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

Pontiac, Illinois

Welcome to Route 66 Illinois

Pontiac, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
1. Pontiac, 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 Pontiac Region

Visit all of the Route 66 wayside exhibits in Pontiac to discover more about the Mother Road.

1) The Log Cabin Inn - Grab a bite to eat while learning how this 1926 restaurant turned to face a changing Route 66.

2) A Bridge to the Past - See original 1926 bridge abutments
Pontiac, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
2. Pontiac, Illinois Marker
Reverse side
on this restored Route 4 and Route 66 concrete bridge.

3) Patrolling "Bloody 66" - Hear stories about accidents and tragedies that occurred on "Bloody 66" at the old State Patrol Headquarters Building (1935-1942).

4) An Underground Crossing - Discover the site of a "subway" tunnel built under Route 66 so Ladd School students could safely cross.

5) Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum - Explore thousands of artifacts and memorabilia related to Route 66 in this historic firehouse. Take a picture with the largest Route 66 shield mural.

6) Protecting Travelers - Visit a gun-shaped building that served as the District 6 State Police Headquarters from 1941 to 2003. It provided easy access for patrolling the "Hard Road."

7) Historic Chenoa - Visit Historic Chenoa founded in 1856 by Matthew T. Scott, an agriculturalist and real estate developer. You can tour the family's historic home by appointment. The Chenoa Pharmacy, formerly Schulrman's Drug Store, was founded in 1889.

8) Memory Lane - Take a one mile stroll on this original 1926 stretch of Route 66. Enjoy classic billboards, Burma shave signs, and an original tool wagon used during the construction of Illinois Route 4, which became Route 66.

9) Lexington Neon Sign & Filling Station Restaurant - Lexington's restored
Pontiac, Illinois Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
3. Pontiac, Illinois Marker
Looking south on North Main Street. The "experience hub" is behind the Route 66 Illinois Museum (not pictured).
neon sign has pointed the way to downtown since the 1940s. Stop in for a bite at the Filling Station Café, which has served Route 66 travelers for over 70 years.

10) A Geographical Journey Parkway - Discover the legacy of Route 66 on this 1.6 mile stretch of abandoned 1954 pavement in Towanda. View Burma Shave signs, learn about every state along the Mother Road, and experience local features such as Dead Man's Curve.

(reverse, bottom panel:)

A Lingering Love Affair - Route 66 in Pontiac

Pontiac enjoys a long love affair with Route 66, but it's been an edgy relationship.
Four times the road alignment shifted away from the heart of the city as roadside businesses clogged highway flow. Each time the town grew out to embrace it again. Although I-55 ultimately replaced Route 66, Pontiac continues to celebrate the spirit of the Mother Road.

(photo captions:)

· Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell poses with his "official Route 66 vehicle" (2012).

· Pontiac is a popular stop for car and motorcycle clubs touring Route 66, like this Pontiac Solstice Club visit in 2011.

· The "Walldogs," a group of sign and mural artist, came to Pontiac in 2009 and painted 18 murals in four days. Be sure to visit the World's Largest Route 66 Shield Mural.

· Thirteen "Route 66 Art Cars" were
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painted by local artists were painted by local artists for the 2010 Downtown Art Project. These kid-sized, fiberglass cars were placed around the downtown area.
Erected by Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceLaw EnforcementRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the U.S. Route 66 series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1926.
Location. 40° 52.848′ N, 88° 37.727′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is on North Main Street south of West Howard Street (Illinois Route 116), on the right when traveling south. Marker is at the parking lot behind the Route 66 Association of Illinois Museum. North Main Street is one-way, going south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 110 West Howard St, Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Historic Route 66 Illinois (a few steps from this marker); The Bob Waldmire Road Yacht (a few steps from this marker); Original Route 66 Wishing Well & Sign Countryside, Illinois 1941-2007 (within shouting distance of this marker); Original Washington Street Route 66 Bricks (within shouting distance of this marker); Pontiac City Hall and Fire Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (within shouting distance of this marker); Livingston County War Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Desert Storm - War Memorial (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
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 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 19, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 280 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 19, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.

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Sep. 29, 2023