Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
June 20, 2003


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Funks Grove

Pure Maple Sirup

In 1824 Isaac Funk found a large stand of native Maple trees growing on the Illinois prairie here. Being a foresighted man he located his farm in the grove and set about building a family business that has lasted almost 180 years! Little did Isaac know that a hundred years later a celebrated highway would pass by his front door. I would hazard to say the Funk's family business just might be the oldest family business along all of Route 66!
Old RR Station at Funks Grove In the early years, Isaac and his sons started making maple sirup for personal use. They cooked the sap down in kettles over a fire. In 1860 Isaac's son, Isaac II, took over production of the maple sirup. Arthur Funk, Isaac II's son opened the first commercial sirup camp here in 1891.
        
Lawrence, Arthur's brother, took over production in 1896. The reins of control were passed to Hazel Funk Holmes in the 1920s. It was during this time period that Route 66 was finished near the sirup camp. Foresight must run in the Funk family because Hazel arranged for her timber and farmland to be protected by a trust insuring that the Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup would be around for generations to come. In this same trust she expressed her wish for the traditional spelling of sirup with an "i" to be used. In her honor the Funk family still uses that spelling today. See, I didn't misspell sirup at all!
      
In 1947, Stephen Funk, son of Lawrence, and his wife Glaida, took over the operation. Stephen and his son Mike formed a partnership in the late 1970s. Stephen and Glaida retired in 1988 and Mike and his wife Debby took over the business. The sugarhouse now being used was built in that year (see picture at right) and continues to serve as the heart of the operation as well as a great little gift shop too.

Funks Grove Store and Maple Sirup "Factory"

     
Debby and Mike Funk in the Store

Debby and Mike Funk continue the fine family traditions laid down by previous generations of Funks at Funks Grove.

     
This was a special treat for me to peruse the gift shop here at Funks Grove. I got my first taste of this fine delicacy last September at the Springfield Route 66 Festival and loved it. I even brought some home to my family. Unfortunately it didn't last long around our house. So rejoice Gayle, Mark and Geoffrey - I've got some more to bring home!
     
Funks Grove Station

Funks Grove Grocery Store

The small town of Funks Grove offers many photographic opportunities along old Route 66. The famous grove is one of the prettiest places along Route 66 in Illinois. Even the Illinois DOT realized this when they built the Interstate for they located a rest area in Funks Grove also. The Illinois Route 66 Association has set up a fine exhibit on Route 66 at the Funks Grove Rest Area too. If you must travel the super-slab at least you can stop at the rest area to savor the atmosphere of the place and check out the cool Route 66 exhibit to boot.

 

Funks Grove Roadside Attraction

Funks Roadside Attraction Ceremony

Jeff LaFollette listens as Stephen and Glaida Funk discuss Funks Grove, Maple Sirup, The Mother Road and Poison Ivy with Jim. We placed the Roadside Attraction sign in a patch of the itchy stuff.

     

Jeff LaFollette, President of the Illinois Route 66 Association, and Jim are thinking big when it comes to Route 66 and preservation.

Jeff LaFollette and Jim Conkle

     

Mike and Debby Funk

Mike and Debby Funk point out the approximate location of Funks Grove, Illinois. The location is only approximate because their arms aren't long enough to reach!

     

Funks Roadside Attraction

 

The Gang's All Here ~ Well Almost ...

The Gang's All Here at Funks

  

(left to right) Jaimie and Bill Hall, Kevin Hansel, Dennis Karlsdad, Steve and Glaida Funk (front), Mike and Debby Funk, Jeff LaFollette, Jim Conkle, and yours truly (Guy Randall) ~ the photographer is missing ...

    

Here's the photographer, Patricia Kuhn, Project Manager of the Illinois Route 66 Heritage Project, Inc. Not only is she promoting and working on the upcoming Springfield Route 66 Festival in September 2003 but she is also putting together the new Illinois Route 66 License Plate program. For more information about these fantastic plates contact: www.illinoisroute66.com

Patricia Kuhn Illinois Route 66 Heritage Project

    

New Illinois Route 66 License Plates
Kinda makes you want to move to Illinois doesn't it!

 


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