Aug 312014
 

IL-route66-small








Shadows of the past already line Route 66, but the historic highway is about to gain nine more.

This year, a silhouette of Shirley Temple drinking a soda at an old Elkhart cafe and a figure of a Gillespie miner will appear among the collection of memorable stops along the Mother Road. The Illinois Route 66 National Scenic Byway has introduced iron silhouette statues depicting moments from history at nine Illinois communities along the highway.
Locally, Sherman in Sangamon County, Elkhart in Logan County, as well as Benld, Staunton and Gillespie in Macoupin County are preparing to install the interpretive statues.

Bill Kelly, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, said the initiative will allow tourists to create connections with the towns along the route through the visuals. The interpretive statues will help visitors imagine the dancers on the floor at the dance hall in Benld and visualize the children at a wayside park in Sherman.
“What they’re looking for is a unique experience,” Kelly said. “It strikes a mythic chord with people. … It’s the most famous road in the world, and people are looking for their own experiences.”

The Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byway Program and the Illinois Office of Tourism funded the roughly $130,000 project. Each silhouette comes with an informational kiosk that gives a glimpse of the town’s history. Kelly said he’d like to see all of the exhibits on display by the end of 2014.

Memorable moments
While the grant money paid for the statues, the individual communities are responsible for installation costs. Many are still trying to determine display locations and ribbon-cutting days.
Elkhart, for its part, is trying to raise $500 to pay for the concrete that will help support its 300-plus-pound Shirley Temple statue.
Peggy Lee, an alderman in Elkhart, said the town’s exhibit focuses on the restaurant stops there during the 1930s and ’40s. The silhouette of Temple and a waitress commemorates the iconic actress’ stop at the House by the Side of the Road Cafe in 1938. She had used Route 66 on her way to Springfield for the “Little Miss Broadway” movie premiere.

“The owner of the cafe roped off the place where she had eaten, and no one ever sat there again,” Lee said.
Benld’s statue features dancers from the Coliseum Ballroom, which burned in 2011. During the Route 66 era, the ballroom was known as the biggest dance floor between Chicago and St. Louis, as well as a hot spot for gambling and bootlegging. The dance floor welcomed large crowds and, at the height of its popularity, hosted musicians such as Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Ike and Tina Turner.

In Sherman, the statue of two children sitting at a picnic table highlights something many have forgotten. John Swinford, village administrator, said Sherman is home to one of Route 66’s last remaining wayside parks. While the space today is empty land with a flag pole, the park once welcomed crowds needing a place for lunch as they traveled the famed highway.
“It’s nostalgic, kind of, with two kids sitting at a picnic table as you might have found back in the day,” Swinford said. “Just to kind of point to the fact to remind people how it used to (be) before there was Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s on every corner.”

‘Part of road’s DNA’
The silhouette of a miner in Gillespie identifies how the town began.
Councilman Dave Tucker said towns like Gillespie popped up around mines. His town only had four years on Route 66, a fact hardly noted in town history or old newspapers. Most people in Gillespie walked to work and didn’t use the highway. Yet Kelly noted that the coal that came from these pop-up towns used the Mother Road extensively.
“Coal is part of the road’s DNA,” Kelly said.

The Staunton statue portrays the Illinois Traction System, also known as streetcars.
Bill Bechem, who served on a committee for developing the Staunton statue, said both streetcars and the highway took a hit with the evolution of transportation. Streetcars eventually became obsolete with the use of personal cars, just as the interstate highway system robbed Route 66 of its travelers.
“My thoughts were that the streetcar was kind of a rise and decline that was similar to Route 66, and both suffered when Interstate 55 came,” he said.

While nostalgia for Route 66 has declined locally, international tourists still embrace the old pavement. Swinford said it’s not uncommon to see a visitor taking a picture of their feet standing on the old concrete. It always amazes him that European tourists leave behind structures more than 1,000 years old to take pictures of 80-year-old pavement.
He hopes the statues along the Illinois corridor bring a little more tourism but also a little more local awareness.
“There are a great number of people in this community that just don’t remember or know how much of Route 66 they have,” Swinford said of Sherman’s wayside park. “Some people don’t even recognize that park was part of Route 66. That really is America’s Main Street, and it is such a vital part of our town.”

By Maggie Menderski – The State Journal Register

Aug 242014
 

angel-route-66






Yavapai County has helped its Route 66 communities of Seligman and Ash Fork celebrate their history with new Historic US 66 shield signs painted right onto the highway, with a healthy dose of new Burma-Shave signs on the side.

That should slightly lighten the workload of the mysterious man who travels Route 66 painting the shields onto the road under cover of darkness. Seligman native Clarissa Delgadillo says the legend is widespread across the Mother Road.

“A couple times a year, the shields appear,” Delgadillo said, and then the Arizona Department of Transportation gets rid of them because ADOT has Route 66 jurisdiction in Seligman and Ash Fork.

Her sister Mirna once spotted a man leaving a safety cone in front of her family’s Route 66 Gift Shop right before the shield reappeared, but didn’t get a good description of him.

ADOT officials are concerned that tourists will stand on the road on top of the shields for photos, spokesman Dustin Krugel explained.

But Yavapai County has jurisdiction on the rest of the mostly uninhabited Route 66 segments through this county, so county Public Works employees recently painted the large shields on each end of Seligman as well as Route 66 near the Interstate 40 Crookton Exit and Ash Fork.

route-66-shield
County Public Works employees also crafted four new sets of replica Burma-Shave signs with the blessing of the current owners of the defunct company, Yavapai County Supervisor Craig Brown said. Local citizens picked out their favorite sayings.

A brushless shaving cream company called Burma-Shave came up with the idea in 1925 to place catchy poems along America’s highways and get its name known. Route 66 was born the next year in 1926. Each of the series of typically red and white signs contains one line of a poem.

“Listen birds, these signs cost money, so roost awhile, but don’t get funny,” one of the new sets of signs reads outside Seligman.

The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona has been working with ADOT, counties and municipalities to play up the Mother Road while also trying to make it safer, Mirna Delgadillo said.

“We definitely are trying to preserve and protect Seligman,” she added, praising the county’s help.

“Anything we can do to promote economic development, we’re going to do,” Brown said. By making the signs in-house they cost only about $1,000, he estimated. The county also rehabilitated other Burma Shave signs it originally made and placed on the highway as far back as 2002.

“They help bring nostalgia back for tourists,” librarian Charlotte Lindemuth said. “They’re so interested in the history of Route 66.”

Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona members in Seligman, including the Delgadillo family led by association founder Angel Delgadillo, are concerned about visitors from around the world being able to stroll across the four-lane highway in town, which has no stop signs or lights.

They asked ADOT for two crosswalks and a lower speed limit of 25 instead of the current 35.

ADOT’s preliminary analysis concludes the crossings don’t meet its standard requirements because there isn’t a concentrated area where pedestrians try to cross the highway, Krugel said.

Traffic speeds also seem appropriate as traffic is generally in compliance with the 35 mph limit, Krugel and the regional traffic engineer said.

Clarissa and Mirna Delgadillo say they frequently sees vehicles speeding through town, however.

ADOT hopes to have a final analysis on the crossings and speed limits sometime this year, the regional traffic engineer said.

The Seligman Historical Society also has been trying to restore the 1912 Cottage Hotel that has been serving as a visitors center, Lindemuth said. Community members would like to create a museum there, too.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has awarded Seligman a grant to get asbestos and lead out of historic structure.

“Anything we can do to preserve old historic buildings, we’d better do or we’re going to lose them,” Brown said.

To support the efforts to restore the Cottage Hotel, go online to seligmanhistory.com.

By: Joanna Dodder – The Daily Courier

Aug 042014
 

tulsa-route-66-experience








More than nine months after announcing it was seeking proposals to construct and operate a Route 66 interpretive center and commercial complex, the city is reviewing the one response it received.
“What we have, basically, is more questions,” said City Planning Director Dawn Warrick.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett in October announced that the city would begin seeking requests for proposals for the project, which is to be built on two acres of city land at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive.
Warrick said it is not unusual for the city to take this long to review a Request for Proposal, or RFP — especially on a project as complicated as the Route 66 center.

It’s not like it’s sitting stagnant,” Warrick said of the RFP. “The scope of this project is very large and it involves a lot of moving parts.

“It’s a complicated project and it’s a complicated site.”
The interpretive center and commercial complex is to be built on city land across the street from the East Meets West bronze sculpture at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive.

City officials last year said they were looking for a private developer to come up with a plan that makes sense in terms of density, scale and height.

The development could have restaurants, retail space and even a hotel but must include space for a Route 66 interpretive center, officials said.

The city would retain ownership of the property and lease it to the developer.
The RFP was purposely broad to allow the private sector to help define amenities that would meet the city’s goals for the site.

The city plans to spend $6.5 million for the project, including $1.5 million in Vision 2025 funds and $5 million in third-penny sales tax revenue.
The city in May finalized its agreement with Tulsa County making the Vision 2025 funding available.

Businesswoman Sharon King Davis was one of a group of local business owners and professionals asked by the city to advise in putting the RFP together and reviewing responses.
The proposal the city received came from a consortium of local individuals — each of whom is outstanding, King Davis said. “If we can get this thing to fly it will be so fabulous for this city,” she said.
King Davis — who stressed that the decision now lies in the hands of the city — said the consortium has the capital to make the project happen.

“It is a tight project,” she said. “It is just a matter of checking and double checking and making sure on behalf of Tulsa that they can do it.”

City Councilor Blake Ewing has long advocated that the city do more to promotes its link to the Mother Road.
A Route 66 interpretive center — commonly referred to as the Route 66 experience — would benefit the city culturally and economically, he said.

“While many Tulsans may not believe it, Route 66 brings a substantial flow of international visitors through Tulsa,” Ewing said. “A sales tax revenue-funded city should always be thinking of ways to attract and capitalize on its visitors. Route 66 should be at the top of our list as an attractional community asset. The Route 66 Experience represents a tremendous step in the right direction.”

By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer

Jun 262014
 

styx-paradise theater











Back in 1981, before the last mile of Route 66 was on its way to be decommissioned, I remember this album cover and remembering how sad I felt as I watched history disappear.

Growing up on the north side of Chicago and being a ‘city boy’, I always had a thing for history, architecture, and Chicago history and Chicago architecture.

Like a lot of folks, one seems to start having a connection with bands from your home town. We had the Buckinghams, Styx, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Cheap Trick, the Ides of March and many other Chicago area bands. I loved Styx and I loved Chicago and would listen to EVERYTHING they made, even albums out before I was born (OK, there was only one but who is counting…)

I remember the Paradise Theater album in the collection my father had, and I remember just staring at the details in the artwork. I then remember listening to the album as it was about the rise and fall of the Paradise Theater which did actually exist in the city of Chicago, so it was a literal musical biography of this once grand venue.

From Wikipedia:
“The Paradise Theatre was a Balaban and Katz movie palace located in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood. Its address was 231 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60624. Located near the intersection of West Madison Street and Crawford Avenue (now Pulaski Road) on Chicago’s West Side, it opened on September 14, 1928, and was billed as the world’s most beautiful theater for its stunning interior and exterior beauty. It is regarded as one of the finest designs by architect John Eberson, as the sheer opulence and intricate craftsmanship that went into the theater made it a showpiece in and of itself. Unfortunately, flaws in the design (blamed on the vast domed ceiling in the over 3,600-seat auditorium) were exposed with the advent of talking pictures. Poor acoustics eventually cost the theater its attendance as neighborhood movie-goers would eventually turn to the nearby Marks Brothers showplace, the Marbro Theater. As a result, business at the Paradise never recovered.

The Paradise Theatre’s demise came in 1956, when Balaban and Katz decided to demolish the building and sell the land to a supermarket chain. The theater that was “built to stand forever” almost lived up to that claim: what was estimated to have been a six-month demolition job ended up taking two years.”

I remember looking at the album over and over and just wondering what it was like to see this place all lit up and packed to the rafters with well dressed folks on a “night on the town” at such a majestic place. I then remember flipping the album cover over and seeing the artists rendition of a broken down, ruined, old looking, empty building with ‘Temporarily Closed’ on the marquee. I was 12, and I knew this place would never open again (remember, I was 12 and this place was closed when my parents were children, but it felt more alive to me at that time.)

I was saddened by the fact places like these seem to go away, and not only some folks do not seem to care – they do not know places like this even existed. With my sights on getting through high school and wanting to get a degree in Architecture, I always felt I could do something about not letting this happen again.

Fast forward to 2009, almost 30 years later, this plan has come into reality. When I started Route 66 World – I had no idea preservation would be my passion on Route 66. I was planning on just enjoying it and being one of the many ‘roadies’ who just want to get on the open road and enjoy everything it has to offer.

I always say this and I will continue to say this: Route 66 has enough to do and see for everyone to have there own little slice of what they would like to contribute to the route. I tell everyone I try to do a lot of this with my own time and money and I mean that – I love the route and I wish I could just pack up the SUV and drive it everyday with paint brush and hammer in hand, stopping at places where they could use a hand and some guidance.

Thinking back, I realize you never know what any given impression could have on a child. The trip they didn’t want to take on the route, or to grandma’s or to anywhere they dread going to. One little thing could set their lives on a different path than they ever could have imagined.

For me it was an album cover………

Jun 242014
 

FSG-sign-new








I am starting to put together a project plan on what needs to be done to the building, when to do it and what it will cost me.

The Front Street Garage sign, to me, was the first priority.

I have contracted Doug and Sharon Quarles of Quarles Art Gallery in Benson AZ to work on this one with me. We all know them from all of the work they have done in Tucumcari with the murals, buildings and signs they have helped paint over the years. These murals and the many other things the Quarles have painted are one of the many projects which helped make Tucumcari the destination it now is. I have worked with Doug on a few projects and could not think of any other artists to work with.

I showed Doug the picture of the station in 1941 and I wanted him to recreate the sign to as close as original as possible BUT at the same time, make it a little more sharp and crisp as if a professional painted it taking their time and putting some care into it – versus someone grabbing some board and just painting a sign.

The sign is 2′ tall be 4′ wide and will hang where the original sign was. I knew the original colors but wanted to make the background of the sign a dark green as I think it just looks classic this way.

I will have the sign shipped from Arizona to Allen Sign Studio in Miami OK for them to create the bracket which will support the sign and will be able to mount it. The sign will be put up (hopefully) later this year / early next year as I really need to focus on the facade of the building.

FSG-signHere is the pic of what the original sign looked like. I think it is important to try to keep this building looking as period correct as possible….

Doug will be doing most of the sign work as well as a few other things, I will do some painting and other things with the building and Allen Sign Studio will help me restore the original neon sign from the late 40′s which I also want to hang on the front of the building.

More to come…

Jun 182014
 

front-street-garage-galena-03









This is the press release which just went out. I am happy to say I have found a building I absolutely love and have huge, huge plans for it….

Galena KS – The building located at 118 N. Main Street in Galena KS has been sitting on the corner of Front and Main Streets since 1896. It has been a gas station, a tire shop specializing in new and used tires, and after World War II, it served as a tire retreading shop as rubber was becoming scarce like so many other materials which were being used for the war efforts. The building closed out the last few decades as a satellite dish manufacturing and repair shop.

The building has been standing close to 120 years and has seen Galena change over this time. Starting as a mining town, Galena had a population of 30,000 during the boom of the mining craze throughout southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma. The last mine closed in the 1970’s.
Route 66 was designated a travel way through Galena from Joplin around 1926 and the stretch of the route in Kansas is only 13.2 miles, the shortest strip in any of the eight states Route 66 passes through. The gas station served tourists and migrants heading west (and rumor has it gangsters frequented the station) as it was one of the only corridors of automobile travel between Missouri and Oklahoma.

Ed Klein, owner of Route 66 World and its website (www.route66world.com) has been doing preservation, restoration and education work on Route 66 for almost five years and does it all with his own time and money. He has traveled the entire route several times and has traveled many sections of it dozens of times. “I love the route, it gives me the peace of two things I truly love: driving and Americana.” Klein adds. He has worked with plenty of businesses and towns trying to help them get tourism dollars and gives advice on how to restructure their businesses or how to restore properties, buildings or his favorite: signs. He works with many other key ‘roadies’ on Route 66 to advance the help the inquiring business owner may have, and wants to make sure all options are exhausted.

“I have been on Route 66 through Kansas several times and always stop into Galena and Baxter Springs. The history of these two towns is so vast and interesting and folks need to slow down a bit and do more than a ‘photo op’ and then take off to the next stop. They really do not know what some of these old, historic buildings actually hold within its history.”

Klein said he was in the market to purchase a historic gas station for the last few years with the first being in Winslow AZ. “I called the owner of the (Richfield) gas station and I was number three in line to purchase it, so I had to wait to see if the other two potential buyers would pick it up or walk away. They both dropped out and I started working on negotiations with the owner and he decided to keep it. It was heart breaking as the plans were to restore it to the way it looked back in 1939”. Klein then mentioned another station in Holbrook AZ. “The Holbrook station was a former Whiting Brothers gas station and it was just screaming for a restoration. The current owner wanted to sell a bunch of other properties along with it and I just wanted the gas station and nothing more, so we could not work out a deal.”

It was by chance Klein and his good friend Bill Conron were planning a trip from Chicago to Scottsdale via Route 66 and Bill started to look at some properties for sale along the route. “Bill was getting the feel for the potential of Route 66 and as an avid investor in the stock market, he was thinking of expanding into a small property”. This led them to Galena.
After locating another potential property to purchase, Bill contacted the owner and arranged a meeting. The deal fell through but Klein was eyeing the building of the former Front Street Garage, sitting right across the street from ‘Cars on the Route’. “Bill and I sat at Cars on the Route, eating a hamburger and having a beer outside on the patio and noticed something strange happening. Tourist would pull up and literally jump out of their cars, take a picture of the (Tow Tater) tow truck at Cars on the Route, turn around 180 degrees and snap a few pictures of the old Front Street Garage building, jump back into their cars and drive off. Bill turned to me and said ‘if they were taking these many photos of an old boarded up building, how do you think they would react to it all restored?’”

After seeing all this activity with the tourist, Klein contacted Mike Hughes, the owner of the building and set up a meeting. After almost a year later of the initial contact, Klein had to wait for a few code compliance issues to be resolved and after negotiations were settled, a deal was finally drawn up. “The longest hold up was the winter in Galena. The contractors had to wait for the weather to warm up to be able to finish the exterior work, this took several months. Mike has been just great with everything and wanted to make sure everything worked out well between him and me. The transaction could have not gone any better.” The building is in compliance and plans are underway for the restoration of the building.

front-street-garage-galena-02“I look at this as the mother of all preservation / restoration jobs! Literally putting my money where my mouth is” Klein jokes. “It is just a great building and deserves to be the jewel it once was when it was open.” Plans are to restore the building to the way it looked back in 1941 using a photo from the Galena Mining and Historical Museum for reference. The front façade will be closely reproduced to exactly the way the photograph shows of the building and he has other plans for the north and south facing walls. “The intersection of Front and Main Streets are really the gateway into Galena and several folks I have talked to in town know this and want it to be a great, lasting impression as travelers are coming into town.” Klein also has been in contact with Galena mayor Dale Oglesby, Galena Council Member Ashley Qualls and Kansas Historic Route 66 Association president Renee Charles. “There are plans for Galena. There are many things these folks have implemented and so many more they are working on and all I want to do is to be part of those plans, and to help them in any way possible, starting with restoring this building.” Klein mentions the interior of the building will take some time as the exterior is the main priority. “I think travelers will be blown away by the way this place will look like in the next few years. As long as it helps Galena and gives the travelers something additional to look at and talk about, I have done my job.”

Klein is working on building a website for the garage and a Facebook page will follow shortly. With the purchase of the garage, he is also writing a book on Route 66 in Kansas, presenting at the International Route 66 Conference in Kingman Arizona in August, and still finds time to help many Route 66 businesses with questions.

Jun 172014
 

River-010









Back in 2012 – I headed out to Needles CA to start the restoration of the 66 Motel sign. It wasn’t until August of that year I first saw this little gem called Fender’s River Road Resort, and swore I would be back.

I was in contact with Fender’s manager Rosie a few weeks ago and we started talking about how to get the resort on the Route 66 road map, seeing the building was built around 1958 and has been open for business ever sense.  Fender’s River Road Resort has a mix of ways a traveler can stop off the route and enjoy the river. If you are driving in your car or riding your bike, they have several motel rooms. If you are in your RV and looking for a place to stay for a night or 30, they have an RV park. If you are a little more adventurous, they have a camping area where you can pitch a tent.

I decided to go out there for the weekend as there were several things which I wanted to check out. Getting in late Friday night, we went over to the Riverfront Cafe to have a late dinner. The place was busy and overlooked the Colorado River. My BBQ sandwich was good, the beer was cold. What else can you ask for?!?!

Saturday started with us taking a run over to check out the 66 Motel sign, the old Carty’s Camp Shell Station and taking a walk back by the original Carty’s Camp. We headed back to the resort and started walking around the resort while I was getting caught up on the history of the property. Knowing Route 66 AND the National Old Trails Highway is at the front door, and the Colorado River is at the back door, it’s hard to match a property like this one anywhere on the route. I spent a little time looking at the neon sign to determine what work was needed to bring it back to its original condition.

We ate at the historic Wagon Wheel Restaurant for a few meals and went across the street to Juicy’s Cafe for dinner Saturday night. Fender’s is located in the section away from the town the locals call ‘the suburbs of Needles as it is only a few minutes from the Wagon Wheel. You get the town a few minutes away but are left alone in your own little world.

ed-colorado-river-03

The main draw to Fender’s is the river. We sat at the rivers edge with our feet in the water, drinking a few refreshments watching the boats go up and down the river. It was nice to just relax and not care about anything.

We spent Sunday on wave runners running up and down the Colorado River checking out Pirate’s Cove and then heading over to Topok. We then headed north up to Laughlin Nevada. It was great to get back on the water and get some sun and have some fun! The sunburn was well worth it!

My advice is simple: If you are looking to get on the water, plan on spending two days here. Fender’s works with a rental company across the river who can get you wave runners, boats and pontoons. It is nice to know after all of the driving we do to see Route 66, and all the time in the car you can spend a little time on the river before you head out into the desert. They are in the midst of bringing the property to what it once did when it opened in the late 1950′s. Drop them a line and plan your visit! Rosie is a wonderful host and wants to make sure your stay is pleasant.

Check them out via their website by clicking HERE or visit their Facebook page by clicking HERE.

May 112014
 
sheas-garage-springfield










Two Route 66 landmarks in Springfield face an uncertain future.
Hours at Shea’s Route 66 Museum, 2075 Peoria Road, ended following the 2012 death of founder Bill Shea Sr., whose name was synonymous with the museum and Route 66. Family members are considering what to do next.

A “closed for repairs” sign went up more than two weeks ago at Joe Rogers’ The Den Chili Parlor, 820 S. Ninth St.

Shea’s and Joe Rogers’ are fixtures in local, state and national tourism promotions of the Route 66 experience in Illinois. Both are on the Ninth Street-Peoria Road corridor that was among the routes followed through Springfield by the historic road.
“It’s such an important part of our marketing, including international marketing,” said Gina Gemberling, acting director of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Gemberling said word of the uncertainty facing Shea’s spread quickly among Route 66 communities and preservation groups.
“They are continually asking us, ‘What’s going to happen toB?’” Gemberling said.

Considering options
“I hate for anything on Route 66 to close,” said Bill Shea Jr., who now watches over the Shea’s Route 66 Museum operated for decades by his father.
William “Bill” Shea Sr., who died in 2012 at age 91, was as much an attraction on Route 66 as his gas station-museum. The visitor logbook contained signatures from across the globe.

Dressed in his vintage Marathon attendant uniform, Shea walked visitors through life on Route 66 when the road was dotted by service stations that still checked oil and cleaned windshields, all night café-diners and neon-lit, mom-and-pop hotels.
He was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993. The building is packed with Route 66 memorabilia.
Shea Jr. said the property went to probate court after his father’s death and that it could take until this fall to resolve legal issues. While regular hours ended in 2012, the younger Shea said he occasionally hosts special visitors. A group from Germany was scheduled to visit last week.

“I finished up all the appointments that he had,” said Shea, who is 65 and retired. “People were still coming by the bus loads.”
He said he has no specific plans for the museum while probate continues, but that there have been offers for pieces of his dad’s Route 66 collection. Shea said his preference is to keep the building and the collection together.
“I’d like to see it turned into a Route 66 visitors center,” said Shea, “and maybe have my dad’s name on it.”
There have been informal discussions, said Gemberling. But as with past ideas for a Route 66 visitor center, there is no money.
“It comes down to funding,” Gemberling said. “We know how important it is (Shea’s). We’d like to save it, but where are the dollars coming from?”

Joe Rogers’ The Den Chili Parlor has been closed for two weeks, with no indication of when, or if, it might reopen. Owners Ric and Rose Hamilton didn’t return calls requesting information about the status of the business.
Efforts to reach Marianne Rogers — daughter of Joe Rogers, who founded the chili parlor in 1945 — also were unsuccessful. Rogers has proprietary rights to the special spice blend used in the chili.

Emilio Lomeli knows a business can’t run on nostalgia alone.
Lomeli and his wife, Rosa, blended two Springfield greasy-spoon legends — The Coney Island and Sonrise Donuts — in 2012.
The Coney IslandSpringfield’s second-oldest restaurant — operated from the 100 block of North Sixth Street from 1919 to 2000. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum now occupies its original site.
The Lomelis moved the business to 1101 S. Ninth St., the home of Sonrise Donuts. The diner with its original Formica counter and red stools opened in 1947 as Springfield’s first doughnut shop with a coffee counter.
The hybrid — now known as Emilio’s New Coney Island — blends menus and motifs from both businesses, as well as the Lomelis’ own Mexican dishes.
“We try to keep the spirit of The Coney Island alive,” Lomeli said. “But we need the people to help us, keep coming. Many still don’t know we’re here. They’ll see me at the store and say, ‘When are you opening?’
“I’m open now.”

Lomeli said business has picked up a bit since The Den has been closed.
“We’re not really competition. Some people go there, some here,” he said. “I try to help them for now. Maybe they’ll go back when it reopens. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
Bill Klein is another person waiting.
He has spent the past two Saturdays discombobulated. The landmark chili parlor has been Klein’s Saturday lunch haunt for four decades.
“This has created a devastating hole in my Saturday because, as night follows day, I could be found at The Den on Saturday at noon,” he said. “I’ve watched kids grow up, talked about marriages. I send chili to my son in Tampa, (Fla.). When someone comes home for the holidays, it’s a tradition to go to Joe Rogers for chili.
“I hope they open soon.”

Pontiac ‘Hall of Fame’
Operators of the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac are among those watching Shea’s from afar.
The community is on a section of old Route 66 about 100 miles north of Springfield.
“We’d be honored to have some of the pieces in our museum,” said museum treasurer Martin Blitstein, who lives in Tinley Park. “They (the Shea family) are personal friends of ours and of the corridor.”

As in Springfield, said Blitstein, money is the issue. The Pontiac museum relies on donations, including for Route 66 collections. He said the museum drew at least 50,000 visitors in 2013.
Lillian Ford, owner of Ray’s Route 66 Family Diner in Sherman, said she could attest to the drawing power of Route 66.
“We have people from Australia, England, Ireland, Brazil and China,” said Ford. “They come from all over the world.”
Sherman is working on its own promotions of Route 66 connections, including a wayside park and exhibit at the north edge of the community.
“We get car and motorcycle tours,” Ford said. “There are so many things to make it popular. It’s the ‘Mother Road.’
Bill Shea Jr. said, in addition to resolving the probate case, he must have the museum property appraised before making decisions. But he said he remains hopeful of maintaining at least a piece of his father’s Route 66 legacy.
“I’d like to have it there in memory of my dad,” Shea said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”

Route 66 landmarks
* Shea’s Route 66 Gas Station and Museum, 2075 Peoria Road: Named for Bill Shea. Shea, who was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993, worked in the Springfield gas-station business for nearly 50 years before converting the Marathon station to a Route 66 museum. Regular hours ended following Shea’s death in 2012 at age 91.
* Joe Rogers’ Den Chili Parlor, 820 S. Ninth St. Joe Rogers opened the original chili parlor in 1945 at 1125 South Grand Ave. E. Became known for “Firebrand” chili and allowing customers to custom-order. Moved to Ninth Street location in 1997. Rogers family sold to current owners, Ric and Rose Hamilton, in 2008.

Sources: Illinois Route 66 Associaton; archives of The State Journal-Register

May 032014
 
kansas-state-line-sm










Route 66 Preservationist Ed Klein announced today he is to author a book about Route 66 through the state of Kansas. The approval for the book came from Arcadia Publishing who has over 9,000 books in their catalog, most written by locals and first time authors. The book will be titled ‘Route 66 in Kansas’ which will be part of their ‘Images of America’ series and is due for release mid 2015. It will cover the early mining days of southeast Kansas through present day Route 66.

Ed Klein is the owner of the website Route 66 World (www.route66world.com) which is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and education of Route 66. He was researching information on several projects with locations ranging from Joplin, a building in Kansas and another project in Oklahoma.

“I scoured the internet and finding the information for Joplin and Oklahoma was much easier than finding certain bits and pieces about a location in Kansas I was working on. I then checked to see if there were actually any books written about Route 66 in Kansas and to my surprise, there were none.”

Klein contacted Arcadia Publishing to check to see if there were any books in the works for Route 66 in the state of Kansas, and they responded with a ‘no, but what do you think about writing a book about the route in Kansas?’

Kansas has the shortest stretch of Route 66 of all the eight states it runs through. Less than thirteen miles connects Kansas from Joplin Missouri to Quapaw Oklahoma, two towns which have been affected by tornadoes and in both occasions, Klein has helped by donating much needed funds to local relief efforts.

Route 66 is not only about the old motels, the diners and the gift shops, it is also about saving history and places so many travelers around the world come to see and experience. It is very easy to have a business close down or suffer a catastrophic loss like this, keeping them open is the hard part!” Klein adds.

Apr 092014
 
devil-elbow-bridge










Construction is progressing on a project to rehabilitate the aging, historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge in rural Pulaski County.

“This is a project that began 10 or 11 years ago, and we are finally seeing the construction phase, so its very exciting,” Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk said. “It’s moving right along, and, so far, it’s been very smooth.”

The Pulaski County Commission took note of the bridge’s deteriorating condition—including severe rusting, cracked substructure and considerable soil loss near the south abutment—several years ago and began working to secure funding for a $1.3 million restoration project.

The funding for the project was found last year when the county commission was able to combine Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) and MoDOT’s Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds with a mixture of grant funds awarded.

MoDOT BRO and STP funds are covering 80 percent of the project, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program along with a small grant from the National Parks Service and a local match from Pulaski County make up the remaining project funding.

The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) helped prepare the CDBG, STP and National Park Service grant applications and is serving as the administrator for the $250,000 CDBG grant awarded.
Not only will the rehabilitation of the project address safety issues, but it also maintains the historic significance of the structure.

“We have so many people from all over the country who come down to the bridge while traveling Route 66 because it is historic,” Newkirk said. “Many pictures have been taken of that bridge, and many people in our local communities, too, have pictures taken on that bridge from many, many years ago.”

The pages of the nearby Elbow Inn guestbook indicate that the picturesque place not only draws travelers from other states but from several other countries as well. Entries have included guests from France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Australia to name a few.

“We are very fortunate here in Pulaski County to have 33 original miles of Route 66, and we are internationally known for that,” Pulaski County Tourism Bureau Director Beth Wiles said, noting that the stretch is also known as one of the most beautiful in the country.

“They look at Route 66 as that key component of America,” Wiles said of the international travelers.
The influx of tourists seeking a part of American history is greatest from April through October, and brings tourism dollars not just to businesses near the bridge like the Elbow Inn, but also into the cities of Waynesville and St. Robert.

Built in 1923, the bridge was part of the original Route 66. The portion of the nostalgic highway that passes through Devil’s Elbow, however, proved to be dangerous and soon came to be called “Bloody 66.”

As a result, the Hooker Cut realignment took place in 1940, bypassing the bridge. At that time, it was the deepest rock cut in the country.
According to the HAER Bridge Inventory, a list of historic bridges in Missouri, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge may be eligible for a place on the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed to be one of the earliest examples of Missouri State Highway Department long-span truss design still in existence.

Additionally, Newkirk noted it is also one of only two remaining bridges in the state containing a curve. The second is the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, which was recently converted to a pedestrian bridge. Wiles added that it is the only curved bridge on the original Route 66 still open to traffic.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation project was held in October, and, by the end of March, the 400-foot deck of the bridge began to retake its original shape.

The framing of the new deck is in place and half of the decking concrete has been poured with the remaining half expected to be poured by mid to late April. Once the remaining portion of the deck has been poured, the bridge will be painted and additional structural work will be completed.

Engineering services for the project have been provided by Great River Engineering out of Springfield, Mo. The engineer currently supervising the project, Steve Brown, expects it to be re-opened to traffic by August at the latest. Phillips Hardy, Inc., out of Columbia, is the general contractor for the project. The contractor was selected through a competitive bid process.

For individuals interested in touring the 33-mile stretch of Route 66 in Pulaski County, a turn-by-turn brochure is available for download at visitpulaskicounty.org. Alternately, the brochure is available in audio format for listening as you drive the route.

By Rolla Daily News