Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
June 26, 2003

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Back to St. Louis

Hofmann Tower

Our 66 Caravan had made it to Chicago and now it was time to turn our attention to the west. We had a stop to make in St. Louis at the Eat-Rite Diner for a refurbishment project by Hampton employees. The original refurbishment had been rescheduled due to rain. Jim and I cut our stay in Chicago short and on Wednesday morning we left the "Windy City." We met up with David Clark, a Chicago historian and Route 66 fan. David was our guide out of the city on Route 66. He had a unique place he wanted to show us on an old alignment of Route 66 in Lyons, a suburb of Chicago though. We were in for a pleasant surprise. The place he wanted to show us was the Hofmann Tower. This is a one of kind structure built in 1908. The story goes that while George Hofmann was traveling in Europe he fell in love with the old castles he saw there. He decided to build his own castle when he came home to America and make a present of it to his wife. Quite a gift wouldn't you say?

Hoffmann Tower and the Caravan

The Hofmann Tower is an eight-story structure built entirely of concrete. At the time of its construction, and for some years after, it was the tallest building west of the Chicago Loop. Visitors would come from far and wide to look at the magnificent view of Chicago and the surrounding area from the top of the tower. For years the tower was the focal point of a large recreational area that included boat rides on the Des Plaines River, concerts, dancing, picnicking and a large beer garden.

Today the Hofmann Tower is an eight-story museum that includes a post office and one room school display. Looks like Jim found his niche in the school. David Clark can hardly suppress his amusement.

Jim and David Clark


"If You're Not Quite Sure You're Gonna Get to Heaven ~ You Oughta Spend A Little Time In Lexington"




After we left Chicago we drove to Odell to pick up our trailer. Jim wisely left it behind in Odell. We all didn't feel up to navigating downtown Chicago traffic pulling an unruly 26-foot trailer. After we picked up the trailer in Odell we met with Fran Turgeon of the Illinois Route 66 Association. We were going to give him some of our posts for a special project he had in mind for Lexington's Country Fair and Route 66 Reunion to be held the weekend after Labor Day. Fran was working on getting some Burma Shave signs made up for Memory Lane and he needed the posts. We dropped off the posts in Lexington and discovered a Route 66 treasure in the process.
Old Tool Wagon I saw an old wagon and asked Fran if it perchance had been an old Gypsy Wagon. No it hadn't, it was something even better. It was the old tool wagon and timekeeper's office that was used when Illinois was building Route 4 from Ballard to Lexington in 1924. It had steel wheels and an undercarriage from an old water wagon. This relic predates Route 66 itself! State Route 4 would later become Route 66 in 1926.
No matter how many times I travel Route 66 it seems like I always see something new. This time was no different with the discovery of this classic and historic wagon. Fran said that plans for the wagon include a full restoration and then off to Memory Lane it goes for a great exhibit. Yes Lexington is quite a Route 66 town! A little bit of heaven maybe?

Fran and Jim hold a true road relic, a shovel that was actually used in the construction of State Route 4 in 1924.

Route 4 Shovel


Eat-Rite Diner Refurbishment

The Eat-Rite Diner is a St. Louis Route 66 Tradition. This diner has been sitting on the corner of Chouteau and 7th near the old MacArthur Bridge for almost 60 years! This small classic diner has seen a lot of action in that time and it still serves up a quick meal. Hampton chose this diner as one of its refurbishment projects. The original refurbishment was scheduled for June 12 but due to soggy conditions it was rescheduled for June 26. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as the Route 66 Caravan crossed into Missouri it began to rain again! The contractor decided not to take a chance on painting the diner so the refurbishment was put off another day. All of us were there to do the work however so we made the best of it as you can see. I took pictures of the crew ready to work. Unfortunately the Route 66 Caravan had commitments farther west so we couldn't stay the extra day. I will be getting pictures of the painting soon from Hampton and I'll post them here then.

Eat-Rite Diner

Eat-Rite and the Caravan

"Eat-Rite or Don't Eat At All"


Mary ~ cook, waitress and cashier rolled up in one can serve up a quick meal and a hot cup of coffee in a heartbeat. For a classic diner experience the Eat-Rite can't be beat.

Eat-Rite's Mary

Route 66 Caravan

Tori Walsh


Guy Randall, Melissa OBrien, Tori Walsh and Jim celebrate the Save-A-Landmark program.


Tori Walsh, the unsung hero of the Route 66 Caravan! She took care of the details while we were on the road.

Hampton Volunteers

Hampton employees Moya Brown, Veronica Lipps and Sue Hagin are ready to get to work on the diner. Oh well, have another cup of coffee!


We may not have been able to paint but Hampton still gave the Missouri Route 66 Association a donation. Glenda and Jim look on as Melissa gives the check to Tommy Pike.

Hampton's Donation to the Missouri Association

Hampton Crew

Come rain or shine Melissa, Bill, Jamie, Dawn and Tori are ready for some painting. The refurbishment was postponed another day due to more rain!


June 27th Refurbishment ...

  Wouldn't you know it. Friday was a beautiful day in St. Louis and perfect for painting at the Eat-Rite Diner. Hampton employees from around the area turned out to help with the refurbishment. Jim and I were working our way west on Route 66 for our return trip home and we missed out on all the fun.

Hampton Employees Spruce Up the Eat-Rite Diner

Here's what Jim and I missed on Friday. Some people may accuse us of skating out of all the work, but we know that isn't so don't we? Don't we???

Check out the following web pages to see that we really were attending to business ...


Steady now! Ollie starts a hole for the new Roadside Attraction sign as Melissa OBrien assists.

Eat-Rite Diner is a Roadside Attraction

Ollie Schwallenstecker of the Illinois Route 66 Association has put together a fantastic web page on the Friday June 27th refurbishment of the Eat-Rite Diner. Great pictures Ollie! Check out what Jim and I missed at:

Eat-Rite Refurbishment 27 June 2003


The Route 66 Caravan returns home on Route 66. The following web pages will chronicle our journey. We aren't done yet!


East 66
Previous Log
Go West down the Mother Road

Road Log pages read like a book:

Follow the Route 66 Caravan
down the Mother Road ~
select the Route 66 direction
you would like to go.

West 66
Caravan Return Home
Go East on the Mother Road



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