Monday, September 24, 2012

Route 66 - Day 3 - Joliet, IL to Pontiac, IL

Route 66 - Part 1
Day 3 Joliet, IL to Pontiac, IL
66 Miles / 1157 climbing
Super 8 Pontiac
801 S Deerfield Road
Pontiac, IL 61764
This is a wonderful picture of Bill K taken by his roommate Rich G while we were exploring the infamous Chicago Water Tower. 

Last Night Jim K asked all of us if we realized that we had met local royalty in Chicago, IL and we all looked at him and said who? After some wild guesses he took pity on us and informed us that the homeless person that we had gone out of our way to avoid becasue he was obnoxious turned out to be none other than 'Shakespeare Man'.  according to the article in the magazine that Jim had been reading, 'the street-level proselytizer outside of Yolk is so well-know he is a check-in spot on the popular Foursquare app. He is 64-year old Elijah Attala Ayers Muvla, a.k.a. the Shakespeare Man, who has beem standing outside of Yolk Restaurant in the Sourth Side Loop for the last seven years. He offers his own courtly greetings and pearls of wisdom and he speaks in Elizabethan English.

Today we traveled thorugh some really quaint small towns as we made our way to Pontiac, IL

            A very small community just south of Joliet. Could this be where the inspiration came for the name of the other Blues Brother, Joliet Jake’s brother Elwood?


            Nicknamed the Island City due to the fact that the Kankakee River runs through the town, forming an island home for a pair of city parks: North and South Island Parks.
 Rich G poses for a photo op!
            Gemini Giant - A 30-foot-tall former "muffler man" later transformed into a space traveler, this figure stands outside the Launching Pad Drive-In at 801 E. Baltimore Street [815-476-6535] A roadside cafe operating since the 1960s notable for its popular symbol, the Gemini Giant. The shape of the helmet is a bit unusual, perhaps a nod to the Coneheads of Saturday Night Live?

            Schutten-Aldrich House – 600 Water Street – It dates from 1856 and it is octagonal.
Sinclair Dinosaur 
On the roof of G & D Tires stands this dinosaur statue, the symbol of Sinclair Oil since 1933.
Mar Theather 
This classic movie theater has been featuring first-run films since 1937.

Eagle Hotel
Built as a stage stop in 1836, this hotel was already 90 years old when Route 66 was designated.

            Burma Shave Signs

Polka Dot Drive In – 222 North Front Street [815-458-3377] - Was founded over 50 years ago. The Drive In was originally a school bus painted in rainbow Polk-a-Dots, Lunch was served from a mini-sized kitchen inside the bus. Today it is a beautiful 50s style Drive In that has become one of the most memorable attractions along Route 66.

Lost Braceville US 66 bridge

For many years, Route 66 (and later Route 129) crossed a railroad line and a creek via a bowstring arch bridge south of Braceville. Route 53 on the south side of the railroad line did not cross anything, so there was only one bridge on the northern highway. The two state highways travelled parallel to each other form several miles. In 1994 the arch bridge was closed off and was eventually moved in 2000.


            Riviera Roadhouse - Dating from the 1920s--and Prohibition--the Riviera is reputed to have been a hangout for gangsters, including Al Capone, during its early days. The Riviera started featuring frog’s legs on the menu as early as the 1930s. Behind the main building is a restored horse-drawn streetcar, a project of the Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association. Burned down in June 2010.

Dwight - Motto: "Not Just a Bump in the Road"
King Edward VII
            The best remembered event in the early history of Dwight was the time England’s Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, son of Queen Victoria and heir to the British throne came to stay for a few days in the town. (At that time, the town was known as Dwight's Station.) The prince was supposedly traveling incognito as Lord Renfrew, using one of his lesser titles, but this fooled no one. The visit was important enough that local people recorded the exact time the prince arrived: twenty-seven minutes after six on the afternoon on Saturday 22 September 1860. He was to stay with Charles C. Spencer, one of Dwight’s founders, at Spencer’s farm south of town. Local couches and chairs were deemed insufficient for His Royal Highness, so Spencer’s furniture was stored, and the prince’s own furniture, which had been shipped ahead, was placed in the house. Soon after the Crown Prince arrived the shooting began; the first bird shot by the royal visitor was a little screech owl, which can not have provided much in the way or either sport or food. In the following days the hunting improved. The royal party eventually killed over 200 prairie chickens and quail. Prince Albert attended Sunday services at the local Presbyterian Church. On Wednesday, 26 September, he departed but not before planting an elm on Spencer’s farm. Prince Albert went on to become King Edward VII and the people of Dwight have never tired of talking about the visit. In 1878 the grounds of the house where the prince stayed were improved by the famed American landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds and in the present century were given to the town and have become Renfrew Park.

          Leafy and quaint with a very fine old Texaco/Marathon gas station dating from 1933 has been restored and now houses a visitor information center.

             Eleanor Jarman (born 1904) was an American runaway, fugitive from justice and robber who was jailed and was serving a 199-year sentence at the women's prison, now called Dwight Correctional Center. In 1940, Jarman (sometimes compared to Bonnie Parker of Bonnie &Clyde) on August 8th , the “Blonde Tigress” escaped, never to be seen or heard from again. She was placed on the FBI ten most wanted fugitives list and still remains missing.

Keeley Institute (now Fox Development Center) – 5 Tiffany-style windows, each of them portraying one of the five senses.
            First National Bank – Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright


   Ambler's Texaco Station

            Bank of Dwight – Dates from 1855 and features a mural in the interior by Viennese artist Oskar Gross.

            Each September, Dwight hosts a basset hound parade called the “Waddle” which benefits Basset rescue, an organization specializing in finding homes for neglected or abused dogs.

Odell Standard Station
Kathy welcomed us w ith open arms!
 A service station built in the early 1930s that initially sold Standard Oil products. In1999, the property was acquired by the city for purposes of restoration. Today, it stands as an excellent example of what such efforts can accomplish.

 The riders fought a brisk headwind all day!

 The inside of thew 1953 Travel Trailer that logged many miles on the Mother Road!



            A former coal mining town.
File:Bob Waldmire van at Route 66 Museum.jpg
Bob Waldmire's van, inspiration for Fillmore (Cars) on display in the Route 66 Hall of Fame in Pontiac.
Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum 110 W. Howard St [815-844-5657] Exhibits of memorabilia from Route 66 Hall of Fame members and much more. Gift Shop.
Old Log Cabin Inn - Pontiac Road [815-842-2908] This restaurant's claim to fame is that it dealt with the realignment of Route 66 in this area in a unique way--the building was picked up and re-oriented toward the new highway. Today, you can still see the older highway behind the restaurant near the railroad tracks, and that's the direction the building once faced.
File:Pontiac IL Livingston County Courthouse2.JPG
            Livingston County Courthouse - Courthouse lawns hold the usual battery of monuments including one to the namesake Ottawa chief whose visage also graces the General Motors marquee. According to the WPA Guide to Illinois, another of these monuments, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, received the shortest presidential dedication in history, when in 1902, it was "dedicated with a few hasty words by President Theodore Roosevelt, before an audience of less than a dozen people, who congregated briefly under a terrific downpour."

     Yost House Exterior View      

            Catherine V. Yost Museum & Arts Center 298 W. Water Street – It is a Queen Anne-style home from the late 1800s containing most of the Yost family possessions.
Jones House Interior
            Jones House 314 E. Madison Street – this is a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture. Built in 1857-58, it is the oldest brick home in Pontiac, and is named after Henry C. Jones, the man who owned the home the longest length of time. This home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 1978.

All the riders came in late today because of the strong headwind. Happy Hour, which was held in the lobby of the Super 8 Pontiac was extended so all could participate until the manager asked us to leave. Oh well, I have been thrown out of better places....

Tomorrmow we are off to McLean, IL

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