It sounds so cliché but what a fast year! The days grow shorter, the wind is colder, and as one season blends into another, there’s still that refrain of, “Where did the time go?” “It seems like yesterday?” and my personal favorite, “Every day is one day closer to spring.”
We’ve accomplished a lot in this year. Preservation projects are always a cyclic event – maintenance is a never-ending part of taking care of our past. Cold winter nights will give way to new projects along the road as well as the projects that are still ongoing. People who love the Standard Oil station in Odell are amazed that the building once was greatly endangered, and it is a nationally recognized building due to the power of Preservation. The Mill in Lincoln has come a long way, and Geoff Ladd looks forward to even more work being accomplished in the coming year.
The Mother Road occupies some pretty amazing land and even today we are involved in keeping her safe. The High Speed Rail projects, looking to make railroad crossings safer because of the high speed train (110 mph) look to our northbound lanes as a possible way to make safety easier and then for IDOT to reclaim and reuse the old abandoned 2 lines next to the southbound lanes. Anne Haaker, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is extremely involved and proactive in this ongoing project. Anne brought other members of the High Speed Rail staff to our October meeting to talk about how the Mother Road may be impacted, and what is being done to safeguard our historic highway. We are extremely blessed to have such a devoted public servant on our side – how many people give up a Sunday afternoon, bring members of the High Speed Rail Staff, and drive a hundred miles to share what is happening around the Mother Road, and to ask about our concerns?
The Illiana Toll Road that is being built to connect Indiana I-65 and Illinois I-55 is another project Anne Haaker is involved in. The Toll Road will intersect Route 53/Historic 66 in the Wilmington area and again we are involved thru the state. Anne has always gone above and beyond and been an amazing asset to the Route 66 community. What a difficult position to balance construction advancements with historic pavement! We'll keep you apprised as to how these two projects are developing.
We’re already hard at work for the 2013 Motor Tour aptly named “Back to Our Routes." We have been out finding entirely new places and new faces to add to the fun of our 24th Annual Motor Tour. Friday night’s registration will be in Plainfield where our new Hall of Fame member Samuel Reichart Sr.’s son will open his private collection to our members to tour and enjoy. This is truly a Friday night registration you won’t want to miss!
Saturday we will start with a lineup and tour the new Berwyn museum and see the progress of the famous “Spindle” as it is recreated on Ogden Avenue. From there we have some amazing new stops that we’ve never done before – and after 24 years of road tripping that’s not easy to do! Our Hall of Fame Dinner will be held at Lincoln College again this year, and the second day of the tour includes a visit to a lighthouse in Springfield, and we will end our tour at the new Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcoming Center.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame can be submitted between January 1, 2013 and February 28, 2013. Hall of Fame nominations can be for people, places, or events that contribute to Route 66’s historical status in Illinois. Please refer to Page 9 of this newsletter for complete details and be sure to check our website for updates.
We appreciate the members who continue to support us as times are tough. We've been able to contribute to the new museum in Litchfield, to a high school program in Pontiac, to the new museum in Berwyn, and to the ongoing Mill preservation project in Lincoln. Sales of our Bob Waldmire original 1989 artwork American made T-shirts have been brisk and funds collected will go to the work required to maintain and preserve Bob’s beloved Road Yacht for the ages. Over 23,000 people have visited the bus.
So keep warm and toasty, dream about sunny days and future road trips; in the meantime, don’t forget to get out and support the businesses along the Mother Road. Breakfast is good anytime at the Steak and Egger (former Hall of Fame member Snuffy’s) in McCook, Pat Rhea is always happy to make you some mac-n-cheese and chicken in Willowbrook, and Hallie’s in Lincoln still serves snitzel sandwiches. Vic’s Pizza in Springfield is the best pizza buffet around, and homemade pie beckons you to Doc’s in Girard. Don’t forget to stop and visit Rick Henry in Staunton for a cold pop and great conversation and Hall of Fame member Luna Café will leave the rainbow neon lights on for you. Take a day or two and remember to enjoy. Sometimes we forget to laugh and even breathe.
The Mother Road sends her best to you this Christmas, and may all your dreams come true. I saw an Edsel the other day that called my name, but I’ll be fine if Santa can’t fit it into my stocking this year. Health and happiness and continued employment will do just fine.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire Executive Committee of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year. May we all experience peace and joy in our lives and remember to be grateful for the opportunities we have to share and volunteer.
We welcome your Route 66 news, stories, photos and events for publication in our newsletter or on our web site!