. time period||North terminus||South terminus|
|1926-1938||Cortez, CO||Gallup, NM|
|1938-1970||Cortez, CO||Douglas, AZ|
|1970-1992||Monticello, UT||Douglas, AZ|
|1992-2003||Monticello, UT||Gallup, NM|
Despite its east/west number, US 666 was always a north/south route. It wasn't misnumbered though, because at the time it connected only with two other east/west routes, so no appropriate odd number was available. The original south end of US 666 was at its parent route, US 66, in Gallup NM. US 666 used to come into town from the north on what is now NM 608 (9th Street). There it was routed east on Maloney Avenue, and old topo maps indicate that traffic used 3rd Street back then to connect with US 66 (although today 2nd and 3rd comprise a one-way couplet):
(basemap courtesy of Dennis McClendon)
The photo below is looking south on 3rd at old US 66:
Hamilton, Oct. 2003
That was the perspective of a driver at the historic south end of US 666... or, more accurately, one of the south ends of US 666: I'm told US 66 originally followed Coal Avenue through town, which is one block further ahead.
Below we're looking east on what was orignally called Railroad Avenue, but has now offically been renamed to "Historic 66":
me, June 2006
At far right is the Rex Museum, with a US 66 shield included on its neon sign. If you go forward, just to the far side of 3rd, there's what I would consider to be a classic Gallup Route 66 scene:
me, June 2006
Although you can no longer turn left from there on 3rd, that was once the south beginning of US 666. Below is a view looking north on 3rd at Coal:
Google Maps Street View, May 2012
I'm told the original US 66 ran across this photo via Coal. If so, then straight ahead was the south beginning of US 666. A block ahead, on the left side, you can see the backside of the Rex Museum. That's where the terminus of US 666 was located after US 66 was rerouted to follow Railroad Av. The photo below was taken from that perspective:
Hamilton, Oct. 2003
Way off in the distance, you can barely make out the I-40 overpass. Just beyond that, US 666 turned left, and then went north out of town via 9th.
In 1938, the south end of US 666 was extended west of Gallup, into Arizona along what is now I-40, and then south on the road that is now designated US 191, all the way to the Mexico border at Douglas (you can view photos from there on this page).
In 1970 the US 160 designation was changed to go southwest out of Cortez into Arizona (instead of northwest to Utah). At that time, the north end of US 666 was extended along former US 160 to end at US 191 in Monticello UT (you can view photos from there on this page).
In 1992, Arizona removed the US 666 designation from their state, and replaced it with a southern extension of US 191. I think US 191 is a more appropriate number - and AZ probably has a lot fewer roadsign thefts now! This left a dangling segment of US 666 from Gallup to the AZ line, but by the end of the year NM had truncated the designation in their state to Gallup. However, by that time US 666 was on a new alignment through the city - you can view photos from there on this page).
In 2003, the three remaining states through which US 666 ran (Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) asked AASHTO for permission to change the route's designation to US 491. The request was granted, so technically US 666 doesn't exist anymore - although the three states initially signed the road "New 491, Old 666", and some of these signs still exist. More info can be found on my US 491 page. Below is a little blurb scanned from National Geographic magazine:
In 2003 I had a lengthy email exchange with a transportation official from southwest Colorado. His main reason for supporting the designation change wasn't mentioned in that article (probably because it's not so sensational): due to chronic sign theft, they literally couldn't keep US 666 markers posted on the highway.