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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Normal in McLean County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Normal, Illinois

Welcome to Route 66 Illinois

 
 
Normal, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
1. Normal, Illinois Marker
Front side (all Illinois Route 66 experience hubs have the same front)
Inscription.  

(front:)

Route 66, the Mother Road, is an American icon that symbolizes romance and freedom of the open road. Born in 1926, Route 66 was one of the first numbered U.S. highways, journeying 2,500 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. Today, you can still "get your kicks on Route 66" by exploring the Illinois Historic Route 66 National Scenic Byway.

The Mother Road

Route 66 was the road of flight for people escaping the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. It was the route of adventure for families seeking the wonders of the Southwest and California in the 1950s and '60s.

Roadside Oddities

Quirky attractions lured travelers off the road with the promise of fun and adventure. Explore giants, museums, and other attractions that still exist today.

Fill 'er Up?

Service stations along Route 66 did more than just pump gas. Friendly attendants assisted travelers with a smile. Today, you can rediscover several historic service stations.

On to Missouri

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge is the scenic endpoint of Route 66 in Illinois. It
Normal, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
2. Normal, Illinois Marker
Reverse side
served as a crossing over the Mississippi River for traffic from 1936 to 1955. It is now open for walking and biking.

The Beginning

Historic Route 66 starts in downtown Chicago, the business and cultural capital of the Midwest. It travels through bustling Chicago suburbs before reaching the rural countryside.

Main Street of America

Grain elevators and fields greet modern travelers, much as they did in earlier eras. Journey through prairie farmland and friendly Midwestern towns.

Good Eatin'

Diners and cafes sprang up along the road catering to people on the move. You can still enjoy home style cooking from a time before fast food.

Route 66 Lives On

Unable to compete with fast-moving freeways, U.S. Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985. Nostalgia for hometowns and America's landscape, fueled by movies, TV shows, and music, keeps the Mother Road alive.

(reverse, top panel:)

Route 66 Attractions in the Normal-Bloomington Region

1) Sprague's Super Service - You are standing next to the only two-story Tudor Revival service station on Route 66, built in 1931. A wayside exhibit tells the story.

2) Normal Theater - The Art Deco style theater, built in 1937, has been completely restored. Enjoy classic films,
Normal, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
3. Normal, Illinois Marker
Outside the restored Sprague's Super Service station.
live theater, and music.

3) David Davis Museum - David Davis, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice appointed by his friend and fellow circuit rider Abraham Lincoln, built this Victorian home in 1872. Open for tours.

4) McLean County Museum of History - Housed in the 1900 McLean County Courthouse, experience the history of this region through award-winning exhibits. A Route 66 wayside exhibit interprets "Bloody 66" and the rise of insurance companies in Bloomington.

5) Funk Prairie Home - Visit the restored 1864 home of Lafayette Funk, cofounder and director of the Chicago Union Stockyards and an Illinois State Senator. The Funk Gem and Mineral Museum is also located on the grounds. Open for tours.

6) Walker Store and Historic Depot - The Walker Store was a true general store. From 1921 to 1973, it sold a bit of everything including gas. Across the road is an abandoned historic depot that was moved here from Shirley.

7) Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup - The Funk family has been making and selling maple sirup since 1891. Pick up a sample for the road!

8) Funks Grove Church & Cemetery - Enjoy sanctuary-like peace beneath the giant maples at the Funks Grove Church (1864) and Cemetery.

9) Sugar Grove Nature Center - Visit the largest remaining intact prairie grove in Illinois. The nature
The First Steak 'n Shake building (now Monical's Pizza) image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
4. The First Steak 'n Shake building (now Monical's Pizza)
Mentioned on the marker
center offers exhibits, live animals, trails, and programs.

10) Dixie Truck Stop - Opened in 1928 to serve Route 66 truckers and travelers, it has only been closed one day due to a fire in 1965.

(reverse, bottom panel:)

Serving the Route 66 Traveler - Route 66 in Normal-Bloomington

When Route 66 was born, businesses sprang up to serve the needs of new motorists.
Early filling stations were simply gas pumps outside a store. Later canopy roofs were added over the pumps. Eye-catching architecture in the 1930s attracted growing numbers of cross-country travelers with gas, mechanical service, maps, and home-cooked food.

Service Station Architecture

You are standing near Sprague's Super Service. Built in 1931 in the Tudor Revival style, this gas station, diner, and home was designed to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Fill 'er up! How's the food? Got a room?

Streid's gas station, restaurant, and motel (now demolished) offered "one stop" services in the early 1950s when Route 66 followed The Beltline. Its "Streamlined Spanish" architectural style was typical of exuberant Mom and Pop businesses in the 1950s.

The First Steak 'n Shake

In 1934, Gus Belt turned his Shell gas station on Main Street in Normal into a restaurant featuring
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his signature "Steakburger." Today there are over 500 Steak 'n Shake locations. The original building on Route 66 is now a pizza restaurant.

(photo caption:)

In the mid-1930s, oil corporations hired famous architects to create modern-style gas stations. Walter Dorwin Teague crafted a streamlined box design used for more than 10,000 Texaco stations, including Quinn's Texaco on Main Street in Bloomington built in 1941.
 
Erected by Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the U.S. Route 66 🛣️ series list.
 
Location. 40° 31.059′ N, 88° 58.826′ W. Marker is in Normal, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is at the intersection of Pine Street and North Walnut Street, on the right when traveling east on Pine Street. Marker is located outside the restored Sprague's gas station. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 308 Pine St, Normal IL 61761, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School (approx. 0.3 miles away); Historic Camelback Bridge (approx. 1.3 miles away); Home of Joseph W. Fifer
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(approx. 2.2 miles away); Florence Fifer Bohrer (approx. 2.2 miles away); Franklin Square Historic District (approx. 2.2 miles away); Home of Adlai E. Stevenson I (approx. 2.2 miles away); William Florville (approx. 2.4 miles away); David Davis Mansion (approx. 2˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Normal.
 
More about this marker. This is one of 14 "experience hubs" (erected by Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway) that are all over Illinois along the old Route 66. All experience hub markers have the same front text, but have different reverse signs on the back. The top panel typically shows recommended Route 66 and local tourist stops, as well as maps of different Route 66 alignments. The bottom reverse panel usually has historical content, as well as a passport rubbing stamp. All experience hubs are nine feet tall, and have a button where people can listen to Bobby Troup's "Get Your Kicks on Route 66".
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 17, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 18, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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Dec. 5, 2020