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Oct 31, 2019
Kelly Retires as Executive Director of Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway
William Kelly has retired as the Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway on October 31st after nearly ten years of service. During that time, Kelly oversaw the successful deployment of more than fifty interpretive statues, kiosks and wayside exhibits all along the Illinois Route 66 Corridor. The Byway coordinated the funding of these strategic projects through the Federal Highway Administration, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Office of Tourism and the participating Illinois Route 66 Communities.

Mr. Kelly also worked with the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, National Park Service, to help secure federal funding from the Department of the Interior for several restoration projects on Illinois Route 66.

Mr. Kelly worked with State Representative Tim Butler on two strategic Route 66 Bills in the Illinois General Assembly. Through Representative Butler’s leadership, the bills creating an Illinois Route 66 Motorcycle Plate and establishing an Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission passed unanimously and were signed into law. Illinois was the first state to introduce legislation to prepare for the 100th Birthday of the most famous road in the world which will occur in 2026.

Geoff Ladd, Assistant Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway since April 2017, has been named Acting Executive Director. A Committee has been formed to search for a new Director.
Sep 03, 2019
5th Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference in Normal, IL October 17-20 Highlights “The Green Book”, Gamma Phi Circus & Panel of Route 66 Roadies
The fifth Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility conference will be held in Normal, Illinois, from October 17-20, 2019. The first conference was held in Edwardsville in 2015, and rotates south to north through Illinois to showcase different communities. It is the only annual conference that focuses on the history, preservation, and economic development of communities along Route 66. The conference typically draws 100+ participants and is the only annual conference that focuses on the history, preservation, education, and economic development of Route 66. The main location for the conference this year is Uptown Station, 11 Uptown Circle, in Normal, IL.

The conference focuses on Route 66, but additionally showcases what is unique about the area. In this case, the 2019 conference will showcase Bloomington-Normal’s historic connection to the circus, as well as the communities’ substantial Route 66 assets and attractions. Bloomington-Normal is experiencing the positive economic development impact of Route 66 via the 2015 opening of the Cruisin’ with Lincoln on Route 66 Visitors Center located at the McLean County Museum of History.

Additionally, Ryburn Place at Sprague’s Super Service opened in 2017 on Route 66 in Normal as a visitor center and gift shop. The traditional conference hot dog roast will be held at Ryburn Place at Sprague’s on Thursday, October 17 from 7-9pm. An optional bus tour will also be a part of the first day of the conference. Conference sessions will be held on Friday and Saturday.

The Friday night conference keynote speaker, Candacy Taylor will discuss a project she has been working on since 2013: Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America. Her research is based on The Negro Motorist Green Book, published from 1936-1967 by Victor H. Green, a black postal worker from Harlem, New York.

Taylor is an award-winning author, cultural critic, and photographer with a Master’s Degree in Visual Criticism. Her work has been featured in over 30 major outlets including: The New Yorker, The Wall St. Journal, Guardian UK, The Library of Congress, Photographer’s Forum (cover), Rachel Ray, PBS, the CBC, BBC and NPR.

“The Green Book” has been called the “Bible of Black Travel” and the AAA guide for black people; its purpose was to assist them in traveling the country with dignity and safety. The book featured barbershops, beauty salons, department stores, restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, gas stations, garages, and other businesses who served or accommodated black people. The book was the inspiration behind the award-winning movie of the same name.

Candacy Taylor. Photograph by Katrina Parks, Assertion Films.

Candacy Taylor’s presentation is not only the keynote for the Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference, but it is also free and open to the public. The presentation will be held at ISU Alumni Center, 1101 North Main Street, Normal, IL on Friday, October 18, from 7-9pm. This special presentation is co-sponsored by the Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington.

In addition to the Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 history of Bloomington-Normal, the twin cities also share an extensive circus history. Starting in the 1870s, a couple of barns and the YWCA served as practice sites for aerial performers, who became famous and are still revered in American circus history. The art of trapeze, in particular, became a specialty in the area during the golden age of aerialists. Circus acts like The Flying LaVans, The Flying Fishers, The Flying Wards, The Flying Concellos, The Flying Valentinos, and many others helped shape the aerial acts of today. Gamma Phi Circus (GP) at Illinois State University in Normal, founded in 1929, is the oldest collegiate circus in the United States. Circus Director Marcus Alouan, Artistic Director Ivan Stoinev, and Aerial Coach Maritza Atayde will discuss the history of Gamma Phi and share their personal stories of circus performance and travel.

Also new to the conference this year is the “Roadie Panel” – a discussion of wide-ranging Route 66 topics with well-known Route 66 Roadies. The panel will be moderated by Jim Livingston who is a professional photographer known for "I Am Rt 66" which is a project by Jim and Route 66 enthusiast Bob Lile showcasing the people found along Route 66. Jim will be talking with the distinguished panel of Roadies that includes Penny Black, Ron Jones, Rita Kirchoff and Mike Wallace. Livingston’s “I AM Rt 66” photography will also be on display throughout the conference.

Additional topics include history, preservation, economic potential, internet security, social media and much more. Conference sessions run throughout Friday and Saturday. Complete conference schedule is located at milesofpossibility.com.

On Saturday evening at the Eagles Club in Bloomington, is the conference dinner, live circus performance, and live music from 3rd Street Down, an extremely talented up and coming band from Bloomington. On Sunday, the conference wraps up with a Cruise-In at Ryburn Place at Sprague’s Super Service from 11am-2pm. The Cruise-In is being hosted by the Mid-State Cruisers with special guests, the Prairie Capital Corvair Association. The Blues Brothers Mobile will also be on display, courtesy of Ron Romero of the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66.

Special thanks to our conference sponsors: Town of Normal, City of Bloomington, Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, McLean County Museum of History/Cruisin’ with Lincoln on Route 66 Visitors Center, Ryburn Place at Sprague’s Super Service and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

Registration for the full conference is $100 ($90 for early registration before October 1st). You can also register for Friday October 18 only and Saturday October 19 only for $50 per day.

Hotel information, vendor information and additional information is available at milesofpossibility.com, by email at route66lives@gmail.com or call 309-452-5325.
Aug 15, 2019
Historic Preservation Specialist Adds Voice to Section 106 Projects
Oklahoma’s William H. Murray Bridge is the subject of a Federal Highway Administration project. Thanks to the work of Anne Haaker, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership has a voice in the proposed “build” project. The Murray Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges along Route 66 and is quite possibly of national significance, so it is good to know that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is embracing its stewardship responsibilities for this landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anne Haaker joined the Road Ahead Partnership last fall as Historic Preservation Specialist. One of her first actions was to establish the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership as Consulting Party on Section 106 Reviews along the historic route. This classification puts the Road Ahead on a list to receive early notice of any upcoming federal projects that may have an impact on historic places in the United States and the opportunity to voice an opinion throughout the project planning process.

In the case of the Murray Bridge, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation provided three alternatives for making improvements to US-281bridge over Canadian River (as the Murray Bridge is referred to in the project proposal). Haaker has responded on behalf of the Road Ahead to express the preference of “rehabilitation” of the bridge. According to Haaker, “alternatives two and three would both so significantly alter the historic fabric of the bridge that they would result in adverse effect findings during a formal 106 consultation.”

Haaker is also allowed to participate as a consultant for projects along Route 66 that were already in the works, such as the Amarillo Helium plant that is being demolished in order to widen the highway. This project had already passed the Review process in which the Texas Department of Transportation agreed to earmark significant funds to produce educational material for visitors and tourists to learn about the significant contributions the plant made during the WWII era. The Section 106 Review is an important tool for influencing federal decisions regarding historic Route 66 properties. Each year, the federal government is involved with about a half-dozen projects that affect landmarks along the Mother Road. These projects have the potential to harm the landscape and economic value of historic Route 66.

Simply put, whenever a federal project (or state project that involves federal funds or agency certification) is planned that might adversely affect properties of U.S. historical significance, the law requires the agency to explore ways to reduce the harm to the property and come to an agreement on how to proceed with the project. This process is what is commonly referred to as a NHPA Section 106 Review (National Historic Preservation Act of 1966). This ensures that federal agencies actively consult with consulting organizations/parties that have legal or economic relationships to the properties involved. Final project approval is up to the federal agency with the concurrence of the state historic preservation agency (SHPO).

As a Consulting Party, the Road Ahead should be advised of future projects, however if you know of any state or federal projects that might adversely affect historic Route 66 in your state, please make us aware by emailing your concern to rt66theroadahead@gmail.com. Possible projects may include federal property (ie. Military base, park, courthouse), use of federal funds (Highway Administration, Transit Administration, railroad Administration, Housing and Urban Development, FEMA), and/or require federal approval (Army Corp of Engineers, FAA, FCC, etc). Established in 2015 with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Route Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.
Jul 29, 2019
Road Ahead/Harvest Host Partnership Attracting More Tourists to Route 66
“We’ve been members of [Harvest Hosts] for 4+ years, travel a moderate amount, and Mother Road Brewing Company is among the top three stays we’ve ever had. Definitely visit if you can!” is just one review you can find about Mother Road Brewing Company in Flagstaff, Arizona, on the Harvest Host members site. Mother Road has accepted 15 reservations for their two locations since becoming Harvest Hosts in March 2019. As a result, they have this positive endorsement and six others to help promote their Route 66 business to other RV travelers across the US and Canada.

The City of Pontiac-Tourism Office also became a Harvest Host in March, when the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership announced its strategic partnership with the Harvest Host organization. According to Pontiac Tourism Director Ellie Alexander, they received their first reservation just 16 days after receiving their welcome letter. And, in four months, the City has taken a total of 19 reservations.

“We use the City Hall parking lot and reserve their spot with cones. If their arrival is going to be after hours, we also put a welcome sign and a goodie bag with all the information on attractions, tours, restaurants, etc.” explained Alexander.

Though they have no way of tracking exact dollars spent by the Harvest Host RVers, they do see the travelers all around town – especially in the downtown area. The guests have been seen in restaurants, going to the movies and concerts, carrying shopping bags from local vendors, and purchasing groceries from the local supermarket.

To emphasize the benefits of being a Harvest Host, Alexander said, “We’ve had several people who have told us they had never heard of Pontiac and are so glad they decided to stop and stay.”

Other Route 66 Harvest Hosts include the City of Atlanta, Illinois (Palms Grill Café, Hawes Elevator Museum, Atlanta Public Library), the Missouri Route 66 Association (Missouri Route 66 Welcome Center in Conway), Baxter Springs (Kansas) Heritage Museum, and the Blue Swallow Motel (Tucumcari, New Mexico).

The Road Ahead Partnership would like to expand the experiences of RV travelers to include as many Route 66 attractions as possible, introducing more and more retirees, families, business professionals, bloggers, and explorers to the unique adventure of traveling historic Route 66. RV members are prequalified as guests through an annual program fee and a code of conduct guide which outlines how to make reservations, when to arrive, and suggests how much to spend at each location. If you are interested in becoming a Harvest Host site, email rt66theroadahead@gmail.com for information and details.

Established in 2015 with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Route Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.

Sidebar/Photo and caption:
Casey and Waltraud Leser, of Frisco, TX, reserved their Harvest Host spot by the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum in Atlanta, IL, in July 2019. The Lesers selected the Atlanta site because of their passion for history and its proximity to their Morris, Illinois, family reunion destination.
Jun 20, 2019
Route 66 Centennial Legislation Moves Forward in Senate
Washington, DC – The Route 66 Centennial Commission Act (S1014), passed out of the Committee on Environment and Public Works yesterday and will move to the full Senate for consideration. The legislation was introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth [D-IL] and co-sponsored by Senator James Inhofe [R-OK].

Because the bill is non-controversial, Duckworth’s office is hopeful it will be “hotlined” on the Senate floor for approval by unanimous consent and not require a formal vote. If that happens, the next step will be for the House to take up the Bill, or the House and Senate will negotiate an agreement and repass the conference report in both bodies of Congress. The final step will be enactment by the President.

Duckworth and Inhofe introduced the bill on April 3, 2019, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of historic Route 66. The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership provided a letter of support for the legislation.

Though Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985, the road continues to be a popular tourist destination for both domestic and international travelers. Enacting the Route 66 Centennial Commission will help plan an important celebration for the Mother Road and help with the preservation, promotion, education, and economic development of the road for generations to come.

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments' Fund, The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.
Jun 12, 2019
PR-Aprons Away Route 66 Play to Mark 15th Anniversary of Hall of Fame Museum
Aprons Away: Women's Work on the Mother Road, a new stage play by Route 66 author-historian Cheryl Eichar Jett, will be presented in two performances Saturday-Sunday, June 22-23, at the Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center in Pontiac, Illinois. The Route 66 Association of Illinois, along with Pontiac Tourism, is sponsoring the event to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac. “It's the perfect partnership,” Liz Vincent, Eagle Facility Manager said, “We're excited to bring this show to Pontiac to commemorate the opening 15 years ago of the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum.”

Aprons Away tells the stories of the work, careers, and contributions of women along the most famous highway in the world. Narrative monologues performed by an ensemble cast tell a new version of the Route 66 story you'll never forget. Vintage photos on the big screen provide the backgrounds for entrepreneurs, designers, restaurant and motel operators, and other notable women. Read more about the play and its cast at www.ApronsAwayOnRoute66.com. The all-female cast features actors from Pontiac as well as from the Metro St. Louis area, with Jett directing the production.

The newly-renovated Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center first opened in December 1939 as a movie house. Its first film showing was The Wizard of Oz. After many successful years as a movie theater, it was home to an indoor paintball range as well as an indoor skateboard park. When the City of Pontiac purchased the building, they accepted proposals for what to do with it. A local theatre troupe proposed the idea of a dinner theatre, and the Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center was born!

There is no admission charge, but reservations are required. Reserve your ticket(s) at www.PontiacEagle.com or call (815) 844-1187.
Jun 04, 2019
1st Annual Route 66 Weekend in Lincoln Illinois
The public is invited to the 1st Annual Route 66 Weekend in Lincoln, Illinois from Friday June 7th through Sunday June 9th. This unique all-inclusive community event combines several ongoing activities into the framework of a new major event for the city of Lincoln that will be held annually leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.

Five major components make up this exciting weekend that promises to be fun for the whole family.

The 90th Anniversary Celebration at The Mill Museum on 66 in Lincoln, which opened on the original alignment of Route 66 in Lincoln in 1929. The Mill is now open for its 3rd year as a museum, and has quickly become one of top 20 Route 66 attractions to see in Illinois. The iconic bar and restaurant in its day, now includes an impressive collection of artifacts from The Mill, The Tropics Restaurant, The Pig Hip Restaurant and many other unique artifacts from Lincoln & Logan County and Route 66. Mill & Route 66 t-shirts and souvenirs are available in the gift shop. Admission is free but donations are suggested and needed.

The Mill will be open extended hours during Route 66 Weekend in Lincoln – Friday through Sunday from 9am to 4pm. The weekend event will kickoff with an official ribbon cutting at The Mill on Friday at 9am. The Mill Museum gift shop will have Route 66 Specials along with several participating Lincoln businesses including in the Historic Downtown Lincoln District. A Limited Edition Mill 90th Anniversary T-Shirt will also be available for the anniversary weekend, with proceeds as a fundraiser for The Mill (special thanks to Route 66 T-Shirt expert Marie Fiedler). There is also a Mill Raffle leading up to the big weekend, with the drawing on Sunday June 9th. Raffle items include an authentic Route 66 road sign, 2 Limited Edition Mill 90th Anniversary t-shirts and several gift cards from local businesses – a total of over $500 worth of items. Tickets are $3 each or 6 for $15 and are available at The Mill Museum and Logan County Tourism Bureau.

On Saturday at Noon at The Mill will be the dedication of The David G. Clark Mill Library, with two presentations of “Al Capone & the Route 66 Connection” at Noon and 2pm by David G. Clark himself. David is a Route 66, Chicago and Al Capone historian. He conducts Windy City Road Warrior tours from his home base of Chicago. David has been prolific and generous in his donation of Route 66 magazines and books to The Mill since it opened as a museum in 2017. On display as part of the library is a recently acquired collection of rare materials from the Pig Hip Restaurant & Museum (special thanks to Jude Harms and family). Rare document from The Mill, The Tropics and Lincoln/Logan County will also be featured. Saturday at The Mill is also the official Celebrity Autograph Day – pick up a list at the door and see if you can find them all. An informal gathering of classic cars from Railsplitter Antique Auto Club will gather at The Mill Museum between 11am and 3pm. All classic and sporty vehicles are welcome to come and go during the event. There is no registration fee, but donations are always welcome.

On Sunday, June 9th, from 9am-10am, The Mill Museum will be one of three Lincoln, IL passport stops for the Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour. The other stops during that same hour will be the World's Largest Covered Wagon and the newly restored Tropics Sign. The public is encouraged to stop out at any of the three locations and greet the Motor Tour participants from all over the state and beyond.

Speaking of the Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour, Logan County Tourism is pleased to welcome back the 30th Annual Route 66 Motor Tour Hall of Fame Banquet, to be held at the Lincoln American Legion on Saturday evening June 8th. This is a $25 per person ticketed event and seating is limited (tickets and information is available on the Route 66 Association of Illinois website located at www.ilassoc.org). President, Cathie Stevanovich will host the event and introduce this year’s inductees into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame inductees from Lincoln and Logan County include The Mill, The Tropics, Postville Courthouse, Lewis “Zoo” Barrick, Pig Hip Restaurant and Atlanta Public Library.

In addition to the Hall of Fame presentations, there will be a special video presentation by Geoff Ladd, who received the Route 66 Association of Illinois President's Award in 2013. Also speaking will be Tami Goodrich, representing The Tropics Restaurant.

A delicious supper will be prepared and served by Chef Wendlandt and the wait staff from Lincoln College. Dinner music will be provided by local favorite guitar picker, Danny Tackett. The event, along with the Route 66 Garage Sales held during this same weekend, is expected to bring over 100 hotel room overnights to Lincoln.

This is the 13th year for the Route 66 Garage Sale of Lincoln & Logan County, which began as a fundraiser for The Mill by volunteer and board member Bruce Huskins. The event has evolved and is now operated by Lincoln Printers and features hundreds of garage sales in the city of Lincoln and throughout Logan County. In addition, vendor locations will be at Postville Park and VFW Post 1756 in Lincoln. Maps with all the locations will be available at Lincoln Printers, and there is still time to sign up for your garage sale location or business special to be listed on the official Route 66 Garage Sale map. There is still time to sign up with your garage sale or business special. Contact Lincoln Printers at 217-732-3121.

Additional goings on for the weekend include the Human Society of Logan County Annual Route 66 Garage Sale in the yellow building at the Logan County Fairgrounds. Preview Night- Thursday, June 6 5pm-7pm $5.00 admission. Sales Dates - 7-9 Friday & Saturday 8:00am-3:00 Sunday 10:00am-1:00pm Free admission.

On June 7th and 8th, Sorrento's Pizzeria of Downtown Lincoln will be celebrating 50 years of serving pizzas to the Lincoln community. Join Sorrento's that weekend for a very special celebration. They are honored to have been able to serve this community since 1969! A ribbon cutting marking Sorrento’s 50th anniversary will be held at 4pm on Friday, June 7th.

Abe’s Carmelcorn Shoppe is in the middle of a year-long celebration of 36 years in business in October of this year. The Rainforth family established the business in 1983, and their son, Lance, spear-headed renovations using local companies to complete the project. Abe's will have Route 66 Specials during the big weekend.

On Sunday night, June 9th, come check out some tunes and amazing brews during Spirited Republic and Limerick Brewing Company's BBQ, Brews and Tunes from 1-4pm, featuring the acoustic music of Kyle Olsen.

Be sure to also take in Lincoln’s many Abraham Lincoln attractions, which will be open for their regular hours during the weekend, including Postville Courthouse, Lincoln Heritage Museum, Lincoln Christening Scene and the Historic Downtown Walking Tour.

There are in fact many participants in Route 66 Weekend in Lincoln, Illinois. Many businesses will be offering Route 66 Discounts while others are participating in the Route 66 Garage Sales and others have made donations for the Mill Raffle.

Participating Historic Downtown Businesses and Organizations:

Logan County Tourism Bureau, Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society, Lincoln Printers, Abe’s Carmelcorn Shoppe, Sir Renna Tea, Flossie & Delzena’s, Copper Penny, Guest House, Debbie’s Downtown Floral, Make it Sew, Alley Bi Saloon, Mama’s Cafe, Small Town Creations, Sorrento’s Pizzeria, Mary Todd’s Hallmark, Guzzardo’s, Spirited Republic, Lincoln Family Theater, Neal Tire.

Additional Participating Lincoln Businesses and Organizations:

The Mill Museum on 66 (Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County), VFW Post 1756, Humane Society of Logan County, American Legion Post 263 (Banquet hosts), Lincoln College (Banquet meal and servers), Postville Courthouse, Lincoln Heritage Museum, PrimaryColours Retro Relics, Family Video of Lincoln, Café Billiards.

For more information, contact Logan County Tourism Bureau at 217-732-8687 and stay tuned for updates at www.lincolnroute66.com.
Jun 04, 2019
Sam Sorrento’s Pizzeria is celebrating 50 years in business in Lincoln, Illinois this weekend, June7-9 with a ribbon cutting scheduled at 4pm on Friday June 7th at the restaurant’s new location at 614 Broadway Street in Historic Downtown Lincoln. Owners Jim and Lisa Drew and Lisa’s son Tony Curcuru invite the public to the ribbon cutting event, including any and all current and former employees and generations of devoted customers.

Sorrento’s opened in 1969 in Lincoln. Giovanni and Anna (aka Mamma Sorrento) Curcuru opened Sorrento’s Pizza in 1969. They came from the small town of Cinisi, Italy in Sicily. After Giovanni and Anna ran the shop for a while, it was passed to their son, Serafino (aka “Sammy”). He was the face of the shop for many years and was known for always remembering your pizza order and having sweet muscle cars. The restaurant featured family recipes as it does to this day, and provides “a taste of old-world Italian style” to downtown Lincoln.

When “Sammy” passed away in 1998, Sorrento’s was left to be run by his wife, Lisa and their four kids: John, Annalisa, Jetty, and Tony. It was not an easy transition, but it very much became a family effort. Everyone played a part in keeping Sorrento’s going as best they could.

Today, owners Jim & Lisa Drew, along with son Tony, manage the restaurant as a “family effort.” Tony manages the kitchen and the social media, although it has been Lisa who has been providing incredible historic photos and stories on the Sorrento’s Facebook page located at www.facebook.com/SorrentosPizzaLincoln).

The family restaurant moved three doors down from their previous location in August of last year. With the new location, Sorrento’s can accommodate several small groups, and large groups as well, including wedding rehearsal parties and family gatherings for the holidays (call ahead for bookings). The restaurant holds 70 people – twice the size of the previous location. The change in location has also increased carry-out traffic. Tony attributes this to the outdoor patio and the quaint inviting atmosphere on the inside.

“It is a testimony to the business over the years that our family-run business has touched a lot of lives,” said Tony Curcuru. “We have seen a great response on our Facebook page as we approach this milestone anniversary.” Tony has also started a Cannoli business on the side.

Owner Jim Drew says “we all pitch in as a family member. I’m not home at night (he laughs).” His wife Lisa agrees. “It is a sacrifice to run your own business, but you have to love it. We enjoy the people as we remember the past and from our restaurant we hope to make their lives better.”

Though the location has changed, the same delicious menu remains. The pizzas are made fresh to order with fresh ingredients, whole and natural, and contain no artificial ingredients. The dough is made fresh daily. Specialty pizza favorites include Sam’s Light Pizza, Taco Pizza, BBQ Chicken Pizza. Calzone and Salads are also served. Holiday menu items are also rolled out during Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

Sorrento’s has a large following of regulars from central Illinois, including Peoria, Morton, Bloomington and Decatur. With the return of Route 66 signage to the downtown, they have seen an increase in international travelers from countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and the U.K. “We finally have the first alignment of Route 66 signed in Lincoln that traverses to the historic downtown business district, which is something that has not happened since 1929,” said Geoff Ladd of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “We are already seeing more visitors as a result which benefits downtown businesses, and this will only increase as we approach the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.”

Sorrento’s will reveal a Route 66 Special on Saturday June 8th, and also will announce a special secret contest that will run for a week beginning on Saturday as well. For more information, contact Sorrento’s at (217) 735-1442.
May 15, 2019
Route 66 Centennial Legislation Begins Journey through Senate on Road to 2026
On April 3, 2019, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to establish the Route 66 Centennial Commission in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In addition to being the first all-paved highway in the United States highway system, connecting the Midwest to California, Route 66 was the road to opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people who moved west during the Great Depression. The road served the country during WWII and continued to carry families into the bright era of the 50s and 60s as the tourist industry grew along the Mother Road. Though Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985, the road continues to be a popular tourist destination for both domestic and international travelers.

The Senate Bill, S1014, has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Members of this committee include Cory Booker, Kirsten Billibrand and Bernie Sanders. You can read the legislation and follow its progress online at: www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/s1014.

“Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 offers opportunities to not only plan a fun birthday party for the Mother Road, but also to work on the preservation, promotion, education, and economic development of the road.” said Bill Thomas, Chair of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership.

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments' Fund, The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.
Apr 30, 2019
The public is invited to the grand re-opening of the Launching Pad Drive-In restaurant, featuring the Gemini Giant muffler man statue, which will be held all throughout this weekend May 3-5 in Wilmington IL, in conjunction with the Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival. The formal Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting will be Friday, May 3rd at 2pm at the iconic Route 66 location. Stay around for a delicious meal and enjoy the Rusty Nutz Car Club Cruise Night, which is the Launching Pad's first official cruise night. The Launching Pad will also be a part of the Red Carpet Corridor Festival on Saturday, and will continue the grand reopening with giveaways on Sunday.

The story of the famous location began when John and Betty Korelc opened a Dairy Delite at the location in 1956. The Gemini Giant was purchased and added to the site in 1965, and the restaurant was expanded and renamed The Launching Pad. The 28-foot tall Gemini Giant is one of many giant Muffler Men advertising statues found throughout the country in the 1960s. The Gemini Giant is named after the Gemini space program and holds a silver rocket ship in his hands, while sporting an astronaut's space helmet.

New owners of the Launching Pad, Tully Garrett and Holly Barker, purchased the restaurant in 2017 after it had been closed since 2010, and have been hard at work restoring the attraction and reopening the restaurant. Since February, The Launching Pad has been rolling out their new menu of delicious “comfort food” and is now fully operational, with a huge ongoing attendance of patrons. The restaurant also features an Americana museum and a gift shop.

Holly and Tully were introduced to the Route 66 community at the 3rd Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference held in Joliet in 2017, and quickly became favorite personalities among the Route 66 community. They plan to be married this summer with a special celebration at The Launching Pad.

The Launching Pad is located at 810 East Baltimore Street (Route 66) in Wilmington. Hours are 11am to 8pm, 7 days a week. For more information, call 815-476-6535 or visit www.facebook.com/thelaunchingpadroute66.
Apr 29, 2019
Ariston Cafe Neon Relighting Ceremony
Route 66 History comes to life this Saturday, May 4 at the Ariston Café in Litchfield, IL. Celebrating 95 years of Route 66 service, the Ariston Café, a historic landmark on the Mother Road, has long since taken the title of “The Oldest Continuously Operating Restaurant on Route 66”. The exterior neon signs and window accents that once greeted travelers on their journey from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA, will shine brightly once again on Saturday, May 4, and all are invited to see them shine again!

The Ariston Café, located at 413 N. Old Route 66 in Litchfield, IL, will host a one of a kind party on May 4, as they invite the public to join in the Official Relighting Ceremony of vintage neon signs and neon window accents located on the exterior of the Ariston Café. Cruise in with your classic car and join the others that will be available for viewing starting at 7 PM. While waiting for the perfect time to flip the switch, groove to the tune of music from the 1950s and 1960s and mingle with other Route 66 fans. The Official Program will begin as dusk nears, and the Official Relighting will take place between 8 PM and 8:15 PM. Feel free to make a night of it, come early and grab a bite to eat at the Ariston Café, and then walk across the street to the Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center, which will be open for extended hours on this special night, and then head back over to the Ariston in time for the festivities to begin. Plan your schedule accordingly so you don’t miss this landmark event. Everyone will be welcomed with Route 66 hospitality.

This event has been made possible through the partnership of Nick & Demi Adam, former owners of the Ariston Café, Will & Michele Law and Marty & Kara Steffens, current owners of the Ariston Café, the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee from the Route 66 Association of Missouri, and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program from the National Park Service.

Come and get your kicks on Route 66 in Litchfield on Saturday, May 4 from 7 PM – 8:30 PM at the Ariston Café (413 N. Old Route 66, Litchfield, IL). For those who need overnight accommodations, Litchfield is home to six hotels and multiple campgrounds; all of which can be found on VisitLitchfield.com. For more information contact the Ariston Café at 217-324-2023 or check out VisitLitchfield.com. Come early or stay late, everyone is welcome on Litchfield’s Route 66!
Apr 07, 2019
Following the very successful first Sky View Scavenger Hunt last year, owners Mindy & Nick Pastrovich and Debbie & Mike Pastrovich are back with treasures and discounts for movies that will be hidden throughout the central to southern portions of Route 66. The Sky View Scavenger Hunt involves finding a limited-edition magnet that will be hidden at famous Route 66 locations. Once found, these magnets are to be turned in at the participating business for a special gift and two free tickets to any movie at the Sky View, including the popular Throwback Series of Sunday movies from April through September.

In addition, those movie goers attending the Smokey and the Bandit movie on Sunday April 14th in their 1976-77 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am will get special front row parking for the movie (contact the Sky View in advance to make special parking arrangements). The Trans-Am became famous from this classic film that stars Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed and Jackie Gleason.

The Throwback movie series are on the second Sunday of the month from April through September, which is the same time as the local Litchfield Pickers Market. The lineup of Throwback movies for 2019 also includes “The Sound of Music” on May 12th, “Dirty Harry” on June 9th, “Goonies” on July 14th, “Stand By Me” on August 11th and “Psycho” on September 8th.

The Pastrovich family purchased the iconic drive-in movie theater located on Historic Route 66 in Litchfield, Illinois in 2016, and have been widely praised for their care and efforts in keeping the Sky View open for business while at the same time having fun and drawing attention to nearby Route 66 attractions and communities.

“We love the fact that the Sky View Scavenger Hunt brings attention to fellow Route 66 attractions in the area while at the same time offering free drive-in tickets and prize packages,” said Geoff Ladd, assistant director of Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “This year’s throwback line-up is especially awesome!”

“This is such a great way to have fun on Illinois 66, and we love partnering with other 66 businesses,” said owner Mindy Pastrovich. “Our First Route 66 scavenger hunt business is located in a Blue Carpet Corridor Town. Look for more clues on social media over the next week as hunters narrow in on our first featured business!”

For more information, contact Sky View Drive-In at (217) 324-4451, visit litchfieldskyview.com and get more clues on the Facebook and Instagram pages for the Sky View. Start the Hunt!
Apr 07, 2019
Litchfield Pickers Market Launches Fifth Season
The Litchfield Tourism Office and Prairie Pickers are preparing for a huge kickoff for the fifth season of the Litchfield Pickers Market. The return of the Litchfield Pickers Market is THIS SUNDAY, April 14 from 9 AM to 3 PM in historic downtown Litchfield, IL beginning on the corner of Union Ave./Route 16 and State Street. (for GPS use 400 North State Street). This open-air market specializes in antiques, collectibles, vintage items, and refurbished items. The Litchfield Pickers Market is the largest open air pickers market in the area and is located less than 3 miles off of Interstate 55. The opening of the April 14th Market celebrates the launching of the fifth season of the Litchfield Pickers Market with approximately 340 vendor spaces occupied!

Each month the Litchfield Pickers Market welcomes musicians to perform at the Library Park stage. During the April 14th Market, The Mound City Slickers will kick off the day and perform live from 9 AM to 11:30 AM. Hailing from the St. Louis Region, the Mound City Slickers play old-time string band music with passion, drive, and a great sense of humor. Steeped in tradition, their concerts are a unique mix of harddriving fiddle tunes, country harmonies, rags, and other surprises that have made them favorites of the old-time string band scene. Their high-energy playing and ear for a good tune make for good listening, good dancing, and good times. Members of the band include Sean Belt (ukuleles), Lindell Blackford (fiddle & mandolin), Rich Hibbs (banjo), Rich Egan (piano), Bill Stewart (fiddle), and Keith Dudding (guitar). Following the Mound City Slickers, The Silver Creek Bluegrass Band will perform from Noon to 3 PM. This traditional 5 piece bluegrass string band will journey from Edwardsville, Illinois to join the market. They specialize in bringing an authentic traditional bluegrass sound, with some country elements mixed in. Members of the band include Derek Twesten (vocals & mandolin), Colin Graham (vocals & banjo), Blake Korte (dobro & vocals), Logan Perez (bass), and Quinten Voss (guitar & vocals). These two acts are sure to get your toe tapping, so make sure to bring your lawn chair or picnic blanket!

To make the most of your Pickers Market experience, it is recommended to bring totes, wagons, carts, pick-up trucks, and anything that will help haul all of the great treasures you will find at the Litchfield Pickers Market. There is no cost to enter the market. With multiple entry points, visitors can park around the perimeter and enter the market (just be sure to adhere to applicable parking signage). Make sure to stop by the Tourism Information Booth located on State Street in front of the Library and sign our guestbook! At this booth, volunteers can supply you Litchfield information, answer questions you may have about the market and the town, and visitors have the option to purchase Litchfield Pickers Market gear including a t-shirt, hat, and tote bag. Food will be available along State Street located at every intersection. Food vendors and their locations are listed at the Tourism Information boot has well as on the Litchfield Pickers website : http://visitlitchfield.com/events/litchfieldpickersmarket/.

The following roads will be closed on April 14 (and every second Sunday of the Month through October) from 4 AM to 5:30 PM for the Litchfield Pickers Market: State Street from Union Ave./Route 16 to the south entrance of the Brown Shoe Apartments, Ryder Street and Kirkham Street from Monroe Street to Madison Street, Edwards Street from Monroe Street to Jefferson Street, and Jackson Street from Union Ave./Route 16 to Edwards Street. Any vehicles left in these areas during this time, will be towed at the owners expense.

For more information please follow the “Litchfield Pickers Market” Facebook page or log onto the website: http://visitlitchfield.com/events/litchfieldpickersmarket/ or call the Litchfield Tourism Office Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM (calls cannot be answered on the weekends) 217-324-8147.
Mar 11, 2019
Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership New Way for RVs to Travel Route 66
The Road Ahead and Harvest Hosts have partnered to provide RVs traveling Route 66 a new way to experience all the Mother Road has to offer. Harvest Hosts (www.harvesthosts.com) is a membership network that invites self-contained RVers to stay overnight for free at selected sites, attractions, and businesses across the United States. The goal of the new partnership is to expand the current listing of Harvest Hosts locations to include some of the unique sites along Route 66 and enhance the experience RV travelers have on the Mother Road.

The goal is to connect RVers with the hidden gems of Real America, where they’ll find unique experiences and make lasting memories with family and friends. The Road Ahead invites attractions, sites, and businesses along Route 66 to contact it if interested in becoming a Harvest Host site. Just email rt66theroadahead@gmail.com for information and details.

Harvest Hosts currently provides access to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, golf courses, museums, and other attractions that invite its members to visit and stay overnight at any of its 700+ locations completely free. In an effort to support local businesses and make it beneficial for those who act as Hosts, RVers are encouraged to support the businesses they visit, whether that’s through buying some wine, shopping in the gift shop, making a donation to a museum, or buying local produce.

Harvest Hosts has tens of thousands of members from the United States, Canada, and around the world, including retirees, full-time families, business professionals, bloggers, and adventurers, all of whom have one thing in common: the desire to experience unique locations as they travel. Self-contained RVers can become Harvest Hosts members for a small annual fee.

Established in 2015 with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Route Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.
Dec 28, 2018
Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Annual Board Meeting & Annual Route 66 Stakeholders Reception/Update Event Scheduled
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Board of Directors will hold its Annual Meeting February 22-23, 2019. In addition, the Annual Route 66 Stakeholders Reception/Update event will follow the Board Meeting on February 23, 

The Annual Board of Directors Meeting will focus on progress reports from the organization’s Working Groups, Task Forces and Advisory Groups. 

The Annual Route 66 Stakeholders Reception/Update event is an opportunity for anyone interested in Route 66 and/or the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership to meet the organization’s Board of Directors and learn about the Road Ahead’s mission, goals and current work. 

Both the Annual Board Meeting and the Stakeholders Reception/Update event will take place at the historic El Vado Motel, located at 2500 Central Ave. SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Board meeting will be held from 9:30 
a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 22, and from 9:30 a.m.-Noon on Saturday, February 23. The Stakeholders Reception/Update event will take place from 2-4 p.m. following the Board Meeting on Saturday. 

Current members of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Board of Directors include: 
David Bricker – Chair of the Preservation Working Group 
Melissa Beasley – New Mexico Route 66 Association 
Renee Charles – Kansas Historic Route 66 Association/Rt. 66 Association of Kansas 
Gary Daggett – Texas Old Route 66 Association 
David Dunaway – Chair of the Research and Education Working Group 
Sharon Foster – California Historic Route 66 Association 
Sharlene Fouser - Arizona Route 66 Scenic Byway Program 
Jeff Fulgenzi – Chair of the Economic Development Working Group 
Bill Kelly – Chair of the Promotion Working Group 
John Miller – Illinois Route 66 Association 
Dora Meroney – Chair of the Route 66 State Associations Advocacy Working Group 
Brad Nickson – Oklahoma Route 66 Association 
Tommy Pike – Route 66 Association of Missouri 
Bill Thomas – Chairman, Board of Directors 

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments' Fund, The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through 
partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development. 
Dec 18, 2018
Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Collaborates with Illinois State University Grad Students to Build Navigation App
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership has taken the first step in developing a navigation app that will help travelers journey across the country on Historic Route 66 with a mobile app. 

The GPS-based app has several purposes, including: 
• Helping people navigate Route 66 across the country, finding important waypoints in the process 
• Enhancing economic development along Route 66 by promoting sites, attractions and events found there 
• Educating travelers about the history of Route 66  

Using GPS technology to provide turn-by-turn, real-time directions, the app will also provide several themed travel itineraries. The itineraries will include geographically organized information, categorized by each of the eight states located along the famous roadway.  

The Road Ahead’s Promotion Working Group began discussions with faculty and graduate students in Illinois State University’s (ISU) Arts and Technology Program in the fall of 2017 to design and develop the app. The goal was to explore the feasibility of using current technology to not only make finding the route easier, but to also educate and inform travelers about the history, cultural importance, and travel experiences available on Route 66. A prototype was completed and demonstrated at the end of the year. The Route 66 Navigation App is projected to launch in May 2019 with the first two of several travel itineraries. ISU is working with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership to develop the “American Indian and Route 66” travel itinerary. This specific itinerary will introduce and raise awareness of Tribal history and culture along Route 66. To ensure Tribal voices and stories are included in the navigation app, AIANTA is calling on Tribes to recommend key destinations, locations, and annual activities and events for inclusion. The second itinerary under development is the “Green Book” itinerary. The Road Ahead’s Green Book Task Force already has access to these sites on a database provided by the National Park Service. The Green Book itinerary is designed to help people travel to the still existing sites, and to raise awareness of this important aspect of Route 66 history. 

“The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership believes all Americans can find their stories along Route 66, which is why it is important the Green Book and American Indian itineraries are included,” said Road Ahead Board Chairman Bill Thomas. 

Additional itineraries under consideration for future implementation include an RV travel aid and a directory of recommended hotel and motel properties. 

The app will be part of a set of traveler resources made accessible to the public on the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s website at www.rt66roadahead.com including: Jerry McClanahan’s Route 66 EZ Guide, the Route 66 Ultimate Guide navigation app developed by Scott McCoy, Route 66 Navigation created by Marian Pavel, River Pilot’s Garmin-based Route 66 GPS Attractions Guide, and more. 

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development. 
Dec 11, 2018
Road Ahead Appoints Historic Resources Specialist
One of the primary goals of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership is the preservation of the buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects that reflect the historical development and unique character of Route 66. To help achieve this goal, Anne Haaker has been appointed to the newly created position of Historic Resources Specialist [HRS].

Haaker recently retired as Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer [SHPO] for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, a position she held for over 20 years. As Deputy SHPO, Haaker was actively involved in the preservation of buildings, landscapes, and archaeological sites across Illinois. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Program. Volunteering her time as HRS, Haaker’s primary responsibility will be the development, coordination, and implementation of the Road Ahead’s review of federal, state, and local construction projects that may affect Route 66 historic resources in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

“I am delighted to collaborate with federal and state agencies as well as preservation partners to develop a manageable framework to preserve the historical essence of the Mother Road. Bringing together diverse goals to preserve the Route 66 and its many facets presents a unique challenge that I look forward to”, said Haaker.

The Road Ahead’s Preservation Working Group initiated the creation of the HRS position. The HRS job description is available in the Resource section of the Road Ahead website.

“We are fortunate to have Anne Haaker serve in this position. Her accomplished, professional experience in historic preservation, cultural resources management, and knowledge of Route 66 will be great assets to the Road Ahead Partnership”, noted David Bricker, Chair of the Road Ahead’s Preservation Working Group.

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments' Fund, the Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.
Nov 13, 2018
Route 66 Moves Closer to National Historic Trail Status
On October 11, Senator Tom Udall, [D] Senior Senator for New Mexico introduced S3609, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Route 66 National Historic Trail. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma joined Senator Udall [R] as the bill’s co-sponsor. S3609 has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Several Senators from Route 66 states sit on this committee, including Tammy Duckworth [D-IL], Jeff Flake [R-AZ], and Martin Heinrich [D-NM].

Gaining National Historic Trail recognition for Route 66 is a primary goal of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, and this action in the U.S. Senate has brought that goal closer to reality.

“Route 66 is iconic — a long stretch of old road that cuts across eight states, linking the American West through a patchwork of Americana,” said Udall. “It’s not just a place, but a personality; an open road symbolizing freedom. By designating Route 66 as a National Historic Trail, this legislation will revitalize cities, small towns and rural communities along the Route 66 corridor in New Mexico and across the country, bolstering local economies and protecting vibrant historic sites. Just as importantly, this bill would safeguard Route 66 as cultural landmark, preserving its significance as the ‘Main Street of America’ for future generations of adventurers, migrants, hitchhikers, and tourists venturing westward.”

“Route 66 deserves recognition as a National Historic Trail,” added Inhofe. “Oklahoma is home to the longest drivable stretch of ‘America’s Main Street,’ which earned its name from decades of connecting small businesses and rural communities with visitors from around the country. Museums from Clinton to Elk City to Chandler highlight the impact of this road as a representation of American pioneer values. I am proud to introduce this bill that will ensure Route 66 continues to reflect the history of our nation.”

The effort to designate Rt. 66 a National Historic Trail took a major step earlier this summer when the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed HR801, a bill originally introduced by Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood [R]. The text of the Senate version of this legislation is identical to the bill passed by the House, meaning it will not have to spend time in a conference committee resolving language differences once the Senate passes S3609. Rather, it will go straight to the President’s desk for signature. The goal is to have the measure passed by the full Congress and signed by the President by or before the end of 2018.

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments' Fund, The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.
Nov 13, 2018
Route 66 Social Media Plan Launches to Engage Younger Generations
On November 11, 2018, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership will launch an eight-week social media campaign designed to attract and engage younger generations of Route 66 enthusiasts.

“It’s a road trip, the whole way down Route 66, by three 20-something guys trying to find out what’s fun for young people on Route 66,” reports David K. Dunaway, Chair of the Road Ahead Youth Outreach Task Force.

The Road Ahead enlisted the talents of Scotty Leonard, Willim F. Thomas and Kevin McGee to film and edit the videos in addition to implementing the social media communications.

The campaign will utilize YouTube videos, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, and Instagram images to build and engage followers. Highlights include playing at a video arcade museum in Illinois, climbing an amazing clocktower in Missouri, and more.

Route 66 enthusiasts of all ages are invited to join the fun. You can follow the campaign on Twitter @Rt66Ahead, on Instagram @rt66roadahead, on Facebook at Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership, and on YouTube at Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership.

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development. The Road Ahead Youth Outreach Task Force serves under the direction of the Research and Education Working Group

For Additional Information Contact: Bill Thomas, Chairman, Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership, Rt66theroadahead@gmail.com

Nov 12, 2018
Abraham Lincoln Chosen as Top Leader in Illinois History
Illinois is definitely the Land of Lincoln. Voters in the Illinois Top 200 project have selected Abraham Lincoln as the top leader in state history, recognizing his role in ending slavery and holding America together through the Civil War.

He was followed by three other presidents with Illinois connections: Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Ulysses S. Grant. Social worker Jane Addams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, rounded out the top five selections in online voting.

Lincoln came to Illinois as an uneducated but ambitious young man trying to find his place in the world. He left it as a successful lawyer and president-elect of the United States. He would never return, except to be buried after his assassination.

“The four presidents with Illinois roots came from different walks of life, faced different challenges and followed different political philosophies. But all of them were important figures in American history, and I’m glad to see them recognized by the people taking part in the Illinois Top 200 project,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

He noted that the museum is now offering a special exhibit on these four men, called “From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama.”
Oct 15, 2018
Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership Creates “Green Book Task Force”
“The Negro Motorist Green Book” was published for several decades beginning in 1936. It included lists and recommendations of cafes, gas stations, and other places where African Americans traveling across the U.S. would be welcomed and safely served. The Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership believes in telling the complete story of America’s Rt. 66. With this in mind, the Road Ahead recently established a Rt. 66 Green Book Task Force (GBTF). The purpose of the Rt. 66 Green Book Task Force is to increase awareness of, and appreciation for, the story of African Americans and Rt. 66. The task force will collaborate with individuals, organizations, and governmental entities to research, promote, and preserve Green Book sites along Rt. 66.

One of the first tasks undertaken by the GBTF was to identify pressing needs and challenges associated with the Green Book and Rt. 66. The following needs and challenges were identified:

● Increased Awareness & Appreciation
All Americans should be able to find their story along Rt. 66, as it is an important piece of our national history. The story of the African American experience in regards to Rt. 66 is relatively unknown and under appreciated. The Green Book can be a frame of reference through which awareness and appreciation of this particular story are enhanced.

● Research
Much historical research has been done regarding the Green Book, yet, more is needed to flesh out the full story. There is a great need for oral histories, focused research, and data collection designed to present as full a picture as possible regarding Green Book history, especially because so many physical Green Book sites have been demolished or have disappeared.

● Preservation
National Park Service research reveals that the majority of identified Green Book sites along Rt. 66 are now gone. Preservation efforts to save the remaining Green Book sites is an important need, along with plans and fund raising efforts to carry out such preservation work.

● Promotion and Education
More Green Book research - while vital and important - is not an end in and of itself. Expanded Green Book research needs to be actively used to promote and preserve Green Book sites along Rt. 66, and in the process, increase the awareness of, and appreciation for, these sites amongst the public.

In addition, the GBTF also identified a set of principles it felt were important to guide its work moving forward.

● Involving African American individuals, organizations, and communities in the work of the GBTF is crucial to the success of the task force. The GBTF will work to directly engage African American stakeholders as active participants in the tasks it undertakes to achieve its purpose.

● Engaging younger and more diverse audiences is one of the keys to ensuring the preservation and ongoing viability of Rt. 66. The GBTF will work to enhance the knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of Rt. 66 by younger and more diverse audiences, as it carries out the tasks it undertakes to achieve its purpose.

Initial members of the Rt. 66 Green Book Task Force include:
Morgan Vickers, Intern, The National Trust for Historic Preservation
Frank Norris, Historian, the National Park Service
Kaisa Barthuli, National Park Service
Bill Thomas, Chairman, Route 66 The Road Ahead Partnership
Candacy Taylor, Author, Photographer, Cultural Documentarian [Ex Officio Member]

In the days and weeks ahead, the Rt. 66 GBTF will identify specific goals designed to address the needs and challenges it has noted.
Oct 03, 2018
Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau Announces 4th Annual Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference
Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau is proud to announce the 4th Annual Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference in Carlinville, Illinois, Thursday-Sunday, October 25-28, 2018. Additional sponsors of the event are Carlinville Tourism, Macoupin County, Blackburn College, the City of Gillespie, Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition, and Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

Friday and Saturday's conference sessions, keynote speaker, and roster of presenters, plus the Friday evening banquet and band and the Saturday afternoon one-act play premiere, are all scheduled to take place at Blackburn College. Featured speakers include: David Clark (Chicago IL), Roamin' Rich Dinkela (St. Louis MO), Nick Gerlich, Ph.D. (Canyon TX), Jim Hinckley (Kingman AZ), Cheryl Eichar Jett (Edwardsville IL), Geoff Ladd (Lincoln IL), Jerry McClanahan (Chandler TX), David Schwartz (Cleveland OH), Anne Maro Slanina, Ph.D. (Harrisville PA), Sharon Smith (St. Louis MO), Lisa Hicks Snell (Tahlequah OK), Joe Sonderman (St. Louis MO), and Bill Thomas (Atlanta IL), plus Carlinville historians and speakers Andrea Duncan, Tom Emery, Dan Hauter, and Deborah Young. In addition, six panel discussions will address Route 66 tourism topics, led by moderators Larry Bloemker (Hamel IL), Debyjo Ericksen (Joliet IL), Nick Gerlich, Ph.D. (Canyon TX), Bill Kelly (Chatham IL), and Bill Thomas (Atlanta IL). The welcome to Carlinville will be given by Mayor Deanna Demuzio and the welcome to Blackburn College will be given by Interim President Jennifer Braaten, Ph.D. Brett Stawar, CEO and President of Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau, will give the keynote address.

On Thursday afternoon, registration check-in will be at Blackburn College. An optional three-hour bus tour of “Historic Carlinville,” with stops at the Million Dollar Courthouse, Anderson Mansion, Sears Home, and Blackburn College, featuring guide Deb Young, Carlinville Tourism President, will be available. On Thursday evening, the City of Gillespie will host “Mining on Route 66” with an open house and tours at the new Illinois Coal Museum. The evening will include three showings of “Coliseum Ballroom Memories,” a short documentary about the legendary ballroom, and nearby restaurants will be open, all on Gillespie's stretch of historic Route 66.

On Friday evening, a banquet will be served in Woodson Hall on the Blackburn College campus, followed by a concert and dance featuring popular oldies band, the Robert Perry Band with the Original Mojos.

On Saturday evening, the City of Carlinville's annual Halloween Parade with this year's theme of “Get your kicks on Route 66” will proceed around the historic Carlinville Square. A Halloween Costume Party with a buffet, cash bar, and guest DJ Joe Sonderman is scheduled at the former Crabby's Supper Club on the south side of Carlinville.

On Sunday morning, an optional three-hour bus tour of “The Haunts of 66” from Carlinville and back will go in search of ghosts and ghost roads, spirits and their haunts, miners, mobsters, and murderers, presented by InSites Tours and featuring guide David Clark, the Windy City Road Warrior.

A conference weekend package, as well as a one-day special “Essentials of Route 66 Tourism” package, are available for registration at the conference website route66milesofpossibility.com. Add-ons and single tickets for various activities are also available, and complete schedule, lodging information, and speaker bios can be found on the website. For more information call Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau at (800) 258-6645.
Sep 17, 2018
66 Vintage Motel Task Force Sets First Goals
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s Vintage Motel Task Force (VMTF) has formalized its purpose, identified its biggest challenges, and set its first two goals.

The purpose of the task force is to retain, sustain, and enhance the viability of vintage motels along Route 66 by bringing together owner/operators committed to collaboratively addressing common challenges/needs.

Owners and operators of Rt. 66 vintage motels share many challenges. The task force has identified seven specific challenges to undertake:

- Economies of Scale​: The challenge of not being able to leverage group buying opportunities of day-to-day supplies & other fixed costs, advertising, marketing, etc., due to the lack of a vintage motel purchasing group.

- Operational Economics​: The cashflow challenge of maintaining a vintage motel business throughout the entire year, given the seasonal nature of the business.

- Advertising/Marketing​: The challenge of how, when, and where to do effective advertising and marketing?

- Quality Standards​: The need for vintage motel quality standards designed to motivate customers to feel comfortable staying at such properties.

- Workforce​: The challenge of recruiting and keeping good/qualified employees, given small labor pools and the seasonal nature of owning/operating a vintage motel.

- Networking​: The need for professional networking designed to help vintage motel owner/operators tap into the wisdom and experience of other owner/operators.

- Work Environment​: The challenge of how exhausting it is to be the owner/operator of a such highly personalized business.

The VMTF will focus its initial work on addressing Economies of Scale and Operational Economics that would benefit independent vintage motel owners and operators. The group set this first goal as a strategy to improve the typical vintage motel cashflow situation by leveraging group purchasing processes designed to reduce overall operating costs, such as day-to-day supplies.

The group’s second goal is to help increase revenue at vintage motels by implementing a branding & marketing process that devises a plan, a budget, and an execution strategy resulting in increased reservations. This goal is designed to impact the Advertising/Marketing and Quality Standards challenges identified earlier.

Next steps for the VMTF include updating a database of Rt. 66 vintage motels provided by the National Park Service, in order to contact and recruit owner/operators to join a vintage motel purchasing group. The VMTF is also planning a face-to-face meeting in Moriarity, NM, to jumpstart a plan for branding and marketing Rt. 66 vintage motels.

Members of the Vintage Motel Task Force include: Debye Harvey, Boots Court Motel, Carthage, Missouri; Debbie and Mike Pogue, Sunset Motel, Moriarity, New Mexico; Larry Smith, Motel Safari, Tucumcari, New Mexico; Ed Boles, Retired City Planner/Historic Preservation Officer for City of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Eric von Starck, Sales and Marketing Consultant with Panetiere Hospitality; David Bricker, Chairman, Road Ahead Preservation Working Group; Jeff Fulgenzi, Chairman, Road Ahead Economic Development Working Group; Kaisa Barthuli, National Park Service Rt. 66 Corridor Preservation Program; and Bill Thomas, Chairman, Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership.

Established in 2015, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments' Fund, The Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, as well as economic development.
Sep 10, 2018
66,000 Signature Goal Within Reach

The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced this week, that as of August 31, 2018, they had received 61,417 signatures in support of designating Historic Route 66 a National Historic Trail. The National Trust launched a month-long campaign in July to build awareness for the bill in Congress that would make Route 66 the twentieth U.S. National Historic Trail. In honor of the Road’s birthday on November 11, they set a goal of 66,000 signatures in time to celebrate the Route’s 92nd year.

The Road Ahead and the National Trust are grateful for all those who have already signed the petition and request their help in encouraging others to offer their support. The petition is waiting to be signed online at www. preserveroute66.org . While there, visitors can also brush up on the road trip itinerary, sneak a peek at some of the photos taken and stories written, and meet the National Trust road trip staff.

Amy Webb, senior field director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, stated By promoting this authentic experience, we can help preserve a beloved icon and at the same time, revive local economies in rural communities.”

The National Trust gathered over 58,000 signatures from Route 66 supporters all over the world during the July road trip. Since that time, they have gained about 3,000 more. That leaves just under 5,000 names to reach the goal.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already taken important steps to designate Route 66 a National Historic Trail, but legislation remains to be passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by the president. This permanent federal designation will place Route 66 among other nationally significant land or water routes that reflect America’s history. This vital preservation opportunity can bring national recognition and economic development to historic sites along the historic highway.

Established with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, and economic development.

Photo by David Kafer. Used by permission of National Trust for Historic Preservation. All Rights Reserved.
Aug 01, 2018
Governor signs bill creating Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission

PLAINFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner today (July 31, 2018) signed legislation creating the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission. 

The commission will develop plans for celebrating the famous road’s 100th anniversary in 2026. Also known as The Mother Road, Route 66 put Illinois on the national numbered highway network map in the late 1920s as the state became the first to pave the entirety of its share. The route took travelers between Illinois and California at a time when traveling by car was just beginning to overtake rail travel. Route 66 became renowned for its over-the-top roadside attractions and plethora of conspicuously neon-lit motels — resulting in the “Get your kicks on Route 66” song lyrics of 1946. 

“Illinois has a distinct place of honor in this famous road’s history. Not only is Chicago its starting point, our people were the first to pave it from end to end as it wound southwest toward St. Louis and on to the Missouri border,” Rauner said after signing HB 66. “This made it easier for motorists to travel and sparked a golden era of fun family road trips, with plenty of places to stop and enjoy along the way. 

“Although it appeared destined to fade from history for a time after the new interstate highway system was built, today the route is once again a popular and enduring tourist attraction in our state,” he continued. “Illinois Historic Route 66 is a nationally designated scenic byway. This commission will put together events and programs worthy of our state’s place in Route 66 history, and I look forward to the celebration in 2026.”

State Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, and others welcomed the legislation’s signing today in Plainfield, where Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway meet. Centennial events could include programs highlighting the growth of local communities as construction proceeded along the route, the cultural impact of Route 66 in the U.S. and globally, the portrayal of Route 66 in music, artwork and folklore, and guidance on how to maintain its mystique and appeal for future generations. 

“Historic Route 66 is not only iconic, it plays an important role in our state and national history and culture,” said Althoff, chief Senate sponsor of the bill. “One hundred years later, the commission will develop a plan to highlight and celebrate Route 66, with events that will be enjoyed by both residents and visitors.” 

“Route 66 begins right here in Illinois, and I am proud that our state will be leading the way to celebrate the centennial of this world-famous byway,” said Butler, the chief House sponsor of HB 66 and a member of the Illinois House Committee on Tourism, Hospitality and Craft Industry. “The Mother Road’s 100th birthday celebration will be an international event, and this commission will get us ready to welcome visitors from around the world who want to experience the magic of Route 66.” 

Route 66 originally ran 2,448 miles from Michigan Avenue and East Adams Street in Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona en route to Santa Monica, California. 

The highway was decommissioned in the mid-1980s, and across many states only a ghost of it remains. In 1989, Illinois was among the first states to create a Route 66 Association, and in the late 1990s, it was made a State Heritage Tourism Project. In 2005, Illinois Historic Route 66 gained National Scenic Byway status, the first state attaining that designation. 

“Today, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway is the envy of the other seven states,” Butler said. “It is a true leader in activities and preservation.” 

Also welcoming the commission’s official creation was Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield. 

“It is an honor to have the governor sign this bill in Plainfield, which is the only spot in the country where Historic Route 66 and Historic Route 30 became one road,” Batinick said. The Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission shall consist of 20 members who reflect the interests, history and importance of the communities along Historic Route 66 in Illinois.

Click here to read the process of passage of the bill and the actual bill itself.

Aug 01, 2018
Dean Williams presents The Making of a Historical Film, "Abraham Lincoln in Logan County" offered by the Elkhart Historical Society at the Wild Hare Cafe in Elkhart. The doors will open at 4:45 pm and the dinner will begin promptly at 5:30 pm. 

This is a special official Illinois Bicentennial project celebrating President Abraham Lincoln and the local community. Elkhart Historical Society is partnering with Lincoln College and the Central Illinois Film Commission to update the film, “From Surveyor to President, A. Lincoln in Logan County.”

“It is with the cooperation of the original videographer, Dean Williams, his staff, Lincoln College and the support of Paul Beaver, that the Elkhart Historical Society was able to add additional footage to the 2003 film. Then with assistance from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway organization, the film was added to the Bicentennial Calendar of events. Generous sponsors helped to provide the funding for the re-release of ‘From Surveyor to President, A. Lincoln in Logan County’ which is part of Logan County’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of Illinois’ Statehood,” said Gillette Ransom of the Elkhart Historical Society. 
The film, originally produced in 2003, is being revised to include footage of the new Lincoln Heritage Museum, highlights of the Lincoln/Oglesby connection, and additional information on President Lincoln’s support of the university that was to be built and named for him. The entire footage of the original film was shot in Logan County, and many at sites that are still in existence, and many of the extras are from Logan County as well.

"These are exactly the type of events the Bicentennial Commission is proud to support during our 200th birthday year," said Representative Tim Butler, a member of Illinois Bicentennial Commission. "Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 are two of our greatest historical and cultural assets in Illinois. To have this program highlighting Lincoln at a stop right off the Mother Road is a wonderful way to tie together two icons of our State's rich history." 

The film will be featured at the August 31st dinner lecture in Elkhart as part of the bicentennial events planned, with video copies available to the public for purchase. The cost of the evening is $40 per person which includes a donation of $10 to the Elkhart Historical Society to defray expenses. For complete menu and reservation form, please see the website: www.elkharthistoricalsociety.org. Reservations are required and should be made by calling 217-947-2238. Seating is limited.
Jul 17, 2018
U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis Route 66 Bill Passes House
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) released the following statement after his bill, H.R. 66, the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act, unanimously passed the House of Representatives. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

"Route 66 is a symbol of American independence and prosperity, a critical part of our economy, and it's important to preserve it for future generations," Davis said. "I would like to thank my colleagues for their support of this bill. I am proud to have part of this historic highway running through my district and I will continue to work to ensure Route 66 is ready for its 100th anniversary in 2026 and for years to come."

Davis spoke in support of H.R. 66 on the House floor. Below are his remarks as written.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 66, the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act. I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Grace Napolitano, for sponsoring this legislation with me, and also Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio for helping shepherd this bill to the floor.

I am proud to have Route 66 run through the middle of my district and I believe it’s important we celebrate the history of Route 66.

In 1926, Route 66 became our Nation’s first all- paved highway under the U.S. Highway System, connecting Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Early on, the road was used by hundreds-of-thousands of Americans seeking escape from the Dust Bowl, and provided critical employment opportunities for road crews paving the road during the Great Depression.

During World War II, the highway transported troops, equipment and supplies to military bases across our country, and was used after the war by thousands of troops returning home to their families. By the 1950s, Route 66 began to see a rise in tourism and became the true symbol of the American freedom and independence we all know today.

In April of last year, I went on an extended tour of Illinois’ stretch of the highway with my colleague Representative Darin LaHood and many state and local leaders. I had the opportunity to see the economic impact the Mother Road brings to Illinois, supporting many jobs and key economic activity in small towns, helping generate important revenue to support our communities.

For example, travelers along Route 66 can see a giant pink elephant statue and other larger than life sculptures at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston. They can see a movie at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, which originally opened in 1909. Or stop for all-day breakfast at Jungle Jim’s Café, a quintessential roadside diner in Springfield.

These are just a few of the thousands of local businesses along Route 66 whose livelihood depends on the historic highway.

You don’t even have to be in a car to ride along Route 66. The Illinois Route 66 Trail is a system of off-road paths for bikes, hikers, or anyone else looking to see the Mother Road a different way.

The centennial of Route 66 will be an international celebration and the state of Illinois will be ready to welcome travelers from around the world who want to experience the history and magic of this scenic byway.

H.R. 66 will create a 19-member Commission to recommend activities to honor the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in the year 2026.

It also directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a plan to ensure the first-all-paved U.S. highway connecting the Midwest to California will be preserved for many years to come. In doing this, the Secretary of Transportation will work with the Governors of the eight states this historic highway passes through to develop a comprehensive preservation plan.

H.R. 66 is endorsed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, the National Historic Route 66 Federation, Auto Club Enterprises (also known as Triple A), and the Route 66 Alliance.

Throughout its history, Route 66 has become more than just a way to get from Point A to Point B. It has evolved into a symbol of American independence and prosperity.

I am proud to help continue the legacy of Route 66, and I urge my colleagues to vote yes on H.R. 66." - Rep. Davis

You can watch the entirety of Rep. Davis' remarks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o79sAEuZXR4.

Jun 18, 2018
The eagerly anticipated Tropics Sign Relighting Ceremony in Lincoln, Illinois will be held on Sunday evening, June 24th, 2018. In conjunction, with this event, The Mill Museum on 66 in Lincoln will hold a Celebrity Autograph special event from 1pm-6:30pm that same day, with plenty of time in-between to get from The Mill Museum to The Tropics Sign event.

In addition to getting a chance to view celebrity autographs, visitors will get to see an extensive Tropics collection that is on display at The Mill Museum, including an original Tropics dining table and chairs from the 1950s-70s era (courtesy of Bob & Tami Goodrich – Tami being the daughter of Lew and Bev Johnson, who owned and operated the restaurant), rare Tropics documents dating back to the early years of the restaurant (including a liquor license, and a sales tax document), and a selection of Tropics menus, postcards, matchbooks and photographs. Additionally, there will be a featured document signed by “Coonhound Johnny” Schwenoha, who was a local “beverage distributor” for Al Capone during the Prohibition Era. Coonhound Johnny’s son, Vince, was the original owner of the Tropics Restaurant.

Route 66 Roadie, Rod Ferguson, of Hot Rod Travels, will be the featured guest presenter, and he will have on display for this one-day only event, his collection of celebrity autographs, including an autograph from the late Jerry Maren, who passed away on May 24th, 2018, having been the last remaining munchkin in the “Wizard of Oz” movie. L. Frank Baum authored "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" book published in 1900, and a series of sequels. The book was later adapted into the famous "Wizard of Oz" movie that featured Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale. The Dorothy character was inspired by Baum's niece, Dorothy Gage, who died within a year of her birth and is buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery along Route 66 in Bloomington, Illinois.

Tina Crow is the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery Manager, and over the next several days, a new memorial to Dorothy Gage will be created. “There is a tree in the vicinity of the Dorothy Louise Gage grave site that was dying. We thought why not see about getting a tree carver to carve Dorothy out of the trunk if it is in good enough shape. As it turned out it was, so we had a tree removal service cut the tree down with the exception of a 12-foot stump. We spoke with a Gentleman from Top Notch Chainsaw Carving out of Lombard Illinois about doing a carving for us. He will be carving Dorothy who is about 5-foot tall holding a basket and Toto sitting beside her. He will then carve the Yellow Brick Road around the remaining stump at the bottom.”

“On June 1, 1997 Mickey Carroll one of the original Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz along with others from the cemetery unveiled a new headstone for Dorothy. The headstone was purchased by Mickey Carroll in memory of Dorothy. It was then that the cemetery decided to come up with a new section for infants at the entrance of the cemetery named after Dorothy. It is called Dorothy Gage Memorial Gardens,” said Crow.

Rod Ferguson will also have autograph displays from the late Adam West who played Batman in the original “Batman” TV show, the late Noel Neill who played Lois Lane in the original “Superman” TV show, and Cindy Morgan who was part of the cast of the “Caddyshack” and “Tron” movies.

Route 66 enthusiasts will also get a chance to see a unique display of autographs from the late Ernie Edwards of the Pig Hip restaurant and famous Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire – both signed on a piece of original wood siding from the famous restaurant. Also on display will be a picture of Disney/Pixar “Cars” character “Sara Safestreet” from the State Farm TV commercial, signed by actress Eva Longoria who did the voice for the character in the ad.

Several autographs from professional sports figures who were born in Lincoln, Illinois will be on display, including NBA basketball player Brian Cook, NFL football player Tony Semple and MLB baseball players Kevin Seitzer and Ryan Aper.

At 3pm, celebrity authors will be on hand for book sales and signings, including Route 66 author and historian John Weiss, author of “Traveling the New, Historic Route 66 of Illinois” & “As the Story Goes…”; and retired local newspaper editor and author Danny Tackett, author of “Big Stories from a Small Town” & “Even More Big Stories” – a companion to his first book.

This will also be an opportunity to meet the volunteers and board members who brought The Mill back to life as a museum, including Geoff Ladd, who began the restoration project back in 2006. Special pieces of wood from The Mill will be on sale, with a certificate of authentication signed by Ladd (quantities are limited). Also featured for sale will be a variety of Mill-branded t-shirts, hoodies, women’s apparel and ceramic pottery available exclusively at The Mill. Also on sale will be original Tropics matchbooks and memory beads designed by Teri Lynn Parrish, that are made with bricks from The Tropics restaurant. Parrish is the niece of the late Tropics owner Lew Johnson.

Also on display is a special memorial to the late Charles Ott, who portrayed Abraham Lincoln for several decades. Charles was the official Abraham Lincoln for the State of Illinois and traveled globally in that role. He also was the official Abraham Lincoln is the Sears catalog. You’ll be able to see Charles Ott’s signature from his Illinois State Bee Inspector license. His widow Marge Ott, is now a volunteer at The Mill and will be among the volunteers greeting visitors at the event.

“One of the special aspects of Route 66 is the balance of old and new along the most famous Road in the world,” observed Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, who will be present for the festivities. “We have attractions and businesses along the Road here in Illinois that are practically unchanged since the twenties and thirties. We also have attractions that have re-invented themselves.”

“Lincoln is fortunate to have two great examples of that re-invention on Route 66 with the Tropics Sign and the Mill. One of the most iconic Signs anywhere on the Mother Road returns to its former glory in the evening sky. The Mill has just celebrated its first anniversary as a Museum, showcasing the Lincoln area Route 66 memorabilia that includes many artifacts from the Tropics Restaurant in its heyday,” said Kelly.

Specialty coffee and tea samples, as well as cold water will be available at The Mill Museum. There will be a 50/50 drawing and prize giveaways. A suggested donation is encouraged to help with ongoing utility and insurance expenses for The Mill.

After the conclusion of the special event at The Mill, patrons and visitors are encouraged to attend the Tropics Sign Relighting Ceremony main event at the original location of the famous Route 66 neon sign, which is now at the McDonald’s restaurant in Lincoln. There will be a reception beginning at 7:15pm. The formal program begins at 7:45pm, with representatives from several organizations scheduled to speak. The switch for the restored neon tubing for The Tropics sign will be turned on at 8:15pm. Seating is limited, and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. The Lincoln, IL McDonald’s restaurant is offering a special $1.66 cheeseburger and small fries meal throughout the day. Commemorative T-shirts of The Tropics also will be available at the Tropics ceremony. Attendees are encouraged to wear tropical attire. The famous sign was restored by Ace Sign Company of Springfield, Illinois, utilizing a grant by the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, City of Lincoln hotel/motel tax and individual fund-raising efforts of the Tropics Legacy Campaign.

The Mill Museum is located at 738 South Washington Avenue (the 1926-1940 alignment of Route 66) in Lincoln, and the Tropics Sign is located at the McDonald’s restaurant on 1007 Hickox Drive (the 1940-1977 alignment of Route 66) in Lincoln.
Jun 15, 2018
On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, legislation introduced by Congressman Darin LaHood to establish a federal designation of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail passed out of the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote. This comes after the bill passed out of the Natural Resources Committee by a unanimous vote in January of this year. Rep. LaHood issued this statement following the bill’s passage:

“For nearly a century, Route 66 has been a crucial transportation artery for the heartland of America. Towns across the nation and throughout my district have seen the Mother Road bring tourism, employment, a higher quality of life, and civic pride to their communities,” said Rep. LaHood. “We appreciate the support of this legislation because it will allow visitors from around the world to experience the history of Route 66 while our local businesses and tourism industry receive the economic benefits.”

“The designation of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail is a perfect way to connect visitors and residents who travel across Illinois and the U.S. with the amazing stories of our communities,” Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said. “We appreciate this partnership between the federal and local levels, including planning for the 100th anniversary, because it will allow visitors from around the world to experience the history of Route 66 while our local businesses and tourism industry receive the economic benefits.”

Before the vote, Rep. LaHood took to the House floor to advocate for this legislation, stating “Route 66’s impact on small, rural communities in Illinois and across the country cannot be understated. For example, both Atlanta, Illinois and Springfield, Illinois have benefited from renewed emphasis on Route 66. In Atlanta we’ve seen an increase in tourism to the area and as a result an increase in sales tax revenue. In Springfield we’ve seen a revitalization of underutilized parts of town. These are just two examples, but I can say with confidence that the highway’s significance has become a key driver of attracting both domestic and international tourism as well as local economic activity for the areas and states that many of us in Congress represent.”

Route 66 was an original highway established as part of the U.S. Highway system in 1926. The highway begins in Illinois and ends in California, running through a total of eight states.

Rep. LaHood’s bill (H.R. 801) would designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail, providing the highway with a permanent program to preserve, promote, and economically develop. It was introduced on February 9, 2017 with Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) as original cosponsors.

You can watch the entirety of Rep. LaHood’s remarks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYOd9CCvcOk.

Jun 04, 2018
Illinois Secretary of State Launches New Route 66 Motorcycle Plate Program
Springfield, IL – 6/4/18 - Illinois motorcycle owners now have an opportunity to join car owners from across the state to support perhaps the most famous road in the world, Route 66, by registering for the newly released Illinois Route 66 Motorcycle Plate. State Representative Tim Butler of the 87th District who sponsored the legislation that brought the plate to reality noted, "Route 66 is a historic part of our American culture. The Mother Road starts in downtown Chicago and stretches across more than 300 miles of Illinois."

Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway observed that, "Illinois residents that ride will now be able to enjoy a distinctive Route 66 Motorcycle Plate that also provides funding to support preservation and promotion of this legendary highway in our state." Tourists from around the world travel Route 66 looking to experience some American nostalgia, bringing millions of dollars of economic impact to communities along the route.

Illinois Route 66 motorcycle license plates may be displayed only on motorcycles having an engine over 150cc's. Illinois Route 66 Motorcycle license plates can be renewed online, by mail, touch-tone phone, or by visiting an Illinois Secretary of State Facility. For more information visit the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Route 66 License Plate webpage at www.illinoisroute66.org/Support-Route-66/License-Plates or you can “Pick-a-Plate” online located at the Illinois Secretary of State website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/vehicles/license_plate_guide/motorcycle/mcy_route66.html
Apr 17, 2018
The 5th Annual Bike Blessing in Lincoln, Illinois will be held on Saturday, April 28th, 2018, beginning at 1:00 p.m. This is event is the first official Illinois Bicentennial in Lincoln (illinois200.com/events/5th-annual-bike-blessing-illinois-bicentennial-event). The Bike Blessing gives bikers peace of mind, knowing they are protected by God. Everyone is welcome.

“We have people coming from all over for this event, including as far away as Texas and Wisconsin,” said Ron Thornton, event organizer and co-founder. “Salt Creek ABATE is also joining us as an event sponsor this year, and we are glad to have them on-board”.

Pastor Bigfoot does the blessings each year, and a free lunch is provided to all. This year’s blessing will be held at the local VFW/Foxhole Pub & Grub, located at 915 5th Street (Old Route 66) in Lincoln, IL. Live music from Sundown Band will begin at 3:30 p.m., with the event wrapping up around 5:30 p.m.

The sponsors for the 5th Annual Bike Blessing include event founders Ron & Lois Thornton, Salt Creek Chapter of ABATE
of Illinois, Foxhole Pub & Grub, Bond-Slaves Christian Motorcycle Club of Decatur, Loie’s Custom Bike Shop & Charlie Lee
from Lincoln IGA, who is supplying buns and a cooker for the event.

Last year, Governor Rauner attended the event, and it was a great honor to have him there on behalf of the State of
Illinois and as a member of ABATE of Illinois.

The next day, on Sunday, April 29th from 1pm to 4pm, is an Open House at The Mill Museum on 66 in Lincoln. This will
mark the one-year anniversary of the opening of the museum. There will be a 50/50 drawing, door prizes, and a 10%
discount on all gift shop merchandise.

“This is also a great informal opportunity to meet with members of the team that keeps the Mill alive,” said Geoff Ladd,
board member of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County. “You’ll also get to see the new artifacts on display
in the museum, such as our vintage 1926 Gilbarco Gas Pump, and of course, some of our more popular featured items –
the Mill Siren, Illy the Illico Robot and the mechanical leg hanging from the ceiling.”

Proceeds from The Mill event, as well as memberships, help with annual expenses of the museum. The foundation that
owns The Mill Museum is a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Mill is also home to the official Salt Creek ABATE
memorial, and the chapter is known for their community involvement and has done significant volunteer construction
work over the years at The Mill. Salt Creek ABATE also hosts several annual community events, including an Easter Egg
Hunt, the Veterans Memorial Run, a Duck Race Weekend and a new safety awareness event on May 12th this year in

Jan 10, 2018
The Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership is pleased to announce that legislation [H.R.801] introduced by Congressman Darin LaHood to designate Route 66 a National Historic Trail passed out of the National Resources Committee by a unanimous vote on Wednesday, January 10th. This comes after the bill received a legislative hearing in November of 2017, at which Rep. LaHood and other Members of the House spoke of the importance of preserving the road for future generations. Road Ahead Chairman, Bill Thomas, was invited to testify at the hearing regarding the economic impact of Rt. 66.

“For nearly a century, Route 66 has been a crucial transportation artery for the heartland of America. Many towns in my district and others across our nation have seen the Mother Road keep tourism, employment, and revenues up, leading to a higher quality of life and civic pride. It is vital that we highlight and preserve this national historic roadway for future generations, and this committee vote gets us one step closer to that goal,” said Rep. LaHood.

“Passage of H.R. 801 is a primary goal of the Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership for many reasons, noted Thomas. Stakeholders who attended the 2015 Collaboration Workshop meetings held by the Road Ahead all along Rt. 66 made it known that designating the Mother Road a National Historic Trail was a top priority. The designation will also establish an ongoing, permanent focus on Rt. 66 at the Federal level, something that is needed given the impending sunset in 2019 of the NPS Rt. 66 Corridor Preservation Program. In addition, the designation will help support promotion and preservation activities vital to the future of Route 66.”

Rep. LaHood’s bill (H.R. 801) would designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail, providing the highway with a permanent program to preserve, promote, and economically develop. It was introduced on February 9, 2017 with Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) as original cosponsors. The legislation now awaits a vote before the full House of Representatives, then it is on to the Senate.

For additional information, please contact:
Bill Thomas – theroadahead@gmail.com
The Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership
Post Office Box 166, Atlanta, Illinois 61723
Oct 30, 2017
Lexington Loves Route 66 Event This Saturday 11-4-17
The Illinois Route 66 community of Lexington, famous for their Memory Lane and Neon Arrow attractions, is the place to visit for a Saturday afternoon event featuring a progressive peek of three of Lexington’s newest businesses. The event will be from 1:00-4:00pm on this Saturday, November 4th in the tourist-friendly community of 2100 people, located in McLean County just north of Bloomington/Normal.

The three businesses are located at or near the intersection of Main Street and Historic Route 66 in Lexington: Thrift Avenue, 1103 W. Main Street; Kelly’s on 66, 905 W. Main Street & Castle Gardens, 1280 P.J. Keller Highway. The public is welcome - free admission, no reservations required. 10% Off coupon flyers are available at all three locations, and must be redeemed the day of the event, Saturday, November 4th through Saturday, November 11th, 2017.

Schedule of Events:
1pm- Thrift Avenue’s Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening 10% Off Sale! 10% Off All Merchandise, November 4th - November 11th, 2017 ALSO Enter the Grand Opening Drawing for a Gift Basket!

Thrift Avenue, LLC.
1103 W. Main Street, Lexington, IL 61753
309-365-7467 thriftavenue.net

Can a Thrift shop on Route 66 be a worthwhile and enjoyable stop? If surprising you with a broad array of both new and almost new merchandise displayed in a welcoming, bright, clean, and friendly atmosphere where you can still find bargains and awesome gifts? Then the answer is yes! Route 66 travelers and area shoppers can expect the merchandise in this 3,000-square-foot shop to be constantly changing as we are always adding new merchandise from purchasing estates, finding new consignors, and always searching for super cool and interesting items. 

Check out the newly constructed 12’ x 32’ hand painted mural with Route 66 nostalgia by local artist, Anna Cappis…it’s awesome!

Afterwards, Swing into Kelly’s on 66 for a Late Lunch! 10% Discount During Regular Hours from November 4th - November 11th Delicious Pizza, Pasta, Sandwiches, Salads & Desserts!

Kelly’s on 66
905 W. Main Street, Lexington, IL 61753
309-365-7777 facebook.com/Kellyson66

Kelly's on Route 66 is now open and serving Pizza, Pasta, Sandwiches, Salads & Desserts! This family-friendly restaurant is located in the historic building that was home to Skelley's Service Station and Toby's Mesa Cafe. Featuring homemade pizza and homemade pies and cakes all made from scratch, as well as the occasional "blue plate special". Wine and beer are also served. Check out all the interesting artifacts that are part of the decor! Open 11am-8pm Tues-Thurs, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat and 11am-6pm Sundays.

Followed by 2-4pm - Open House at Castle Gardens Event Venue Live Swing Music featuring “New Vintage Band” & Light Refreshments in the Carousel Barn November 4th - November 11th - 10% Off Event Bookings for 2018!

Castle Gardens
1280 P.J. Keller Highway, Lexington, IL 61753
309-826-6916 castlegardens.us

Nestled between Historic Route 66 and Interstate 55 in Lexington is Castle Gardens. Castle Gardens is home of the Castle, a nationally recognized, high style Queen Anne, 1898 home. Featuring over 40 acres of gardens and native prairie, including the formal garden and Robert Cumpstom sculpture garden. Castle Gardens is available for rental from public home tours to weddings. Visit us online for rental and public event details and information. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As mentioned, the public is welcome - free admission, no reservations required. 10% Off coupon flyers are available at all three locations, and must be redeemed the day of the event, Saturday, November 4th through Saturday, November 11th, 2017. See you in Lexington this Saturday and beyond!
Oct 17, 2017
Tully Garrett and Holly Barker have officially purchased the Gemini Giant/Launching Pad as of October 17, 2017. The famous muffler man statue and drive-in restaurant will remain at their original location at 810 East Baltimore Street (Route 66) in Wilmington, Illinois. They will be introduced by Cory Jobe, Director at Illinois Office of Tourism, after his keynote address that kicks off the Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference in Joliet. Jobe’s address is at 9am on Friday, October 20th, followed at 9:30am by a press conference with owners Tully Garrett and Holly Barker. An official from the City of Wilmington will also be on-hand.

The restaurant dates to 1960 under the original name of Dairy Delite, and in 1965 was renamed Launching Pad, becoming home to the Gemini Giant, a fiberglass “Muffler Man” sporting a space helmet and rocket ship. It is a remnant of our fascination with space travel in the 1960s.

New owners Tully Garrett and Holly Barker describe themselves as “second-chance soulmates.” They both lost their spouses to cancer in the last several years. “We were both living the American dream and we both had our lives crash in on us due to the loss of our spouses,” said Barker.

According to Barker, Garrett owns an insurance agency that has been in his family for 55 years. Tully was also in the music industry, and his extensive music memorabilia collection will be on display at the Launching Pad in a mini-museum. Tully has a real affinity to classic cars and car shows and he plans on hosting car shows at the Launching Pad and wants to partner with local business owners to help bring in the community to make this a huge success.

Barker started working in restaurants the day she turned 16 and continued to work through high school to afford a trip to England and thus her love for travel adventure was born. She is “so excited to embrace the travel and tourism industry here in Illinois.” Holly describes herself as a world traveler having lived in three different countries and travelled extensively.

Barker has worked at a broad spectrum of restaurants, including a BBQ restaurant in North Carolina where she is from, all the way to fine dining establishments. She earned a minor in Food Service Management with a BS degree in Health Promotion from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Her first job out of college was working for PYA Monarch Food Service Distribution which later became US Food Service. She left the food service industry in 1998 to join the pharmaceutical industry where she worked for Abbott Laboratories with its home base close to Chicago.

Holly retired from the industry in 2015 after her husband passed away from cancer in 2014 and moved home to establish Grief Anonymous and the Grief Resource Network for grieving people in crisis. Grief Anonymous, is an online grief support organization with 70K+ membership with 60 online volunteer administrators and a Facebook page that has a million views a month and is growing rapidly.

According to Barker, Holly and Tully met in one such online group for widowers and widows. They became instant online friends for months, and later when they met in person, “the two fell instantly in love.”

Holly says the purchasing of the Gemini Giant/Launching Pad “offers them a genuine opportunity for personal happiness. Tully gets his car shows and music and to eat great food…Holly gets her back room for community events and the opportunity to meet people within her network…the opportunity through her kitchen to create what the town of Wilmington longs for as well as a new business model for restaurants where everyone shares in the success.”

With the Grief Resource Network, Holly plans on bringing her skills to the Launching Pad and helping with the homeless crisis in Chicago, utilizing the food trucks and a percentage of the restaurants profits to aid in her cause to feed the hungry. The organization will house itself in the back of the Launching Pad. The front of the building will provide “the full experience of historical nostalgia and the great food and experience everyone is hoping for,” said Barker. “The restoration of the Launching Pad to its original glory and intent is paramount, with the added new benefits of our community projects. We will be starting renovations on the exterior of the building and then moving in phases on the inside of the building during the winter months. We hope to be ready by late spring of 2018.”

However, Garrett explained that they bought the building “as is” and do not have knowledge yet of the extensive repairs that are needed due to the building staying vacant for five years. “What is there now is ‘pot luck’ as to what works and what doesn’t in terms of the kitchen equipment, freezers, HVAC, and electrical so to project what we can do and when can do it will be better described as we know what we have to repair. We will build our cash flow through food trucks and merchandise sales that will then be reinvested into the renovations. In essence, the town and visitors will have a hand at ‘Operation Launch the Pad’. said Tully.

“This is fantastic news for Wilmington and the annual Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor event that includes the community,” said Debyjo Ericksen, Route 66 Miles of Possibility conference organizer. “We are excited to have Cory Jobe introduce the owners at the press conference on Friday.”

“The Gemini Giant is one of the top five Route 66 attractions in the state,” said Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “We are glad to see it remain in Wilmington and get the attention it deserves from the new owners. The Byway wishes them the best of success.”

To register for the Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference, please visit route66milesofpossibility.com. For more information on the Gemini Giant/Launching Pad, visit www.facebook.com/thelaunchingpadroute66.

Oct 06, 2017
3rd Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference to be held in Joliet, Illinois
The Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor is proud to present the 3rd Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference to be held in Joliet, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, October 19-21, 2017. The primary venue for the conference is the Joliet Area Historical Museum located at 204 North Ottawa Street, also known as Historic Route 66, in beautiful downtown Joliet. Additional conference breakout sessions will take place in the adjoining Renaissance Center at 214 North Ottawa Street providing seamless accessibility for attendees.

The Miles of Possibility Conference offers high-level, detailed coverage of the key issues, strategies, challenges, tools, and opportunities facing Route 66 municipalities, counties, and businesses. The conference focuses on historic preservation, economic development, history, and marketing with practical solutions presented by an outstanding line-up of nationally known experts on Route 66.

Conference attendees that arrive early on Thursday October 19th will have the opportunity to take a historic tour along Route 66 leaving the Joliet Area Historical Museum at 8:00AM, visiting locations such as the Collins Street Prison, Joliet Union Station, Gemini Giant and the Two Cell Jail. Arrive in Dwight in time for lunch at the quaint Country Mansion and visit the notable Frank Lloyd Wright Bank. Your final stop before returning to the Joliet Museum will be in Braidwood at the 1950’s Polk-a-Dot Drive-In for an ice cream sundae and photo opportunities with Betty Boop, Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.

Informative conference sessions will feature substantive presentations, panel discussions, and workshops taking place Friday October 20th & Saturday October 21st, 8:00AM-4:00PM. Our Keynote speaker Cory Jobe, Illinois Director of Travel & Tourism, will provide an update on the Illinois travel campaign “Are you up for Amazing?” which prominently features Route 66.

Grab your black fedora and sunglasses as you join us Thursday evening at the Blues Brothers Celebration featuring the Blooze Brothers and Strung Out at The Forge downtown Joliet. Tickets available on TicketWeb, www.ticketweb.com. Friday night will feature The Road Crew - America’s Route 66 Band on stage at the Rialto Square Theatre where they will perform their latest hit, Miles of Possibility, written expressly for this conference. Tickets can be purchased through the Rialto Square Theatre website www.rialtosquare.com.

The list of conference speakers, session topics, and bus tour information can be found on our website – www.milesofpossibility.com.
Oct 06, 2017
The Railsplitter Antique Auto Club has once again teamed up with the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County to host the 11th Annual Car Cruise-In at The Mill. The event will take place Saturday, October 14th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Mill, 738 S. Washington St. in Lincoln.
All are welcome to attend and/or to register their car in the show. Registration is $5, which will go towards ongoing annual expenses, such as insurance and utilities, and landscaping needs at The Mill.

All members of the Railsplitter Antique Auto Club, other car clubs, and the public are invited to this fun-filled family event. In keeping with the decades-old tradition of music at The Mill, there will be live music beginning at 11am, from Ryan Parcelle of Lincoln and Stan, Jeff & Lynn from Jacksonville. There will also be a 50/50 drawing and hot pizza served at the event.

“This will be the first year that the Mill will be open as a museum during this event,” said Geoff Ladd, of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County. "The Railsplitter Antique Auto Club has always been fantastic and totally makes this event possible, and has been doing so for the entire eleven years we have been restoring The Mill.”

“I also want to thank our musicians performing this year and from past years at Mill fund-raising events. Ryan Parcelle is returning after his excellent debut performance at the motorcycle show in September, and Stan Robinson & Lynn Ruby (with Jeff Newman) are returning to the Mill after their awesome performance at the 2016 motorcycle show." Parcelle is working on a studio recording of his original music, and Stan & Lynn are long-time members of the band Tapestry from Jacksonville.

The Railsplitter Antique Auto Club has been an active organization in downtown Lincoln and hosts cruise-ins throughout the spring, summer and fall. They're always looking for new members, so come out to the Mill and join up. This club brings a fantastic array of antique autos for display.

On Sunday Oct. 15th, the public is invited to Elkhart to view the newly created Historic Wall Mural commemorating the village of Elkhart and its long association with Route 66. According to the Elkhart Historical Society, “the colorful hand-painted mural measuring 36 feet long by 8 feet high depicts historic figures of the village and The Mother Road highlighted by the Route 66 shield and classic vintage cars.” The mural is located on the side wall of Horsefeathers on Latham Street in downtown Elkhart, facing Route 66. The mural was funded in part through an Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway grant.
Sep 14, 2017
Governor Bruce Rauner and fellow motorcycle enthusiasts are traveling Route 66 again this year for the annual “Governor’s Ride to Springfield” on Saturday, September 23rd. The ride will depart from two suburban Chicago locations and travel Route 66 to Springfield, with scheduled stops in Dwight, Lexington, Lincoln and Springfield. The DuKane and Lincoln Land A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois chapters are the official escorts for the ride.

The ride departs from two locations at 9:30am - Illinois Harley Davidson in the route 66 community of Countryside, and Fox River Harley Davidson in St. Charles. The ride cost is $10.00 which will be matched by the Rauner family foundation and donated to registered 501c3 Veterans organizations. The Boy Scouts will offer a pancake breakfast at Illinois Harley and Fox River Harley from 730am to 915am for a $5 donation.

The ride departs from two additional locations as well. Participants can join the ride at 10am in Dwight, IL at the historic Ambler-Becker Texaco station across the street, where they will be greeted by the Texaco station attendant and 50s-era poodle skirt ladies.

In Lexington, the Governor’s Ride will be traveling along historic Memory Lane to the Veterans Monument on Main Street. Estimated time of arrival is 11:55am, and participants can join the ride from Lexington as well.

"The last Governor to set foot in Lexington was Charles Denenn in July of 1908. So, you can only imagine the excitement in the air concerning Governor Bruce Rauner's visit to our community. We look forward to showing him and all the riders why Lexington is a great place to visit, and a better place to live," said Lexington Mayor Spencer Johansen.

After fueling at the Dixie Truck Stop in McLean, the next stop is at The Mill on 66, the newly-opened Route 66 museum in Lincoln IL, at approx. 2:15pm. The motorcycle tour will take the original alignment of Route 66 through downtown Lincoln on the way to The Mill, which is also the home of the Salt Creek A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois chapter memorial display. Ice cold water will be provided for free to all riders, courtesy of Culligan Water of Lincoln and the Logan County Tourism Bureau. Salt Creek A.B.A.T.E. chapter members will be on hand to greet the riders and assist with parking.

The Governor’s Ride will then head to Springfield for the overnight stop at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The Governor will lead a contingency to the International Mother Road Festival in downtown Springfield. They will visit the Travel Illinois Expo and sign the Annual Route 66 Car Hood at the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway tent. At the completion of the ride there will be food, beverages and live entertainment.

Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, noted that “the Governor is a great supporter of Route 66 and we’re looking forward to the riders joining us at the Mother Road Festival.”

The Governor's Ride is a fully state and local police escorted ride down historic Route 66, honoring Veterans along the way.
Sep 10, 2017
PR - Military Vehicle Convoy Illinois Route 66 Updates
The Military Vehicle Preservation Association (www.MVPA.org) will be conducting their Route 66 91st Anniversary Convoy with as many as 65 Historic Military Vehicles (HMVs) that will retrace the original 1926 Route 66. The convoy will launch from DuPage County Fairgrounds in the Chicagoland area on Saturday, September 16th, with a planned arrival in Santa Monica, California on Saturday, October 14th. They will be traveling at 35 mph. This 2,448 mile/29 day convoy represents America’s longest veterans’ parade, honoring the service and sacrifice of Veterans of all generations. The MVPA Convoy symbolizes the ground forces legacy of the nation, showcasing America’s Historic Military Vehicles of many types, ranging from WWII-era to those just released from the US Armed Forces inventories. Privately owned HMVs in the convoy include motorcycles, jeeps and large cargo trucks. The public is invited to come out and enjoy seeing the MVPA Convoy at the various stops in Illinois.

On Saturday, September 16th the convoy will stop at the VFW in Dwight, IL at 11:00 am, before arriving in Pontiac, IL. at approx. 1:00pm. The vehicles will be on display around Pontiac's Downtown Square throughout the afternoon and evening. This will be a rare opportunity for Pontiac residents and visitors to view these unique military vehicles close up and visit with the convoy members. In addition to the MVPA convoy, Downtown Pontiac will also host the GTOAA which holds their annual all Pontiac regional cruise and show the same weekend. All four of Pontiac’s museums will be open both Saturday and Sunday.

The MVPA Convoy will make two Logan County stops on September 17th, in Atlanta and Lincoln. The convoy will be in Atlanta from approx. 10am-2pm that Sunday, and will be eating lunch at the Palms Grill Cafe. Arch Street in downtown Atlanta will be blocked off between Race and Vine Streets, where the convoy will park their vehicles along this one block stretch of Old Route 66 for a great viewing opportunity. After leaving Atlanta, the convoy will take the 1926-1930 Route 66 alignment through downtown Lincoln arriving at approximately 2:15pm, and making a stop at The Mill at approximately 2:30-3:00pm. The public is welcome to the Mill for the event, and the Mill museum will be open during their stay. The convoy will then continue to Springfield, staying at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Sunday night through Monday.

"The scene along Old Rt. 66 in downtown Atlanta when the convoy stops in town should be pretty interesting, as Brad Nelson, convoy coordinator, has indicated. His plan is to take all the vehicles and 'rack 'em and stack 'em' four abreast on the one block section of Rt. 66 between Race and Vine Streets. It's sure to be a sight," said Bill Thomas of Logan County Economic Development Corporation.

On Tuesday, September 19th, the convoy continues their journey with an early morning stop between 8am-8:30am at the Auburn Brick Road on the 1926-30 alignment of the famous highway, which is now Illinois Route 4. The convoy will then continue to Carlinville with a stop around the beautiful historic Carlinville Square between 10am-11am. From there they head down to Hamel for a lunch stop from Noon-1:30pm at the park with food provided by Weezy's Route 66 Bar & Grill. The convoy will then cross the Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River as it heads west into Missouri at approx. 2:30pm.

The MVPA Convoy, as part of this trip, is honoring the significant role Route 66 played in America’s World War II history. During the war, Route 66 became a major military vehicular corridor, transporting troops and supplies to various facilities. As a result, Route 66 expanded into one of the earliest sections of four-lane divided highways in the country to further facilitate the transportation needs of the military. It was also re-routed around larger communities (the final 1940-77 Route 66 alignment).

The public is invited to view the convoy as it travels along Illinois Route 66. Veterans and military members are especially encouraged to welcome this unique convoy as it travels through your community. You can also follow the progress of the convoy at and check for updated arrival times at www.convoyontheair.org. Photo courtesy Pontiac Tourism.
Aug 25, 2017
National Park Service Grant Awarded to Tropics Sign Project
On 8/24/17, the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, which is administered by the National Park Service, National Trails Intermountain Region, notified the Tropics Neon Sign Project Committee it had been awarded a $17,000 grant. The cost-share grant program provides grant assistance for eligible historic preservation, research, oral history, interpretative, and educational projects. Grants are offered through an annual, competitive grant cycle. Since 2001, 139 projects have been awarded $2.1 million with $3.4 million in cost-share match, totaling $5.5 million in public-private investment toward the revitalization of the Route 66 corridor.

The Tropics restaurant was opened in 1950 by Vince Schwenoha in Lincoln, Illinois. Vince served in Hawaii during his WWII tour of duty, which was the inspiration for the name of his new business. The site included a large, signature neon sign that quickly became the symbol of the restaurant and a Route 66 landmark. In 1955 Lew Johnson became manager of the Tropics. Under the leadership of Lew and his wife, Bev, it operated successfully as a familyrun business for the next five decades, attracting customers from far and wide. In 2016, the Tropics was inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame. After sitting vacant for ten years, the property was purchased for the construction of a new McDonalds restaurant. While the building could not be saved, a public/private partnership was put in place between the City of Lincoln, the Logan County Tourism Bureau, and the Johnson Family to preserve and restore the iconic Tropics neon sign.

Thanks to the NPS grant and other funds raised to date, the Tropics sign will be restored to operating condition to honor the history of this well know Rt. 66 restaurant. Included in the project design is an interpretive panel that will tell the story of the Tropics so visitors can learn about the history of the restaurant, its relationship to Route 66, and the long-time involvement of the Johnson family. In addition to preserving an important piece of Lincoln and Logan County’s Rt. 66 history, the restored Tropics sign will be used to promote and market other Rt. 66 related attractions in Lincoln.

To date, approximately $60,000 of the total $70,000 needed to complete the Tropics neon sign project has been raised. The opportunity is still available for donors wishing to contribute to the project. “TLC Champion” donors, [$1,000 or more] will be recognized on the interpretive panel installed by the restored Tropics sign. “TLC Partner” donors [$500 or more donation] will be recognized on pavers placed around the base of the sign. “TLC Benefactor” donors [$250 or more donation] will be recognized via a brick installed at the base of the sign. Donation information is available from the Logan County Tourism Bureau, 217-732-8687.

For additional information contact:
Bill Thomas
Tropics Legacy Campaign Committee
Tropics Sign photo circa 2007, photo credit Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway
Aug 08, 2017
Grand opening on August 12th for Ryburn Place at Sprague's Super Service on Route 66 in Normal, IL
The grand opening of Ryburn Place, the gift shop and information center at the historic Sprague's Super Service station in Normal, Illinois, will be from 6-9pm Aug. 12th. Terri Ryburn, who undertook the restoration of the unique gas station for over a decade before the town finished the job, sold the historic building to the Town of Normal about a year ago, and the town has been completing the project. The historic site is located at 305 E. Pine St. in Normal.

“Thanks to the Town of Normal who share my vision of restoring this building to its former glory, I am opening a Route 66 information center and gift shop on the first floor,” said Ryburn. “Featured will be Route 66 t-shirts, postcards, books, and memorabilia. Also featured is the work of local artists: original watercolors and prints, photographs, handmade cards, hand-dyed silk scarves, hand-woven baskets, creative crochet, and more.”

On Saturday evening, there will be an official ribbon cutting and unveiling of the National Register of Historic Places plaque, followed by a parking lot concert, with local favorites, Wagon Load A Trouble. A food truck will be on hand for the event.

“One of the great things about the Mother Road is that attractions on the Road are able to re-invent themselves while still preserving their Route 66 essence. Ryburn Place at Sprague's Super Service is a wonderful example of this phenomena,” said William Kelly, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

The Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington have also been busy adding Historic Route 66 directional signs in the twin cities, making the navigation of the historic road much easier to follow.

The unique structure opened in 1931 to serve travelers on Route 66. Built by William Sprague, it housed a cafe, a Cities Service gas station and garage, with upstairs apartments for the owner and station attendant. The building was uniquely designed as a gas station and residence. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Town of Normal Local Landmark, and is in the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame.
Jul 20, 2017

The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership has launched a new website, accessible at: www.route66roadahead.org.

The purpose of the website is to assist in achieving the mission of the Road Ahead Partnership by fostering a sense of collaboration among Rt. 66 stakeholders, private organizations, government entities, and everyone across the country and internationally who is interested in preserving, promoting, and fostering education & research regarding Route 66.

The website includes:
• Background information regarding the mission & desired strategic outcomes of the Road Ahead Partnership, an overview of the organization’s structure, and information regarding its Board of Directors. 

• Information detailing steps being taken by the Working Groups, Advisory Groups, and Task Forces of the Road Ahead Partnership to achieve the organization’s desired strategic outcomes.
• Resources that can be used by those interested in helping revive, preserve, and restore Rt. 66.
• Minutes of Board Meetings held by the Road Ahead Board of Directors
• Policies adopted by the Board of Directors
• Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership Bylaws 

For additional information, please contact:
Bill Thomas – theroadahead@gmail.com
The Rt. 66 Road Ahead Partnership
Post Office Box 166, Atlanta, Illinois 61723

Jul 19, 2017



Lincoln, IL – On July 25th, 1929 The Mill officially opened as The Blue Mill, and was painted white with blue trim. The original owner, Paul Coddington, opened the iconic building as a sandwich stand. On opening day, the children of the manager dressed up in Dutch outfits and handed out roses to all who visited. 88 years later, The Mill on 66 is enjoying its first year in operation as a restored historic structure and a Route 66 museum. The mill will be open extended hours on Tuesday, July 25th (1pm-7pm), so that visitors can stop by and wish The Mill a Happy Birthday!

Making a one-time appearance in Lincoln that day at The Mill is an Earth Patrol Route 66 Spaceship, the USS 66 EPV Earth Patrol Vehicle, that was designed and built by David Bentley. Bentley is the creator of the Railsplitter Covered Wagon, which holds The Guinness World Record as the World’s Largest Covered Wagon, and was named as a top Roadside Attraction by Reader’s Digest Magazine.

“In 2007, as director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County, I worked with David Bentley to relocate the World’s Largest Covered Wagon to Lincoln from Divernon. Local philanthropist Larry Van Bibber came up with the funds to purchase and move the wagon to its new permanent home in the city. It was an honor to be a part of bringing the wagon here,” said Geoff Ladd, who is now the assistant director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “I am pleased to announce that David is bringing his Route 66 spaceship attraction to The Mill for our special birthday celebration.”

The USS 66 EPV (Earth Patrol Vehicle) Route 66 Spaceship is a large interactive traveling display that will be set up at The Mill that day. A special face cutout gives kids and adults the opportunity to have a picture with their smiling face in the control room of the ship. Mr. Bentley will be on hand for his first-ever public appearance in Lincoln, and will be signing World’s Largest Covered Wagon postcards that day as well.

The public will also be able to meet many of the volunteers who worked on The Mill over the last eleven years. Free water and candy will also be served. “This is a great meet-and-greet, as well as an opportunity to see the impressive museum collection, that includes rare artifacts from The Mill, The Pig Hip Restaurant, The Tropics Restaurant and ‘Illy’, the Illico Gas Station robot,” said Ladd. “We have artifacts going back to opening day in 1929.” The gift shop will also be open extended hours, and features unique Mill gift items.

A suggested 88th birthday Tax-Deductible donation for The Mill of any amount is appreciated to help defray monthly expenses and insurance costs. The non-profit group that runs the facility, The Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, is a 501c3 tax-deductible organization. For more information, contact Geoff Ladd at 217-671-3790.

May 04, 2017
After 11 years of hard work and dedication, the Mill on 66 in Lincoln, Illinois is now open as a museum. The Grand Opening was a focal point of “Route 66 Day in Lincoln” on Saturday April 29th, 2017.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner attended the ribbon cutting for the event and talked about the tourism and economic impacts the museum will have in the community, and noted the importance of Route 66 throughout Illinois. Also in attendance were Illinois State Representative Tim Butler, Hal Smith from U.S. Representative Darin Lahood’s office, and local officials.

"As Route 66 became more popular, a new service industry of restaurants, motels, gas stations and shops evolved to support those traveling the Mother Road. Many of those businesses are gone while others have been preserved. Still others have been re-purposed," said William Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. "One such Renaissance was celebrated on Saturday, April 29th in Lincoln, Illinois. After eleven years of closure and decay, the iconic Mill Restaurant reclaimed its Route 66 prominence as a Museum and Gift Shop. It's great to have the Mill back!"

The Mill originally opened as a sandwich stand called The Blue Mill in 1929 along the original alignment of the famous road in Lincoln. After WW2, it expanded into a bar and restaurant that featured live music and the schnitzel sandwich. Around 1996, it closed permanently and fell into a state of disrepair.

Over a decade later, the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County was formed to save the roadside attraction and eventually re-open the facility as a Route 66 museum. During that timeframe, over $90,000 was raised through grants and donations and over $150,000 of in-kind labor went into the project.

The museum features display from Route 66 in Lincoln and Logan County, including artifacts from The Mill (including the Mill sign that hung outside for decades), The Pig Hip Restaurant and The Tropics Restaurant. Visitors can also take a “selfie” at the Crossroads Motel sign, and with “Illy”, the Illico gas station robot as he’s moving his arm and flashing his lights. The gift shop has Mill and Route 66 items for sale.

The grand opening garnered quite a bit of media attention, including a new article from Smithsonian Magazine that published online on May 3rd. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/get-your-kicks-route-66-museum-180963097/)

“This was a great day for all of us and I want to thank all our volunteers and donors,” said Bob Wilmert, president of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County.

The Mill is located at 738 S. Washington (Old Route 66) in Lincoln, Illinois. Hours are Tues-Sat, 1-4pm and other hours by appointment. Phone 217-671-3790 or visit Mill66.com for more information.

Illinois Dept. of Central management Services video from the event: http://multimedia.illinois.gov/ioci_vid/Archive/2017/WebpageOnly/GOV/042917-TheMillBikeBlessing/042917-TheMillBikeBlessing.mp4
Apr 14, 2017
Route 66 Statewide Makes 2017 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois List by Landmarks Illinois

Each year, tens of thousands of visitors – spending millions of dollars – explore Illinois on Route 66. These domestic and international travelers are in search of the unique historic character of the “Mother Road,” including neon signs, motels and brick roads. Now 90 years old, the 2,400-mile highway from Chicago to Los Angeles remains an economic force in Illinois tourism despite preservation challenges. Rural economic development resources remain limited and many historic motels and restaurants remain shuttered. While the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway organization has strengthened the network of resources and partnerships statewide, the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is set to expire within three years. To keep the economic engine of Route 66 running, Landmarks Illinois supports active legislation to permanently designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.

In the 1920s, the creation of Route 66 gained immediate popularity as the shortest year-round route between the Midwest and the Southwest. As Americans bought cars and journeyed on the highways after World War II, a unique roadside culture of diners, motels and tourist kitsch became synonymous with Route 66. With the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, Route 66 could easily be bypassed and the local economies of communities along the historic route suffered. Despite motels closing and neon signs going dark, Route 66’s popularity continued to grow among domestic and international travelers seeking to have a uniquely American experience along the open road.

To promote tourism and combat the deterioration and loss of the idiosyncratic character of Route 66, Illinois Route 66 was designated a National Scenic Byway in 2005. Recently, leaders and stakeholders along the entire route developed the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership as a collaborative organization to improve promotion, preservation, education and economic development along the entirety of Route 66.

These initiatives, and local businesses along the road, have been supported by the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program (Route 66 CPP). Providing technical assistance, cost-share grants and corridor planning since its creation in 1999, the Route 66 CPP is set to legislatively terminate in 2019 and in the current political climate is not expected to be renewed.

Recognizing the job creation, tourism impact and small business contributions of Route 66 to the economy, Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL18) has introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 801) to designate Route 66 a National Historic Trail. This designation would provide a permanent program to preserve, promote, and economically revitalize Route 66 if enacted.

In 9 years, people from all over the world join in celebrating the 100th anniversary of Route 66. This provides an opportunity to support heritage tourism, preservation and revitalization of the places along the road. At the federal level, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL13) introduced H.R. 66 to establish a commission to recommend activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Route 66. In Illinois, State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) has introduced House Bill 0066 to create a centennial commission for Illinois.

If successful, these strategic organizational and legislative partnerships will help prevent the deterioration or loss of another authentic Route 66 motel, diner or neon sign and bring more people to Illinois to get their kicks on Route 66.

Credit: Landmarks Illinois

Mar 16, 2017
Incoming Lincoln, Illinois Mayor Seth Goodman Makes the First Online Donation.

More good news for The Mill in Lincoln. A new online crowd funding campaign has been launched by the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, the 501c3 non-profit tax-deductible organization that owns The Mill. The campaign has been launched on CrowdRise, which was purchased in January, 2017 by GoFundMe. CrowdRise specializes in fundraising for charitable organizations. 

The campaign for The Mill is located at www.crowdrise.com/the-mill-museum-on-route-66-to-the-finish-line. 

“I want to thank incoming Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman for getting the campaign going with a $250 donation. I can speak for all of us at the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County in offering our sincere thanks to Seth for his generosity,” said Geoff Ladd, secretary and past president of the foundation. 

The campaign is designed to raise funds for some outside work on the building. It is an ongoing crowd funding site that doesn’t expire. “We like that aspect of CrowdRise,” said Ladd. “There are annual operating expenses for any endeavor such as this, and CrowdRise contributions will help with that as we move along. We estimate about $4000 a year in expenses, primarily insurance and utilities. But there is another aspect to this – it is a global opportunity for Route 66 fans to make a contribution to this iconic landmark.” 

Contributors to the crowd funding campaign also will, with their permission, have their name or business placed on the donor wall at the new Mill on 66 museum, which opens on Saturday, April 29th. Since 2006, over $90,000 has been raised to save the famous roadhouse-style restaurant and bar that opened in 1929 on the original section of Route 66 through Lincoln, Illinois. Fundraising plans also include sales from a gift shop at The Mill, featuring unique local items and Route 66 souvenirs. Board member Marla Blair is heading up this aspect of the new museum, and she will also be the volunteer coordinator. 

The new online campaign coincides with a newly re-designed website for The Mill, which is located at www.savethemill.org as well as www.mill66.com. 

“The website re-design was done in-house and at no cost to the foundation,” said Ladd. “We will be adding more content about the new museum as we get closer to opening day.” The new website and CrowdRise site also feature a new video about The Mill, also done in-house at no cost, both created by Geoff Ladd. 

The video is located at www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDTU5VqgF6c. 

"Route 66 enthusiasts from around the world are passionate about preserving iconic attractions and stops along the Mother Road," said Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “Crowd Funding projects like the CrowdRise Campaign for the Mill in Lincoln give everyone the opportunity to help ensure that these landmarks will be enjoyed for years to come.” 

In other news, the City of Lincoln is in the process of finalizing a proclamation designating April 29th as Route 66 Day in Lincoln. The day includes a parade that follows two early versions of Route 66 in the historic downtown district in Lincoln, and continues along old Route 4, which was the precursor to Route 66, until it ends up at The Mill for the ribbon cutting and grand opening event. The event coincides with the annual Bike Blessing in Lincoln, a free event for motorcycle owners. 

More info at Mill66.com.
Feb 24, 2017

House Bill 66, an Act that would establish the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission just passed the Illinois House on Thursday February 23, 2017, by a 115 – 0 vote.

“Route 66 is the most famous road in the world and it begins here in Illinois” stated Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 National Scenic Byway. “People from across the country and around the globe will be coming here to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Mother Road in 2026. Visitors will be spending time in the communities and at the attractions along Route 66 in Illinois. Route 66 tourism already has a very significant positive impact on Illinois’ local and state economies. That economic contribution will continue to grow as we get closer to the Anniversary. I’m very pleased that Illinois is the first State to introduce legislation that would establish a Commission that would help Communities and the State take full advantage of this unique Event.”

As stated in HB 66:

“2026 will mark the Centennial of the creation of Route 66. The Centennial is an opportunity to promote the preservation and commemoration of Route 66 including, but not limited to, existing roadways, buildings, and attractions along the route. The Centennial is also an opportunity to celebrate the important history of Route 66 in Illinois through commemorative, educational, and community events. The Centennial Celebration may include events about the history of how local communities grew and changed with the construction of Route 66, the cultural impact of Route 66 within the United States and internationally, the portrayal of Route 66 in music, artwork, and folklore, and how to maintain the mystique and appeal of Route 66 for future generations.”

“I’d like to thank Representative Tim Butler for his leadership in introducing HB 66, “said Kelly. “I’d also like to thank all of the Co-Sponsors and the Illinois Route 66 Legislative Caucus for their support. Senator Pam Althoff will be sponsoring HB 66 in the Illinois Senate and I’d like to thank her for her support.”

Feb 24, 2017
The Mill on Route 66 Accessibility Project Completed; Grand Opening on April 29th as Part of “Route 66 Day in Lincoln”
The Mill in Lincoln, Illinois has completed their 2016 grant project awarded by the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, which is administered by the National Park Service, National Trails Intermountain Region. The historic Route 66 building now has an ADA-compliant entrance and restroom facility with two ADA accessible bathrooms and one standard bathroom. The grant amount was $10,720, and was matched by $12,000 from the City of Lincoln hotel tax fund, and an additional $4756 from the same fund that was needed for additional expenses. 

The announcement of project completion came from Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County board secretary, Geoff Ladd, in an update to the Lincoln City Council on Monday, February 21st. The 501c3 non-profit foundation owns the iconic former restaurant and bar that sprang up along the original Route 66 alignment in Lincoln in 1929. The business was originally a sandwich stand, and evolved of the years into a restaurant, a bar and even a dance hall with live music. 
Ladd offered his thanks to Lincoln Mayor Neitzel and the City Council, including Alderman Tracy Welch, who was an enthusiastic early supporter of the project. Matthews Construction of Lincoln was the building contractor for the project. 

On April 29th, 2017, The Mill on Route 66 will open for the first time ever as a Route 66 museum. The restroom project is one of the final steps in the restoration process. Ladd told the City Council that the rest of the building is nearing completion, including the floorplans for the museum displays. Plans also include a gift shop, featuring unique local items and Route 66 souvenirs. 

Ladd requested from the Mayor and City Council a proclamation marking April 29th as “Route 66 Day in Lincoln”. He presented the council with plans for a parade from Historic Downtown Lincoln departing at 11am and ending up at The Mill, where there will be a formal ribbon cutting and Grand Opening from Noon-4pm. 

The downtown district is now signed as the 1926-1930 alignment in Lincoln, thanks to the efforts of the City of Lincoln, Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. 
By following this newly signed alignment, Route 66 travelers will experience the historic structures that make up Lincoln’s downtown, including City Hall (with the phone booth on top of the building), the Logan County Courthouse, the Andrew Carnegie-designed Lincoln Public Library, the Lincoln Depot (which is undergoing renovation) and the uniquely beautiful Scully Building. There is also an Abraham Lincoln downtown walking tour that includes Lincoln’s famous Watermelon Christening Scene. And for shoppers, check out the large variety of specialty shops downtown and plenty of great home-cooked dining options for visitors coming to town. 

The proclamation and parade plans will be finalized and voted on by the City of Lincoln in March. The Railsplitter Antique Auto Club, Salt Creek ABATE Chapter and the Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting Festival have all indicated their interest in being a part of the parade. All of these organizations have also been big supporters and volunteers at The Mill. Local, State and Federal officials have also been invited. 

Ladd announced that the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County has been working with the Logan County Tourism Bureau, and they are providing a grant for advertising and collateral materials for the upcoming grand opening event. He also announced Lincoln-based technology firm, Integrity Data is donating a computer system and monitor to the museum, and that ExploreLoganCounty.com will be providing smartphone technology enhancements as well. Visitors will be able to access a QR code that will provide additional audio and video materials about the various displays. Ladd noted that the museum will feature transportation themes from Logan County’s rich Route 66 history, including food, fuel and lodging. He noted that the museum will house the official collection from both The Mill in Lincoln and the former Pig Hip Restaurant in Broadwell. 

In addition, Ladd announced that the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County had recently received a donation from Invenergy LLC. Invenergy is a Chicago-based company in the process of developing the Logan County Wind Energy Project in the rural Atlanta, Illinois area. Route 66 Heritage Foundation president Bob Wilmert worked with Invenergy project development manager Allyson Sand, and the company subsequently made a $2500 donation.

“It's great when an iconic Route 66 property like the Mill in Lincoln is restored and can again be shared with visitors from around the world,” observed Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “A lot of hard work, creativity and cooperation will be rewarded this Spring when the Mill resumes its proper place as one of the great stops anywhere on the Mother Road.” 

The April 29th date for the event is also the same day as the annual Bike Blessing in Lincoln, hosted by local motorcycle enthusiasts, Ron & Lois Thornton. The event is being held at Zero Tolerance in Lincoln beginning at 1pm, and includes a meal and live music. 

Local Lincoln attractions, Postville Courthouse State Historic Site and Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College will also be open that day. The grand opening event is also during Lincoln College’s Alumni Reunion weekend. 

After the grand opening, the celebration will move to Spirited Republic craft beer bar and wine shop, located on the south side of the square, from 4pm-6pm. The public is invited. 

“We’ve had so many incredible grants, donations, contributions, in-kind volunteers and supporters, that we are dedicating the back wall of The Mill to display the individuals, companies and organizations that have made this all possible. For example, we now have had two Logan County wind farm projects make donations (Apex Clean Energy and Invenergy LLC), the local band 5th Saturday Opry recently did a fund-raiser for us, the Lincoln College music program has provided fantastic live music at our events, Lincoln Printers is providing our new outside sign and Serendipity Stitches, located in downtown Lincoln, has made an amazing contribution which you’ll have to wait until opening day to see,” said Ladd. “I want to thank everyone as always over these past 11 years who have contributed, including John Weiss and the volunteers from the Route 66 Association of Illinois, Bill Kelly and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, Bill Hoagland and the Logan County Tourism Bureau, State Representative Tim Butler, all our board members and volunteers, and especially at this time, the National Park Service and the City of Lincoln.” 

Details forthcoming at Mill66.com.
Nov 10, 2016
Illinois State Representative Tim Butler introduces bill to create Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission
Butler introduces bill to create Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission - November 11 is 90th anniversary of Route 66 designation

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.

"In an effort to plan accordingly, I believe the State should take a lead role in planning a year-long celebration that would foster activities and commemorations to attract people to our 300-mile stretch of 66. That is why I am introducing this legislation today."

As introduced, the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission will consist of 20 members, three of whom shall be appointed by the Governor and two each from the Speaker of the House, Minority Leader of the House, President of the Senate, and Minority Leader of the Senate. Additionally, there will be nine ex-officio members representing various groups or state agencies, including the Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

The legislation states that the Centennial is a great opportunity "to celebrate the important history of Route 66 in Illinois through commemorative, educational, and community events. The centennial celebration may include events about the history of how local communities grew and changed with the construction of Route 66; the cultural impact of Route 66 in the United States and internationally; the portrayal of Route 66 in music, artwork, and folklore; and how to maintain the mystique and appeal of Route 66 for future generations." The purpose of the Commission is to help guide these activities in Illinois.
Nov 10, 2016
On Monday, November 7th, 2016, the Lincoln City Council voted unanimously to approve the additional funding needed from the City's Hotel/Motel tax, to cover unexpected additional expenses required to complete The Mill on Route 66 Accessibility Project Grant that was awarded earlier in the year by the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Program.

At the same time, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway has been working with the City of Lincoln and the Illinois Department of Transportation to update Illinois Route 66 directional signage in the city, including signing the 1926-1930 Route 66 alignment for the first time, which goes directly through the Historic Downtown Lincoln district and passes by The Mill. The signage initiative is in progress and is expected to take 30-60 days to complete.

Bob Wilmert, President of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, submitted a letter to the City Council prior to the historic vote on Monday:

"I am writing to ask your support for the extra $4,755.71 that we need for our ADA accessible restroom facility at The Mill. The required revisions will mean that we never will have to address this important issue again. It will allow us to expand to full-time hours at any time. It will be a big positive factor in attracting bus tours.

We very much appreciate your support of $12,000 already. We have a great weather forecast to still get this project done right away. By providing us with this additional amount, we will be able to keep our reserve funds to finish the interior work and have our first year of expenses covered. It will keep us on schedule for our grand opening in April, 2017."

Wilmert added his thanks to all supporters, donors and volunteers to The Mill over the last ten years, including the City of Lincoln. Matthews Construction, who is the contractor on the project, is also donating $1000 of in-kind services to the project.

William Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, in a letter to the Lincoln City Council, made a strong recommendation for their financial support to finish the renovations to The Mill.

"These restroom enhancements will enable The Mill to accommodate the full spectrum of visitors and enable this iconic Route 66 landmark to draw travelers from around the world to spend their time and money in Lincoln," said Kelly.

The news about The Mill and the Route 66 signage for Lincoln came just days before the 90th Anniversary of the creation of Route 66, which historians cite as November 11, 1926.

"The City of Lincoln has made an historic contribution to Route 66 with both these initiatives," said Geoff Ladd, who is Program Manager of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, as well as board member and past president of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County. This is a great 90th birthday gift to Route 66 from the City of Lincoln. We couldn't have done it without them and we are grateful," said Ladd.

Both initiatives will benefit each other, according to Ladd, noting that The Mill, once it opens as a Route 66 museum in April, will be promoting the historic downtown and other attractions in Lincoln and Logan County. "The Byway feels that the best way to find Abraham Lincoln is from traveling Route 66. Central Illinois is the only part of all of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica where the histories of Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 converge, and this is a great opportunity for tourism and economic development in Lincoln and along Illinois Route 66," said Ladd.

Aug 30, 2016
The National Park Service, Route 66 Corridor Preservation cost-share grant program “provides grant assistance for eligible historic preservation, research, oral history, interpretative, and educational projects. Grants are offered through an annual, competitive grant cycle. Since 2001, 130 projects have been awarded $1.9 million with $3.1 million in cost-share match, totaling $5 million in public-private investment toward the revitalization of the Route 66 corridor.” This year, four of the eight projects that were awarded grants are from Illinois!

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway is pleased to share the information provided by the National Park Service, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program (https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/rt66/2016-cost-share-grants-announced/). The announcement comes at a special time in U.S. history, with 2016 being the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 90th anniversary of Route 66.

Aug 17, 2016
The last weekend in August and the last full weekend in September feature two premiere Route 66 Car Show festivals in Berwyn and Springfield respectively. The 26th Annual WeatherTech® Berwyn Rt66 Car Show, sponsored by Paisans Pizzeria & Bar, will be held on Ogden Avenue in Berwyn on Saturday, August 27th from 7:00am to 4:00pm.  On September 23-25, 2016, the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival presented by COOL 93.9, will be featuring over 1000 cool cars and 80,000 spectators rolling into the heart of Springfield's historic downtown. Be sure to attend for a weekend of family fun in the sun and non-stop live music and entertainment!

The WeatherTech® Berwyn Rt66 Car Show is brought to you by the Berwyn Preservation of Historic Route 66 Commission of the Berwyn Development Corporation (BDC). The event takes place on Berwyn’s strip of Route 66 along Ogden Ave between Oak Park Ave and Ridgeland Ave. Berwyn has always been a great Route 66 town with a thriving, dynamic and fast-growing community at its heart. The Route 66 Car Show is the area’s best and biggest car show, attracting more than 30,000 visitors.

On Saturday, visitors can soak up the classic car culture of Historic Route 66 with a stroll through over 550 vintage and custom cars, trucks and motorcycles. The event hosts a parade to the World War I Memorial and a presentation by the Color Guard during the National Anthem. 

The event will feature live music from Rick “Elvis” Saucedo performing an Elvis musical showcase and Tony Pellegrino performing a Frank Sinatra showcase of classic pop and standards. The Roamin’ Chariots Car Club will provide demonstrations of Automobile Flamethrowing. Don’t try this at home!

Legendary WLS DJ & Radio Hall of Famer Dick Biondi will sign autographs and award trophies from 2:00pm - 4:00pm. There will also be guest appearances from the WLS 94.7 Promotional Team. Spectator admission is free so bring the whole family!

Awards are also doled out in a wide variety of categories with names including “B-B-B-Bad to the Bone,” “Hog Heaven,” “Impressive Import,” “Hot Hauler,” “Pleasantly Preserved,” and “Slo & Lo” to name a few. For more information and for those interested in displaying their vehicles, online registration is available at BerwynRt66.com or call 708-788-8100.

Now in its 15th year, the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival presented by COOL 93.9, features over 1000 classic cars from 20 states that flock to historic Downtown Springfield (between Washington & Capitol and 4th & 7th Streets) each Fall for a beautiful weekend celebrating the Mother Road. Come celebrate the golden age of Route 66...the cars, the music, the food, the friends - all brought together along Illinois Route 66.

On Friday night, from 6pm to 10pm, is the Rt. 66 City Nights Cruise For Crime Stoppers – over 1,000 classic cars cruise the city streets! A $5 Donation to Crime Stoppers of Sangamon & Menard counties is encouraged. Saturday's activities begin at 11am and run until 10pm, and Sunday the festival hours are from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Visit the Travel Illinois Expo, sponsored by the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, showcasing unique travel opportunities to Route 66 motorists traveling through Illinois communities along the Mother Road. There is plenty of live entertainment on the Hot Rod Stage with classic hits from the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s.

For the car enthusiasts, check out the gorgeous rides in the Monet of Cars - all cars on display from local philanthropist Dick Levi's private collection. Enjoy the Horsepower Alley featuring the Burnout Competition. Visit the Performance Marketplace for the restoration enthusiast. There will be vendors on display throughout the downtown. The event features over 50 classes of car awards with CASI certified national judging. New classes of judging have been added for 2016. For more information and for those interested in displaying their vehicles, online registration is available at www.route66fest.com or call 317-236-6515.

Aug 10, 2016

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway will be out in full force at a number of Central Illinois Route 66 upcoming events, and has also been providing support for these activities and projects along the Mother Road.

The Route 66 Walldogs Mural Festival in McLean will be on August 19 from 5-10 pm. Join the famous Walldogs muralists for a firsthand look as artists create an exciting new mural. This project features a vintage Route 66 theme and honors local legend, Shorty Ruble, and his longstanding barbershop. The cost of the mural was partially funded through a grant program from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

The 3rd Annual Get Your 6.6 on Route 66 (6.6k run/walk) is Saturday, August 20 starting at 8am. Participants get the chance to run or walk from Funks Grove to McLean on the Mother Road and receive a pre-race shot of Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup and commemorative shot glass, t-shirt, and other goodies. This event is held by CORE of McLean, a nonprofit community organization.

Shop Local First Carlinville's Chairs On Parade & Restaurant event features approx. 200 chairs decorated by businesses and groups on display all over Carlinville through the last weekend in August. Highlights of this showcase of Carlinville include the Flotilla Parade on Friday August 26th, Midwest's Largest Squirt Gun Fight and Street Party/Chair Auction. On Saturday, August 27th, the Carlinville Foodie Day Festival features a Spaghetti Eating Competition and a Peach & Apple Pie Eating Competition. Come out on Sunday August 28th from 2-8pm to Rock The Dock at the Carlin-Belle Riverboat at the Magnuson Grand Hotel, I-55 Carlinville Exit 60. As summer comes to an end, join us for an afternoon of fun in the sun! Cash Bar aboard the Carlin-Belle Riverboat, BBQ, Music, Volleyball, Horseshoes, Fishing (bring your own pole), and Route 66 Car Show.

Williamsville celebrates the Route 66 International traveler with the unveiling of a multi-directional mileage sign celebrating the top visiting countries along Illinois Route 66. Members of the Sangamon Valley Woodcarvers have designed and produced placards representing U.S. cities and countries from around the globe on a carved sign post with a Route 66 logo as a topper. The cost of the sign was partially funded through a grant program from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. The sign sits outside the newly constructed Williamsville Public Library and Museum at 217 North Elm Street. The dedication is Saturday September 10th at 2:30pm as part of the Williamsville Fall Festival on September 9th and 10th.

The Salt Creek ABATE Motorcycle Club, Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway will be hosting a new Motorcycle Cruise-In event on Saturday September 17th from 11am to 3pm at The Mill on 66. The cruise-in is being held as part of and in conjunction with the Abraham Lincoln Railsplitting Festival and the 90th Anniversary of Route 66 (1926-2016). All statewide ABATE club members are invited as well as all motorcyclists. There will be live music and hot pizza for the event. A suggested donation for motorcyclists and attendees will go towards the Mill. Also, this year’s 10th Annual Mill Cruise-In, hosted by the Lincoln Railsplitter Antique Auto Club, will be Saturday, October 8th from 11am to 3pm at this historic original 1929 Route 66 attraction located at 738 S. Washington in Lincoln, Illinois, with registration proceeds to once again go to the Mill for restoration efforts.

This year’s Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday September 17th & 18th at new locations in Lincoln, Illinois, all of which are located on Historic Route 66 – Postville Courthouse State Historic Site, Postville Park and The Mill. The event is a celebration of the pioneer days that influenced Abraham Lincoln’s early life, including his time as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit.

Traditional Saturday festival activities include the Women's Firewood Split, Log Rolling Contest, Cross Cut Saw Competition, Antique Tractor Games, Team Railsplitting Contest, Jr. Railsplitting Contest and the Amateur Railsplitting Contest - all at Postville Park, located at 5th and Washington Streets (Route 66). Sunday Railsplitting festival activities include a Community Church Service, the Dean Tibbs Tomahawk Throw, the Ray Begolka Corn Shelling Contest, a Stick Horse Rodeo, Water Boil Contest, Outhouse Races, Trick Riding & Drill Team by Rita Coleman, the Re-Christening of the City Lincoln at 3pm and the National Railsplitting Contest at 3:15pm. Live Bluegrass music will be featured all day Saturday and Sunday at Postville Courthouse located at 914 5th Street.

The Second Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference will be held in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois from October 20-23. As with the inaugural event last year in Edwardsville, the conference will feature several informative speakers covering a variety of topics related to Route 66, as well as many fun activities.

The festivities begin on Thursday evening, October 20th, with a Hot Dog Roast at Sprague’s Super Service Station located at 305 Pine Street in Normal. The Tudor-Revival style building was built in 1931 on Route 66, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Town of Normal recently purchased the building to continue the restoration.

Conference sessions begin with a keynote speaker on Friday, October 21st at The Chateau Hotel and Conference Center, 1601 Jumer Drive, Bloomington, then move to Downtown Bloomington. Friday evening is the 90th birthday celebration for Route 66, which includes a dinner and dance party at the Eagle’s Club, 313 S. Main, Bloomington. Route 66 Hall of Fame members will be recognized by Steve Nalefski, McLean County representative of the Route 66 Association of Illinois. Entertainment includes a local band favorite, Wagon Load a Trouble, and stand-up comedy by Terri Ryburn, who is also the conference organizer.

On Saturday, October 22nd, the conference continues with the second keynote speaker at The Chateau Hotel and Conference Center. Conference sessions will be held once again in Downtown Bloomington at the McLean County Museum of History/Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center and the Ensenberger Building. A Route 66 Normal Short Film Festival takes place Saturday evening at the Normal Theater, 209 North Street, Normal.

On Sunday, October 23rd, a number of activities will be offered for conference attendees. A bus tour to Pontiac and Atlanta, Illinois will be led by Route 66 historian, author and preservationist, John Weiss. A Haunted Route 66 tour in Downtown Bloomington, will be guided by Deborah Senger from Spirits of Bloomington/Timeless Presentations, the author of an upcoming book entitled, Haunted Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. The 10th Anniversary showing of the Disney movie “Cars” will also be shown at the Normal Theatre that day.

For a full list of events visit www.illinoisroute66.org or call 217-525-9308 for more information. Click below for a downloadble zip file with complete press releases and photos for these events.

Aug 01, 2016
For the last year, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway has encouraged travelers to share their Selfie photos along Illinois Route 66, and each month our social media followers have voted for their favorite, and will continue to do so. The monthly photo with the most likes/comments/shares won an Illinois Route 66 commemorative license plate and baseball hat. Once per year, the Byway lets voters choose from the 12 monthly winners, and the photo that gets the most likes/comments/shares wins the grand prize: a basket full of Illinois Route 66 memorabilia, gift certificates, and more! This year, our very first grand prize winner is Lenny Scinto from the Chicagoland area (see attached winning selfie taken in Pontiac, IL). Congratulations!

Lenny has won an incredible grand prize package thanks to donated items from our Route 66 sponsoring partners all along the road and from the Byway itself (from north to south):

Byway - Historic Route 66 Brown Road Sign, Route 66 in Illinois poster, Route 66 Road Trip Game

•Berwyn Rt. 66 Museum - Illinois Route 66 Mini License Plate, mini gas pump, mini 66 sign, 66 cap, 66 deck of cards

Dwight - $25 gift certificate from Country Mansion Restaurant

Pontiac Tourism - Pontiac Route 66 t-shirt, mug, water bottle, luggage tag, stuffed teddy bear as well as the National Geographic Route 66 Calendar

Chateau Bloomington - overnight for 2 (king, queen or double)

Grady's Family Fun Park - Bloomington - (2) $25 gift certificates

Funks Grove - bottle of Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirip

Palms Grill in Atlanta - gift certificate for a Homemade Pie

Lincoln Heritage Museum - Lincoln IL - 2 adult and 2 youth admission tickets

The Mill in Lincoln - Mill on 66 official t-shirt

Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau - Cozy Dog Poster, (2) t-shirts, 2 drink mugs

Buzz Waldmire – pair of Stuffed Cozy Dog toys, Cozy Dog Panel Van toy, commemorative Bob Waldmire calendar and Bob Waldmire postcards

Shop Local First Carlinville - $25 gift certificate

Gillespie - 2 Illinois Coal Museum at Gillespie coffee mugs

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Litchfield West - $50 gift certificate for an overnight stay

Author Cheryl Jett - Route 66 in Illinois book by Cheryl Eichar Jett and Joe Sonderman

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway would like to extend our special thanks to all our Selfies on 66 participants, our grand prize sponsors, AND, here’s the good thing – the Selfies on 66 contest continues. In fact, it never stops! We are still accepting selfies for our ongoing monthly contest, with a winner each month, and another grand prize winner next summer.

“This is a fun way to engage our travelers along Illinois Route 66 and to see how innovative they get with the pictures they come up with,” said Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, when the contest first began a year ago. “Ultimately the goal is to have folks spend more time at our attractions and along the road and this becomes an interactive way of doing so.”

So visit our selfie sponsor attractions and all our great Illinois Route 66 photo opportunities and keep submitting those Selfies on 66! Take your "selfie" and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MyIL66. Entries can also be submitted at www.selfieson66.com, where you can also check out all the past winners. Thanks to all of our Selfie contestants and keep the pics coming in along the Mother Road in Illinois!
Apr 26, 2016
Dwight, Illinois ushered in the 90th anniversary of Route 66, with a celebration last Thursday April 21st at the restored Ambler/Becker Texaco gas station. The birthday party, which was the first 90th anniversary celebration in Illinois, included classic cars, hot dogs and cake, basset hounds and an enthusiastic crowd from all around the state. The event included an official presentation by Dwight Village President Jared Anderson, Bill Kelly of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and Route 66 preservationist John Weiss.

"Five years ago I was at the (Ambler/Becker) station - first chance I had to meet the Beckers because we had presented them with the wayside exhibit which is a project that we did. At that point in time I said that Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the world. Five years later Route 66 is the most famous road in the world - there is no question about it," said Kelly during his presentation.

A special round of applause was given to Rudy, the first Route 66 “ambassetor” - a local Guardian Angel Basset Rescue dog, owned by Larry and Emmy Little. Bill Kelly tied an Illinois Route 66 bandana aorund Rudy's neck to make it official, and hopes to continue the tradition at Dwight's annual Harvest Days and Basset Waddle, which is held in mid-September.
Apr 11, 2016
The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway is heading to Dwight, Illinois for the first 90th Birthday Party of Route 66 in the state (Route 66 was "born" in 1926). The party will be held on April 21, 2016 from 1-4pm at the beautifully restored Ambler/Becker Texaco gas station located at 417 West Waupansie Street (Old Route 66) in Dwight, which is located about 90 minutes south of Chicago and 25 minutes north of Pontiac, Illinois. 

The historic 1933 filling station dispensed fuel for 66 continuous years until 1999. After major restoration work, the building reopened as a Route 66 visitor center in May 2007. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Refreshments, prizes, surprises and volunteer sign-up opportunities will be a part of the birthday celebration, which will kick-off with opening remarks from Dwight Village President Jared Anderson. 

Expect to see classic cars on display, as well as a few of our four-legged friends - namely Basset Hounds. One lucky dog will be named the Route 66 "Ambassetor" at the April 21st event - a new tradition we hope to continue every year in Dwight. 

The dogs are a fixture at Dwight's annual Harvest Days and Basset Waddle, which will be held from September 15-18 this year. 
Nov 24, 2015
The Route 66: The Road Ahead Steering Committee has completed its review and analysis of feedback collected from the over 300 Rt. 66 stakeholders who took part in this past summer's series of Collaboration Workshops. Based on its discussions, the Steering Committee has produced the Collaboration Workshops Final Report which can be accessed here.
The Steering Committee is excited to share this Final Report, which includes next steps for achieving its mission:
"To revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national icon, for the benefit of all Route 66 communities, travelers, and busineses/attractions, through collaborative partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research/education, and economic development."
With the release of this Final Report, it is our hope that a clear vision is set forth: The creation of a new organization focused on promoting and facilitating collaboration amongst all Route 66 stakeholders. The process for achieving this vision is well-planned and begins now. Everyone with an interest in and passion for Route 66 is invited to join the effort being led by the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative.
You can learn more about the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative at its website: www.66roadahead.org.
Aug 04, 2015


Springfield, IL – Visitors to this year’s Illinois State Fair (8/13-8/23), will once again be able to visit with Abraham Lincoln and take in many other experiences at the Looking for Lincoln exhibit located on the lawn of the Illinois Building at the main gate.

The “History Comes Alive” program, which has been active in Springfield for several years, features costumed interpreters, strolling musicians, storytelling, children’s games & activities and visits with President Lincoln. Experience this fun program from 10am-4pm daily at the Looking for Lincoln area at the fair. Highlights include “Ask Abe Anything: a Q & A with President Lincoln” and “Music Lincoln Loved: Chris Vallillo,” a program that is partially funded by the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Featured tourism partners of the Looking for Lincoln National Heritage Area take turns each day promoting their piece of Abraham Lincoln history. Along the lines of this theme, and new this year, will be the presence of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway on Monday August 17th and on the last day of the fair on Sunday August 23rd. The Byway will have available their brand new visitors guide, and will also be accompanied on the last day of the fair by the famous “The Circuit Rider” Harley-Davidson custom motorcycle, that celebrates the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, which will be on display, courtesy of Dick Levi of Levi, Ray and Shoup.

“We are thrilled to be working with Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway again and we are working on other collaborative projects in the future,” said Sarah Watson, executive director of the Looking for Lincoln National Heritage Area.

“Abraham Lincoln helped to chart out the railway system in this country, and decades later, major highways logically developed for commercial transportation along these same established rail lines. Illinois Route 66 is a prime example,” said Watson.

“Looking for Lincoln has always had a strong presence and has added greatly to the chemistry at the travel exposition at Springfield’s annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

“Likewise, many travelers to our Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area are using their trip along Route 66 to get to our Looking for Lincoln attractions,” said Kelly. “There is also a similar symbiotic relationship with Illinois Amish Country.”

The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition (LFLHC) is a consortium of Illinois communities and sites that share the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. The purpose of the coalition is to tell the stories about Lincoln unique to each site and each community. While focusing upon Lincoln, the coalition also encompasses the rich history of each participating community in order to create a broader context for Lincoln and his times.

The mission of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway is to enhance and promote economic opportunities for each Illinois Route 66 community by preserving Illinois route 66 heritage and by sustaining and increasing heritage and cultural tourism through the development and marketing of a cohesive Illinois route 66 product.

Both groups are 501(c)(3) non-profit tax deductible organizations and are located in Springfield.
Jun 20, 2015
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.

The workshop for those of us in Illinois will be held at the Rt. 66 Hotel & Conference Center at 625 E. St. Joseph Street in Springfield on July 21 from 6-8:30pm. The workshops are presented by the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative, in partnership with the National Park Service, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. The workshops present an opportunity for everyone who shares a passion for America's most famous road, to revive and renew Route 66 by helping chart its future.

Route 66 stakeholders will be provided an opportunity to learn about the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative. Attendees will be able to provide input/consensus on the proposed draft mission, goals, and strategies for developing a national collaboration, which will then be used to determine next steps. There will also be the opportunity to discuss ways you can be involved with the initiative moving forward. Additional information can be found at www.66roadahead.org, or contact Bill Thomas, Steering Committee Chair at rt66theroadahead@gmail.com.

May 04, 2015

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.

Each month, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway will select three photos to be highlighted on their social media outlets, and the photo with the most likes/comments/shares will win an Illinois Route 66 commemorative license plate and baseball hat! But it gets better...once per year, the Byway will let voters choose from the 12 monthly winners, and the photo that gets the most likes/comments/shares will win the grand prize: a basket full of Illinois Route 66 memorabilia, gift certificates, and more!

“This is a fun way to engage our travelers along Illinois Route 66 and to see how innovative they get with the pictures they come up with,” said Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “Ultimately the goal is to have folks spend more time at our attractions and along the road and this becomes an interactive way of doing so.” Kelly added that the contest, which is now officially underway, will be an ongoing campaign with no official expiration date, and that it is important that the Byway is able to verify from the photo that it was taken along Illinois Route 66. Entries can be submitted on selfieson66.com or any of the Byway’s social media platforms.

Open to US residents ages 18+. For more information, contact the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway at 217-525-9308 or visit www.selfieson66.com.

Aug 27, 2014

A new series of interpretive statues and corresponding wayside panels are in the process of being installed in nine Route 66 communities along the famous highway in Illinois. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway coordinated the project, which was funded through grants from the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byway Program and the Illinois Office of Tourism.

Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, explained the significance of this latest series of interpretive exhibits along Illinois Route 66. "Statues tell the story of The Road in a way that is unique and unexpected by visitors. They also serve as a fun photo opportunity", said Kelly. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway in the past has also worked with community partners to develop a series of 31 wayside exhibits and 14 experience hubs that have already been installed for the enhancement of the Route 66 experience for the traveler.

The "shadow statues" are so nicknamed because they are two-dimensional iron statues depicting a famous scene from the history of Route 66 in Illinois.

Running north to south, the interpretive statues are as follows:

Godley: Miner & Mule – an interpretation of the strip-mining of black diamonds in the communities of Braidwood, Coal City, Carbon Hill, Diamond, and Godley that begun in the mid-1800s and ended in 1974.

Elwood: Rosie the Riveter – the symbol of the female worker during WWII at the Elwood Arsenal, two massive plants that employed 20,000 workers making bombs and shells.

Pontiac: Motorcycle Police – this exhibit, located at the old Illinois State Police headquarters in Pontiac, tells the story of the beginning of the Illinois State Police motorcycle patrol.

McLean: Dixie Gas Attendant – interprets Illinois oldest truck stop, The Dixie Truckers Home, opened in 1928 and still in operation today. The historic McLean Depot is also featured.

Elkhart: Shirley Temple – tells the story of the famous visit of Shirley Temple to the House by the Side of the Road Café in 1938.

Sherman: Wayside Park – depicts a picnic during the heyday of Route 66 at one of the few remaining wayside parks along Route 66.

Gillespie: Miner – Gillespie also was black diamond mining country and central to the development of unions, with organizing conventions and subsequent riots that killed over twenty people.

Benld: Coliseum Ballroom Dancers – the biggest dance floor between Chicago and St. Louis attracted large crowds, many top-name performers, and the gambling and bootlegging that inevitably came along with it. The Coliseum burned down in 2011.

Staunton: Illinois Traction System – Electrified interurban railways connected travelers before Route 66 became the major national highway. They became obsolete in the mid-1950s.

Click here to download a zip file packet that includes the press release in Word & PDF formats and JPG images of the statues and waysides.

Jul 29, 2013
A recently completed economic impact study shows that $132 million per year is spent in communities along historic Route 66. This information sheds new light on the importance of heritage tourism and historic preservation along Route 66 as a contributor to local, state, and national economies. Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Santa Monica and is known as the Mother Road, is America’s most celebrated automobile highway, and a symbol of twentieth-century American culture and history. The study was directed by professor David Listokin of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and was carried out between 2008 and 2011 in collaboration with the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and World Monuments Fund, with the support of American Express.
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