A nostalgic trip through Americana

A nostalgic trip through Americana

Learn about this historic highway and why Route 66 is an American treasure worth preserving.

Another Exciting Motor Tour!

Another Exciting Motor Tour!

Our 2013 Back to Our Routes Motor Tour was a fun celebration of the Mother Road, with some new and exciting activities and stops for participants to enjoy. Read and see it here!

Membership

Membership

Please join our association's efforts to preserve, promote, educate and enjoy Route 66 in Illinois.

The Route 66 Association of Illinois

The Route 66 Association of Illinois

Our mission is to preserve, educate, promote and enjoy Route 66 in Illinois

Illinois Attractions & Towns

Illinois Attractions & Towns

Visit these attractions and towns along Route 66 in Illinois for a nostalgic family fun!

Here are some helpful and informative sources to help you along your Route 66 journey. We've assembled a collection of web sites and information that are sure to add to your knowledge and appreciation of the Mother Road.

Web Links
Historic Maps
Town Along The Road
Sign up for our Day Tripper email announcements
View the Day Tripper Archives

Preservation is one of our core missions. With our motto of 'we work for food' our members paint, build, repair, clean, and fight to preserve all that is Route 66.

What is Preservation?
Hall of Fame Inductees
Our Museum
Preservation Projects and Announcements

Events Along The Road

Association Events

Fall Quarterly Meeting October 19, 2014 - 10:00am

Chicago to Santa Monica: The Big Trip

By Jim Robinson

On Christmas 1996 my wife Twila gave me the book “Route 66 Remembered.” Inside the cover she wrote “…For help in planning our own journey over the Mother Road.” We had done several Illinois Route 66 road trips and one Missouri Route 66 trip but we had never done the big trip until 2012.

On Saturday April 21 of this year, Twila and I slid into our rented 2012 Camry and with our luggage and Tom Snyder’s “The Route 66 Travelers Guide and Roadside Companion” we began our journey in front of the Art Institute in downtown Chicago. Immediately hitting detours and traversing some questionable neighborhoods, we made our way toward Santa Monica. We stayed the night in Bloomington, IL and Sunday morning we headed toward St. Louis.

Friedrich Family Travels, Fall 2012

By Josh Friedrich

It has been a whirlwind of travel on the ol' double sixes these past few months. When we last checked in we had just wrapped up a memorable Motor Tour in June.

Munger Moss Motel.JPG

Route 66 Reinterpreted Contest!

We'd like to thank Misty L. Bell of Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County for providing the following press release about an exciting, first annual contest, Route 66 Reinterpreted Art Project. Let your creativity flow!

Click to read the press release in its entirety.

Strevell House Bricks Ready for Engraving

Work on the Jason W. Strevell house exterior is nearing completion for this year as engraving begins on the bricks for the memorial walkway that will run from the public sidewalk to the front door. The Livingston County Historical Society has been working towards the completion of this phase of the home’s restoration since 2009 when the building was rescued from possible demolition. The Strevell house is the only remaining structure in Livingston County known to have hosted Abraham Lincoln. Work on the bricks is being done by Pontiac Granite Company.

An Excursion to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Our thanks to Grundy County Representative, Ike Widner, for writing and submitting the following account of a Halloween-season excursion taken recently by Association members to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery.

On October 27th, 2012, members of the Route 66 Association took a ride up to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery around 2:30 pm. The day was crisp and the sun was shining with some clouds over the horizon. The park was filled with many spectators walking to the cemetery to see if one could see a ghost or an impression of any figure that lay in the distance or any orbs of colors that filled the air. As we approached the cemetery with our group, we noticed many other thrill-seekers and adventurers out as well. Reaching the point of the entrance many people were walking around the cemetery, looking at the ruins that laid under their feet, hoping that an apparation would appear to them.

The Bells of St. Mary’s: Another Rescue in the Making?

We are grateful to local historian and author, Joseph D. Kubal for researching, writing and submitting this informative and comprehensive article about the history and future of St. Mary Carmelite Church in Joliet, Illinois. The saving and repurposing of the grand structure represents a huge win for preservation efforts along Route 66.

Be certain to scroll past the Bibliography for a complete Timeline of the life and times of St. Mary Carmelite Church provided by the author.

By Joseph D. Kubal

It has all the earmarks of that classic 1945 movie, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, but with some unusual twists. In the Academy Award-winning film, Crosby, as Father Charles "Chuck" O'Malley, portrays an unconventional priest who helps save a Catholic school from being demolished. Does life now imitate art? Perhaps.

Scott Henry, an unconventional developer with Celadon Holdings, LLC, of Northbrook, Illinois is trying to save another St. Mary’s. St. Mary Carmelite Church at 113 North Ottawa Street is in the heart of downtown Joliet. Located on Historic Route 66, this unoccupied Catholic Church also may be spared from a wrecking ball – but this is where the similarity to the movie ends. Henry proposes the renovation of the old church complex from a dormant, physically dilapidated church building complex into a vibrant 40-unit senior housing center for low income residents age 55 and older. And he has complete faith that this will happen.

Henry is an ardent fan and booster of Route 66. He believes in promoting the adaptive reuse project as a stopping point of interest for those traversing old Route 66 (its downtown detour along Ottawa skirts the front of the building). The housing project’s name reflects that interest: it’s been dubbed The Limestone Residences along the Mother Road. Henry’s plans include the creation of a Route 66 visitors’ center with displays highlighting Route 66 churches and other historical themes. The visitors’ center would be located in the remodeled building’s ground level foyer and would be open to the public during normal business hours. One display may be modeled after the wayside markers installed along the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway – or may even be created in association with the state’s scenic byway authority.

The Boots Motel

Our sincere thanks to Brian L. Alexander for writing and submitting the following article about the restoration of the Route 66 icon, the Boots Motel, in Carthage, Missouri.

By Brian L. Alexander

Fran and I decided to go with the Route 66 Association of Missouri, September, two years ago, on their Road Tour. We had so much fun the previous year; we had to do it again the following year. We started in Miami Oklahoma, not too far from Joplin Missouri. We drove a short thirteen miles of Route 66 through Kansas and made our way, back through Missouri, all the way back to Leasburg. The entire group had lunch at Skippy’s, a bar and grill in Leasburg, the tours’ end. (Leasburg is little more than hour southwest of St. Louis, on Route 44 - (Actually Skippy’s is on Old Route 66). The Ozark Countryside was as beautiful last fall, as it was the previous year.

We toured the thirteen miles of US Route 66 through Kansas, our tour then took us through Joplin, Missouri and then onto Carthage Missouri.

Boots 1.png

The Boot’s Motel was one of our Passport Stops. We pulled up to the Boots Motel in Carthage Missouri; as a Route 66 Roadie I knew the buildings were going to be remodeled. My second thought was how did this place miss the wrecking ball? In fact it was purchased by a developer who intended on tearing it down and plans were in the works for it to be a Walgreens Drug Store but preservationists lobbied for its survival.

In Route 66 History: An Aviation Tragedy on Route 66

Our thanks to Keith Yearman, associate professor of geography at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL, and co-author of the upcoming book, The Curious Traveler’s Guide to Route 66 in Metro Chicago, form which this story is partially excerpted.

By Keith Yearman

One of the more dramatic and tragic incidents in the history of U.S. Route 66 played out in the air on July 6, 1930. What began as a stunt ended in death. Had it not involved a fatality, it would have been grist for a screwball comedy of the decade.

Calling All Route 66 Sign Experts!

A reader named Helen has written into our website with the following question about a highway sign. Can you help her out? If so, please answer in the comments of this post.

Hello Everyone...We have had this sign in our garage for decades. I just began exploring the history of Route 66 and I am fascinated. However, all of the old signs I see posted read "ILLINOIS U.S. 66" whereas ours reads only "ILLINOIS 66." On the back it reads "State of Illinois Div. of Highways Dist. No.". It is made of a very heavy steel and definitely genuine. Can anyone tell us when this was manufactured and used on Route 66?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Click the photo to view a full-size image of the sign.

Route 66 Sign

The Rise and Fall of Berwyn’s Automobile Row

Thanks to local historian and author, Joseph D. Kubal, for submitting the following article to us for publication:

Joseph D. Kubal_0.jpgBy Joseph D. Kubal

Ogden Avenue in Berwyn, IL may not look like it today, but it was once one of the major sales areas for automobiles in the near southwest suburbs and the nearby section of Chicago. During the earliest days of U.S. Route 66, Ogden became what was soon dubbed “Automobile Row.”

From the very beginning, Route 66 ran along Ogden between the near west side of Chicago and the suburb of Lyons, just west of Berwyn. Even before Route 66, however, there were Berwyn businesses on Ogden that served horse carriage owners. As automobiles grew in popularity with the introduction of the Model-T Ford – which made owning a car more affordable for average Americans – some of these businesses transitioned to serving automobile owners. Moreover, as Ogden was already a major thoroughfare between the city and Joliet Road, even before Route 66, it made sense for auto dealers to locate on Ogden, too: the dealers went where the drivers were.

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Learning to use our calendar puts the fun and adventure of Route 66 at your fingertips. It's easy to discover the when, what and where of events along the road.

Here's How!

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.