BLOOMINGTON – It’s been nearly 100 years since Route 66 was built as the main thoroughfare between Chicago and California. Although the original causeway is no longer in use, traveling along the historic route is the quintessential American road trip. Here are some things you might not know on the road trip through central Illinois:
Height, in feet, of the Paul “Bunyon” Hotdog statue in Atlanta.
Year Route 66 construction completed. By 1985, most of it had been replaced by new highways, and Route 66 was removed from the United States highway system.
Height, in feet, of the Railsplitter covered wagon at Lincoln. It was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest covered wagon in the world. The site also houses a large statue of Abraham Lincoln.
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Miles from Route 66 in Illinois. In total, the route stretches 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.
The year of Bob Waldmire’s renovated school bus — the “Road Yacht” — on display at the Route 66 Museum in Pontiac. Waldmire was known as a Route 66 artist and curator, and visitors can tour his bus from May through October. The museum complex also houses some of Waldmire’s artwork and his iconic VW van.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026, a “parklet” will be installed at Main and Jefferson streets in downtown Bloomington. Scheduled for completion in 2022, the site will feature benches sculpted from recycled truck parts, as well as a bike rack and planters emblazoned with the Route 66 symbol.
HR 3600 was introduced in the US House in November. If passed, it would create the Route 66 National Historic Trail and give the National Park Service authority to help communities preserve the causeway.
Width, in feet, of the Dead Man’s Curve at Towanda. The sharp bend and narrow roadway here has resulted in many traffic accidents for Route 66 travelers. Also in Towanda is the Geographical Journey Parkway, a walking tour with educational kiosks for each state along the Route 66. There is also a collection of Burma Shave panels here too.
Year Illinois Historic Route 66 has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the US Department of Transportation.
Year John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” dubbed Route 66 as “The Mother Road”. Springfield now hosts a Route 66 Mother Road Festival each September.
The year Isaac Funk chose the location of a well, setting in motion what would become Funks Grove Pure Maple Syrup.
Year Carl Garbe established Carl’s Ice Cream, which grew to include locations in Bloomington and Normal.
Interior height, in feet, of the rotunda at the center of the McLean County Museum of History in downtown Bloomington. The former courthouse now houses Cruise with Lincoln at 66 Visitors Center.
See photos: US Route 66 in Towanda
Contact Robyn Skaggs at (309) 820-3244.