We're off again from Springfield, toodling along Illinois Route 66. The capitol of the Land of Lincoln, Springfield is not only filled with peeks of Route 66, but also a history that goes back to the early 1800's. The most famous of its past residents was Abraham Lincoln, who lived in here from 1837 until he went to the White House in 1861. With a number of tourist attractions, we see both a bit of the Mother Road, as well as as historical sites that predate Route 66. Still, we start with photos of the Cozy Dog Drive-In. Alas, it is too early in the morning to partake of a cozy dog, so we move down the road, snapping some shots of the vintage Bel-Aire Manor, which is still in business, but, looked just a bit "scary" to us. Probably wouldn't recommend a stay. Then past the old Sunrise Donuts Coffee Bar and downtown for photos of the capitol, the governor's mansion, the Lincoln Depot, and more.
Shea's Gas Station Museum
Now, we're headed north, but not before making a stop at Shea's Gas Station Museum. A favorite photo stop for Route 66 travelers from around the world, Shea’s is a charming and eclectic collection of over half a century of gas station memorabilia.
In Lincoln, we gotta see the Railsplitter Covered Wagon, which is recognized by the guiness Book of World Records as the "World's largest Covered Wagon." We also check out the old Mill Restaurant, opened in 1929, but closed in 1996. It's now being restored. After making a few more stops, we're off again to Atlanta and McLean, where we stop for lunch at the Dixie Truck Stop. Sadly, the nostalgia, service and great food of this 1928 site, which was family owned and operated until 2003, has long past. Now, it feels like a truck-stop that could be found anywhere along any major highway.
Funk's Grove Antiques
Off again, we tour through tiny Funk's Grove before speeding through Bloomington and Normal to Towanda, where I am intrigued by a looming brick mansion sitting in the midst of a tilled up corn field. My love of ghost towns and old buildings kicks in hard and I must see this place close up. So, we put off Route 66 for a moment to check out this magnificent building just south of town and visible to the east from I-55 and old Route 66. I prowl the area, taking lots of photos and, at the time, can only wonder about the history of this great building.
Duncan's Manor in Towanda
Now, I know that its the Duncan Manor, built in about 1869 by William R. Duncan, a successful livestock dealer who moved to the Towanda area from Kentucky in late 1863, during the Civil War. But, no sooner was it built, it was filled with tragedy as Duncan's wife died and a few years later, he also lost his 15 year-old son. Duncan, himself died in 1876 at the age of 57. In the midst of restoration today, you can bet, there will be a follow-up story on this beautiful place.
Bob Waldmire's old bus
We then check out Towanda's small downtown area, before moving on to Lexington, Chenoa, and Pontiac, where we visit the Route 66 Museum and take photos of Bob Waldmire's old bus. Toodlin' through town, we snap a number of pics of the beautiful painted murals, the historic courthouse, and more. Farther down the road is an old Meramec Barn at Cayuga, a restored Standard Oil Gas Station at Odell, and we're off to Dwight for the night.
For more photos and information on our trip, visit our Facebook Fan Page. (You don't have to be a Facebook member.)