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A Road Well Traveled Wayside Exhibit
The Ogden Avenue Corridor. This corridor was a gateway into the country’s interior.  Several well worn Indian trails were traveled by fur traders and explorers.  One trail, the future Ogden Avenue, was improved into a plank toll road creaking beneath the weight of settlers’ wagons and horses.  Planks gave way to bricks, and smooth pavement greeted the tires of Route 66 travelers.

Out of the Mud: The Southwest Plank Road. A ten-mile wood plank toll road was opened in 1848 connecting Chicago and Riverside.  But it didn’t last.  The planks rotted and warped quickly.  Commerce migrated to the new I&M Canal and later to the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

Ogden Avenue: Brick Street and Route 66. In 1872, the Plank Road was renamed Ogden AvenueOgden Avenue in honor of Chicago’s first mayor, William Butler Ogden. Portions of the road were bricked over by 1900 to accomodate the increasing traffic. In 1920, it was paved for smooth car travel.

From 1926 to 1976, Ogden Avenue was designated as U.S. Route 66U.S. Route 66, connecting Chicagoans to Los Angeles.

The Chicago Portage. The corridor was an important portage between Lake Michigan and the Des Plaines River. However, it was often too wet for wagons and too dry for canoes. The “Dismal Nine Mile Swamp,” as it was called, stifled commerce to Chicago.

According to one stagecoach traveler, “... the wheels sank to the hubs, and hearts of the drivers sank accordingly; blows and coaxing were alike unavailing to start the tired teams and the settling loads…”
Northern Region

Berwyn, IL

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