It was born on November 11, 1926 when the U.S. Highway System officially came into being, and it was withdrawn from the route system on June 27, 1985 when the last bit of it had been replaced by interstates. Just eight years to the day before its creation, the armistice that ended the Great War with Germany had been signed, and the fighting ended at 11 a.m., the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (thus, the origin of Veterans Day, aka Armistice Day). Route 66 was birthed into the middle of the Roaring Twenties, the decade of prosperity and Prohibition, the Charleston and Jazz, permissiveness and people wanting to forget the after-effects of WW II, not knowing that the decade would end with even greater desperation and tragedy once the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday and the Great Depression began.
The road began in Chicago for a reason: it was the transportation hub of the center of the nation, connecting both coasts with railroads, the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico through its waterways, and already smack in the center of a network of roads as well. The length of Illinois was already paved from Chicago to St. Louis, and that pavement would become the basis of Route 66 in Illinois. In fact, Illinois would be the first state to have its portion of Route 66 completely paved. On day one of the route’s existence. Today, it’s the state with the greatest portion of its section of the historic road still extant. In Illinois, Route 66 is still there to be driven, for most of its length.
The Route 66 roadie’s dream – cruising music, anyone?
In case you hadn’t noticed them earlier today, bicyclists participating in Stop The Cycle left the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, IL this morning in the light rain, headed downstate on Route 66 toward Springfield and, by the end of the trip, to St. Louis. The six-day trip will raise money to combat child sexual abuse and is the bicycle equivalent of a charity marathon. Stop The Cycle is short for the slogan Stop the Cycle of Abuse. The organizer is the Children’s Advocacy Center of North & Northwest Cook County, the local chapter of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois.
Last month was a busy time for Route 66 fans in northern Illinois. Not only was it the start of cruising season (technically, that began on Memorial Day weekend, but let’s not split hairs), it was also the month when the Route 66 Association of Illinois had its 24th annual motor tour up and down the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway; the Czechoslovak American Congress and the city of Crest Hill held their annual Lidice remembrance at the monument in town (more on that later this week); and many fellow 66 roadies began their own personal summer road trips down the historic highway. Yes! Please forgive us for posting this so late: we were having too much fun.
The Route 66 Experience is a permanent exhibit at the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center on Ottawa St. Photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved
Surprise, surprise: a local little gem, the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, now has a listing on Yelp.com. The user-friendly San Francisco-based consumer rating site for all things food, entertainment and service minded allows users and business owners to post free listings. Users can then review local eateries, groceries, shops and stores, bars, music venues, theaters, museums, galleries, dry cleaners, car mechanics, other service businesses, schools, churches, even doctors’ and dentists’ offices. Whee!
Berwyn Route 66 Museum, 7003 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn IL (photo copyright 2013 M.R. Traska)
Terry Carr Sr. and his son and manager Terry Jr. of the Steak N Egger on Route 66 in McCook, IL were so proud of their newly renovated eatery this spring. The former Snuffy’s 24-Hour Grill, which had been closed for many months before the Carrs bought it a year ago, got a complete gut-and-remodeling that was showcased in an open house this past April.
So: you can imagine the heartbreak for the Carrs when a truck and a car in their parking lot had a little altercation a few weeks ago, and the truck went through the wall of the restaurant. Ouch. The Carrs have bravely posted several enlarged color photographs of the accident itself on the inside wall of the barrier covering the damaged wall. They’re not pretty. You can clearly see the wall buckled inside the restaurant in one of the shots. Continue reading →
If you’ve never been to the annual Route 66 Car Show in Berwyn, IL, you’re in for a treat. It’s this coming weekend along Ogden Avenue and will be centered, as usual, at the intersection of Ogden and Ridgeland Avenue (6400 W). For several blocks along Ogden Avenue, you’ll see a display of classic, antique and custom cars, trucks and motorcycles. This is where ‘car people’ in the western suburbs come to see and be seen on Ogden for one weekend every September, from late in the morning until late at night. Even better, it’s free to the public.
The car show typically includes special appearances by hot rod, drag race and NASCAR racing stars, along with displays of some pretty amazing vehicles and live music to keep things jumping. Expected this year, for example, is a return visit from the beloved local rock and jive band, The Crown Vics. For a complete schedule and information for exhibitors, visit the show’s official web site here. And while you’re there, don’t forget to stop at the booth for the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and drop a dollar in the kitty to help fund some of the new displays the museum is planning. Continue reading →
My colleague Joe Kubal and I were in Berwyn yesterday when we thought we’d stop by the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and see what’s up with Jon Fey and his staff. Glad we did.
WOW – what a difference inside from 10 months ago! Those folks have really made progress in organizing the materials and putting up displays. It really looks like a museum now. Someone’s been putting a lot of sweat equity into this and deserves credit.
Copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved