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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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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