City’s Route 66 hub will be uncovered

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on City’s Route 66 hub will be uncovered
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


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

Updated pic of Gardner Street Car on Route 66

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Updated pic of Gardner Street Car on Route 66
Aug 262011

About a year ago – I took (4) folks who are in a Mini Cooper Car Club pretty much the entire drive of Route 66 in Illinois – I ended up finishing ‘my part of the tour’ in Edwardsville as they continued to St. Louis the next day.

When we drove it back then, the street car was ‘in hiding’ and the pad had not yet been poured…

Fast forward to today – and my friend decided to take another mini ‘MINI’ trip and took this pic of the street car.

As you can see – the pad is finished, the ‘skirt’ or base is in place, a plaque is up and the stairs are put back in it’s correct place (even though the door is nailed shut).

This is how I remembered it looking as we painted it with primer and then a coat of white exterior paint while it was located in its hiding place.

The roof was supposed to be completed this year – but the year is still not over and they still have a good month or two before the weather starts going south.

If not, there is always next year!!

For those of you who may not remember where the street car was relocated to after the Riviera Restaurant fire – it is right next to the Historic Jail Cell in downtown Gardner.

Route 66 leads straight to Weezy’s

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Route 66 leads straight to Weezy’s
May 072011

Three men sat at a long table at Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill in Hamel during a midafternoon lull.

Farmers Roger Wilkening and John Green and retiree Ken Hedger were eating mostaccioli and sharing local gossip.
“I come here for the intelligent conversation,” said Ken, 55, of Edwardsville, prompting his two friends to burst out laughing. “No, seriously, this is called the ‘liar’s table.’ If anybody’s got a problem, they get it solved right here.”

Not all Weezy’s customers are as colorful as the farmers, but the restaurant has plenty of regulars.
Mail carrier Jim Knecht, 62, of Rosewood Heights, stops by almost every day for lunch and sits at the horseshoe-shaped bar.
“The food is always good,” he said. “I don’t have any complaints.”
Jim orders the daily special, which ranges from fried chicken to smoked pork chops, prime rib to cod.

The restaurant also is known for charbroiled burgers, homemade pies and hearty breakfasts, particularly biscuits and gravy made with fresh sausage from locally produced hogs.
“Everything’s made from scratch,” said co-owner Karen Wiesemeyer, 49, of Glen Carbon.
She formerly worked at Randy’s Restaurant in Troy, Stonebridge Clubhouse in Maryville and Diamond Mineral Springs in Grantfork.

Karen bought the Hamel restaurant two years ago with her companion, Coleman Wiessman, 49. He’s a carpenter, so his main involvement with the food is eating it.
“It’s all good,” he said. “But I like the ribeye sandwich.” That’s also a favorite of Karen’s parents, Joe and Shirley Toenyes, of Alhambra.

Weezy’s is at the intersection of Illinois 140 and 157. The restaurant’s name is a derivative of their names. The brick structure was built as a home in the late ’30s, but it has housed a restaurant as long as most people remember.

It started as Tourist Haven, catering to motorists getting their kicks on Route 66. The old sign still hangs in the main dining room.

“I don’t own it,” Karen said. “I wish I did. The owner just lets me borrow it.”
The restaurant later was known as the Village Inn, Ernie’s and Scotty’s.

Karen and Coleman saw its value as a tourist attraction for modern travelers rediscovering Route 66.
“They come from all over, but Europe mainly,” Karen said. “(The Europeans) find freedom here. They don’t really have a Mother Road that will take them everywhere.”
The restaurant has a guest book for visitors to sign and a world map with push pins that mark hometowns.

The decor follows a diner theme with a black-and-white checkered floor and red vinyl seat cushions on chrome booths, tables and chairs.
“We got (the furniture) from Johnny Rockets,” Coleman said.
Walls are lined with vintage signs, photos of old vehicles and other Route 66 memorabilia. Coleman built an outdoor patio last summer.

At a glance
What: Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill
Where: 108 S. Old Route 66, Hamel (intersection of Illinois 140 and 157)
Kitchen: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays
Bar: Usually open until midnight or 1 a.m.
Seating: About 75 at tables and booths and another 10 at the bar
Handicap accessible: No
Information: Call 633-2228

On the menu
Traditional breakfast with two eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns or American fries and toast, $4.95.
Belgian waffles, $3.50 or $5 with fresh strawberry topping and whipped cream.
Charbroiled burger, quarter-pound on a toasted bun, $3.95 with chips or $5.45 with sweet potato fries.
Daily specials, ranging from smoked pork chops to mostaccioli, fried chicken on Wednesdays and catfish or cod on Fridays, $4.95 to $5.95.

BY TERI MADDOX – News-Democrat

Route 66 10K – Edwardsville, IL

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Route 66 10K – Edwardsville, IL
Jan 162011

Saturday, June 11, 2011 @ 8:00 AM

Edwardsville City Park & Library
112 S Kansas St

Registration Closing Date
Thursday, June 09, 2011 @ 11:59 PM

Brief Description
Come join us for the 5th Annual Route 66 10K run / walk on Saturday, June 1th, 2011. This event will be once again part of Route 66 Festival hosted by the City of Edwardsville. The Route 66 10K is hosted by the Metro Milers Running / Walking Club.

The Mother Road 10K course
The Route 66 10K starts in downtown Edwardsville and travels through Edwardsville’s neighborhoods for the first 2 miles then cruises on the beautiful MCT bike trails for 3.5 miles. Then travels back to the Edwardsville City Park to finish where runners and walkers celebrate at the post-race festival. USATF course certification pending.

Large Custom Route 66 Road Sign awards! Top 3 Overall Male & Female Champions and Master Male & Female Champions. 3 Route 66 medals to Top 3 in following age groups for both men and women – 14 & under, 15-19 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70+.

RCAA IL State 10K Championship
The 2011 Route 66 10K play host to the Road Runners Club of America Illinois State 10K Championship. All US citizens are eligible.

Race Packet Pickup
Early Packet Pickup – Friday, June 10th from 10am to 8pm. Race Day – Stage area from 6:30am to 7:45am.

Wednesday Night Training Runs
Join us every Wednesday evening for our training runs starting April 6th. We meet at the Edwardsville Library parking lot at 6:30pm and run the Rt 66 10K course. Post run water provided by the Metro Milers.

Entry fees are non-refundable. Once we receive and accept your entry, you will not receive a refund if you cannot participate. You may transfer your entry to someone else. Contact race management for more details.

Additional Information
The 2011 Route 66 10K is playing host to the Road Runners Club of America Illinois State 10K Championships. USATF certification pending.

More Information
Click HERE to view the event organizer’s website