Posts Tagged ‘IL’

Rochelle IL Lincoln Highway Festival this August

August 6, 2009

IL_Roch_08fest 02

IL_Roch_08fest 15

Downtown Rochelle, Illinois, will hold its 12th annual Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival on August 21 – 23. Entertainment will include acts playing ’60s music, dance, karaoke, and country, plus children’s interactive music. There will be car, motorcycle, truck and tractor shows, small engine and miniature train displays, an arts and crafts show, and a Kids Zone play area. Sunday offers a Fly-In/Drive-In at nearby Koritz Field for a chance to learn about planes and radio controlled models, and at 3 pm is the annual Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival parade. For more information, contact the festival HERE or (815) 562-4189.

IL_Rochelle logo

Gas pump at corner of Lincoln Highway and Rt 66

November 21, 2007

Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News has an interesting story about the “Joliet Kicks on 66” campaign. That Illinois city is promoting sites along the famous Chicago-to-LA road as explained in a news story. The Kicks web site offers lots of places and things to see, including 5 good-looking, very detailed replica gas pumps. Here’s a snap of the page showing the pump at the intersection of 66 and the Lincoln Highway:

IL Joliet pump
Road buffs know there’s another crossing of the two historic highways. To the west, a later alignment of 66 ran through Plainfield where 66 actually shares the road with the LH. Banners there celebrate the pairing.

Lincoln Highway fans also know that the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in Pennsylvania established a fantastic Pump Parade a few years ago. Along the 200-mile corridor from Irwin to Gettysburg are 22 fiberglass replica 1940s pumps, though differing from these in that they were decorated by artists. Here’s one at Schatzer’s Market, a fruit and produce stand west of Chambersburg:

PA Shatzer’s

Millionaire's Marker Mystery west of Chicago

November 9, 2007

A New York Times story I found from December 1913 reported that 88-year-old John Stewart of Elburn, Illinois, was giving away huge sums of money, including $50,000 to improve the Lincoln Highway. He asked that markers be set at each end of the road section that his donation improved. Were those markers ever placed?
Stewart NYT

Elburn is a small town some 40 miles west of Chicago, and just west of Geneva, nestled between the original Lincoln Highway (still called that but better known as Keslinger Road) and IL 38. A 1921 shortcut connected Keslinger Road to IL 38 via Elburn’s Main Street, and a few years later, Keslinger was bypassed entirely. Though rural, suburbia continues to fan out from Chicago; check out this planning map to see how quickly the landscape is changing.

Stewart was in Europe at the time, but the article was datelined Chicago, so it began as a local story. No wonder—he also gave $100,000 to granddaughter Esther Richards as a wedding present, and to all his grandchildren, he bequeathed his estate valued at $750,000. My favorite inflation calculator says that alone is the equivalent of $15.1 million today!

Stewart 3

I checked with some town planners and officials, but no one has heard of the markers. What they didn’t say was that the local elementary schoool is named for John Stewart! Or that the town has preserved his mansion!

Stewart 6

The Great Lakes Leadership Campus on IL 47 occupies the Stewart estate. Director Annette Sheehan (who graciously OK’d use of the photos here) says, “To my knowledge, there are no markers bearing his name on Route 38 through Elburn. I don’t know if there ever were—I’ve never heard about any such markers.” The GLLC website says the 15-bedroom Victorian mansion was built in 1897 for John, Martha, and their 5 children. Its lavish appointments like hand-cut lead glass windows, tiled fireplaces, inlaid wood flooring, wooden ceilings, and in all a hundred types of wood led to the home being featured on a 1908 postage stamp. John Stewart served three terms in the state legislature, and interestingly, funded the paving of Elburn’s Main Street.
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I asked Kathleen Dow at the LHA archives at the Special Collections Library, University of Michigan, if Stewart shows up in their holdings. She found nothing in LHA minutes, correspondence (particularly checking the pledges), or brochures of major expenditures and donors. Could it be that, since the LHA never reached its goal of $10 million, pledges didn’t have to be paid? Kathleen replied, “From what I’ve seen in the LHA correspondence, some pledges were contingent on the pledge goal being reached before any checks were cut (many of the donors, or would-be donors, were businessmen, of course). So, yes, I think a number of pledges were never kept. I think there were also some quibbles about businesses, both small and large, pledging 1% of a year’s profit (I believe that’s what was initially solicited).”

So was the $50,000 ever donated? If so, were markers erected in Elburn or elsewhere? Or did the LHA not get the funds because they never reached their $10 million goal?

DeKalb IL Road Work Continues into 2008

November 6, 2007

An article in DeKalb’s Northern Star, produced by students at Northern Illinois University, reports that reconstruction of the Lincoln Highway downtown will continue through Summer 2008.

Work in the 100 block, including a bridge replacement and an awkward lane shift, has led to more than a dozen accidents in the past half-year. Joe Spika, construction field engineer and DeKalb County area supervisor for IDOT, said the standard merge there should present no problem: “When people obey it, everything works just fine.” The work, nearly half done, will move to the other side of the bridge by Thanksgiving and will continue through at least mid-Summer.

DeKalb, IL
Above: looking east in the 200 block of East Lincoln Highway, DeKalb.

Lincoln Highway Kiosk in Aurora, IL

November 1, 2007

A Lincoln Highway kiosk debuted October 3 in the Phillips Park Visitor Center, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora, Illinois. The kiosk, including a computer terminal, is a project of the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition. An official unveiling is being planned.

IL Aurora kiosk 2

Phillips Park, along Hill Avenue/Lincoln Highway just south of the city, is already known to LH fans as a former overnight auto camp opened by the Aurora Automobile Club about 1923. A brick pavilion with fireplaces was recently restored and augmented with interpretive plaques and brochures for attractions along the LH.

Coalition Associate Director Diane Rossiter (who provided the top two photos) says the 3-sided kiosk recounts the basic history of the LH and highlights a few of the state’s most interesting stories. The main feature tells the story of the Mooseheart Child City and School to the north on IL 31/LH. Moose members from across the U.S. raised $12,000 and then literally helped build the first paved section of the Lincoln Highway in front of the building. In appreciation of their efforts, the state later paved an extra 10-foot-wide section still visible in front of Mooseheart.

The computer is hooked to the coalition’s website, which has information about events and communities along the LH in Illinois. Web site visitors there or at home can also send “E-Postcards” or share a travel story to be posted online.

IL Aurora kiosk 1

Other projects of the coalition include an Interpretive Center at the Dixon Welcome Center and a traveling exhibit currently at the Flagg Township Museum, 518 4th Ave, Rochelle (open Thur – Sun, 11 am – 4 pm). The exhibit will move at the start of 2008. Here it is at in July when I saw it at the Joliet Area Historical Museum:

IL Joliet exhibit

The coalition publishes a visitor’s guide, available at the each LH town’s chamber or welcome center, at highway rest stops and info centers across the state. You can also email or call toll free (866) 455-4249.