You can bet that we’re already planning Motor Tour 2018!
June 8 – 10
South to North
Watch here for updates as details are confirmed and the dates draw nearer.
You can bet that we’re already planning Motor Tour 2018!
June 8 – 10
South to North
Watch here for updates as details are confirmed and the dates draw nearer.
We’d like to extend our congratulations to Jubelt’s Bakery and Restaurant in Lichfield, Illinois on an auspicious occasion. The business is celebrating turning 95 this weekend!
Tully Garrett and Holly Barker have officially purchased the Gemini Giant/Launching Pad as of October 17, 2017. The famous muffler man statue and drive-in restaurant will remain at their original location at 810 East Baltimore Street (Route 66) in Wilmington, Illinois. They will be introduced by Cory Jobe, Director at Illinois Office of Tourism, after his keynote address that kicks off the Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference in Joliet.
Jobe’s address is at 9am on Friday, October 20th, followed at 9:30am by a press conference with owners Tully Garrett and Holly Barker. An official from the City of Wilmington will also be on-hand. The restaurant dates to 1960 under the original name of Dairy Delite, and in 1965 was renamed Launching Pad, becoming home to the Gemini Giant, a fiberglass “Muffler Man” sporting a space helmet and rocket ship. It is a remnant of our fascination with space travel in the 1960s.
New owners Tully Garrett and Holly Barker describe themselves as “second-chance soulmates.” They both lost their spouses to cancer in the last several years. “We were both living the American dream and we both had our lives crash in on us due to the loss of our spouses,” said Barker. According to Barker, Garrett owns an insurance agency that has been in his family for 55 years. Tully was also in the music industry, and his extensive music memorabilia collection will be on display at the Launching Pad in a mini-museum. Tully has a real affinity to classic cars and car shows and he plans on hosting car shows at the Launching Pad and wants to partner with local business owners to help bring in the community to make this a huge success.
Barker started working in restaurants the day she turned 16 and continued to work through high school to afford a trip to England and thus her love for travel adventure was born. She is “so excited to embrace the travel and tourism industry here in Illinois.” Holly describes herself as a world traveler having lived in three different countries and travelled extensively.
Barker has worked at a broad spectrum of restaurants, including a BBQ restaurant in North Carolina where she is from, all the way to fine dining establishments. She earned a minor in Food Service Management with a BS degree in Health Promotion from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Her first job out of college was working for PYA Monarch Food Service Distribution which later became US Food Service. She left the food service industry in 1998 to join the pharmaceutical industry where she worked for Abbott Laboratories with its home base close to Chicago.
Holly retired from the industry in 2015 after her husband passed away from cancer in 2014 and moved home to establish Grief Anonymous and the Grief Resource Network for grieving people in crisis. Grief Anonymous, is an online grief support organization with 70K+ membership with 60 online volunteer administrators and a Facebook page that has a million views a month and is growing rapidly. According to Barker, Holly and Tully met in one such online group for widowers and widows. They became instant online friends for months, and later when they met in person, “the two fell instantly in love.”
Holly says the purchasing of the Gemini Giant/Launching Pad “offers them a genuine opportunity for personal happiness. Tully gets his car shows and music and to eat great food…Holly gets her back room for community events and the opportunity to meet people within her network…the opportunity through her kitchen to create what the town of Wilmington longs for as well as a new business model for restaurants where everyone shares in the success.”
With the Grief Resource Network, Holly plans on bringing her skills to the Launching Pad and helping with the homeless crisis in Chicago, utilizing the food trucks and a percentage of the restaurant’s profits to aid in her cause to feed the hungry. The organization will house itself in the back of the Launching Pad. The front of the building will provide “the full experience of historical nostalgia and the great food and experience everyone is hoping for,” said Barker. “The restoration of the Launching Pad to its original glory and intent is paramount, with the added new benefits of our community projects.
We will be starting renovations on the exterior of the building and then moving in phases on the inside of the building during the winter months. We hope to be ready by late spring of 2018.” However, Garrett explained that they bought the building “as is” and do not have knowledge yet of the extensive repairs that are needed due to the building staying vacant for five years. “What is there now is ‘pot luck’ as to what works and what doesn’t in terms of the kitchen equipment, freezers, HVAC, and electrical so to project what we can do and when can do it will be better described as we know what we have to repair. We will build our cash flow through food trucks and merchandise sales that will then be reinvested into the renovations.
In essence, the town and visitors will have a hand at ‘Operation Launch the Pad’. said Tully. “This is fantastic news for Wilmington and the annual Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor event that includes the community,” said Debyjo Ericksen, Route 66 Miles of Possibility conference organizer. “We are excited to have Cory Jobe introduce the owners at the press conference on Friday.”
“The Gemini Giant is one of the top five Route 66 attractions in the state,” said Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “We are glad to see it remain in Wilmington and get the attention it deserves from the new owners. The Byway wishes them the best of success.”
To register for the Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference, please visit route66milesofpossibility.com. For more information on the Gemini Giant/Launching Pad, visit www.facebook.com/thelaunchingpadroute66.
For more information, contact Debyjo Ericksen, conference organizer, 815-690-3983 or firstname.lastname@example.org or William Kelly, Executive Director, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, 217-525-9308 or email@example.com
There are quite a few standing committees that function within the Association. Two of them are always in need of your participation and open to the general membership. They are the Motor Tour Committee and the Preservation Committee.
I know many of you are familiar with the Preservation Committee and the wonderful work they do. However, that may not be true of the Motor Tour Committee.
The Motor Tour Committee organizes and works hard to bring you the best Annual Motor Tour possible. They are always in search of fresh ideas, looking for new, different and exciting places along Route 66 to feature each year.
Future motor tour meeting dates are being scheduled. The Motor Tour Committee wants to experience Route 66 through your eyes. We need your participation as an active member of the committee. Bring us your ideas, share with us the places you would like to see on the Mother Road. In 2018 the motor tour is scheduled to start south and end north. Help to make this tour the best it can be.
The next Motor Tour Meeting will be on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM at the Silver Dollar Restaurant located at 422 E. Mississippi Ave. in Elwood, IL. If you would like to join the committee contact Association President, Cathie Stevanovich at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (708) 444-1312.
Remember, you do not need to be a board member to join. We urge the general membership to participate and become an active member of this committee.
This past weekend was the Mother Road Car Show in Springfield, Illinois. I spent two days in the 92 degree heat with Board Members Marty Blitstein and John Lucchesi. We talked Route 66 with actual travelers who stopped at our booth on their way west, spoke with dreamers who talked about how someday they will travel, and others who just love the road and everything about it.
Even Governor Bruce Rauner rode his motorcycle on Route 66 Saturday in the heat, stopping to visit some of the 66 communities and ending at the Illinois Scenic Byway sponsored Travel and Leisure Expo on Washington Street. Not only did “Bruce” take the time to sign the Event car hood, he stopped to speak to all manning the tents and booths and shook our hands, thanking us for being there and all we do for the 66 community. In a world where so much is going on and you worry about whether or not the Route 66 community is being heard, it gave me hope. Hope that we can keep our vision of having Route 66 a national trail so when the old timers who were present at the festival are long gone, the two lane will be honored and remembered as she should be.
Route 66 is very much an issue on the local (Illinois) scene as well as the national. There is renewed energy about preserving the road and acknowledgement that we have National treasures in each state that need to be attended to. I have been outspoken about my biggest fear that Route 66 becomes a money based 2600+ mile “Branson on steroids.” This past weekend I was able to talk with many of the people and community members who are working hard to make sure that our 66 history – service businesses, mining, farming, etc. is not lost to time. I spent time with a family traveling the road from Australia that had an autistic child that was having an amazing time and according to his parents was being more expressive than usual because everything they watched on video was just as it appeared. Even the intense heat he found fascinating. We learn something from everyone we meet on the highway.
Our Association is having their annual elections on Sunday, October 15th, at the Pontiac City Hall Annex, 115 W. Howard Street, in Pontiac. The Board meeting is at 10 a.m. and we break at Noon for lunch. The General Session/elections Starts at 1 p.m. This year the positions up for election are President, Recording Secretary, the Corresponding Secretary, plus the county representatives from Cook County, Grundy County, Logan County, Madison County, Sangamon County, St. Clair County, Will County, and one at large position. We hold four meetings a year – one in January, one in April, one in July, and one in October. We ask board members to keep our group aware of what is happening in their County, to watch to make sure the road signs are where they should be, and to donate at least two Saturdays a year at our museum in Pontiac. All board members are asked to participate in the planning of the annual Motor Tour. If you’ve always wanted to get involved, now is the time.
We, as a group, have discussed ending the tours in 2019 – because after 28 years the tours are are harder to plan as the economy tightens and people and communities have less to share. Volunteers are the heart of our group and of the communities we represent.
So this winter when you’re cleaning the house and garage, finding those treasures you bought at sales along the road, keep in mind that starting in April, Litchfield will continue to have their 2nd Sunday Market – selling anything from 1980 and before. Bloomington has their 3rd Sunday at the Interstate Center. The Red Carpet Corridor is the first full weekend in May – the 2018 date is May 5th and 6th. The 29th Annual Motor Tour will be June 8th, 9th, and 10th! July brings local festivals and events all over the state! It’s time to plan a little time out now for the coming year – to see all the new exciting things that will be happening along our Illinois miles.
Our Illinois greens are giving way to the golds and reds of fall. Time for holidays and school events and family celebrations. In the real busyness of every day life, take time to reflect and think of your own history. Share this with your family. Put down the cell phones, the tablets, the cable/DVR will hold whatever is so important for a while so you can share and talk.
Someone in Springfield asked me what one man could do for the Association. I told them about how Tom Perkins and John Weiss were working on a memorial to the late, great, Riviera restaurant in Gardner. I explained how the men worked on setting it up, changed things, tried to find the best way to have some kind of marker for a place that had been a manmade entertainment center. It originally had a rock garden, at one time a petting zoo. It consisted of an old church and a house – and it flooded so many times – but it came back and served the people time after time. One day John Weiss was there when they delivered a couple tons of gravel – crushed rock – to be distributed around the new sign. John Weiss didn’t leave the stone mound there. He distributed it shovel full by shovel full until it was done. John could have called up the Preservation Committee and asked for help but it was something he felt he could do. A tribute to the Krafts, Peg and Bob, and the stories and service they provided for years at the Riviera. I’ve used the photo of me at the new sign, my first ever “selfie” to show our new attraction. Kudos to Tom Perkins, John Weiss, and the artwork of the “Con Man” for their hard work.
We are blessed for having people all up and down the road working – Dave Tucker in Gillespie working on the Mining Museum, Nelson Gorman in Mt. Olive working on multiple museums, the late Sam Reichert Jr. for his “Just Off 66.” We had the priviledge of working with the owners of DeCamp Junction, Loren Kovaly and his partners who just sold DeCamp. Loren brought water in not only to DeCamp to save it but provided water access to his neighbor as well. In this Loren made sure that DeCamp was not another historic building lost to time…another empty building on the side of the road.
I understand that every time you try to thank someone it seems like you forgot someone else and there are hurt feelings. There are just so many people to thank over the course of years I have been President that I would have a double issue of just “thank yous.” I have learned perseverance, patience, how to lose with grace, how to compromise, and how to help history speak. Money is a great help, but volunteering is priceless. Thank you to everyone who ever gave me a minute, an hour, or years of service. Thank you to the city of Pontiac for their can-do spirit. Thanks to Bill Kelly and Geoff Ladd for their making the Scenic Byway in Illinois a positive force in our communities. Thank you to Martha Jackson in Litchfield who proves you can do anything you set your mind to – and the Route 66 Welcoming Center and Museum in Litchfield is proof of that. I have learned so much and have so much more to learn and do.
Before the snow flies, get that last piece of pie at the Palms Café. Enjoy the Chicken at the Old Family 66 Restaurant in Dwight. Time to sing karaoke at The Luna in Mitchell. Don’t forget our newest Illinois museum, the Mill. Only took 13+ years to open but I do believe the 66 spirit is patient.
Enjoy the fall, and thank you all for your support of the Illinois Route 66.
Marty’s having another birthday (special)!
Our membership chairman, Marty Blitstein is once again offering you a present in honor of his birthday! (He’s generous like that.)
Here’s the deal:
Between September 1 – December 31, 2017, buy a 12-month membership in the Route 66 Association of Illinois membership, get it extended to 18 months!
This offer is available to first-time members and those whose memberships have lapsed more than two years.
Click here to learn about our membership levels, then choose the one that suits you best. You can join by mail or online – you don’t need to have a PayPal account to have your credit card processed through the PayPal link.
We know that once you experience the satisfaction of being a member of our Association, that 18 months will be only the start of your support of our efforts to preserve, educate, promote and enjoy Route 66 in Illinois.
We look forward to welcoming you among the members of our fine, dedicated group! Join us today and we’ll get your welcome packet in the mail soon.
By the way, memberships make very thoughtful (and affordable) gifts for the roadies in your life…
by Joseph D. Kubal, Ruth D. Nelson and Maria R. Traska
Most Route 66 roadies are familiar with the purposefully rusted Cor-Ten steel sculpture of French explorers Père Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet (aka Joliet*) and a Native American guide that stands just west of 48th Street and Harlem Avenue, surrounded by a forest preserve near Lyons, IL and only a few blocks from Route 66/Joliet Road. The Chicago Portage National Historic Site is located at the periphery of the famous Chicago Portage, a nine-mile long scrap of swampy land bordering Mud Lake that was the only thing separating the Great Lakes and the Chicago River from the Mississippi River system and the Gulf of Mexico via the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers. A canal through that area – an idea first conceived by Jolliet on the expedition with Marquette – would link the East Coast with the Gulf of Mexico, cutting through the heart of the continent. Its economic and political value was literally incalculable.
Not far away, on the other side of the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal and Interstate 55, is another memorial to Père Marquette in Summit, IL. Located in Summit Park at 5810 S. Archer Ave. is a large group of boulders that form a stone monument or cairn dedicated to the French priest and explorer. Often overlooked on the busy road, which was once was an old Indian trail, the monument stands at the edge of the park and out of the view of passing vehicles.
The monument was relocated here in 1968 from its original historic site on a sandy ridge southwest of the spot known as Point aux Chenes, or Point of Oaks – the latter being literally the summit from which the village got its name. The promontory once overlooked the exaggerated eastward curve of the Des Plaines River, before construction of the Sanitary & Ship Canal more than two centuries later required that a straighter diversion channel be dug west of the curve (that permanently changed the path of the Des Plaines near Lyons, thereby also creating Prescott Island).
But let’s not get ahead of the story.
Father Marquette, a Roman Catholic Jesuit missionary and himself a geographer and cartographer, first ventured into the Mississippi Valley in 1673 with fellow explorer Jolliet. They set off from St. Ignace near the Mackinac Straits to find the elusive Mississippi River and traveled down the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers before they encountered the Great Water, as it was known to the natives. Having paddled down as far as present-day Arkansas and returning from this circuitous trip, they were guided by local Illini to a shortcut back to Lake Michigan (known to the French as Lac des Illinois) via the Illinois River, then the Des Plaines River. Marquette must have been miserable at the time, as he had developed dysentery during the return trip, so a shortcut was no doubt welcome.
Previously unaware of this route to the Chicago Portage, Marquette and Jolliet paddled northeast through the great tallgrass prairie to the vicinity of Lyons and Summit, where the Des Plaines made an enormous curve east and north and a tiny tributary later called Portage Creek led them to Mud Lake. There, they had to either paddle through mud the consistency of wet cement or portage around the bog, carrying their canoes over a minor continental divide that separates the Illinois/Mississippi basin from the Great Lakes basin. Given the choice, they portaged. From the eastern end, they took a meandering stream (the Chicago River and its South Branch) to the shore of Lake Michigan, then moved north along the lakeshore until they reached the mission of St. Francis Xavier at present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin. At the mission, the travelers parted ways: Marquette remained to report to his Jesuit superiors, while Jolliet returned to Quebec to report their findings to the new governor, the Comte de Frontenac.
Marquette had promised the Native Americans along the Illinois River that he would return to them some day. He had hoped to establish another mission among the native inhabitants of the wide prairie. During the winter of 1674-75, he kept that promise and got to Kaskaskia, where he founded the mission. The plan was to go down to the River of the Portage (aka the Chicago River) in the autumn and camp on its banks through the winter, so as to be ready to return to Kaskaskia as soon as possible when the thaw and spring freshets came – high water would make traveling down the shallow Des Plaines easier. Why Marquette chose to do this, however, risking more illness in the cold after it had taken him nearly a year to recover from the dysentery, nobody knows; but it was a decision that would kill him, and Marquette realized that too late. Then again, the priest was all too willing to be a martyr.
Leaving the mission at Green Bay on October 25, 1674, Marquette and two companions (he was accompanied by two voyageurs, one of whom who had been with him on the expedition with Jolliet) traveled down the lakefront. They encountered fierce snow, heavy winds, massive waves, and ice floes on the way south that forced them ashore several times. After weeks of punishing weather and delays, Marquette’s dysentery returned and he could hardly sit up in the canoe. By December 4, the travelers reached the then mouth of the Chicago River (near what is today the intersection of Madison Street and Michigan Avenue), where they camped for a week and killed game for food. Then on December 11, they traveled six miles inland along the more sheltered South Branch and built a makeshift cabin on the north bank near what is now Damen Avenue and the Sanitary & Ship Canal, where they spent the worst of the winter – until the ravages of spring arrived.
There are those who suggest that Marquette occupied an abandoned cabin on the South Branch that someone else – either Indians or French trappers – had built, but this assertion is disproven by the narrative written by Fr. Claude Dablon, S.J., Marquette’s immediate superior and to whom he had reported after the expedition with Jolliet. Dablon, who not only had Marquette’s original journal and had copies made that were sent to Jesuit houses in Quebec and France, also had the reports of all the voyageurs who had traveled with Marquette – including verbal reports from the two men who accompanied Father Marquette on his second trip in late 1674, Pierre Porteret and Jacques La Castor. Dablon plainly states that “During a month of navigation on the Lake of the Illinois [Lake Michigan], he [Marquette] was tolerably well; but, as soon as the snow began to fall, he was again seized with his bloody flux, which compelled him to halt in the river [that] leads to the Illinois [i.e., on the Chicago River’s South Branch at Damen]. It was there that they constructed a cabin in which to pass the winter [emphasis added], amid such inconveniences that, his malady increasing more and more, he saw clearly that God was granting to him the favor which he had so many times besought from Him; and he even told his two companions very plainly that he would certainly die of that malady and during that voyage.”
When the thaw came, it was brutal. On the night of March 30th, 1675, the floods on the South Branch were so bad that Marquette’s party had to climb up into the trees to avoid being swept away by the rising water; in the morning, the men set off further up the South Branch toward Mud Lake until they found significantly higher ground upon which to camp. That ground was on the ridge at Point of Oaks. With the floodwaters so high, they evidently didn’t need to portage around Mud Lake but were able to paddle through the area. However, the weather was so bad that they were stuck at that third winter campsite for several days. Eventually, they were able to continue southwest on the flooded Des Plaines River and past the oxbow and rapids between there and the Romeoville bend.
An inscription on the Summit cairn’s original plaque explained the reason for the monument near Point of Oaks: “On March 31, 1675, Fr. Marquette was flooded out of his winter quarters at Robey St. (now Damen Avenue), Chicago, and next day camped at this point, which is located by a comparison of his Journal with the original Engineers’ levels and surveys of the Country.” This plaque no longer exists, having been stolen and replaced twice – the first time before 1920, when it was replaced by Robert Somerville of the Chicago & Alton Railroad at his own expense, the second time at some point after 1924.
Marquette and his party relocated their campsite to the Point of Oaks area, near the southwestern tip of the portage in what is now suburban Summit. This is just northeast of the present day intersection of Center and 54th Street, not far from a Metra/Amtrak train platform near which the memorial cairn was later erected. From here, they traveled down past the Des Plaines rapids and the confluence with the Kankakee River to the Illinois River and Kaskaskia, arriving during Holy Week. There, the missionary founded the promised mission, preached and said Easter Mass, and realized he was at last dying, thus hastening his return to St. Ignace even though the natives begged him to stay and be cared for there. At that point, Marquette was so feeble that he had to be carried everywhere, including into the canoe. He died on the way back, near the mouth of the river named for him at present-day Ludington, Michigan.
In 1895, a monument championed by Ossian Guthrie was erected at the Point of Oaks landing site by the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company, on grounds that the railway then owned. This was done at the urging of Guthrie, then chief engineer of the I&M Canal Bridgeport Pumping Works, and Edward G. Mason, president of the Chicago Historical Society, with the approval of Somerville, who was general agent of the C&A’s passenger department. According to author Robert Kott (2009), “Originally located across from the old Chicago and Alton Railroad station, this monument commemorates one of three spots researched over a lifetime by Guthrie: the 1673 portage route, the 1674 Damen Avenue (Robey Street) Marquette cabin site, and the  temporary Marquette encampment.” Guthrie decided on these sites by studying Marquette’s journal, the interviews conducted after 1847 regarding the area’s original topography, and fieldwork and surveys ordered by the commissioners of the Chicago Drainage Canal, as the Sanitary & Ship Canal was then known. As of 2016, the original monument’s foundation still stands near the train station.
Later in 1895, the C&A Railroad published a tourist booklet about notable sites along the newly dug Chicago Drainage Canal that riders on the Summit line could see from the train. One of the sites mentioned was the recently constructed Marquette memorial, a photo of which was featured on the booklet’s cover. Page 7 of the booklet notes that “This monument consists of granite boulders of various kinds brought from the Lake Superior region by the glacial stream and deposited in this valley. The monument is, therefore, of great geological as well as historical interest.” Another photo shows two large boulders; an accompanying explanation notes that “the smaller boulder is of granite, weighing 7 or 8 tons, smoothed and scored by glacial action (also somewhat affected by water), and now forms the capstone of the Alton’s Marquette Monument at Summit” (Chicago & Alton Railroad, 1895).
On May 31, 1937, the village of Summit held a celebration at the memorial site to honor Marquette’s 300th birthday anniversary. Led by master of ceremonies Henry C. Wahl and village president E.H. Wilson, attendees gathered “to pay honor and homage” to and “in contemplation of the example thus afforded” by the great French explorer. In honor of the occasion, the Père Marquette Memorial Association of Ludington, Michigan sent a letter in advance to the mayor of Summit, along with a “small chest of consecrated sand taken from the revered spot where, on May 18, 1675, Père Marquette died.” The association’s pageant committee requested that the sand be sprinkled on the Summit memorial during the tricentennial celebration. It is presumed that this request was carried out.
(Note: Marquette died at and was initially laid to rest near Ludington. However, two years after his death, a hunting party of local Christian tribesmen found his remains. They washed and dried the bones, and, singing their funeral chants in a procession of nearly 30 canoes, returned them in a birch box to St. Ignace, where they were reburied by the Jesuits beneath the mission’s church – and were apparently forgotten for many years after the mission burned down. Marquette’s grave at St. Ignace was rediscovered on the former mission site in 1877, but by that time only a few bones remained. According to historian Donald L. Miller, “the rest were believed to have been taken by Indians who considered him a forest spirit. His remaining relics are at Marquette University, under the care of his order. And this gentle missionary who dreamed of the glory of martyrdom in the wilderness became, in time, the closest thing to a patron saint that gritty Chicago would ever have.” In 1920, Chicago mayor William Dever officially declared December 4th to be Marquette Day in Chicago.)
Flash forward to 1968. The C&A had by now become part of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and the company wanted to develop the Summit site where the Marquette monument stood. The 11,000-pound cairn was moved to its present location on June 8th that year at a cost of $2,000. It was rededicated a month later during the village’s July 14th Marquette Days celebration (on Bastille Day; how very French). In attendance were many state and local dignitaries and officials, including Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell. In 1973, the village of Summit celebrated another tercentenary – the anniversary of the Marquette-Joliet expedition.
In its initial location near the train station, the Marquette monument was maintained by the railroad, even though the first two plaques were stolen. At the time, it was thought that they were most likely sold for their metal content; but without knowing precisely when the thefts occurred – for example, whether one or both of the thefts took place during the Great Depression or a major recession – it’s difficult to judge whether the thefts were simple vandalism or something more. The current plaque reads:
Father Marquette landed here
This monument is constructed of boulders brought by glaciers from
the Lake Superior region and deposited in this valley, having traversed
the route later followed by the earl[y] French explorers
Erected by the Chicago & Alton Railroad Co.
It’s curious that LaSalle is mentioned at all on the most recent plaque, let alone named first – considering that his travels through the area occurred nine years the Marquette-Jolliet expedition – whereas Jacques Marquette is mentioned last, even though the cairn is his monument. Did those who approved the third plaque’s wording realize that they were effectively demoting Father Marquette to an also-ran on his own memorial? Moreover, this third plaque doesn’t even bother to explain why Marquette landed at Point of Oaks in the first place. One is tempted to wonder whether the third plaque was a rushed replacement for its predecessor, ordered by someone whose interest in Marquette didn’t equal that of Ossian Guthrie.
History buffs will appreciate knowing that engineer Guthrie (1826-1908), considered the “Father of Chicago’s Drainage System,” was the grandson of Dr. Samuel Guthrie, the discoverer of chloroform. In 1885, the younger Guthrie found a granite boulder in southwest suburban Worth, IL that was later used as a monument to his famous relative. Apparently, Ossian Guthrie was a real geology buff and saw no point in wasting a good boulder.
The stone currently sits on the east side of a small park and helipad on Harrison Street, across from both Rush Medical Center and the former Cook County Hospital; the park sits just east of Route 66/Ogden Avenue in the Illinois Medical District. That same vest-pocket park includes a monument to scientist Louis Pasteur, the inventor of vaccination and pasteurization. However, the Guthrie memorial was previously located in Grant Park – as was the Pasteur monument – next to the Art Institute of Chicago and near the starting point of Route 66 at Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. It’s interesting that the boulder remains near the route today, on a different stretch of the Mother Road but still within the city.
As fascinated as he was by geology, Ossian Guthrie was an even greater admirer of Father Marquette and during his lifetime collected a large amount of research about the Jesuit missionary. In his will, Guthrie bequeathed all his research and papers regarding Marquette to the City of Chicago.
For more information about the monument and other memorials to Marquette, we suggest reading Ruth D. Nelson’s book, Searching for Marquette: A Pilgrimage in Art, listed below.
Joseph D. Kubal is a Naperville, IL-based geographer, data analyst, and amateur historian. The information in this article has been excerpted in part from the upcoming book, The Curious Traveler’s Guide: Route 66 in Metro Chicago, by Maria R. Traska, Joseph D. Kubal and Keith Yearman.
Ruth D. Nelson is a suburban Chicago-based art historian, author of the 2013 book Searching for Marquette: A Pilgrimage in Art, and adjunct faculty at College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.
(The late) Maria R. Traska is a Chicago-based journalist, author, historian, blogger, editor of the Route 66 blog CuriousTraveler66.com, and editor and co-author of the upcoming book, The Curious Traveler’s Guide: Route 66 in Metro Chicago, by Maria R. Traska, Joseph D. Kubal and Keith Yearman.
Brennan, Edward P., “The Only Monument to Father Marquette in Illinois,” Illinois Catholic Historical
Review, July 1924, vol. 7, Chicago: 1924
Chicago & Alton Railroad, A Guide to the Chicago Drainage Canal with Geological and Historical Notes to Accompany the Tourist via the Chicago & Alton Railroad, Chicago: Rand McNally and Company, 1895
Dablon, Claude, S.J., excerpts from “Account of the Second Voyage and the Death of Father Jacques Marquette,” reprinted in Illinois Catholic Historical Review, October 1924, vol. 7, Chicago: 1924
“Death Calls Ossian Guthrie,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 26, 1908: 5
Early Chicago, Inc., “Marquette Boulder Monument,” Early Chicago website at http://www.earlychicago.com/monuments.php?letter=M (accessed October 28, 2015)
Kott, Robert, Summit, Chicago, Charleston, SC, Portsmouth, NH and San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2009
Kubal, Joseph D, ”A Continental Divide in Illinois?,” Route 66 Magazine, Fall 2014, vol 14-4: 14
MacLaren, Agnes E., Letter from the Père Marquette Memorial Association to the Village of Summit, IL, Ludington, MI: May 13, 1937
Miller, Donald L., City Of The Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, New York: Simon
& Schuster Inc., 1996
Nelson, Ruth D., Searching for Marquette: A Pilgrimage in Art, Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2013
Thompson, Joseph J., “Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary History of Illinois,” Illinois Catholic Historical
Review, October 1924, vol. 7, Chicago: 1924
Dee from Del Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois recently told us about a visitor they had to the restaurant. Sunny, a self-proclaimed nomad, adventurer and author, is, well, walking the length of Route 66! The 76 year old gentleman believes it will take him about 167 days make the trip.
Pat Rhea treated the hungry walker to a good home-cooked meal and set him up at the La Quinta Inn overnight.
What have you done along Route 66 lately?