Route 66 was improved and widened during the 1950s and by 1957 it was a four lane highway all the way through Illinois, from Chicago to St. Louis. In some areas two lanes of Route 66 were paved over by I-55 however other sections were just closed down so now two lanes of unused highway parallel the two lanes of Route 66.
To cope with all of the traffic on the road a new police station was built in 1941. It was in use until 2004. An aerial view is required to see why this rather dull looking station should have it’s own Route 66 sign. It’s shaped like a gun! Parking and turn around room for RVs.
Memory Lane, a one mile section of Route 66, was the main road into the town of Lexington from 1926-1947. It was closed when the highway became four lane. It’s now a walking path with recreated billboards and Burma Shave signs. Parking for small RVs only.
Recreated billboard along Memory Lane and the ruins of the Oasis Drive-In.
Towanda has opened one of the unused sections of two lane road as a walking trail. It has signs for each state with a few of the more well known attractions depicted - Route 66: A Geographic Journey. Park in the gas station lot. There’s a long bus space but it’s a tight fit.
William Sprague, who was a contractor, built this unique, brick, Tudor Revival gas station in 1931. The upper floor was an apartment for Sprague and his family. The business changed hands over the years and the building was used for other enterprises but the gas pumps were not removed until 1979. Room for RVs to park.
The story of Funks Grove Maple Sirup is pretty amazing. The first Funks settled in Funks Grove in 1824 and made maple syrup for their own use. In 1891 they started selling it and today Funks are still operating the business. They produce an average of 2,000 gallons of syrup each season and sell out each year. The road is under construction so we didn’t make it to their store but the little depot at Funks Grove is cute.
Dixie Truckers Home is the oldest truck stop in Illinois. Founded by J.P. Waters and J.W. Geske in 1928, it’s opened 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It closed for one day in 1965 due to a fire that destroyed the building but left the gas pumps untouched. It also closed for awhile after Road Ranger purchased it in 2012. Road Ranger has kept the original Dixie signs.
The tiny town of Atlanta had it start as a service center for the area farmers. The establishment of Route 66 in 1926 brought a short boom that only lasted 20 years. It’s attempting to revive itself and attract Route 66 tourists. The collection of eclectic attractions is worth a stop. Room for RVs to park on the street or in the library lot. The sidewalks and curb cuts are not in good condition so wheelchair users may need to roll down the streets.
Octagon Library Water Tower
J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum – the elevator is only opened for tours on Sunday but an informative, self guided walking tour is available at any time. RVs will fit in the lot or on the street. The site is partly accessible.