Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 30, 2016

April 30, 2016

I chose to take the old Route 66 through Pecos to Santa Fe and then back to Albuquerque. I noticed this thing that looks like a building on a mountain top. I still don’t know what it is.

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Route 66 follows the Santa Fe trail for much of this trip to Santa Fe.

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 The Pecos National Park was a wonderful surprise and an educational experience for me.

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I watched a video and then took a hike around the Pueblo ruins.

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As I turned off the interstate I found these items.

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Typical neighborhood of New Mexico style homes.

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I found this as I entered Albuquerque on old Route 66.

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Small statues in front of a school.

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Next stop the Leisure Mountain RV Park for a few days while I wait out the terrific wind and snow storms expected. Time to read a book and just chill out after driving so much.

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016

Being in Texas everything is bigger than life, to include the weather report that stated strong winds and tornados were in the area last night – NOT! But none the less, I hit Route 66 at the next exit.

I saw this full sized statue of a horse on the roadside and caught it quickly through the window. Sorry for it being fuzzy.

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As I get off of I-40 at Groom, TX I am able to get a photo of ‘leaning tower of Groom’. This tower was built this way to attract attention.

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A GIANT alert was issued for the ‘Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ’. This cross is billed as the ‘Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere’ at 190 foot tall (19 stories). Remember the other one from Edmond, OK? It was only 100 foot tall.

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This is a photo of the landscape of Texas! Along the route to Conway nothing much except the old concrete road and the cows.

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Past Conway and then I came upon this odd peace display beside the road. Go figure.

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Views of Texas from Route 66

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Past Amarillo is the ‘Cadillac Ranch’.

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Bushland hosts the Cadillac RV resort

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Vega hosts a restored 1920’s Magnolia Gas Station near the courthouse.

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Another museum that was closed!

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 Another side attraction!

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Then I get to the midway of Route 66.

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 At the Midway Café David was very busy entertaining an Italian group that spoke broken English but were very friendly and nice.

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A cheese burger wrapped in waxed paper with applesauce.

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There is a defunct railroad that ran along side Route 66. The rails appear to be gone but the railroad ties are stacked in beside the road for miles.

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Glenerio is basically a ghost town today.

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Adios Texas and hello New Mexico!

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I finally stopped to take a few photos of the flowers beside the road.

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This is what I kept seeing as I approached Tucumcari, NM.

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Tucumcari historical marker.

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Tucumcari provided more oddities. Notice the ?dinosaur?

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Modern wall murals.

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Nice wall mural on this curio shop.

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I first ran into a van with an advertisement for the Blue Swallow Motel when I stopped in Lebanon, MO. Now here it is in person.

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Big signs and big hats!

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Murals in Tucumcari.

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Leaving town I caught this station.

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The museum was of course closed. This is the pattern of my travels.

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But this guy was just beside the entry to the hotel and conference center next to the museum. What the heck is he?

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The Tucumcari trading post was an interesting photo opportunity.

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Past Newkirk and Cuervo comes Santa Rosa.

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I stayed the night here to be refreshed for my trip to Albuquerque via Pecos and Santa Fe.

 

 

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016

As always I admire the wall murals and El Reno didn’t let me down as I caught a few as I was leaving town.

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As I turned toward Route 66 I noticed that the Chisholm Trail is an integral part of my trip now.

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Another historical marker along Route 66 concerning Fort Reno.DSC_0137

I did stop by the old Fort Reno for a photo opportunity.

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Traveling Route 66 brought me to this ¾ mile long pony bridge with 38 pony (small trusses) to span the South Canadian River. Getting here has been fun as the road is a 1933 curbed-concrete road. Going over it reminds me of being in a train with the ‘clippity clop’ of the tires clicking on the expansion joints. Much like the train rolling over the connecting points.

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Yet another fun roadside historical marker sitting by Lucille’s.

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Weatherford must have a problem as the sign states local traffic only as you enter their downtown area. Maybe the sign is misplaced!

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The Cherokee Trading Post is the first I’ve seen in Oklahoma. I stopped to buy another pair of moccasins but they didn’t have anything different than what I already have. So I’ll wait until I get further west for a new pair.

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I wanted to eat at the White Dog Hill Restaurant but I didn’t trust that I could get out once I got up there. So I didn’t have lunch until later.

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Clinton, OK has an Oklahoma Route 66 Museum that boasts it is national in scope. The museum covers quite a bit of real-estate with a collection of windmills, village and the museum itself is glass brick with a neon sign.

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This is an actual piece of the curbed concrete road I’ve been driving on.

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 Other buildings on the museum grounds.

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DSC_0168 (2)I wonder how long it will be before this ’66 Sweet Spot’ is a roadside relic?

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For much of my trip I’ve been following parallel to a major road, US Route 55, US Route 44 or US Route 40. I do get to pass over the old bridges and see other oddities that those traveling the main roads don’t. Sometimes there are no 66 markers and I have to double back because I’ve missed a turn. If it weren’t for the book ‘EZ66 Route 66 Guide for Travelers’ by Jerry McClanahan I would never have been able to stay on Route 66.

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DSC_0175 (2)If you’ve ever wondered what the old Route 66 actually looks like I am showing you now. Route 66 was a 4-lane road and only 2 are being used now. I’ve been running beside it all along and some communities in Missouri and Illinois made walking/biking trails out of the unused 2 lanes. But here in Oklahoma in the ‘wide open spaces’ the road has been completely abandoned. It reminds me of a movie set after some apocalyptic event.

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DSC_0179The last watering hole before you leave Oklahoma and enter Texas. I actually had illusions of staying in Texola but there is nothing there!DSC_0180 (2)

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It is indeed a small world. I pulled into a RV Park only to find it closed down and empty. As I was leaving a pickup stopped and I mentioned that the Park appeared closed. The man said he was a broker and was supposed to be meeting the owner to view the property. As we talked he asked me where I was from. I mentioned Indianapolis but that I had grown up in Lovington, NM. He said that Shamrock was home to the Purcell family that had ties to Lovington. As he talked it became apparent that Becky was in my graduating class and he had dated her younger sister Sarah. What a small world.

Shamrock, TX boasts a 1936 Conoco station that has been restored, U-Drop Inn/Tower Conoco!

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I began to see the posted quips and the resulting Burma Shave signs.

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Another oddity spotted is these welded art items

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More murals to appreciate.

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This was the first Phillips 66 station in Texas. Located in McLean

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At this point I had to jump on I-40 and stayed the night at an accommodating Texas rest stop because it had a storm shelter.

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 27, 2016

April 27, 2016

Saying goodbye to Tulsa I traveled further across Oklahoma.

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Sapulpa had a Route 66 option that I couldn’t take as it had a bridge with a 7’2” height. So I stayed on the main Route 66 and caught a glimpse of the Trolley and Train museum and a few wall murals.

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I have been seeing these flowers that look like orange balls for hundreds of miles now. I stopped to see what they were to satisfy my curiosity. I still don’t know what they are but they are nice beside the road.

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Chandler, OK has an interpretive center located in an old National Guard armory that has been refurbished. The guide provided me with a grand tour of the facility and explained much of its history.

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At the Arcadia Barn I met with 2 news reporters, sans storm chasers that were evaluating the storm damage from the tornados that made landfall last night. They were interesting to talk to. Only minor damage to the barn occurred from the high winds.

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I stopped by the Overholser Lake for lunch. I met a wonderful Vietnamese woman that graciously offered a spot on her property for me to stay and visit the area. I declined as I wanted to continue on the mother road. The Bridge was too short for me to go over so I had to choose the highway instead.

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I made it to El Reno where I was able to stay at the VFW where they had multiple RV hookups available. With a need for revenue I can’t imagine why they are not using these as a money generator. Unless the other RV Parks in town don’t want the competition.

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Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 26, 2016

April 26, 2016

I met up with Andrea as my tour guide and missed spending the day with Irene as she was feeling bad. We started our journey in Tulsa to experience the spots she found interesting. First up was the ‘Center of the Universe’ This item is located at the Jazz Museum in downtown Tulsa. There is a huge monolithic spire reaching up with airplanes on one side and people on the other. Once you get to the ‘center’ you can talk and there is an echo. Once you move from this location the echo no longer exists. Strange!

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Andrea standing at the Center of the Universe

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The Cyrus Avery Bridge is said to be the final piece putting Route 66 together. Here the original road exists across the bridge that is no longer used.  While access to the area is difficult there are a couple of large statue pieces and the sign over the road.

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While downtown we also drove around the Catholic cathedral and a church with a large domed roof that rises to allow for ventilation.

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On our way to visit the Totem Pole Park we stopped by an Amish bakery where I picked up some honey, pulled chicken and a HUGE cinnamon roll.

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This is the largest totem in the park.

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This next totem makes a nice chimney for this oven.

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Of course you can’t visit Tulsa and not go to the Will Rogers Museum and Memorial. From the life size statue of Will Rogers to the movie theater showing clips from his many movies this is an interesting and educational adventure. Not only did Will Rogers ‘Never meet a man he didn’t like’ he was also a most accomplished man of many talents.

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A replica of his study in California.

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On the way to the Will Rogers childhood home I saw these oddities by the road.DSC_0066 (2)

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The view from the veranda towards the lake reminds me of the view from the veranda at Mount Vernon looking toward the Potomac River.

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Tulsa also boasts the ‘Blue Whale’. Refurbished and the center of a small park.

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Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016

Kansas! Here I am. The old bridge going from Missouri to Galena, Kansas using Route 66 was pretty cool. It was like I was driving into another time and place.

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 Remember that I keep looking for those oddities that attract my attention as I’m driving by!

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And then there is this house. I can only hope that not all Kansas Citizens are so meticulous as these people.

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As my luck would have it the Baxter Springs, KS Heritage Center and Museum was closed but I walked around the outside taking photos.

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 The folks at the Visitor Center in town were so excited to have me as a visitor that they even made a call to have the Heritage Center and Museum opened up for me. I declined the offer as the guy to open had just finished mowing the lawn. Wow, that is customer service though. The visitor center is located in a 1930’s era Phillips 66 station.

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Kansas only has 13.5 miles of Route 66 and as I entered Oklahoma I stopped at this historical marker beside the road.

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The first town I passed through was Quapaw. Commerce was next and I missed the photo opportunity for Mickey Mantle’s statue as I passed at the Commerce High School.

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Miami, OK is home to the Coleman Theatre. This is a restored 1929 Spanish mission-styled showplace.

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I began following Route 66 out of town when it turned ROUGH! After a ½ mile or so I was able to turn around and backtrack to find another version of Route 66. At the other end of the stretch I was on I found this monument.

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DSC_0028 (2)As oddities go this was cool. An old police car and traveling jail cell advertising a Bail Bond company in front of what used to be a motel.DSC_0045 (2)

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Oops, my Rig is about 6 tons and my Jeep is 1.5 tons. But hey, I can’t back up and I was already committed. Surely the 3 ton weight limit was a loose estimate!

My next stop was a KOA RV park at the Will Rogers Casino and track in Claremore, OK. My cousin Irene and her daughter Andrea live here and I get to spend a day with them.

 

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 24, 2016

April 24, 2016

The motel I parked my RV behind had several RV hookups. The waste water sewer drains were misplaced and I could not use it but the space was mostly level, had water and electricity. Only one other RV was present and it looked like it was permanently located at the end of the park. All is good. Somewhere in the middle of the open area there was a bonfire during the night. Kinda creepy as it must’ve been the motel residents, which appeared to be long term. When a door opened I could see rooms that didn’t look like they had been cleaned – ever! I tried to pay three times before the young father of two clinging youngsters told me that his wife was the only one that knew how to register me and she wouldn’t be home from her other job until after 2200. On my way out I again tried to pay for the space but the doors were locked and no one answered my knock. I would have left some money in an envelope for them but one of the room occupants was sitting outside of his room with his shirt off. I didn’t have any faith that the money would ever get to the manager of the complex. Thank you Passport America for the free night. Needless to say I slept with my hand gun readily available.

As I left the motel and began traveling on Route 66 again I was immediately in rural Missouri. I loved the look of the old rock built houses but all of the abandoned buildings saddened me. It is amazing what a ‘change for the better’ can do to the lives of the people depending on the income derived from the Route 66 travelers. But then again as I drove along the ‘Mother Road’ I let my imagination run wild. I was a little child riding in the family car. The windows are down, the radio is on and the family is playing games. How many different state license plate can you see? Who can spot a rail road crossing sign first? Rail Road Crossing Look out for Cars, can you spell that without any R’s? I can just see the people waving back to us as we cruise 66!

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I never expected to come upon a certifiable ghost town in Missouri though. New Mexico and Arizona maybe but not Missouri.

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Then I come upon the 1930 Sinclair Gas Station named Gay Parita in Paris Springs, MO. The gentleman who lovingly restored this gas station and obtained the artifacts died a year ago and his wife recently passed on.  As of three weeks ago the daughter has assumed the privilege of maintaining the Gas Station and she is truly excited to be doing it. I was lucky enough to listen in while an old-timer explained where some of the artifacts came from.

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Just a short distance away I found these vintage Chevrolet Corvair cars and an old travel trailer.

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No one was home at this gas station in Spencer, MO but it appears to be in the states of restoration.

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Passing through the countryside on the winding picturesque road brought me through this 1926 thru-truss bridge.

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This is a Lowell Davis sculpture on the side of the road. It is too bad I missed Red Oak II as there were many sights to see there.

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I really liked Carthage and would like to have spent more time there but it was getting late and I wanted to stop in Joplin, MO for the night.

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Webb City, MO had more photo ops with wall murals.

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Joplin, MO was a different sight. I hated to see this abandoned factory or whatever it was.

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Just think, someday this may be just a roadside attraction too!

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This is actually a drive thru window

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I stayed at the tribal casino 14 miles out of Joplin. There were Buffalo grazing beside and behind the parking area. I signed up for their free player card and received free RV parking for the night (water and electricity). I also received a $10 food coupon and a $10 credit to play the slots or gamble with. I used the $10 credit at a slot machine. I had to ask an attendant how to do it but then – well I used up their credits and earned $10.60 in cash. I used the $10 food coupon for a $10 breakfast meal so the only cost I had was my coffee. All in all I received free lodging, food and transportation to and from the RV parking lot and walked away with $4!  I love traveling Route 66.

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Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 23, 2016

April 23, 2016

After spending the night in Edwardsville, IL I was determined to see the ‘Chain of Rocks Bridge’ constructed in 1927 (abandoned in 1968) and one of the few bridges in the world with a radical bend (22 degree) in the middle. This turned out to be challenge as my GPS yelled at me that I was too tall to go the direction on the Illinois side so I took a chance on the Missouri side of the Mississippi. The signs and GPS turned me around just as I crossed the river and then stated that I was there while on the middle of the bridge. I stopped for directions back on the Missouri side only to be more knowledgeable than the attendant at the gas station. So I chose to travel toward downtown St Louis – not my best choice – and found the parking area for the Chain of Rocks Bridge blocked off. I pulled over on the side of the road and walked back to get these photos. This bridge is now a link in a hike/bike trail

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After reading the safety warnings about traveling on the old Route 66 through St Louis – narrow road winding thru a decayed region of empty lots and boarded-up row houses, churches and stores – I chose to travel I270 to catch 66 again on the west side of St Louis.

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A typical City Hall along this route.

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Missouri hosts visitors at the Route 66 State Park with a small museum and gift shop. You are warned not to follow Route 66 across the bridge!

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I spoke at length with a woman at the information desk. She recommended several stops along the way and gave me maps and brochures. She is the second person to mention a woman from Tucumcari, NM that is traveling a day ahead of me. I wonder if I’ll catch up to her?

The Cedar Inn was recommended but there was no parking for me and I had to move on. The view from the back is supposed to be worth seeing.

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I found the remnants of businesses all along the Missouri roadside.  There are also many Armadillos and Skunks scattered about as ‘Roadkill’.

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I tried to catch photos of some of the oddities along the way. Below is a market – not open of course.

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Meramec Caverns is a must see. Unfortunately it is closed too!

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At the Route 66 Park I was also advised to visit the 1934 Wagon Wheel Motel. Connie maintains a nice gift shop and the motel is built from rocks. My battle buddy Christy grew up around Cuba and also recommended the area for extended sightseeing.

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Next door is the Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q

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Cuba also hosts the GIANT Red Rocker at the Outpost General Store.

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I found this innovative lawnmower at the side of the General Store. I wonder if my battle buddy Mark in Kentucky could use it?

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Next stop along the route is Uranus, MO.

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This stop along the roadside was designed to attract the family in for a break off the road with entertainment for the kids and adults as well. Food and gifts are also available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I had stopped by Fort Leonardwood but there was no campground on Post and the office at the recreation area in the Lake of the Ozarks was already closed. So I kept going for another hour enjoying the quiet ride through the Missouri countryside.

It was time to stop for the night. I used my Passport America App and found a RV park on Route 66 in Lebanon, MO. Well, it was almost an RV park as behind a rundown motel was several RV hookups. But across the street was a surprise gathering of Route 66 enthusiasts.

Jess McEntire was performing on stage. I purchased his double CD set titled ‘Man on a Mission’ and ‘Take a Trip on 66’. Loretta Lynn wrote and donated a song called ‘Ole Route 66’ for the CD. Many old cars were present and here are photos of some of them.DSC_0941 (2) - Copy

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Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016

All good things must come to an end and my visit at Dwight, IL ended. Last night I was visited by John. It seems that the VFW bar manager Malinda began reading my book ‘Sandbox to Sandbox’ and felt the need to discuss this with the bar patrons. John was receiving quite a bit of harassment for taking me to the Country Mansion for dinner. To his credit he stood by me for being a kind and intelligent woman. I must admit that I experienced quite a bit of dysphoria on Tuesday and tried to fill the day as best I could.

My first stop after departing Dwight is Odell, IL. Here I found a 1932 Standard Oil Station that has been restored by the Illinois Route 66 Association. Like many of the attractions on my journey this visitor center was closed. This makes for great photo ops though as there are no cars obstructing the buildings.

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I kept looking for the barn in Cayuga that had the Meramec Caverns advertisement on it but I think the paint has worn off or the barn has fallen down as I didn’t see it.

Pontiac, IL is a town proud of the Route 66 history. There is an awesome Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum downtown that has 3 floors packed with memorabilia. The top floor is a military museum. Uniforms have been donated by local persons who have served in the military. Each uniform has the medals earned and each uniform has a history provided by the service member or their family. John from Dwight would be well served visiting this museum and talking with the veterans who volunteer there.

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A tribute to women service members is also included.

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Pontiac also boasts of many wall murals. There are more than 20 murals within a 4 block area of downtown that were created within a 4 day period in 2009 during the Walldogs Summer Bash. Here are some of them. Oh, and notice the small cars all over the streets also.

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The old courthouse was renovated at a cost of $8 million. During the renovation beautiful ornate ceiling tiles were uncovered on the second floor ceilings.

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Pontiac is also proud of Abe Lincoln as he stands at a fence post at the City Hall courthouse.

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A bigger than life postage stamp next door to the post office.

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No town is complete without its jail. This is on Route 66 as you are departing town.

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It seems that there was a Log Cabin that faced the highway but when the route was changed to pass behind the Cabin the highway department pitched in a turned the building around to face the new route 66.

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The outdoor patio at the Old Log Cabin restaurant.

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As I was driving down the highway I had to stop and take this photo of someone’s display. There were no shops or stores in the vicinity so I guess you just look as you drive by.

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Lunch time and what better place than ‘Kick’s Bar and Grill’ in Towanda, IL?

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Next up was Normal, IL.

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One of the biggest problems I’m having is finding a place to park the RV pulling my Jeep. We are just bigger than the normal car! The other problem I’m having is taking pictures of sights on the side of the road as I’m driving. I could use someone with me!

The Dixie Café still exists but I didn’t stop in to see it. In fact I thought I’d made a wrong turn on Route 66. When I saw this display I pulled into the parking lot to take photos.

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Towanda, IL has done what many other locations have done and that is to turn 2 of the 4 lanes of the original Route 66 into walking and bike riding trails. The photo below is of the unused 2 lanes of Route 66. I followed them for many miles. The highway department has broken up the road to prevent you from driving on it. In Lexington there is a one mile stretch of the road that has been designated ‘Memory Lane’. You can walk down this old patch of road and read the Burma Shave signs. I can’t take photos well while driving (and you wouldn’t want me to) but the Burma Shave signs along the highway are small red signs with catchy phrases on them and the last one states ‘Burma Shave’.

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Many of the small towns have elaborate museums and courthouses.

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Up next is Atlanta, IL

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I had to find an out of the way spot to park so I could walk around Anthony, IL. I was able to park beside the 1908 octagonal library which hosts a clock tower.

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A giant Paul Bunyan drew my attention!

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I’m beginning to believe that traveling Route 66 is like a giant geocashing game or scavenger hunt. There is just so much to see and do. Anthony has its own wall murals as do many of these towns I’m passing through.

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Catching glimpses while going through yet another small town on Route 66.

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Lincoln, IL hosts another giant, that of Abe Lincoln and wagon. Again I thought I had made a wrong turn only to find that I wasn’t lost, only exploring!

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In Chatham I was excited to travel on a 1.4 mile stretch of brick road built in 1932. Like most of the old Route 66 the road is only 16 foot wide.

I don’t remember where this attraction was. It was not open but I stopped and took photos. At the next intersection I had to make a choice and took a photo of the museum car before turning right on the older leg of Route 66.

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Virden, IL is next on the route.

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In Illinois the Historic Route 66 signs are placed EXACTLY at the turn. You are never forewarned of an upcoming turn in the route. I was driving along the highway and couldn’t make the turn so had to drive a couple of miles to where I could turn my RV and Jeep around to take the route. I’m so glad I did as I found the ‘Turkey Tracks’. These Turkey Tracks date back to 1920 when the cement was poured.

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To get to the turkey tracks you are following the narrow, 16’, winding road common of the original Route 66. In fact the highway used to be called Bloody 66 because there weren’t many rules of the road and with speed the S curves became ‘Dead Man’ curves.

Next up is Carlinville, IL.

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Part of the town square.

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Sometimes following the older, more narrow and winding route of Route 66 is a challenge. I inherited a few branches on my awning passing through this section of ‘The Mother Road’.

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This is the Fritz family shrine to Route 66.

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I began to see oil pump jacks in the fields at about this time of my journey.

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All along the Illinois route there was the smell of freshly plowed fields. This is the heartland of America.

Forgotten Historical Route 66 – April 21, 2016

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April 21, 2016

What an exciting day! I spent yesterday getting my computer ready and plans made for publishing the travel blog and then I visited the VFW Post 2608 that is hosting me in their parking lot. I began a conversation with John, a Vietnam veteran, who is a farmer and came in early from the fields due to rain. Quite an interesting man. He talked about his Army experiences in Vietnam as a helicopter crew chief and when the time came he invited me to dinner at the Country Mansion. Back in the ‘70s he had helped to renovate the building and gave me a tour after dinner. The owner visited with us and invited me to the 90th anniversary celebration of Route 66 that was being held today at the old Texaco station.

I got out of bed early to backtrack into Wilmington, Braidwood, Godly and Gardner to capture some of the sights recommended to me. Then as I visited the Country Mansion for a photo opportunity before participating in the 90th anniversary celebration.

First stop is Wilmington, the Island City. As you drive in from Chicago through Joliet you enter to see the Gemini Giant and the Launching Pad Drive In. I learned today that the Drive In has been purchased.

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Before you cross the Kankakee River there are three things to see:

Nelly’s Rte. 66 Diner. A typical 50’s – 60’s style diner serving burgers, fries, onion rings and hot dogs.

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Next is the Van Duyne Motel – “Best Motel by a Dam Site”. This isn’t  modern motel that you would want the family to stay in but it is still here and there is a vacancy!

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Directly across the street at a baseball diamond is the 150 foot Joliet Arsenal flagpole that was moved from Joliet at 2am to avoid traffic. With this flagpole a veteran’s memorial is being constructed.

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The Wilmington VFW Post 5422 is the only Blue Star Memorial on Route 66 in Illinois.

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Every small town I ever visited had a Ben Franklin general merchandise store. Wilmington still has theirs and is sporting its own Route 66 corner. I bought a Route 66 piggy bank here.

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Braidwood, IL is home to the Polk-a-Dot Drive In. From Elvis to the Blues Brothers with Betty Boop, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe this is the place to visit.

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Across the street is the Braidwood Zoo.

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Leaving Braidwood we head toward Godley and pass a Nuclear Energy Plant – no tourist facilities though. In Godley is the Godley Mining Museum (Free admission).

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Passing through Braceville did not reap any tourist activities but I did find a couple of classic cars parked alongside the road.

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I continued on and wanted to show that most of Illinois so far lives up to its claim as the heartland with fertile fields for growing food for America and the world.

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The next stop is Gardner, home of the 2 cell jail. Next to the jail is the restored historic street car diner that was located at the rear of the Riviera – an original Route 66 road house. The Riviera hosted many old time movie legends such as Gene Kelly and cowboy heartthrob Tom Mix. Of notoriety is that Al Capone and his brother Ralph were also regulars. The Riviera was destroyed by fire on June 8, 2010.

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Downtown Gardner, IL

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Next stop is Dwight, IL. Beautiful spring blossoms everywhere.

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Dinner at the Country Mansion was a treat at this charming restaurant.

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What follows is from thecountrymansion.com website.

Long a landmark of scenic Dwight, Illinois, The Country Mansion has had a colorful and productive past, and since 1980 has been on the “National Register of Historic Places.”  Built in 1891, this grand Victorian was originally a Scott House, a twenty room boarding house located one block northeast of its present location.  According to town historians, in 1894 the three-story structure was moved by the use of horses to its current site, which at that time was the grounds of the Keeley Institute, an internationally known alcohol recovery hospital.

In 1895, the home was elaborately renovated under the direction of Joliet architect Julian Barnes to become the residence of John R. Oughton, one of the founders of the Keeley Institute.  It then became known as “The Manse.”  The April 6, 1895 issue of the Dwight Star and Herald reported, “The Scott House will not know itself when the changes are made.  The residence and all the barns and out houses are the outhouses are to be moved and the grounds made into a beautiful park … the very best materials and the very best work throughout is provided for and the design is elegant.  We understand the improvements will cost over $20,000 when finished.”  Upon completion there were twenty rooms on the first two floors, including servant quarters and an additional five rooms in the basement, including a bowling alley, engine room, vegetable room, and ballroom, as well as a very roomy attic.

In 1896, the Windmill, which is now the centerpiece to a scenic new park adjoining the Mansion grounds, was constructed to supply water for the Oughton estate.  Placed on “The National Register of Historic Places” in 1980, it was donated to the Village in 2001 by Mike and Bev Hogan and beautifully restored in 2006.

Changes continued to “The Manse,” and in 1930 it housed Keeley patients and was known as “The Lodge.”  In 1939, the town and the Keeley Company celebrated the institute’s sixtieth at this site and dedicated a bronze memorial plaque with the likeness of its three founders which remains on the grounds today.  With the closing of the Keeley Institute in 1966, the home was transformed into “The Lodge Restaurant.”  In 1977, it was purchased by the Ohlendorfs, remodeled and reopened as “The Country Mansion.”

The east porch now serves as the main entrance into the Mansion dining areas.  Overlooking the lovely wedding gardens, it offers a vista ablaze with colorful perennial gardens, a charming bridal gazebo, and emerald lawns shaded by ancient trees.

The interior has retained and enhanced the original Victorian appointments, which include a high barrel ceiling hallway, and dining rooms with elegant coffered ceilings, dentil moldings, leaded glass, and built-in oak sideboards.  A romantic lounge features two inviting fireplaces and mahogany double doors opening to a delightful al fresco dining area.

To the rear of the mansion, an expansive addition known as the Garden Room offers two walls of towering multi-paned windows with breathtaking views of the magnificent grounds plus the adjoining new park and historic Windmill, probably the prettiest in the country.  This sought-after facility provides an idyllic setting for many formal occasions including weddings, anniversaries, conferences, and balls

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The Library that used to be a stables.

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The Old 66 Family Restaurant that I ate at my first night here allowed me to take photos inside their facility. In this first photo notice the wood inlaid piece. I’ve blown it up for a better view as I liked this.

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So the 90th anniversary celebration of Route 66 isn’t actually until November 11th. But the folks in Dwight, IL wanted to start the spring with a celebration claiming to be the first celebration of the 90th anniversary of the opening of Route 66 from Chicago to LA. The celebration was held at the Texaco station and following are several photos of the occasion and the station itself.

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Cars that would have traveled the Historic Route 66 abound at this birthday celebration.

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There is even a 1914 Fire Engine in the Texaco station!

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A new Route 66 Ambassettdor has been appointed!

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