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Illinois Route 66

Illinois
Chain of Rocks Road

Illinois Route 66

 

1936 Map of St. Louis Area
1936 Map of St. Louis Area
Showing the Route 66 "Belt Line"

The Chain of Rocks Bridge provided an alternate route around St. Louis and its congested city traffic. This route was known as the "belt line" and was favored by travelers not wanting to stop in St. Louis. Jack Rittenhouse in his 1946 A Guide Book to Route 66 recommended this route, "If you are not planning to stop in St. Louis, your best bet is to follow US 66 across the Chain of Rocks Bridge and around the city. US 66 passes the north edge of the city, turns south near the Airport, continues down the west side of the city, through Kirkwood, MO., and rejoins City 66 at a point 26 miles from the Chain of Rocks Bridge. This "belt line" is a wide, high-speed route, with plenty of gas stations and a few tourist cabins and cafes. It avoids city traffic completely."
       

On the Illinois side of the Mississippi River you will reach the Chain of Rocks Bridge from Mitchell via the Chain of Rocks Road. It can be a little tricky to get to the Chain of Rocks Road from here. You will need to get on the Interstate for a split second to cross a highway bridge. Follow the Historic Route 66 signs placed by the Route 66 Association of Illinois. Once you go through Mitchell the Historic Route 66 signs will direct you to get on Interstate 270. You will get on the Interstate long enough to cross the bridge and then immediately get off the Interstate at the Old Alton Road exit. Travel a short distance (about 2/10 mile) and turn right at the first road you come to. This is the Chain of Rocks Road and Old Route 66.

Vintage Motel on Chain of Rocks Road

Welcome to Illinois

You will see some interesting left overs from the days of Route 66 on the Chain of Rocks Road and the 66 "belt line" to the famous bridge. You can still drive to the bridge, you just can't drive over it now. When the Chain of Rocks Bridge was closed in 1968 these roadside businesses fell on hard times. One day traffic flowed by at a hectic pace and the next day it was almost nonexistent - as if someone had built a "traffic dam" uproad to stop all the cars. In effect that's what happened, the Interstate opened and being the path of least resistance all the traffic flowed that way leaving these gas stations and motels high and dry.

        

Old Gas Station Sign

Chain of Rocks Gas Station
Great vintage sign now marks the spot of a faded gas station along the Chain of Rocks Road.

Old Sun Motel

The New Old Route 66

Debby and Bernard have a dream! They purchased the Sun Motel, a vintage 1940's court on the Chain of Rocks Road, and are in the process of restoring it to its former glory, though it still looks pretty good right now. It is still in operation too. It only has a few rooms and they are usually rented out. People like Debby and Bernard are keeping the grand tradition of Route 66 alive by their unselfish dedication to preserving what they can for future generations to enjoy.

        
Next door to the Sun Motel they also opened a small frozen custard stand on the property, Debby's Frozen Custard. It is turning into a real gold mine. The 1958 pink caddy is a real show stopper and has done almost as much to bring in prospective custard customers as Route 66 and the Chain of Rocks Bridge. I foresee that it will become a must stop for all the avid road wanderers when they visit the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the Illinois side of the river. The spirit of Route 66 lives on here!

Bebbie's Frozen Custard

          

Bernard and Debby

After a long day of exploring Route 66 and your great walk across the Mississippi River on the Chain of Rocks Bridge what would taste better than some frozen custard? That's what Bernard and Debby would like you to think. Drop by and enjoy a cool treat from "Debby's Frozen Custard" and get swept up in their enthusiasm for the Mother Road.

 

Photographs taken June 2003

Click on an area or city of Route 66 on the map below to take a cyber tour of that section of the  Mother Road

Travel Cyber Route 66 in Illinois

Go West on Route 66

NAVIGATION NOTE: Buckle up and hold on to your mouse! These pages are arranged like the map above, from the western state border to the eastern state border. I have set up this site as if you were traveling from EAST to WEST, much like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. You can click on the Route 66 shields to "travel" the Mother Road in either direction though. Or you can select any shield below to take you to that specific state.

Go East on Route 66

To the Chain of
Rocks Bridge

To Mitchell,
Illinois

 

Select the Route 66 State to Visit

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