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The Driveby Tourist didn’t “drive by” fast enough on Day 2 and had made a reservation 60 miles ahead. So, started Day 3 at Troy IL, went back to the last point visited on Day 2. Then, drove ahead to the Missouri border and back. So, Day 3 – Troy IL ends back at my hotel. And, I didn’t find any attractions related to Route 66 in Troy! (I’m rewriting in June 2020 and renaming a page is very time consuming and difficult. So, living with the original names.) Tomorrow, first stop is on Missouri Route 66 as I saw all I needed to see in Illinois by end of day.
Day 2 – Troy IL – Nilwood IL
On Illinois Route 66 near Nilwood, a turkey walked in the wet concrete in the 1920s. Route 66 gets no respect from turkeys! Amazingly, the highway department continues to maintain and protect the Route 66 turkey tracks. Interestingly, since this was first written in 2018, someone stole the metal turkey replica (link to article) in November of 2018. But, I thought I read he reappeared but can’t find it now.
Not sure if they ever found the original turkey or if they made a new one. Or if there is any marker. (Updated August 18, 2020: The original link is no longer valid. I still haven’t been able to find out if the turkey was found, a new one was made, or if it’s still missing!) (Updated again, October 24th, 2020. The article disappeared again. I added a link from Tripadvisor. Still can’t find if they replaced the stolen metal turkey!)
Throughout IL, in fact in a number of places in other states, you will find several routings of Route 66. As I was backtracking for the start of Day 3, I took a route through Glenarm IL. I found several interesting attractions. The one that stood out was this chain saw art along a slight detour. Not sure if you want to take this route, but I’m writing this mostly to suggest exploring the alternative routes as well.
And, just a picture of a covered bridge on Illinois Route 66. Of course, like most covered bridges today, this one remains out of service but obtains continued maintenance “for the ages”. Actually, Glenarm is located south of where I ended yesterday, but I chose to visit here first since I had to backtrack from yesterday.
Still on Day 2 – Troy IL
However, yesterday ended here so I came back for lunch after seeing some of the alternative routes. While the food tasted good, the pharmacy museum here in the building overshadowed everything. So, if you stop, be sure to allow some time to browse through the exhibits for a view of an old time pharmacy.
Certainly, the Carlinville Town Square dominates the center of this small town of just under 6,000 people. But, the real highlight of this town is the remaining 152 Carlinville Sears-Roebuck kit homes. While Elgin IL has more of them, the Carlinville homes are all in the same 12 block neighborhood. In 1917, Standard Oil needed coal for part of the process of turning crude oil into gasoline. Since they bought farmland that included the mine, they needed to build homes to attract workers for the mine and the local support businesses.
Other points of interest to Route 66 visitors include:
Betsy Ross Flag Barn Mural. Accordingly, the barn displays what is commonly referred to as an early design of the US flag.
Carlinville Mural on Broad street (Route 66) displays highlights of the town. Specifically, painting of the mural occurred in 2019 so it wasn’t there when I was.
Of course, if you choose to end your day here, the CarlinVilla Motel sits right on the original Illinois Route 66 alignment. And it’s still operating!
Below is a look at an early Illinois Route 66 road. This is a 1926 to 1930 section. Significantly, there is hardly enough room for two cars to meet. Can you imagine how many miles you would cover when whole sections of the road are like this? (And, The Driveby Tourist took this one through the windshield again to remind you that he is The Driveby Tourist!)
But, there isn’t much here besides some dog-leg turns and a marker for the location of the Coliseum Ballroom which burned down a number of years ago.
Side Trip – Day 3 – Troy IL
At least, this small town contains a sign indicating a former attraction. And, now opened again! Art’s Motel closed for six years, re-opening a couple of years ago. The adjoining restaurant remains available for sale or the current owner will demolish and build more historically correct motel rooms. Since the 1980s, sporadic openings and closings have been the rule. However, this time, continued operation looks good!
South of town, stands “Our Lady of the Highways” shrine, blessing travelers since 1959. And, to top it off, a series of signs recite the “Hail Mary”!
Litchfield becomes a place to linger for a while. The classic Sky View Drive-In Theatre remains as one of the few still operating on Route 66. And the oldest one. Also, the town plays host to the well-preserved and recommended Ariston Cafe. Besides, the cafe pre-dates Route 66 by two years! And the new Litchfield Museum and Illinois Route 66 Welcome Center opened recently.
Back on main route – Day 3
Mount Olive IL
The amazing Soulsby Shell Station graces this small town. This fully restored station features antique red and yellow Shell gas pumps. And, this station sold gas from 1926 for 65 years. Also, you might want to visit the Mother Jones Monument in the Union Miners Cemetery on the north side of town. Because this town sits on an alternative section of Route 66, I didn’t see anything here.
But, the sections of Illinois Route 66 merge here in Staunton. You will want to see Henry’s Rabbit Ranch & Route 66 Emporium. Of course, this one is a must see, even if you just see the outside. Still early in the season when I visited so shorter hours only let me see the outside. Besides, it was pouring rain so pictures are from the car! But, be sure to see the emporium, featuring various critters and likenesses of “Snortin’ Norton”, the mascot for the now defunct Campbell 66 Express truck line.
Afterwards, you may want to see the Giant Rocking Chair featuring a Route 66 shield. It’s not the largest rocking chair in the world, or even the largest on Route 66, but interesting. (More about the largest rocking chair on Route 66 in a couple of days.) South of Staunton, you can visit Decamp Junction, a classic roadhouse from “back in the day”. And a “roadhouse of worship” at the St. Paul Lutheran Church with the Neon Cross of Illinois Route 66.
Of course, you know by now that Route 66 had a fascination with giants, of all kinds. This giant was known as The Muffler Man in another location; at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall. He’s a “Twin” to the Gemini Man from Day 1. Or, a triplet to Paul Bunyon from Day 2! But, the Muffler got lost along the way and he was given a Harley Davidson shirt. Eventually, the Surfer Dude was also moved from another location. Basically, he now shares this location with the Harley Davidson man. And stands near the woman who isn’t given a name but I’d like to think of her as the Surfer Dude’s girlfriend! And, are we really seeing Pink Elephants? The cut-off sign indicates this isn’t really a great place to visit! However, the giants may make it worthwhile.
Certainly, a recommended food stop is Weezy’s Grill in Hamel. (I didn’t eat there, a person can only eat so many times!) And, south of Hamel, towards Edwardsville, you may want to visit the Stagger Inn, a historic place which offers live music.
Finally, near the Chain of Rocks Bridge, at least get a shot of the Luna Cafe sign. Recently, restored to it’s original glory. Once it contained the cafe on the main floor, an illegal gambling operating in the basement, and a “house of ill-repute” on the second floor. Well-established rumors suggest gangsters visited here often. And that included the infamous Al Capone.
Back in the day, the neon sign’s ruby-red cherry lit up to indicate “working girls” were available. The vintage, restored sign still works like this. However, no more “working girls” upstairs!
Granite City IL
Finally, we reach the last part of Illinois Route 66. Furthermore, Chain of Rocks Bridge was closed to auto traffic in 1968 as other bridges were built. In the 1990s, it was refurbished and opened for pedestrians and bikes in 1999. Since the bridge stretches over a mile and has a curve in the center, it’s a curiosity. However, the bridge remained closed during my visit. And no explanation but I believe there have been assaults and car break-ins on both ends. The area around the bridge on the Missouri side is blocked from a distance. And the trees and fences here mean I can’t get a full picture of the bridge. You will have to take my word that the bridge is there! (Here is a link to information about the bridge.)
And Giants can be Water Towers as well. Can it be much “tackier” than to have a giant Catsup bottle for a water tower? But, what do you expect for Illinois?! (Sorry if you are from Illinois, couldn’t resist!) This one’s in Collinsville, not to be confused with Carlinville from further north on Illinois Route 66.
Wrap up the Day
Interesting end to Illinois Route 66. Of course, people at many of the places mentioned in the literature are glad to speak about their place and other places in their general area. Some give great advice about additional places to see.
One woman working at a museum told me that 40% of the places on Route 66 that most people look at are in Illinois and 20% are in Missouri. Of course, she lives in Illinois! I know there is a lot to see in Oklahoma as well. Because, both Tulsa and Oklahoma City have a lot to see. Once beyond Oklahoma City, the things to see are much more spread out. But, we are still on Day 3 – Troy IL. Looking forward to Day 4!
And we end Day 3 – Troy IL
And we reach the end of Day 3 – Troy IL. Here is a link back to Day 2 and a link ahead to Day 4. Of course, you can jump back to the overview of my Route 66 trip as well here.
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Just got home from Illinois lock the front door oh boy!
Got to sit down take a rest on the porch.
Imagination sets in pretty soon I’m singin’
Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.
There’s a giant doing cartwheels, a statue wearin’ high heels.
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens.
Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.
Tambourines and elephants are playing in the band.
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon?
Doo doo doo.
Wond’rous apparition provided by magician.
Written by: John Fogerty
At least it mentions Illinois!
And it mentions giants as well