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cathie_1.jpgIt’s almost Spring... or some kind of season. All I know is we’re pretty close to tourist season and we’ve had a lot of visitors through the museum on the pleasant weekends. It’s nice to see that people want to get out on the road and we’ve had many local visits to our Hall of Fame and Museum in preparation for future adventures. Staycations are fun!

It’s Preservation time! Time to scrape and paint and maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! Preservation Committee Chairman, John Weiss. hosted a meeting and talked about upcoming projects, including the Annual Clean-Up Day at Odell Station and Museum Clean-Up Day and Bus Repair in Pontiac. Future events will freshen up “Tall Paul” in Atlanta. Come out and play with us! No skills needed except for the ability to laugh and wash windows and dust! Remember we “work for food” and you will eat well at our Preservation Workdays. Check the Facebook and Website for more information.

Red Carpet Corridor is fast approaching! This is the 10th Anniversary of the Red Carpet, which unites Route 66 communities from Joliet to Towanda! Ninety miles of fun! Ninety miles of events! Don’t forget to stop in all the communities and collect this year’s memento - a printed license plate card for each community.

Our Motor Tour plans are shoring up – this year’s theme is Alive and Kickin’ - and we will be traveling from south to north incorporating our stops and supporting the Blue Carpet Corridor once again. We are looking forward to the Tour and to the Hall of Fame banquet and program at the Magnuson’s in Raymond, Illinois (just outside Carlinville). We had a great stay there last time and we look forward to another great banquet. We will be inducting two new Hall of Fame members at our dinner.

“The Road Ahead” continues to evolve – there have been additional meetings and work done as we make progress towards making Route 66 a National Trail. Our Association will remain – as will the other eight state associations. There will be committees taking on the work needed to make Route 66 fit the criteria for the government program.

Our 66 communities continue to proudly discover and promote their 66 roots. It’s wonderful to see assistance and volunteers from communities along the road on our Association board as well as on the Motor Tour committee. We are, as members, dedicated to helping maintain
and support all the communities along Illinois’ 400 miles.

At a recent Hall of Fame meeting, a committee was formed to follow up on our IDOT signs. Unfortunately many signs are cut down and taken as “souveniers.” Illinois has many financial problems and sign loss should not be one of them but it is! It is very important that we keep our signage correct and will continue to do so. One of the compliments we get in Illinois is that our roads are marked. We just need to make sure that they are marked correctly.

Sometimes when we’re out cruising, we need to remember to stop and look around. Many communities are developing new small businesses and museums. We held a recent meeting in Atlanta and were really surprised and enjoyed the Atlanta museum’s displays. There is going to be a new museum in Mount Olive regarding Mother Jones and mining. The Gillespie Coal Mine Museum is open in its permanent space. The small gas station from Bill Shea’s has been moved to a restaurant as a permanent display in Springfield.

There are plans for new additions to many of our small communities as they begin working on their 66 stories. Tourism is education and economic opportunity but it needs to be genuine. Our stories are important to tell – and as part of developing our National Trail, not all our stories are pretty. Route 66 was born of necessity for the country to be able to transport food, medicine, clothing, etc. cross country. Trucks were literally bumper to bumper at one time on our Mother Road. The businesses that flourished along the road were
service based industries, and this period of growth was fueled by the flow of people on trains, buses, and cars. Imagine at one time in the quiet city of Atlanta, thousands of people moved cross country through the bus stop there. During the state fair every year, cars were backed up from Springfield to Broadwell – which brought great business to
Ernie Edward’s Pig Hip Restaurant. Bypassing the interstate and going off 66 into the communities gives us a chance to step back in time and see the growth in these communities.

So dust off the picnic baskets, get out your sunglasses, it’s time to cruise. Take the snow shovel out of the trunk and the ice melt can go back on the garage shelf. It’s open up the windows and turn up the radio and get out the map and plan day-trip time!

Join us for our Association meeting on April 17th in Springfield. Join us for the
10th Annual Red Carpet Corridor May 7th and 8th. Join us at the Annual Motor Tour June 10th, 11th, and 12th. Come down and join us any Saturday at our Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac!

The Illiana Toll Road is shelved for now, and so our 66 miles between Joliet and Wilmington will remain as-is. The High Speed train work will be impacting some of the 66 communities as the new rails and railbeds are put into place. Remember in Illinois we have 5 seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Construction.

The reality is we’re all busier than we’ve ever been. There is more “stuff” than time. My wish for you is to carve out a few moments and give yourself the gift of time to enjoy. Whether it’s a cup of coffee and some Milkduds at Mitchell’s, or a Maid Rite in Springfield, or a cold beer watching the sunset at DeCamp Junction, take a deep breath and
enjoy. You’re not wasting time cruising 66 – your investing in the Mother Road’s economic viability.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road!
Cathie Stevanovich

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Historic Maps

Highway GuideWatch Route 66 evolve into The Mother Road  with maps and highway guides from 1917-1992 courtesty of the official Illinois Digital Archives.