Cyrus Stevens Avery is generally acknowledged as the "Father of Route 66"

1870-1889   1890-1909   1910-1929   1930-1949   1950-1969   1970-1989   1990-2010



Cyrus Stevens Avery born August 31, 1871 in Stevensville, Pennsylvania to Alexander James Avery and Ruie Rebecca, whose maiden name was Stevens.


The Panic of 1873 swept away the fortunes for Alexander James Avery.


Alexander James Avery, a successful merchant and Ruie, a school teacher, moved the family to McDonald County, Missouri near Noel Missouri located close to the Oklahoma and Arkansas state lines.


When Cyrus was 14 his father James brings him to the Cherokee Nation, known then as ”Indian Territory,” where they settle in a deserted cabin formerly occupied by Confederate General Stand Watie, a Cherokee Indian. The Cabin was located on Spavinaw Creek, about five miles south of Jay, Oklahoma. Ruie and the rest of the family joined them after the farm was established. Cyrus walked to the Indian Mission school to continue his schooling.


When Cyrus reached high school age, the family moved to Noel, Missouri. He attended the Teachers Institute there and received certification to teach in Missouri public schools in 1890.


Enters William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri in 1893 and graduates in 1897 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Shortly after graduation he marries his college sweetheart Essie McClelland, and they move to Oklahoma City where he was an agent for the Equitable and the New York Life Insurance Companies.

Eldest son, James Leighton Avery, is born in 1902.


Cyrus Avery moves the family to Vinita, Oklahoma where he establishes Avery Real Estate company, a farm loan business.

The second son, Gordon Stevens Avery, is born there in 1905.


Member of the Masonic Lodge in Tulsa. Became a 32nd degree Mason.


Cyrus Avery moves his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he opened an office to deal in real estate, insurance, farm loans, and oil leases. He acquired leases in the Bartlesville area and developed production on Bird Creek. He establishes the Avery Realty Company. He serves as Vice President of Leavell Coal Company and Secretary-Treasurer of Togo Oil Company. During this time period he has business dealings with Henry Sinclair.


Acquired a farm east of Tulsa. This farm had been noted for many years for the development of good methods of farming. It had outstanding meadow grasses including Timothy, Red Clover, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermuda, and other meadow grasses. He bred Holstein and Ayshire cattle, Druoc hogs, Shopshire sheep, and had Percheron horses.


Avery purchases 1,400 acres of land northeast of Tulsa and establishes a farm devoted to raising diversified agriculture including growing an array of grasses and raising Holstein cattle.


Avery became interested in roads after a visit to his father's farm in Noel, Missouri. His father sent him to do some free work on some roads with a split-log drag. When he came home he got Governor Cruce to declare a "Good Roads Day," and the people in Tulsa county started roads from Tulsa to Red Fork, Broken Arrow and Skiatook, which they finished and oiled.


Some of Cy's friends put his name on the ticket for county commissioner and he was elected. One of his first acts was to bring DeWard King from Noel, Missouri to Tulsa to show local men how to make drags which were made of oak beams, which cost $3.50 each, and replaced the split-log type. Farmers were paid $1.00 per mile to drag the roads after a rain. One hundred and fifty miles of roads were maintained this way. Later they got a road grader costing $250.00. Tulsa County had some of the best roads in the state. Avery became known as the "Father of Good Roads" in Tulsa County.


He built what was then called the South River Road along the west bank of the Arkansas River using convict labor from the prison at McAlester, Oklahoma. The road was later renamed Avery Drive by the City of Tulsa. The drive begins at the base of Chandler Park and runs along the South side of the Arkansas River. At the same time he was involved in constructing the concrete bridge spanning the Arkansas River, now known as the Eleventh Street Bridge.

Avery joined the Oklahoma Good Roads Association.

Cyrus was elected President of the Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural Association and helped to establish Farm Agents in each county of eastern Oklahoma.


At a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce on February 26, 1915 a communication was read by Cyrus Avery, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, asking that a committee be appointed by the Tulsa Chamber to work with the County Commissioners on behalf of a bond issue of $200,000 to be used to construct a bridge across the Arkansas River at Eleventh Street. The bond election was called, voted upon, and carried. The bridge was completed in the Fall of 1916, becoming the first reinforced concrete bridge to be built in the State of Oklahoma.


Avery served as Vice-President of the Ozark Trails Association and brought their convention to Tulsa in 1916. The Ozark Trails was a network of locally maintained roads and highways stretching from St. Louis, Missouri through Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Daughter Helen Louise Avery born at home, 1601 S. Owasso, Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Cyrus was one of the original organizers of the Albert Pike Association. Their initial meeting was held in Tulsa on January 29, 1917. He served as President from 1917 until 1927.

The Albert Pike Association helped develop the road system from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Hot Springs, Arkansas.


Avery was the Manager of Third and Forth Liberty Loan in Tulsa.

Joined the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce.

Appointed to the third Tulsa Liberty Bond Campaign Committee.

Appointed Agricultural Advisor to the District Exemption Board, for Eastern Division No.2, which consisted of twenty three counties in eastern Oklahoma.


Purchased land in East Tulsa and established Avery Farm located on East Admiral and Mingo Road in Tulsa. He built the Avery Service Station and later opened a restaurant he called Old English Inn adjoining the service station. Across the road from the Avery Farm he constructed the Avery Tourist Court. It is believed to be the first tourist court established in Tulsa. The Old English Inn became a landmark for Tulsa and was referred to as "Avery Corner."


The Albert Pike Association Convention was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 21, 22, and 23.

Elected President of the Associated Highways of America composed of 42 organized Highway Associations in the US. His work in the organization has a nation-wide influence on state and national highway legislation.

Avery served as an Associate Editor for several issues of the journal The Nation's Highways, published in Tulsa, Oklahoma from April 1921 through December 1923. The editor was E. B. Guthrey.

Avery was appointed to the special Water Board for the city of Tulsa which began the first of two Spavinaw water projects which would bring water to the city of Tulsa by gravity flow via pipe from Spavinaw Creek approximately fifty three miles north of Tulsa. Avery served on the board from 1921-1923. The Committee brought in George Washington Goethals, the famed engineer of the Panama Canal to consult on the feasibility of the project. Tulsa spent $7,800,000 on the project. For many years on his birthday Cyrus returned to Spavinaw to drink the water and wade in the creek near where he once lived as a young man.

Avery was appointed by Oklahoma Adjunct General of the National Guard and the Chamber of Commerce to the Citizens Committee to assist with disaster relief after Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. He served as Treasurer of the Reconstruction Committee.

Appointed to the State Highway Commission of Oklahoma and served until 1957.

Eventually became associated with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials of America (AASHTO).


Avery was responsible for writing the law setting up the Oklahoma Highway Commission which created funds for the highway department from a gasoline tax and a portion of the automobile tax. He served as the Chairman of the Commission from 1924-1927. During Avery's term of office 800 miles of highway were completed, and, in his own words, “Every county seat is connected with every other county seat in Oklahoma with a good road.”


Member of the Executive Committee of the American Association of State Highway Councils.

Avery, Chairman of the State Highway Commission, was appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture through the Bureau of Public Roads as a “Consulting Highway Specialist” for the 6th Congressional District to the committee of twenty one people who were in Cy's own words “laying out, coordinating and establishing a system of highways with markers and directional signs for a US Inter-State Highway System.Avery was a member of the sub-committee of five people who decided US Highway numbers and who developed standards for road signs.


Cyrus sponsored the idea of bringing Route 66 further south from where it started in Chicago, bringing it down through Oklahoma via Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It would then pass through scenic Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona instead of traveling by the original route through Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, and Utah.

Avery proposed an amendment to Oklahoma House Bill 503, Section 1, imposing an excise tax of 3.5% per gallon of gasoline providing for deposit of proceeds to be used to set up an Oklahoma state highway construction and maintenance fund.

Member of the Tulsa Airport Corporation, which raised funds to purchase land for what would become the Tulsa Municipal Airport, which opened in July of 1928.


Avery pushed for the creation of the US Highway 66 Association to promote paving US 66 and promote travel on the highway.

Avery became Oklahoma State Highway Commissioner.


Served as one of seven Directors of the Tulsa Airport Corporation from July 3, 1928 to December 5, 1930, which directed construction of the Tulsa Municipal Airport. He had donated land he owned in northeast of Tulsa for development of the airport. He also donated land for and helped plan Mohawk City Park.


Served as Vice-President of the U.S. 66 Highway Association.


His extensive knowledge of meadow grasses resulted in the publication of a short pamphlet he wrote titled Tame Meadows and Permanent Pastures, which was printed by the Bristow Chamber of Commerce.


Avery was elected President of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. He had served on the Board of Directors since 1917. The Chamber began as the Tulsa Commercial Club formed in 1901.

Avery was appointed by Governor Trapp as the first Chairman of the three-man Highway Commission for the State of Oklahoma.


Avery was candidate for Governor of Oklahoma Democratic ticket in 1914. He did not run an active campaign and was not elected.


Avery served as the Works Progress Administration, Administrator for District One, consisting of thirteen counties in Northeastern Oklahoma including Tulsa County.


Purchased Lucky Ranch, a 600-acre ranch on Coyote Trail in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, vicinity where he farmed, raised horses and Holstein cattle.


July 1, 1948, Avery worked briefly for the City of Tulsa to help with matters involving securing the right-of-way for the second Spavinaw water line. Avery handled negotiations leading up to purchase of right-of-way.


February 15, 1950, Avery resigned his position with the City of Tulsa to accept a sales representative position with the Lock Joint Pipe Company. The Lock company, a contractor with the City of Tulsa, manufactured conduit for the flow line.


Avery was inducted into the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.


Retired from the Lock Joint Pipe Company June 30th, 1958 at the age of 87.

Worked Lucky Ranch on Coyote Trail southwest of Sand Springs, Oklahoma.


CS Avery passed away on July 2, 1963 at the age of 91 in Los Angeles, California while visiting his daughter. Avery was preceded in death by his wife Essie, who passed away in October of 1962.



1997 National Historic Route 66 Federation established a Cyrus Avery Award, which has been presented variously to individuals for outstanding creativity in depicting Route 66 and to organizations for noteworthy Route 66 Preservation projects.

City of Tulsa renamed the Eleventh Street Bridge, which carries US Highway 66 over the Arkansas River, the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge in his honor.

Cyrus Stevens Avery is inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame.

2007 During the State of Oklahoma's Centennial Celebration celebrating Oklahoma's 100 years of statehood the City of Tulsa builds and dedicates the Cyrus Stevens Avery Centennial Plaza located at Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive in Tulsa.

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