Dec 142013
 

auburn-brick-road









The original Route 66 brick road in Auburn

I have traveled the Illinois section of Route 66 literally dozens and dozens of times. I am guilty of taking the section running along I-55 to St. Louis all the time and always bypassing the ‘other‘ route.

Boy I am glad I decided to go this way!

It is a 1.4 mile long piece of restored hand-laid brick road which was done in 1931 and it is placed over a concrete roadbed. The Illinois Route 66 Association keeps it up to good condition and to drive on it just puts you back into the 1930′s.

The great thing about it is you also get to go through other Route 66 towns which one would normally pass through and it is a must see for everyone who is driving the route in Illinois.

Also, it passes RIGHT in front of Becky’s Barn which I did have a chance to stop at and visit Becky and Rick and showed me around and talked shop – Check them out at http://www.beckysbarn.com

So next time you are planning a trip on the route in Illinois – take a moment and plan on hitting this historical part of Route 66!!

Aug 152013
 




The Illinois 53 corridor plan calls for, among other things, creating attractions that would be “photo opportunities” luring Historic Route 66 travelers.

When you get right down to it, there are few day trip or weekend destination spots in Illinois other than Chicago, Galena and, maybe, Springfield.

But one untapped possibility, the magic key to the economic engine known as “tourism,” is right in Joliet’s back yard.
Some people refer to it as the “Mother Road.” Joliet folks know it better as Route 53, aka Historic Route 66.

Ten months ago, Ginkgo Planning & Design Inc. was hired to by Will County come up with a plan to turn the Illinois 53 corridor between Joliet and Braidwood into a magnet for day-trippers with money in their pockets and escapism on their minds.

What they’ve come up with was presented to the Joliet City Council’s Land Use Committee Wednesday, and is nearing the point at which it will be drafted into a blueprint for implementation, Ginkgo Principal Zerhat Zerin said.

It still lacks a name, but the working concept is “6 Stops on 66,” Zerin said.

“Just like we think of Door County (as a destination), we want to think of this as one place,” she said. “We have this challenge of how do we tie it all together?”

Essentially, the Orland Park firm, working with a steering committee of representatives from the communities along the route, cataloged the corridor’s “assets” and divided them into six areas.

The key to each is to establish a “photo opportunity” — something large, iconic or quirky that makes drivers want to stop and take their photo in front of it, Zerin said. Wilmington already has theirs with the Gemini Giant, the huge spaceman holding a silver rocket outside the now-closed Launching Pad Drive-In.

Think of a giant statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of letters spelling out “Mother Road” or maybe a dozen cars stacked on a spindle (similar to the now-gone Berwyn landmark) or set into the ground a la the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, Zerin said.

Joliet is the “North Gate” — the trip’s starting point and home to the Route 66 Visitors Center at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Train overpasses under which Illinois 53 traffic drives could be painted to alert motorists that they are entering the historic corridor, Zerin said.

Other existing or potential attractions include Joliet’s Union Station and Brandon Lock and Dam, the Illinois & Michigan Canal and Wauponsee Glacial trails and a former quarry that could one day be used for zip-lining, cliff-climbing and other recreational uses, she said.

Another key destination would be Chicagoland Speedway, which draws as many as 150,000 visitors on race weekends but offers few reasons right now for people to stop otherwise, Zerin said. Speedway officials are very interested in working with the group to make it part of the Route 66 tour, she said.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington and the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood are two sites that have the potential to draw huge tourist numbers but currently are little known to people outside of the area, Zerin said.

Midewin will be adding bison to their grounds next year, she said, and that will be a great lure. Another would be a proposed lookout tower incorporating an existing pedestrian bridge giving visitors a panoramic view of the hundreds of acres of restored prairie, Zerin said.

It’s estimated the tower would cost $5 million, and officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation have already been briefed on the idea, she said.

“They did not say no,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”

The bottom line is as many as 30,000 people a year, many from foreign countries, seek out Historic Route 66 and follow it from Chicago to California, Zerin said. The goal now is to capitalize and expand on that, she said.

Kendall Jackson, the city’s director of planning and economic development, sits on the group’s steering committee. Many things, such as improved signage and painting the railroad overpasses, can be done relatively easily and for not a lot of money, he said

“A lot of these things are already in the works,” Jackson said. “I think that the crucial thing about this plan is that it ties all of these assets all together. I think this is a plan that has a really good chance of being implemented and working.”

By Karen Sorenson – Plainfield Patch

Jul 092013
 


 

 

 

 

Carlinville, IL
Saturday, July 27

A full day of fun on old Route 66 and the historic Carlinville Town Square!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruise-In and Car show, 9 AM – 2 PM. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and antique tractors are welcome.
DJ and Live Entertainment. ‘ 50s – ‘ 60s Dress Contest. Many giveaways and prizes. 50/50 drawing, benefits the Carlinville schools.

Sidewalk sales and restaurants around the Square. Top it all off with an old-fashioned Ice Cream Social from 6-8 PM on the square, with a Municipal Band concert at 7 in the Town Gazebo.

Cruise-In $10 entrance fee, Car Show (judging) $15 fee. Fee enters you for door prizes. First 100 vehicles get gift bags and dash plaques. All car event profits benefit the Carlinville schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored by the Macoupin County Cruisers and the Carlinville Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact dpickrel@idcag.org and info@kastengoodman.com.

And to keep up with all they are doing, check out and “Like” their Facebook page, Carlinville Illinois on old Route 66

Jul 082013
 




The Rich & Creamy ice cream stand has the historic Route 66 highway in front of it and the bucolic setting of an arboretum behind it.

But it also could have some trouble ahead as Joliet city officials begin to think about whether they want to put any money into the aging building they acquired in the early 2000s as part of the Broadway Greenway project.

Part-owner Bill Gulas, who started working at the stand 38 years ago, says it’s a good location, especially since the city of Joliet played up its place along the historic Route 66 highway.

“We’ve had people from Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, England and Italy — all over the world. People come to do the Route 66 drive,” Gulas said Friday during an interview at his stand, at 920 N. Broadway.

The soft-serve ice cream stand has Route 66 signs around it and replicas of the Blues Brothers on top of it, coaxing travelers to visit an area that also includes information boards describing Joliet attractions and history.

The neighborhood business is good, too, Gulas said. And the city helped when it built a kiddie park nearby.

And this is from an earlier article I found:

There will be no eviction for the owners of Rich & Creamy, the ice cream stand on Broadway Street/Route 53 with the iconic Blues Brothers figures dancing on its roof.

In May, the city of Joliet obtained a court order that told operators Bill Gulas and Richard Lodewegen they would be evicted if they could not put a substantial dent in the nearly $18,000 they owed in back rent.

Since then, City Manager Tom Thanas told the Joliet City Council Monday, they’ve done far more than that. Not only did they make a $6,000 down payment on the arrearage, they’ve started to make double payments on their $1,210 monthly rent, he said.

If they continue, they will be caught up on what they owe by year’s end, Thanas said.

“We did have an option of looking at eviction but we thought keeping the store in business and not trying to find another operator made more sense,” he said. “It’s a good location.”

Gulas and Lodenwagen have a 30-year lease with the city, which acquired the 920 N. Broadway site when it was creating the Broadway Greenway in the 1990s and decided to keep the business as an amenity rather than tear it down, Thanas said.

Since then, it’s become one of the local highlights for people who follow what used to be Route 66, the cross-country roadway that once linked Chicago and Los Angeles. Next to the ice cream stand is a small city park area and parking lot.

In May, Gulas said things had been going well for the business until it was felled by a one-two punch in the last few years.

“A couple years back, the economy went bad and business took a hit,” Gulas said. “When July (2012) hit, (Joliet) closed the Ruby Street Bridge and that hit us harder than even the economy.”

Although things appear to be on more solid footing, Thanas told the council the building in which the ice cream stand is located is not in great shape and it may not be worth the city investing a lot more money into it.

“It’s an old building,” Thanas said. “It needs a new roof. It needs some other improvements that we, the city, would be responsible for. We’ve patched it along the best we can and we’ll continue doing that, but we don’t think that site merits a lot of investment of city dollars at this point.”

Also of concern is the building’s close proximity to the street, making it potentially dangerous to pedestrians and drivers.

“At some point in the future we’re going to have look at a better solution to this,” Thanas said.

Apr 282013
 






LINCOLN – Geoff Ladd, the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County, submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday.

“After nearly eight years with the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County, I have decided to pursue exciting new employment opportunities. I am looking forward to helping the bureau during this transition phase for their organization,” wrote Ladd in an email.

“Tourism remains a vital part of the local economy, and I am pleased that over the last several years we have seen a growth in the hotel tax revenue by over 30%, which means more and more people are coming to visit for the events, sports tournaments and daily attractions we have to offer. I want to thank all my board members past and present, my staff, my industry colleagues, and all our great volunteers. I also want to issue special thanks to Larry Van Bibber, who through his philanthropic efforts brought the World’s Largest Covered Wagon to Lincoln,” continued Ladd.

“Work still continues on The Mill on 66 restoration project, which is owned by the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, and I will continue to be a part of that organization. This is an important project, and when fully restored and opened as a museum the attraction will be any even bigger tourism draw to Lincoln and Logan County,” said Ladd.

Tourism board member Ron Keller said Ladd announced his departure which shocked the group.

“It was a surprise and a shock,” said Keller.

“When Geoff took over the bureau was in a huge deficit and the tourism bureau didn’t have the respect by other organizations in the county. Since then he turned the deficit into a surplus by connecting with other tourism agencies and enhanced the Route 66 heritage that Lincoln has,” said Keller.

Keller said with the recent news of the City of Lincoln wanting to take control over the bureau it played a role in his departure.

“I think it had an affect on Geoff and I didn’t expect this to happen,” said Keller.

On an upbeat note Keller said he would still support Ladd’s future endeavors.

“I applaud his effort and wish him only the best,” said Keller.

During Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting alderman Tom O’Donoghue and Melody Anderson said they had completed the expectations of the tourism bureau in order for the City to continue funding the tourism programs. More discussion on the tourism topic will take place at the May 14 meeting.

When called for details Ladd was silent about his future.

“I sent that out to the media and that is pretty much all I have to say at this point,” said Ladd.

He did stress that he will be living and working in the Lincoln area.

Apr 182013
 





Route 66 tourism has become a multimillion dollar business in this country, and thanks to a small group of local historians and city officials, Edwardsville is working to raise awareness on a national and international level. Below are some of the ways Edwardsville will showcase its Route 66 heritage this year.


Route 66 Experience Hub

For several weeks motorists at the corner of Schwarz and West Streets have wondered about the mysterious structure beneath a large blue tarp at the side of the road. Saturday morning at 11 a.m. the cover will be removed for all to see. A Route 66 Experience Hub, one of only 13 in Illinois, will be revealed at the site of the former Idlewood Tourist Camp, a favorite stop for tourists and locals along Route 66.

The public is invited to attend the dedication. Area residents with vintage vehicles that may have driven Route 66 are encouraged to bring their restored vehicles. Brief remarks by Mayor Gary Niebur and William Kelly, director of Illinois Scenic Byway, will be followed by a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the new Route 66 Experience Hub.

Awareness of the Edwardsville Route 66 experience will be raised thanks to the work of City Planner Scott Hanson, Alderman Barb Stamer, the Historic Preservation Commission and other city officials who worked with the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway to design panels for the structure and bring the Route 66 Experience Hub to Edwardsville. Edwardsville is the sixth city along the route to install their exhibit.

The design of the structure was influenced by the fins of 1950s era automobiles. Attached to the “fin” are three panels, a large map showing the path of Route 66 through Illinois and two smaller panels showing local and regional attractions and Route 66 history. While reading about the Route 66 experience in Edwardsville, visitors can listen to Bobby Troup’s “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

The experience hubs also feature a tactile station where visitors can make a pencil rubbing of a design unique to each city. In Edwardsville the design is the Centennial Monument in City Park.

 

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame

This week word was received that Edwardsville’s nomination of George Cathcart for the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame has been accepted. In 1922 George Cathcart and his wife purchased the Joseph Hotz house at 454 E. Vandalia in Edwardsville and opened it as a tourist home. Two years later, Cathcart built a modest hamburger stand next door at 456 E. Vandalia. As business grew, he expanded the building to include a large restaurant and grocery.

Cathcart’s Café became a popular stop along Route 66. The café building no longer exists, but the house just west of it that most recently housed the Galleria Hearth and Home, has been beautifully preserved. The Cathcarts later built tourist cabins next door to the house, some of which still exist. In the early 1930s the Cathcart Tourist Home and Cabins were sold to the Goddard family who rented rooms to Route 66 travelers for many years.

Cathcart was important to Edwardsville’s story of Route 66 not only because of his businesses, but because he led a successful fight in 1938 against state plans to move Route 66 away from Edwardsville’s business district.

 

Route 66 Festival

The 16th annual Edwardsville Route 66 Festival will kick off on June 6 with a sock hop and continue on Friday night and Saturday, June 7 and 8, with events in City Park. Classic cars, music, great food and family fun have proved to be a winning combination for the festival. The event is drawing people from an ever widening geographic circle of Route 66 fans. A full schedule of events will be published closer to the dates of the event visit www.edwardsvilleroute66.com.

 

New Route 66 Heritage Posters

Members of HPC along with designer Sherrie Hickman of Creative Options Graphic Design are creating posters reflecting the history of ten different Edwardsville buildings along Route 66 (now Route 157). The posters will be on display at the Route 66 Festival and in the store front windows of businesses interested in promoting their Route 66 history. A bright blue Route 66 shield will draw visitors to the buildings.

 

Writing About Route 66 in Edwardsville

Local author and historian Cheryl Eichar Jett has been spreading the word about Edwardsville’s Route 66 story through articles in regional Route 66 publications. During the past year she has written “Along Route 66,” a monthly column in the Prairieland Buzz covering Route 66 in Montgomery, Macoupin and Madison counties, and written specifically about Edwardsville in magazines for the Illinois and Missouri Route 66 Associations. She is the author of two books on the old highway, “Route 66 in Madison County” and “Route 66 in Springfield.” Jett also authored the successful Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame application for George Cathcart.

Until now, Edwardsville has not had a high profile in tourist publications describing historic Route 66. Fortunately, that situation is being remedied by folks with a love for America’s Mother Road and pride in Edwardsville’s heritage.

By Cindy Reinhardt – Intelligencer

Apr 152013
 





ATLANTA — A motorist traveling Route 66 in 1926, the year the highway was officially commissioned, might have had trouble finding a gas station.

“If you wanted gas for your automobile, you had to go to the local hardware or grocery store,” said Bill Thomas, director of the Atlanta Betterment Fund. “You would find a single gas pump the owner had put in to make a little cash.”

Times evolved to the point where automobile traffic increased and service stations were born — and historians point to the Original Mother Road as one of the reasons.

Now, Thomas says, Route 66 is poised to help create the next big transportation infrastructure development: charging stations for electric vehicles. Thomas believes Route 66 can once again lead the way.

With that in mind comes Illinois’ First Electric Vehicle Cruise-In, scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8 in Atlanta.

“It is a different spin on an old tradition,” said Joe Mikulecky, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal EVTown Task Force, which is assisting Thomas. “It should be a lot of fun and should draw attention to the goal of creating more charging stations along the Route 66 corridor.”

Thomas said discussion about an electric vehicle cruise-in started about two years ago.

Normal is doing a wonderful job of promoting electric vehicles and we really hope that this event will take it a step further for our efforts,” he said.

According to Mikulecky, there are 140 electric vehicle owners in the Central Illinois area; 18 charging stations will be available at the cruise-in for no fee. All electric and hybrid car owners are invited. There will be hourly door prize drawings, vintage music, food and information on how Atlanta is working to establish charging stations along Route 66.

“Everybody is invited no matter what they drive, but what I would really like to see is some thing different,” he said. “In the early 1900s, there were vehicles that had to be recharged. I am not sure exactly how it worked, but it would be fascinating to see something like that at the event.”

By Kevin Barlow – Pantagraph

Apr 092013
 




A BIG thank you and congrats to our good friend Willem Bor on his fine work of art!!!!

Pontiac, Ill. — A reception for the debut of a scale model of the Standard Oil Gas Station located on Route 66 in Odell was just the beginning of plans that Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center Director Tim Dye has for the museum during the upcoming tourism season.

With the annual events such as the Red Carpet Corridor coming up in less than a month on May 5 and 6, as well as Pontiac’s Pre-War Festival scheduled for May 25, Dye has plans to host a number of automobile clubs over the tourism season and change many of the museum’s vehicle displays. One upcoming display in particular will be a Pontiac NASCAR vehicle from the late 1980s formerly driven by Michael Waltrip.

“We are in talks with the owner and trying to coordinate with the other cars,” said Dye. “But in the first part of May, a lot of the cars are going to change out. We want people to keep coming back and I think we need to keep it interesting.”

The first of many display changes began on Saturday with a reception the museum had for a gas station model created by Netherlands artist Willem Bor, who Dye said is known for his re-creation of historic Route 66 landmarks and his donation of those models to local museums and tourist collections.

The model was commemorated with speakers who were friends of Bor — Jerry Alger of Michigan and Rich Dinkela II of St. Peters, Mo. Mayor Robert T. Russell was also on hand to say a few words.

“It was a very nice debut,” said Dye. “Being a car museum located on Route 66, we felt the gas station was a good fit for us. We are happy that he wanted to donate the model so that we can share it with people. I like to tie in with local things as much as I can, so it’s an honor to display this at the museum.”

With this being only the second tourism season for the auto museum, Dye said indications are showing this year has the potential to be bigger in terms of numbers of visitors compared to last year’s tourism season. Dye said the Red Carpet Corridor unofficially kicks off the tourism season. Not long after that, this year’s Pre-War Festival, celebrating Americana prior to World War II, is scheduled to showcase a group of Franklin motor cars — a model discontinued in the 1930s which was known for it’s air-cooled engine, a unique trait in the time period.

“For the most part, they are known for being big, luxurious cars,” said Dye. “Local collector Alan Finkenbinder has a couple of them and I am working with him to set up the tourism route. The car club will be here for three or four days.”

At this point, Dye said he is not sure how big the Pre-War Festival will be in terms of outside participation. Dye hopes the weather issues that plagued last year’s event won’t be an issue this year. After those initial festivals, Dye said the museum is planning to host a steady stream of car clubs.

“Some weekends we’ve already booked two different car clubs. In September we are hosting the GTO Association of America for their regional meet again. I foresee lots of car groups coming. If you’re a car fanatic, this will be another good summer.”

Within the next month, Dye plans to switch out many of the display cars in the museum. He is also working on a new display for the big walk-in case.

“When you are open seven-days a week, you can only do so much at one time,” said Dye. “Penny and I are so busy with the operation of the museum, the days just fly by. It’s hard to say the impact we’re having on the tourism by numbers, but it’s got to be helping.”

By Luke Smucker – Pontiac Daily Leader

Jan 052013
 





The Route 66 Association of Illinois will begin seeking nominations for the 2013 Hall of Fame. Nominations are accepted from January 1st, to February 28, 2013.


Nominations must include accurate documentation or declaration of the Nominee’s qualities, deeds, and history on Route 66 that merit this honor.

To qualify for election to the Hall of Fame, Nominees must have made significant contributions to the character or history of the Illinois portion of Route 66. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor and commemorate those people, businesses, attractions and events that helped give Route 66 such special character and historical status in Illinois.

The Hall of Fame is located in Pontiac, Illinois, at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum. The Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the most visited attractions on all of Route 66 in Illinois with visitors from all over the state as well as all over the world.

The committee invites anyone to submit a nomination. It must include a strong fact-based essay. It must include details about the nominee’s contributions to the character or history of the Illinois portion of Route 66. We encourage that photos, news clips, and other memorabilia accompany the essay but they are not required. A panel of historians and Hall of Fame members will judge all nominations.

Please submit nominations and all accompanying material to:
Route 66 Association of Illinois
ATTN: Hall of Fame Committee
110 West Howard Street
Pontiac, IL 61764

All nominations are kept for 3 years and presented to the committee for discussion. There is no limit on how many nominations can be submitted. The final decision regarding how many members are elected into the 2013 Class of the Hall of Fame is decided by the Hall of Fame committee. The Hall of Fame committee is comprised of 14 people who include current Hall of Fame members, Association historians, the Preservation Committee Chairman, and members who are appointed to the committee by the President based on their Route 66 knowledge.

Dec 282012
 




I spoke with Bill Thomas and he mentioned to me if anyone wantes to do this (which I am!) – should use ‘outdoor paint’ on these signs as they will – obviously – be displayed outside. I will let you know when I receive mine!

ATLANTA — As a member of the Atlanta Betterment Fund, businessman Bill Thomas is a firm believer in holding brainstorming sessions and discussing ideas that could generate positive feedback for the Logan County community.

And almost always, Thomas said, the town’s connection to Route 66 tends to be the focus.

“We often take an idea, incorporate other ideas from projects that have worked either here or someplace else, and come up with a plan,” Thomas said.

The newest plan is based on Chicago’s “Cows on Parade” exhibit, a 1999 idea in which local artists, architects, photographers and designers painted, decorated and dressed up fiberglass cow statues and then displayed them around the city for several months.

The first Route 66 Reinterpreted” project will encourage artists to create their own take on the U.S. Route 66 Highway Shield. Each will be provided a blank 2- by 2-foot wooden cutout of the shield, painted white, which will become their personal canvas.

The only requirement is to incorporate the text “Illinois U.S. 66” somewhere on the face of the shield. The signs will be put on permanent display along the route.

“It is just a great way to get people to visit our town and see something different,” said Atlanta resident Dale Colaw, a member of the Atlanta Betterment Fund board of directors. “It reminds me of the old Burma Shave signs we had out near the entrances to town which we had local artists do, but now those are so damaged and they don’t resemble what they once were.”

The project is open to anyone over age 16 and Thomas said up to 50 entries will be accepted. All entries will be displayed along Route 66 in downtown Atlanta from May through Aug. 31.

“This is a great way to bring national attention to Route 66,” said Geoff Ladd, President of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “Stay tuned for this because once it is done, there will be big celebration and we will have some beautiful art to showcase when we do.”

The Atlanta Betterment Fund board will select 10 shields as finalists and the public can vote at selected Route 66 attractions or at www.atlantaillinois.org. Five winning shields, along with the names of the artists who created them, will be displayed permanently in the Atlanta Route 66 Park.

Completed applications, including a $25 entry fee, are due Feb. 1. More information is at www.atlantaillinois.org.

Kevin Barlow – Pantagraph.com