Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
June 22, 2003


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On the Road to Odell

Route 66 in Northern Illinois

After our stop in Funks Grove the Route 66 Caravan drove "Old 66" into Bloomington. Saturday was our day off, which means we did laundry, washed the RV and tried to catch up on the odd jobs that seem to develop when you're on the road. We were also getting ready for the end of our journey. Soon we would be driving into Chicago - the end of the road, and the end of the caravan. Sunday we resumed our caravan our next stop was the Odell to recognize the beautifully restored Odell Station. Jeff LaFollette, President of the Illinois Route 66 Association, was our guide on our trip to Odell. But of course we had to go through some cool Route 66 towns to get to Odell and I present a few pics to wet your appetite. I guess you'll just have to get off the Interstate and do some two-lane exploring yourself. As Jim is fond of saying, "Friends don't let friends drive the Interstate."
Old Gas Station in Normal

This old gas station has been converted into a home in Normal, Illinois. This type of station probably dates back to the 1930s, notice the living quarters over where the pumps once were.

       

Towanda, Illinois

When we got to Towanda we found the locals working on a Route 66 walking trail - right on the old alignment of the Mother Road. They were hanging signs of each Route 66 state that were done by high school students as part of a history project. What a great way to get our youth involved in the history of Route 66.

Historic Route 66 Walkway in Towanda

          

Towanda Preservationists

  

Fred Walk, Rick Meyers, Chrissy Graeff, Jim, Mike Cunningham and Bob Hankock take a break and pose in front of the Caravan RV.

          
Eddie's Pure Truck Stop

Towanda also has some remnants of Route 66 like Eddies Pure Truck Stop. This gas station opened in the late 1940s and survived until the Interstate rerouted traffic away from it.

       

This old Route 66 bridge outside of Towanda was slated for destruction until the students got a petition going to save it. Not only did they save the bridge for future generations to enjoy, but they learned that they CAN make a difference!

Historic Route 66 Bridge in Towanda

 

Lexington, Illinois

Lexington Neon

Lexington is another old Route 66 Town that is discovering its rich heritage. This old "Art Deco" neon from 1949 has been restored and greets travelers on old Route 66 once more.

        

This restaurant was once known as the Mesa Cafe and it really was a filling station too, a Skelly station to be exact, on Route 66. It was built in the 1940s and closed in the late 1970s. Jari Riisberg bought the property in 1982 and gave it new life as the Filling Station Cafe.

Lexington Filling Station Cafe

     
Nehi Sign

Lexington also has a section of the Mother Road that has been turned into a interpretive walking trail called "Memory Lane." Old signs and pavement great the Route 66 visitor.

         

A section of Old Route 66 is preserved as a walking trail and park. The Illinois Route 66 Association posted a Roadside Attraction sign here. The signs are very similar to the Hampton Save-A-Landmark signs that we are putting up and in fact were the pattern for our signs.

Lexington's Memory Lane

     

Illinois Roadside Attraction Sign

 

Pontiac, Illinois

George Fell founded Pontiac in 1837 and named it in honor of Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Indians who; over sixty years earlier gave so much grief to white settlers invading the Ottawa lands. Though he waged war on the settlers, he was admired as a great leader by both whites and Native Americans alike. He was particularly noted for his foresight in uniting different tribes to block the white invasion. Tecumseh would attempt to do the same thing a few years later and probably was influenced by Pontiac. It was the classic example of "United we stand, divided we fall."
            

Old Route 4 Pre-66 Bridge

Jeff LaFollette shows off an old State Route 4 bridge that would later become a part of Route 66. In pre-Route 66 days the highway number was painted on the bridge itself. This bridge was one of the first preservation projects of the Illinois Route 66 Association's Preservation Committee.

        

The old Log Cabin Cafe is still open for business in Pontiac. The front door to this restaurant used to be in the back. When Route 66 had it's old alignment changed to the other side of the building they just moved the front door to accommodate!

Pontiac's Log Cabin Cafe

     
Jeff and Meramec Caverns Barn

The Route 66 Association of Illinois is an action kind of bunch. Jeff stands with shield in hand before an old restored Meramec Caverns barn. This is the furthest east on Route 66 that these barns were painted to advertise the famous caverns.

     

Pontiac's Beautiful Court House
The Neo-Classic style Pontiac Courthouse has just recently been restored. It is truly a beauty too. Yes, I think Pontiac realizes what a boon they have in their rich historical heritage.

 


West 66
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Go West down the Mother Road

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down the Mother Road ~
select the Route 66 direction
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East 66
Odell Station
Go East on the Mother Road

 

 

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