Story Circle

Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative Collaboration Workshops

Our thanks to Geoff Ladd, Project Administrator, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway for providing the following information for us to share:

On behalf of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, we want to inform you about a very important upcoming workshop next week. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 21st in Springfield, IL, for the first in a series of Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative Collaboration Workshops. The workshops will be held July 21-29 from Illinois to California. Members of Route 66 associations, tourism officials, economic development professionals, business persons, educators, preservationists and government officials are all invited to learn more about this national initiative and help shape the future of Route 66.

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

On Saturday June 13, two new businesses were inducted into our Association’s Hall of Fame.

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame recognizes “those people and places along Route 66 whose blend of hardy individualism and grassroots community spirit gave the road such special character.”

To qualify for election to the Hall of Fame, nominees must have made significant contributions to the character or history of the Illinois portion of Route 66 from 1926 to 1977 while it was an official United States highway in the State of Illinois.

Steve's Café, Chenoa, IL

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(Adapted from Carolyn Parry’s nomination)

Steve’s Café was a famous landmark on old Route 66. It was known for, “The Finest Steaks
Between Chicago and St. Louis.” Steve’s Café started out as a garage, gas station and
lunchroom built in 1924 by Tom and Charles Elliott. The building was purchased in
1925 by Paul Lanterman and the lunchroom was operated by his wife, Ada. There was
counter seating for nine and a table which seated four customers. A superheterodyne
radio set was installed in the garage portion of the building and a sizeable crowd of
Chenoans would gather each evening to listen to whatever program was being received.

In 1926, State Route 4 was officially designated U.S. Route 55. In the 1930s, Elmer
and Orville Wahls purchased the property from the Lantermans, who moved across
the street, and added to their existing gasoline and oil business. Then the property was
purchased again and the new owners added 50 feet to the east of the existing dining room to accommodate the growing number of patrons.

The Café was one of the first to have air conditioning outside the Chicago area. The first
air conditioning equipment, made by Williams Oil-O-Matic Ice Cold Air, was installed in
the restaurant and a large sign was put up on the roof. Every time a new model was intro-
duced by Williams, it was brought to Chenoa to replace the older model and to test it as
new equipment. On hot days it was not unusual to see people lined up between the
front door and the counter, trying to keep cool.

Hall of Famer, Steve Funk, of Funks Grove Maple Sirup, Dies

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Hall of Famer, Steve Funk, of Funks Grove Maple Sirup died on June 21.

Association president, Cathie Stevanovich said, "He was a wonderful person, active member, and Hall of Famer. Steve will be missed."

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Steve & Glaida Funk at the Funks Grove Midpoint Dedication

Click to read a complete story about Steve Funk on Route 66 News.

World's Largest Catsup Bottle Turns 66!

2015FestivalFlyer.jpgHappy Birthday to the world-famous Route 66 landmark as it turns 66 years old!!

It is officially summer and that means the 17th annual Brooks World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival Birthday Party and Car Show is right around the corner! The day is Sunday, July 12, 2015, and this year we have a NEW LOCATION at Woodland Park! Thanks to a new partnership with the Collinsville Area Recreation District, all of the fun and excitement will be held at the city’s Woodland Park!

All the usual family favorites will return: ketchup tasting, hot dogs smothered-in-ketchup eating contest, hula hoop competition, water balloon toss, Big Bottle Bike Ride, St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders, and the C.I.A. Cruzin' In Antiques Car Show.

Interact on social media with the hashtag “#CatsupFest” and check out the photo gallery from last year.

Civil War Music to Be Presented in Live Performances

Our thanks to Ellie Alexander, Pontiac, IL Director of Tourism, for providing the following information for us to share.

One of the new exhibits to open recently at the Pontiac Illinois Museum Complex is dedicated to the music of the antebellum period, and the American Civil War. 150 years ago, the American Civil War touched the lives of all citizens, many in a dramatic and tragic fashion. Their hardships, pain, sorrow, grief, and strength are expressed in the songs of the era. Stephen Foster is, perhaps, the most commonly referenced music composer of the era, but others made significant contributions as well. Over 40 pieces of original sheet music are on display at the exhibit, as well as rare civil war musical instruments and other paraphernalia.

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Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference

Our thanks to Cheryl Eichar Jett for sharing the following press release for us to share.

“Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference” will be held in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, October 29-31. Sponsored by the Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition and hosted by the City of Edwardsville, the primary venue for the conference is the beautifully-restored historic Wildey Theatre on N. Main Street, just two blocks off Edwardsville's Route 66. www.wildeytheatre.com

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"Get Your Kicks" on the New Route 66 Archives and Research Website!

Our thanks to Robert Warren, Illinois State Museum for providing this information about this helpful resource for everyone interested in Route 66.

Do you have an interest in Route 66, the legendary American highway and tourist mecca? Are you looking for photos, maps, postcards, or descriptions of historic Route 66? Wondering where you can find information on old motels, gas stations, restaurants, or other businesses that served travelers on the Mother Road long ago? Visit the new Route 66 Archives and Research Collaboration (Route 66 ARC) website. You'll discover a tremendous variety of historical collections and web resources extending along Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.

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Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Launches “Selfies On 66” Campaign!

Out exploring Route 66 in Illinois? Take a selfie! Be creative and capture yourself and friends at Illinois Route 66 landmarks or even more out-of-the-way harder to find sites along the road. Take your "selfie" and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #MyIL66.

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Seeking Photos of Your Route 66 License Plates!

Hey there, roadies! Editor Gina here asking a favor. Please share photos of your Route 66-themed license plates with us here at the Route 66 Association of Illinois. I know how proud you are to announce your Route 66 enthusiasm, so I'm cooking up an idea to show them off to a very appreciative audience! I can give you photo credit if you'd like or if you prefer to remain anonymous, I'll be happy to honor your preference.

Here's one submitted by Josh Friedrich:

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Please email your photos to gina@writeytidy.com.

Thank you in advance for your submissions!

Gilding Arts Museum Now Open in Pontiac, IL

Pontiac’s latest museum celebrated its opening on the weekend of May 2 -3, 2015. The Museum of the Gilding Arts, located at 217 North Mill St, promises to be an eye-catching addition to Pontiac’s variety of attractions. At 9:00 AM, when the doors were opened to the public for the first time, it was the culmination of more than four years of planning. According to Pontiac Tourism Director, Ellie Alexander, “The Gilders’ museum is stunning, educational, and absolutely unique in the world.”

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110 W Howard St
Pontiac, IL, 61764
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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.