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Sep 14, 2017
2017 ANNUAL ILLINOIS GOVERNOR’S RIDE TO TRAVEL ROUTE 66 FROM CHICAGOLAND TO SPRINGFIELD ON SEPT 23
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.
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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.
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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.

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For additional information contact:
Bill Thomas
Tropics Legacy Campaign Committee
217-648-5077
wthomas@teleologic.net
Tropics Sign photo circa 2007, photo credit Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway
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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.
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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

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Jul 19, 2017

THE MILL ON 66 TO CELEBRATE 88TH BIRTHDAY ON TUESDAY, JULY 25TH, 2017

EARTH PATROL UFO SPACESHIP WILL BE ON DISPLAY & CREATOR OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST COVERED WAGON WILL BE SPECIAL GUEST FOR THE CELEBRATION

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.

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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
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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

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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.
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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.”

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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.
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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.
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Nov 10, 2016
CITY OF LINCOLN APPROVES ADDITIONAL FUNDING NEEDED TO COMPLETE GRANT FOR THE MILL
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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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!
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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.
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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. 
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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.
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Aug 04, 2015

LOOKING FOR LINCOLN EXHIBIT AT ILLINOIS STATE FAIR INCLUDES FAMOUS CUSTOM HARLEY DAVIDSON CIRCUIT RIDER MOTORCYCLE, HISTORY COMES ALIVE PRESENTATIONS & GUEST APPEARANCES BY ILLINOIS ROUTE 66 SCENIC BYWAY

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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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