“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bloomington in McLean County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Bloomington, Illinois

Welcome to Route 66 Illinois

Bloomington, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 28, 2020
1. Bloomington, Illinois Marker
Front side (all Illinois Route 66 Experience Hubs have the same 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.
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It 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 Bloomington-Normal Region

1. Cruisin' with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center - Housed in the 1903 McLean County Courthouse, the center features exhibits that compare the travels of Abraham Lincoln with those of Route 66 motorists. Get information, visit the gift shop, and explore the McLean County Museum of History.

Bloomington, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 28, 2020
2. Bloomington, Illinois Marker
Reverse side
Ryburn Place at Sprague's Super Service
- This Tudor-Revival gas station opened in 1931 to serve travelers on the Mother Road. It is now an information center and gift shop.

3. David Davis Mansion - David Davis, an Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice, was appointed by his friend and fellow circuit rider Abraham Lincoln. He built this Victorian home in 1872. Open for tours.

4. Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts - The centerpiece of the city's Cultural District, the center hosts more than 400 performances and community events each year. Tours are available.

5. Lucca Grill - Since 1936, Lucca Grill has been serving delicious pizza. Visitors will appreciate the ornate tin ceiling and antique mahogany bar.

6. Miller Park Zoo - Opened in the late 1800s, this is the only zoo along Route 66 in Illinois.

7. Funk Prairie Home - Visit the restored 1864 home of Lafayette Funk, co-founder and director of the Chicago Union Stockyards and an Illinois state senator.

8. Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup - The Funk family began producing pure maple sirup in 1824. Guided tours of the grounds are offered during the sirup-making season.

9. Dixie Truck Stop - The Dixie opened in 1928 and sold sandwiches to Route 66 travelers. Today, it is a full-blown restaurant and still serves
Bloomington, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 28, 2020
3. Bloomington, Illinois Marker
Looking north on North Main Street.
travelers along the road.

10. A Geographical Journey Parkway - Drive "Dead Man's Curve" and discover the legacy of Route 66 on an interpretive walk over a stretch of abandoned pavement in Towanda.

(reverse, bottom panel:)

The Land of Lincoln - Route 66 in Bloomington-Normal

What do Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 have in common? Railroads!
As an attorney on the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Lincoln often represented railroad companies, including what would become the Chicago & Alton. The original Route 66 alignment in Illinois closely followed the C&A tracks. Today, they are owned by Union Pacific and used by Amtrak.

Miller-Davis Law Building

Constructed in 1843, these law offices served future Supreme Court Justice David Davis and future Illinois State Senator Asahel Gridley. The buildings became a gathering place for local lawyers such as Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.

Cruisin' with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center

Stop by the Visitors Center inside the McLean County Museum of History to explore the differences in travel, dining, and lodging during Lincoln's time and the heyday of Route 66.

(side quote:)

"Increase of business would naturally follow the building of a good [railroad] in any country; and this applies especially to this [railroad],
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by the facts that the country of its line is unequaled in natural agricultural resources, is new and is yet very partially brought into cultivation."

Abraham Lincoln, circa 1847
Erected 2019 by Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the U.S. Route 66 series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1926.
Location. 40° 28.834′ N, 88° 59.616′ W. Marker is in Bloomington, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is at the intersection of North Main Street and East Jefferson Street, on the right when traveling north on North Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 301 N Main St, Bloomington IL 61701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Risk of the Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (within shouting distance of this marker); World War II War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln The Lawyer (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Phoenix Block (about 300 feet away); The Pike House (about 300 feet away); Center Street Site (about 400 feet away); Sigmund Livingston (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
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".

13 "Experience Hubs" were originally laid out in select Route 66 cities in Illinois from the late 2000s-early 2010s. That number changed years later - this hub is the most recent put up (March 4, 2019), as an effort to boost tourism in downtown Bloomington.
Also see . . .  What a kick! Route 66 Experience Hub unveiled in downtown Bloomington. Published by The Pantagraph on March 5, 2019, this is about the then-recent unveiling of the new Illinois Route 66 Experience Hub, as local leaders (including Bloomington's mayor Tari Renner) were on hand at the ceremony. (Submitted on October 18, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 18, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 513 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 18, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.

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Apr. 22, 2024