The Spindle returns? Group aims to bring back a Berwyn icon

 Illinois  Comments Off on The Spindle returns? Group aims to bring back a Berwyn icon
Sep 062012
 


I remember growing up in Chicago seeing this thing MANY times – it was so out of place, in the middle of a parking lot, with a Ford Pinto literally skinned and spread out on a wall of a store not too far from the spindle. This is a really good idea!!

Berwyn, IL — The Berwyn Arts Council is hoping to bring back a recreated version of The Spindle, which had been an icon for Berwyn for years when it was torn down in 2008.

The sculpture, often referred to as the “car kebab,” stood in the Cermak Plaza parking lot and was featured in the movie “Wayne’s World,” and even an outpouring of support couldn’t save it from demolition.

Unbeknownst to most, the top two cars of the sculpture were saved in a shed behind Cermak Plaza. Now, a movement spearheaded by Berwyn Route 66 Museum and Berwyn Arts Council member John Fey has taken possession of the two cars and is working toward recreating the piece of art.

The cars will need to be restored, and a pole that used to support an Anderson Ford sign already has been secured to hold the two cars.

Once completed, the sculpture will be erected at the parking lot of the Route 66 Museum on Ogden Avenue.

The VW Beetle also will be on display at the Route 66 Car Show on Saturday, where the Berwyn Arts Council will be fundraising for the project.

Fey also said that a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is in the works to fund the project.

Brett Schweinberg – GateHouse News Service

Get Your (RV) Kicks on Route 66!

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Get Your (RV) Kicks on Route 66!
Sep 012012
 


This article was written for RV Life Magazine. We think of driving the route in either a car, motorcycle, or even groups on a tour bus, but the RV community makes up a good portion of Route 66 travelers…

Route 66 (aka The Mother Road) helped shape the history of America. Commissioned in 1926, it was the first highway to link Chicago to Los Angeles crossing eight states along it’s path. Route 66 became America’s highway and the ultimate road trip.

Sadly it is no longer necessary for cross-country travel and has been replaced by interstates with no stoplights and no special places, just a way to cover ground in a hurry. But as the movie Cars taught us; the real joy of traveling is to slow down, take the road less traveled and enjoy those special places (think Radiator Springs).

Cinematographer John Holod’s newest RV Adventure video captures the essence of the Route 66 experience in the soon to be releasedRoute 66 RV Adventure: Exploring the Mother Road”. As John points out, Route 66 is special, it crosses the rivers, plains, mountains and deserts of eight states. Come along for the over 2,000 mile ride as we explore it’s drive-inns, gas stations, museums, kitschy roadside attractions and most importantly, it’s people.”

Americana at it’s finest! Today, visitors come from all over the globe to travel what some call the most magical road in the world.” The video is scheduled for release September of this year, but you can catch a sneak peak by clicking HERE! Anything that contains the words “RV” and “adventure” is for me. Looking forward to the video and traveling more of Route 66 during future RVing adventures!

Grant May Help Preserve Allure of Route 66

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Grant May Help Preserve Allure of Route 66
Aug 312012
 



This article is from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR – BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT and is one of many programs helping preserve and keeping Route 66 alive. The goal is to get ALL stretches of Route 66 in all eight states under this program!

Route 66 is America’s Mother Road. . . and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration’s $152,300 grant recently awarded to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) will fund the preparation of a corridor management plan (CMP) that ultimately may help preserve the history and nostalgia of the 153 miles of historic Route 66 within the BLM California Desert District that extends from Needles to Barstow, California.

Designated a national highway in 1926, U.S. Route 66 extends 2,448 miles across 8 states and 3 time zones from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, California. The “Mother Road” essentially consists of connecting many existing roads, with some new road construction to complete a continuous route. The road was immortalized by Bobby Troupe’s song “Get Your Kicks On Route 66.

Upon completion of the CMP, the BLM will submit a nomination to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation for consideration to designate the California segment of Route 66 a National Scenic Byway. Currently portions of Route 66 in Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oklahoma have National Scenic Byway designation. The BLM worked closely with the California Historic Route 66 Association and California Preservation Foundation to develop the grant proposal.

The CMP also will provide travel information to domestic and international visitors about the intrinsic values of the history, culture, and natural landscapes, as well as recreational opportunities available along the corridor. The CMP will include a comprehensive interpretive, tourism and marketing strategy to enhance heritage tourism opportunities in an effort to promote and provide economic benefits to communities and local businesses.

“We have an incredible opportunity to work with stakeholders and communities along Route 66 to preserve and promote the history California’s portion of Route 66,” said Jim Kenna, BLM California State Director. “We want to inspire new generations of explorers who will revive the nostalgia and adventures of bygone days as they experience, learn about and care for our beloved Mother Road.”

The BLM will oversee preparation of the CMP and solicit extensive participation from local, county, state and federal stakeholders and partners to collaborate in the development of the CMP, including six Native American Tribes. NSBP funding supports projects that manage and protect these roads and improve visitor facilities. The California Legislature designated California Route 66 as “Historic Highway Route 66″ by statute in 1991.

For more information regarding the grant or the preparation of the Corridor Management Plan contact Danella George at (760) 808-5877.

One-of-a-kind art to become a Route 66 stop

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on One-of-a-kind art to become a Route 66 stop
Aug 302012
 


The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is purchasing a one-of-a-kind piece of folk art for a future roadside attraction that will greet Route 66 travelers visiting Wilmington.

The Chamber is working with the city to purchase and place a metal sculpture of a bison created by Jack Barker of Essex.

Barker, who has been featured in countless newspaper articles, magazines and travel books, died May 16 of this year. His family is planning an auction in September to sell his metal art and there is great interest in his works by art museums, universities and institutions.

Motorists driving south into Essex have been greeted by Barker’s metal sculptures for years. As his collection of artworks grew in front of his former auto body shop, the bison was among the more notable pieces, often photographed since it was closest to the road.

Why would Wilmington want the bison? While there is a long approval process ahead, planning is underway to someday raise bison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.  Midewin bison will become a big draw for the community as tourists by the busload will travel here to experience this new addition to the prairie. They will seek out nearby restaurants, shopping and photo opportunities during their visit. 
 
“Jack Barker’s metal art could be that draw,” commented Chamber president Eric Fisher. “It’s a one-of-a-kind piece made by a local artist. It is the perfect anchor for a Wilmington landmark and someday it will be just like the Gemini Giant in helping to put Wilmington on the map.”

The artwork is appraised at over $8,000. City administrator Tony Graff spoke with the Barker family, asking if they would take less, or at least hold it out of the Sept. 22 estate sale. Eleanor Barker, Jack’s widow, and son Jack, Jr. agreed to sell it for $4,950.

Fisher sent an email blast to chamber members and 20 responses were in favor of making the purchase; three were opposed; four businesses offered donations.

“The price is right and the city is willing to work with us in getting it moved and stored for now,” Fisher said. “We will have to raise funds in the near future but for now we have sent the Barkers a check to let them know we are committed.”

There is potential to put it on the point near the walkbridge or at the entrance to the South Island Park.

Updated – Litchfield Route 66 center

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Updated – Litchfield Route 66 center
Aug 272012
 

 


LITCHFIELD — The Litchfield City Council earlier this month discussed allowing the city’s tourism coordinator to work out of the new Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center, but postponed a vote on the issue until organizers present a detailed business plan.

Organizers of the museum, which is under construction on the former site of the Vic Suhling gas station on Historic Route 66, still are putting together a plan that will include a request for funding from the city.

City administrator Andy Ritchie said the council wants to be sure tourism coordinator Carol Burke won’t end up running the museum if volunteer staff members don’t show up as scheduled.

“We’re just making sure the tax money for the city tourism coordinator is being used for city tourism,” Ritchie said.

The history

In addition to wanting the tourism coordinator to work out of the new museum, organizers asked the city for hotel-motel tax money to help pay for furnishings and displays in the Art Deco-inspired building.

Organizers initially requested $100,000. After whittling that down to $20,000, the city council in July said it needed more detail on how the money would be spent .

Delaying the decisions is not a sign of “malice” or “a negative thought process” about the museum, Ritchie said.

City officials support the project, but also need to make sure they’re being good stewards of taxpayers’ money, he said.

In fact, Ritchie took a 2,402-mile bike trip along Route 66 this summer to raise money for the museum. He started from Santa Monica Pier in California and, after 30 days of riding, arrived in Chicago on June 10.

The trip has raised about $15,000 so far, and Ritchie said he’s still collecting on some pledges.

What’s next?

Martha Jackson, president of the nonprofit Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center Association, said the group hopes to present its business plan and funding proposal to the city council at its October meeting.

The museum, which Jackson dreamed up as a way to share local artifacts her husband, the late Dave Jackson, gathered while working at the Litchfield News-Herald newspaper, is expected to open this fall.

An exact date has not been set, Jackson said.

By Dan Petrella -The State Journal-Register

Route 66 fans see electric car charging stations as road to future

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Route 66 fans see electric car charging stations as road to future
Aug 212012
 



 

It almost makes sense seeing the way the (electric) car is going – BUT it is VERY pricey to install each charging station….

ATLANTA — It’s back to the future for the village of Atlanta.

Route 66, which runs through the village of 1,600, was the impetus for the original development and growth of gasoline service stations, said Bill Thomas, a director for the Atlanta Betterment Fund, an economic development group based in Atlanta. Now, local leaders think they can jump-start a movement for the next wave of fueling stations, this time for electric cars.

“Prior to Route 66, there really was no established infrastructure of business at which the new traveling public could fill up their car with gas,” Thomas said. “All sorts of other businesses, like hardware stores, grocery stores and general stores, installed gas pumps in front of their establishments where motorists could fill up. What we think of as gas stations didn’t exist. They came when entrepreneurs recognized the need for them and built them as a way of making money from Route 66 travelers.”

The city has installed two EV (electric vehicle) charging stations in the city parking lot, just one-half block from Old Route 66. The charging stations will be available free of charge to the traveling public.

“We’re into the next evolution of Route 66, and we hope that it becomes an opportunity to promote tourism and what we have to offer here,” Mayor Fred Finchum said. “Every time you draw someone to your community, you have a chance of selling something. For a full charge on a car, it takes three to four hours, so people have time to eat, shop, and visit our downtown.”

Thomas and Finchum believe the highway may become a destination for travelers going from St. Louis to Chicago.

Atlanta is the perfect spot for a charging station because it is right in the middle of the state,” Thomas said.

The city purchased and installed the machines, but Finchum said he anticipates they will quickly pay for themselves.

“Our research indicates that the power it takes to charge a vehicle is really pennies on the dollar,” he said.

The machines will be dedicated during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Among the first people to take advantage of the charging stations will be Joe Mikulecky, the Bloomington-Normal Electric Vehicle Task Force chairman.

“For this to work, the timing has to be right,” Mikulecky said, “and I think Atlanta has some foresight to showcase their tourism trade. It’s about public perception and thinking ahead. Electric cars are the wave of the future, and I am anxious to see how this works.”

“What you have with electric vehicles is kind of a ‘chicken and egg’ argument,” said Bill Kelly, the executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Heritage Project. “Electric cars are coming, and Route 66 is a perfect venue for them, because they don’t go as fast as fuel-powered cars. But people need to have the confidence that they can find charging stations, and so the more power stations that are available, the more people will be willing to use the electric cars. It’s a great idea for Atlanta, and I believe it will work well.”

By KEVIN BARLOW – Lee News Service Writer

Volunteers clean up Paul Bunyan statue on Route 66

 Illinois  Comments Off on Volunteers clean up Paul Bunyan statue on Route 66
May 202012
 



I have said it before and I will say it again – the Illinois Route 66 Association gets it! They are the shining examples of how to keep not only the route alive – but to prosper from it.

ATLANTA — While Atlanta may have a small population, it boasts a pair of giant tourist attractions — Route 66 and a 19-foot-tall statue that looms over it.

More than a dozen volunteers came from Illinois and beyond Saturday to wash and paint Atlanta’s Bunyon’s Statue — a giant man holding a hot dog — to ensure it remains a Route 66 icon for years to come.

Similar statues were once popular and designed to attract people to businesses. Atlanta’s giant originally stood for 38 years on Route 66 in Cicero, drawing customers to Bunyon’s restaurant.

When it closed in 1993, the restaurant’s owners loaned the legendary figure to Atlanta, where it draws tourists to the town of nearly 1,700.

While the one-of-a-kind Route 66 icon draws smiles and laughter from visitors, he’s a “serious factor” when it comes to economic development. The statue draws thousands from all over the world each year, said Atlanta business owner Bill Thomas, who helped bring the attraction to the city.

“There’s no where else in the world you can have your photo taken with a 19-foot man holding a hot dog,” Thomas said.

Thomas was at the statue talking with a three-man film crew Friday afternoon when two carloads of people stopped to have their photo snapped.

“That happens time and time again,” Thomas said.

And it’s not just people from the Midwest.

Saturday morning, as volunteers refurbished the statue, two visitors from Odernheim, Germany, stopped on their way from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“It’s history and was a dream,” said Klaus Dreesbach of why he decided two years ago to plan the motorcycle trip on Route 66.

Dreesbach and friend Rolf Mau weren’t surprised to see the fiberglass giant.

“We have read in a trip book about them,” said Mau, who described Atlanta as a “nice, typical, western city.”

Restoration effort

The opportunity to help preserve the giant also drew enthusiasts from as far away as Iowa and Michigan.

“I’m impressed by what people want to do to help,” said John Weiss, chair of the preservation committee of the Route 66 Association of Illinois and organizer of the work day. Those who are interested in getting involved can visit www.il66assoc.org for more information.

“It’s my wife’s birthday and it’s what she wanted,” said Joe Foster, who traveled from Urbandale, Iowa, with wife, Kara, and daughter, Ella Hendricks, 8.

“Route 66 is my passion, and he’s grown to like it,” said Kara, who painted one of the statue’s arms and the mustard on the hot dog.

Bill Kelley, who grew up hearing stories of Route 66 from his parents, came from Eastpointe, Mich., to help.

“Disneyworld and Vegas aren’t for everybody,” said Kelley of his passion for Route 66.

Volunteer Jerry Law, of Wood River, agreed. “To me, Route 66 has everything I want.”

Route 66 tourism good for central Illinois communities

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Route 66 tourism good for central Illinois communities
Jan 252012
 



Bill Thomas remembers the response when he suggested developing the Logan County village of Atlanta, population 1,635, as a Route 66 tourist attraction.

“Fifteen years ago, that was laughed at,” Thomas said.

Nobody’s laughing today.

Communities throughout central Illinois — from Atlanta to Williamsville to Litchfield — are benefiting from efforts to market their ties to the famous road — and to attract some of the thousands of visitors who trace its path from Chicago to the West Coast each year.

In Atlanta, sales tax revenue jumped 43 percent last year during the peak tourism season of April to August compared to four years ago, before the opening of the Atlanta Museum and the reopening of the 1930s-era Palms Grill Cafe. Both buildings in the 100 block of S.W. Arch St. are owned by the Atlanta Public Library.

The two endeavors were Atlanta’s first efforts to generate revenue from the steady trickle of Route 66 travelers who drive through the town every summer.

Atlanta had long been a favorite stop with its library packed with memorabilia, a 19-foot-tall fiberglass Paul Bunyan-like statue holding a super-sized hot dog and advertising murals painted on the brick buildings lining Route 66.

Today, visitors can take a walking tour of the community, eat at the Palms Grill and trace where their corn flakes come from at the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum, housed in a restored 1904 grain elevator.

The increase in foot traffic led to the opening of two new businesses: the Route 66 Gift Shop, which sells memorabilia and vintage items, and the Arch Street Artisan Shop.

“The city really got behind this push,” said Mayor Fred Finchum, who served on the village board when Thomas first proposed the idea. “It took a while to wrap our minds around it. But we thought, what we’re doing to try to bring people in isn’t working.

“What else can we do?”

Atlanta leaders are still asking that question, but today they are looking at historical aspects of their community tourists might be drawn to.

Packaging the past

This spring, Atlanta will begin preparing a walking trail and signage around a quarter-mile of the original Route 66 pavement north of town. Officials also plan to open a coal-mining exhibit next to the grain elevator museum.

The community also has purchased an 1891 residence that served as a rooming house for Route 66 travelers in the 1940s, before motels were readily available. The city plans to offer the same service to modern travelers, although the Atlanta Route 66 Rooming House isn’t expected to open until 2013.

Copyright 2012 The State Journal-Register.

‘On the Tenth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’

 Daily  Comments Off on ‘On the Tenth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’
Dec 212011
 



The ‘saviours’of the Mother Road…


You truly cannot be part of Route 66 unless you are part of one of these. They are the backbone of keeping the route alive!

The many different associations of Route 66 make sure the route is not only preserved, they make sure ‘travelers’ are informed, updated, and even entertained.

The list below shows all of the state associations and their website links and Facebook links (if they have one):

Route 66 Association of Illinois
To me, they are the ‘leaders’ on how things should be done on, and for, the route!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Missouri
The folks in Missouri are also on top of their game with preservation and information on the route!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Kansas
Kansas has made a strong running in 2011 with the route – and I feel 2012 will be even better!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Oklahoma
Oklahoma has done a good job in 2011 working on the route!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Texas
I don’t know about this one – so if you think I have the wrong guys (the page was updated 2002!) let me know!
Click HERE for their website.

Route 66 Association of New Mexico
Brand new website full of information and ‘what’s happenings’ on the route in New Mexico!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Arizona
My ‘new home state’ – and sadly – they will have to get up to date on their website and preservation efforts…
Click HERE for their website.

Route 66 Association of California
Although recenlty updated, another association which needs to get caught up with the times.
Click HERE for their website.

While some associations do better than others – it is also because of the fact the ones which seem to do better (nice active website, Facebook page, activities for travelers) actually DO MORE for the route – in my opinion.

But this is the thing: If we do not support the individual states, then the resources start disappearing, which means the route starts suffering. And with such a tidal wave of interest in the route, the numerous blogs, posts, stories, pictures and most importantly, the travelers – we need to do what we can, not matter WHERE you are, you can help!

I, myself, am a member of 5 of the 8 – and a business member at that! I have to pay a little more but it is worth it. I joined an association every month or two to keep my renewal costs spread out (hint!)

Pick one, any one, whether you live in the state the route runs through, or live in a state which the route DOES NOT run through, or even in a different country – you can help…

What a great Christmas gift a membership would be!!

‘On the Fourth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on ‘On the Fourth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’
Dec 142011
 



The ‘addition’ to the Route 66 Association of Illinois Museum…


This one was a huge story this year. Everyone knows the man, everyone knows his legend, and now everyone can see what made Bob Waldmire ‘tick’ with a collection of his personal belongings.

Since the addition of the different pieces, tourism numbers have been through the roof! The museum always did well – but this just made things, well, a little better! They are always good about posting (on their Facebook page) numbers of travelers coming into the museum and where they are from. I applaud the museum on their effoerts!

Below is the original stoy I posted about the addition of the Waldmire pieces:

Pontiac IL will dedicate its Red Carpet Corridor Festival to the memory of a Route 66 icon, the late Bob Waldmire.

The festival, Saturday, May 7, and Sunday, May 8, will include the painting of a mural designed by Waldmire, tours of the Waldmire school bus mobile home, a fine arts show and sale on the Livingston County Courthouse Square and a display of some of the classic cars that will be included in the new Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center.

Waldmire was born near Springfield in 1945 and died in December 2009. His passion for Route 66 began in 1962 when his parents took the entire family on a motoring trip to California via Route 66.

He later spent the rest of his life traveling along Route 66 in either his school bus mobile home or 1972 Volkswagen van. Both the van and the school bus are on display in Pontiac at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Pontiac. During the Red Carpet Festival, the Waldmire school bus home will be opened to the public for the first time.

Waldmire supported his nomadic and eclectic lifestyle by painting and drawing for clients along Route 66, the “Mother Road.” His artwork is famous worldwide and Pontiac has one of his Route 66 road maps painted inside the Route 66 Museum.

During this year’s festival, Waldmire’s last commissioned mural project will be painted. He was asked to design and paint a mural for downtown Pontiac, but his illness prevented him from completing that task. Instead, he designed the mural and the public will be invited to come downtown during the festival to help paint the 66-foot map of the entirety of Route 66. The Diaz family, owners of Diaz Sign Art, will oversee the project.

In keeping with the festival’s theme of art and the Mother Road, the Livingston County Courthouse Square will be the scene of an art show and sale. Artists from around the Midwest, including some Walldogs, will display and sell original art.

For more information, contact Ellie Alexander, director of Pontiac Tourism, at 815-844-5847.

Make sure not only to visit them on their website by clicking HERE and following them on their Facebook page by clicking HERE – but PLEASE show your support by becoming a member and help supporting the associations work in preserving and promoting the route throughout the state of Illinois!