Explore It

One Mile
At A Time

Route 66

Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation's history - and it lives on today in Illinois' Route 66's many roadside attractions, museums, restaurants - and the shining ribbon of blacktop we call The Mother Road.

Explore It

One Mile
At A Time

Route 66

Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation's history - and it lives on today in Illinois' Route 66's many roadside attractions, museums, restaurants - and the shining ribbon of blacktop we call The Mother Road.

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New Photos From Route 66
Ryburn Place at Sprague Super Service Grand Opening 8-12-17
Ryburn Place at Sprague Super Service Grand Opening 8-12-17
2017 Lincoln's Festival on Route 66
2017 Lincoln's Festival on Route 66
2017 Rock 'n Rods on 66 Festival
2017 Rock 'n Rods on 66 Festival
2017 World's Largest Catsup Bottle Festival
2017 World's Largest Catsup Bottle Festival
2017 Blue Carpet Corridor
2017 Blue Carpet Corridor
2017 Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days
2017 Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days
2017 Red Carpet Corridor
2017 Red Carpet Corridor
Railsplitter Antique Auto Club Car Show Lincoln IL 8-28-16
Railsplitter Antique Auto Club Car Show Lincoln IL 8-28-16
Berwyn Rt 66 Car Show 8-27-16
Berwyn Rt 66 Car Show 8-27-16
Lincoln Home National Park Service 100th Anniversary 8-25-16
Lincoln Home National Park Service 100th Anniversary 8-25-16
Evergreen Memorial Cemetery Vietnam Wall Ceremony 8-25-16
Evergreen Memorial Cemetery Vietnam Wall Ceremony 8-25-16
McLean IL Walldog Mural Festival 8-20-16
McLean IL Walldog Mural Festival 8-20-16
2016 Blue Carpet Corridor
2016 Blue Carpet Corridor
Downtown Bloomington Car Cruise-In 6-5-2016
Downtown Bloomington Car Cruise-In 6-5-2016
Logan County Arts Route 66 Exhibit Opening 6-2-16
Logan County Arts Route 66 Exhibit Opening 6-2-16
Bandit Run Pontiac IL 6-1-16
Bandit Run Pontiac IL 6-1-16
Rialto Square Theatre 90th Anniversary Celebration 5-24-16
Rialto Square Theatre 90th Anniversary Celebration 5-24-16
3rd Fridays Inaugural Event Lincoln IL 5-20-16
3rd Fridays Inaugural Event Lincoln IL 5-20-16
Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days 5-14-16
Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days 5-14-16
2016 Red Carpet Corridor
2016 Red Carpet Corridor
Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center First Anniversary 4-25-16
Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center First Anniversary 4-25-16
Dwight IL Route 66 90th Birthday Celebration 4-21-16
Dwight IL Route 66 90th Birthday Celebration 4-21-16
Miles of Possibility Edwardsville Route 66 Conference
Miles of Possibility Edwardsville Route 66 Conference
45th Annual Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting Festival 2015
45th Annual Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting Festival 2015
Elkhart Fall Festival 10-10-15
Elkhart Fall Festival 10-10-15
2015 International Mother Road Festival
2015 International Mother Road Festival
Illinois State Fair Media Day 8-6-15
Illinois State Fair Media Day 8-6-15
Bloomington Car Show 6-6-15
Bloomington Car Show 6-6-15
International Mother Road Festival Springfield IL 9/26-9/28/14
International Mother Road Festival Springfield IL 9/26-9/28/14
Berwyn Route 66 Car Show 9-6-14
Berwyn Route 66 Car Show 9-6-14
Berwyn, IL
Berwyn, IL
17th Annual World's Largest Catsup Bottle Festival
17th Annual World's Largest Catsup Bottle Festival
Inaugural 2015 Blue Carpet Corridor 6-13 to 6-14
Inaugural 2015 Blue Carpet Corridor 6-13 to 6-14
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Videos From The Road
Eagle Injured in 2017 Successfully Released Back Into Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield, IL - 1/20/18
Eagle Injured in 2017 Successfully Released Back Into Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield, IL - 1/20/18
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1M6ofF_HIZ8" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen>
Josiah Keller performs Star Spangled Banner at The Mill on 66 Motorcycle Show 9-17-16
Josiah Keller performs Star Spangled Banner at The Mill on 66 Motorcycle Show 9-17-16
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-PG9l9RMvto" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Signs Route 66 Motorcycle Plate Legislation 8/20/16
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Signs Route 66 Motorcycle Plate Legislation 8/20/16
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:420px;" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_vxaGbTMifM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
45th Annual National Railsplitting Contest - Lincoln IL
45th Annual National Railsplitting Contest - Lincoln IL
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:420px;" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HEmd9fnmc5w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
2014 International Mother Road Festival City Nights Cruise
2014 International Mother Road Festival City Nights Cruise
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:420px;" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wjC2MkEbA5o" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Whispering Joe @ 2014 International Mother Road Festival
Whispering Joe @ 2014 International Mother Road Festival
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:420px;" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2ZdOj1nbW2w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Route 66
Illinois Route 66
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hgWeEz269yw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Route 66 Stories, Ernie Edwards, Pig Hip Restaurant / Museum, Broadwell
Route 66 Stories, Ernie Edwards, Pig Hip Restaurant / Museum, Broadwell
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/37vFO00mCqE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Jim Jones - Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Jim Jones - Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Wmt795wJVVw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Route 66 Stories: Betty Estes - Illinois Route 66
Route 66 Stories: Betty Estes - Illinois Route 66
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/AqpgZTqjumY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
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The Three Alignments
This era encompasses the "Golden Age" of Route 66 where America's car culture took hold. Drive-in theaters, Drive-in restaurants, and motels were born and developed along the Mother Road during this period.
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The concept of the "bypass" was first implemented on Route 66 during this era. Transportation infrastructure is well underway at this point in history as well and traveler expectations have risen, resulting in gas stations, motels, and formalized rest areas.
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The "original" Route 66 alignment in Illinois signifies a turning point in transportation history as the emphasis of long distance travel shifts from a fixed rail system to a traveler driven navigation. Illinois was the first state to boast having Route 66 paved from end to end. It is during this time period that the Mother Road was most often referred to as " The Hard Road."
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Featured Attractions
Old Rugged Barn Event Venue
Towanda, IL
The Old Rugged Barn is central Illinois' newest barn event venue and is now open and ready for business!!   Originally built around 1920, McLean County Barn Keepers Association has designated this a Centennial Barn.   The barn and the 3.3 acre property on which it stands has undergone quite a signification transformation since new owner Jo Morrison arrived in 2010.  The barn got its name considering the appearance at the time and her beloved Mom's favorite hymn was "The Old Rugged Cross."   
Eagle Performing Arts And Conference Center
Pontiac, IL
The new Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center in Pontiac provides dinner theater productions by the Vermillion Players, as well as concerts, meetings, and other events. The Eagle motion picture house was originally built in the 1930s as the city's second movie theater.
Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
Willowbrook, IL

The Rhea family has welcomed Route 66 travelers since the 1940's, when the restaurant served as a Blue Bird bus stop. Today, they serve some of the best fried chicken you'll eat! Make sure to save some room to browse through all the great 66 memorabilia and their incredible collection of chickens. Featured on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives" with Guy Fieri. Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket recently was awarded a 2016 National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Program Neon Sign Restoration Project grant for $34,600.

featured stories from the road
Renovated Lincoln Depot Now Open in Lincoln, IL

A host of local dignitaries including current and former Lincoln mayors, railroad officials, transportation officials and representatives of elected state and federal officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting for the completion of renovations and opening of the historic Lincoln Dept in downtown Lincoln, IL (101 N. Chicago St). A large crowd was on-hand for the December 5, 2017 event. Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman hosted the ceremony, which also included remarks from Illinois State Representative Tim Butler, and Hal Smith from Representative Darin LaHood's office.

When the Wheels Hit the Road

When the wheels hit the road (bicycle wheels , that is) we were honored to travel the Illinois portion of Route 66 with Zdenek Jurasek and his 2 person film crew (Petra and Tomas) from the Czech Republic. Zdenek was attempting his second Route 66 trip from Chicago to Los Angeles on his mountain bike. The Solo Bicycle Ride trip was initiated on August 20th and completed on September 21st, 2016. The first encounter we had with our friend and his crew was in Braidwood, IL at the Polk-a-dot. That same evening we were invited to join him and distinguished citizens from Dwight at the world renowned Country Mansion Restaurant.

Route 66 - Full Throttle
Creator of Steppinstars Music, Steve Henry, recently released a new song/video - "Route 66 - Full Throttle."  Henry's Steppinstars Music recently hit a milestone of 50,000 views on his YouTube Channel.  Currently, his song charts include almost 70 releases with "Route 66 - Full Throttle" quickly becoming one of the most popular. 
Tourists - Tully Monsters - Tall Grass Prairies
Back again after a short break in our adventures on Route 66. We hope you enjoy our accumulation of thoughts about the “Mother Road”. We recently have been made aware of the renewed interest in the history of Route 66 by the national and local news media and the human interest stories that appear regularly on T.V. And newspapers. Here in Illinois our congratulations to all of the staff and Mr. Bill Kelly of the “Illinois Mile After Magnificent Mile” publication of the 2016 issue of the Visitor's Guide If you haven't got a copy, get one to assist in all of your enjoyment of Illinois 66 and all the attractions it offers. Here are a few!!
Upcoming Events
Friday Night Dinner at the Palms Grill Cafe
Illinois 200 Bicentennial Celebration 1818-2018
Jump in the Painting - The Restoration of the C&M Carousel
One State, 200 Years, Four Presidents
Niehaus Cycle Sales Transportation Show 2018
12th Annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival
Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days
Old Capitol Art Fair
Champagne British Car Festival
Legacy of Giving Music Festival
Friday Night Dinner at the Palms Grill Cafe
Illinois 200 Bicentennial Celebration 1818-2018
Jump in the Painting - The Restoration of the C&M Carousel
One State, 200 Years, Four Presidents
Niehaus Cycle Sales Transportation Show 2018
12th Annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival
Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days
Old Capitol Art Fair
Champagne British Car Festival
Legacy of Giving Music Festival
11/3/17 - 3/23/18
Atlanta
12/3/17 - 12/3/18
Springfield
3/11/18 - 9/9/18
Lexington
3/23/18 - 12/31/18
Springfield
4/8/18
Litchfield
5/5/18
Joliet
5/18/18 - 5/20/18
Litchfield
5/19/18 - 5/20/18
Springfield
6/1/18 - 6/3/18
Bloomington-Normal
6/1/18 - 6/2/18
Springfield
11/3/17 - 3/23/18
Atlanta
12/3/17 - 12/3/18
Springfield
3/11/18 - 9/9/18
Lexington
3/23/18 - 12/31/18
Springfield
4/8/18
Litchfield
5/5/18
Joliet
5/18/18 - 5/20/18
Litchfield
5/19/18 - 5/20/18
Springfield
6/1/18 - 6/3/18
Bloomington-Normal
6/1/18 - 6/2/18
Springfield

The Atlanta Public Library and Museum will host a series of Dinner Programs at the Palms Grill Cafe from November 2017 through March 2018. The events will feature local speakers who will present after-dinner programs at the Palms Grill Cafe, located at 110 SW Arch Street in downtown Atlanta. Dinner begins at 5:30 pm, with the evening’s program starting at 7pm.

Year long kick off events for the Illinois Bicentennial begin on December 3rd, 2017at Winter Wonderland at Navy Pier in Chicago and at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield. Illinois Route 66 will be prominently featured throughout the year.


Local artisans Chuck and Mary Beth Wright share their restoration story of the C&M Carousel. Ticket includes Carousel ride and band organ performance. Approximately 2 hours. $20 general admission, $5 for children 12 and under. Jump in the Painting is offered on Sunday March 11th, April 8th, July 15th and September 9th, from 1-3pm, by reservation.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will help celebrate the state’s 200th birthday with a major new exhibit about the four presidents who have called Illinois their home. This exhibit, entitled “From Illinois to the White House:  Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama,” will explore their connections to the Prairie State, their political battles, the first ladies who helped them succeed and much more.

The 5th annual Transportation Show at Niehaus Cycle Sales is a Show & Tell event that features all types of transportation. Check out the historical cars and trucks, hotrod cars, race cars, custom motorcycle sales, mud buggies, drag boats and more! The event is free to the public and there is no entry fee, judging or competition - just plenty of fun!

The 12th Annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival traverses 13 Communities from Joliet to Towanda along a 90-mile stretch of Old Route 66 that collectively celebrates the Mother Road. Each town puts together its own events for that Saturday, making for a great shopping and sight-seeing experience. Gather the family and take a trip down memory lane. Towns include Joliet, Elwood, Wilmington, Braidwood, Godley, Braceville, Gardner, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington and Towanda.

Every year on the weekend after Mother's Day is the large Appreciation Days event, attended by as many as 5000 people from as far away as Canada, and it features the "Show of Lights Ride" through downtown Litchfield. The Celebration lasts until someone wins a New Gold Wing, F6B, Valkyrie, or Pioneer 1000-5D on Sunday.

 

Set against the backdrop of the Illinois Old State Capitol building, art lovers find the Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair to be the jewel of the Midwest. This tradition of fine art has brought artists and shoppers from across the country flocking to downtown Springfield’s two-day outdoor art gallery for over 50 years.
If you have a love for British-made cars, you’ll love this popular annual gathering of British beauties on the lawn of Davis Mansion.
 The Legacy of Giving Festival (formerly the SOHO Music Festival) will be held June 1-2, from 5 p.m. through midnight Friday and 10 a.m. through midnight Saturday. The festival boasts two days of live music from 70 local, regional and national acts on five stages.

The Atlanta Public Library and Museum will host a series of Dinner Programs at the Palms Grill Cafe from November 2017 through March 2018. The events will feature local speakers who will present after-dinner programs at the Palms Grill Cafe, located at 110 SW Arch Street in downtown Atlanta. Dinner begins at 5:30 pm, with the evening’s program starting at 7pm.

Year long kick off events for the Illinois Bicentennial begin on December 3rd, 2017at Winter Wonderland at Navy Pier in Chicago and at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield. Illinois Route 66 will be prominently featured throughout the year.


Local artisans Chuck and Mary Beth Wright share their restoration story of the C&M Carousel. Ticket includes Carousel ride and band organ performance. Approximately 2 hours. $20 general admission, $5 for children 12 and under. Jump in the Painting is offered on Sunday March 11th, April 8th, July 15th and September 9th, from 1-3pm, by reservation.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will help celebrate the state’s 200th birthday with a major new exhibit about the four presidents who have called Illinois their home. This exhibit, entitled “From Illinois to the White House:  Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama,” will explore their connections to the Prairie State, their political battles, the first ladies who helped them succeed and much more.

The 5th annual Transportation Show at Niehaus Cycle Sales is a Show & Tell event that features all types of transportation. Check out the historical cars and trucks, hotrod cars, race cars, custom motorcycle sales, mud buggies, drag boats and more! The event is free to the public and there is no entry fee, judging or competition - just plenty of fun!

The 12th Annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival traverses 13 Communities from Joliet to Towanda along a 90-mile stretch of Old Route 66 that collectively celebrates the Mother Road. Each town puts together its own events for that Saturday, making for a great shopping and sight-seeing experience. Gather the family and take a trip down memory lane. Towns include Joliet, Elwood, Wilmington, Braidwood, Godley, Braceville, Gardner, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington and Towanda.

Every year on the weekend after Mother's Day is the large Appreciation Days event, attended by as many as 5000 people from as far away as Canada, and it features the "Show of Lights Ride" through downtown Litchfield. The Celebration lasts until someone wins a New Gold Wing, F6B, Valkyrie, or Pioneer 1000-5D on Sunday.

 

Set against the backdrop of the Illinois Old State Capitol building, art lovers find the Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair to be the jewel of the Midwest. This tradition of fine art has brought artists and shoppers from across the country flocking to downtown Springfield’s two-day outdoor art gallery for over 50 years.
If you have a love for British-made cars, you’ll love this popular annual gathering of British beauties on the lawn of Davis Mansion.
 The Legacy of Giving Festival (formerly the SOHO Music Festival) will be held June 1-2, from 5 p.m. through midnight Friday and 10 a.m. through midnight Saturday. The festival boasts two days of live music from 70 local, regional and national acts on five stages.
Friday Night Dinner at the Palms Grill Cafe
11/3/17 - 3/23/18
Atlanta
Illinois 200 Bicentennial Celebration 1818-2018
12/3/17 - 12/3/18
Springfield
Jump in the Painting - The Restoration of the C&M Carousel
3/11/18 - 9/9/18
Lexington
One State, 200 Years, Four Presidents
3/23/18 - 12/31/18
Springfield
Niehaus Cycle Sales Transportation Show 2018
4/8/18
Litchfield
12th Annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival
5/5/18
Joliet
Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days
5/18/18 - 5/20/18
Litchfield
Old Capitol Art Fair
5/19/18 - 5/20/18
Springfield
Champagne British Car Festival
6/1/18 - 6/3/18
Bloomington-Normal
Legacy of Giving Music Festival
6/1/18 - 6/2/18
Springfield
Friday Night Dinner at the Palms Grill Cafe
11/3/17 - 3/23/18
Atlanta
Illinois 200 Bicentennial Celebration 1818-2018
12/3/17 - 12/3/18
Springfield
Jump in the Painting - The Restoration of the C&M Carousel
3/11/18 - 9/9/18
Lexington
One State, 200 Years, Four Presidents
3/23/18 - 12/31/18
Springfield
Niehaus Cycle Sales Transportation Show 2018
4/8/18
Litchfield
12th Annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival
5/5/18
Joliet
Niehaus Cycle Sales Customer Appreciation Days
5/18/18 - 5/20/18
Litchfield
Old Capitol Art Fair
5/19/18 - 5/20/18
Springfield
Champagne British Car Festival
6/1/18 - 6/3/18
Bloomington-Normal
Legacy of Giving Music Festival
6/1/18 - 6/2/18
Springfield
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LATEST NEWS FROM ROUTE 66
Eagle injured in April to be released at Lake Lou Yaeger
Jan 12, 2018
Last April, at Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield, IL, a female Bald Eagle was injured, in what was viewed as a territorial fight with a male Bald Eagle. While the male Bald Eagle did not survive, thankfully the female Bald Eagle was able to be transported to the Treehouse Wildlife Rescue Center in Dow, IL to recover from her injuries. The female bald Eagle has made a full recovery and will be released back to her native territory at Lake Lou Yaeger. The release is scheduled for Saturday, January 20th and the public is invited to attend.
City of Pontiac Initializes Mobile App with October Roll-out
Oct 03, 2017
Through a multi-departmental cooperation, the City of Pontiac is offering residents and visitors alike a chance to see the city through a new point of view: through your own smartphone. Under the parent rTown app, Pontiac, IL will soon have its own page. Anyone is able to download the free app to their smartphone and then select Pontiac from the list of cities that appears.
Illinois State Representative Tim Butler introduces bill to create Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission
Nov 10, 2016
SPRINGFIELD, IL--On the day before historic Route 66 turns 90 years old, State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) introduced House Bill 6624 which creates the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission in an effort to lay the groundwork for celebrating the famous road's 100th anniversary in 2026.

"Route 66 is the most famous road in the world and Illinois lays claim to where the Mother Road begins," said Rep. Butler. "The centennial of Route 66 will truly be an international celebration of this famous strip of pavement. Illinois is uniquely positioned to welcome and entertain travelers from around the world who want to experience the magic of our scenic byway.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Signs Route 66 Motorcycle Plate Legislation 8/20/16
Aug 21, 2016

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Signs Route 66 Motorcycle Plate Legislation 8/20/16 - Fulgenzi's/Mahan's Filling Station Springfield, IL. Special Thanks: Gov. Bruce Rauner, Rep. Tim Butler... View the video of the signing ceremony at https://youtu.be/_vxaGbTMifM.