Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Little Cubs Field Has Opening Day

Most people know about the famous Wrigley Field in Chicago, but few know about the new tourist attraction along historic US Route 20 in Freeport, Illinois, about 90 miles west.

Monday marked the first-ever opening day at Little Cubs Field, the largest replica of Wrigley Field ever built. Its builders have included scale details of the famous ballfield including the scoreboard, marquee sign and WGN pressbox. It is about a third the size of the original.

Plans are for hosting peewee games, whiffle ball and kickball.

Dutchie Caray, widow of Harry Caray will cut the ribbon, throw out the first ball and lead the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

To avoid certain curses, goats will be allowed in the stadium anytime.

Go to:


I read that the field can be rented for $35 an hour. Perhaps we ought to hold the first-ever Route 20 Festival here.

Harry Would Be so Proud. --RoadDog

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lincoln Highway in Aurora, Illinois

AURORA, ILLINOIS PUSHING LINCOLN HIGHWAY-- The April 24th Fox Valley Villages Sun had an article about what Aurora is doing to tout its role in the first transcontinental highway.

It said that many people don't even realize the road runs through their town. They only think HEAVY TRAFFIC. Tourism leaders want to get folks interested in it.

This summer, a Lincoln Highway gazebo will be erected outside the visitors center and a 10 by 20 foot mural painted on the La Quinta De Los Reyes restaurant on New York Street in downtown Aurora, one of 34 murals planned for the country.

They also mention that the first White Castle and A&W Root Beer stores opened along the Lincoln Highway. Wikipedia showed the first White Castle at Wichita, Kansas, and first A&W in Lodi, California.

Another LH site is Moosehart between North Aurora and Batavia. In the early 1900s, Moosehart raised $12,000 to pave the section of LH in front of it.

There is hope that all this will get people to cruising the Lincoln Highway like they are Route 66.

Sure Can't Hurt. --RoadDog

Down Da 66-- CoR Parking-- Rockwood Court Cafe-- Santa Monica Ferris Wheel-- Gas at Roy's-- Signage in Lincoln

Down Da 66-- News along the Mother Road.

1. CHAIN OF ROCKS BRIDGE-- Parking on the Missouri side has been closed because of vehicle breakins and damage. Trailnet, the group in charge of the bridge, says there is not enough money for security. They do open the bridge for cars on occasion, mostly Rt 66 groups, but now will charge $5 on those occasions. That is a $5 toll I'll gladly pay.

2. ROCKWOOD COURT CAFE-- The April 24th Springfield, Mo. News-Leader had an article about this restaurant saying it is "a neighborhood cafe, on Route 66, homestyle meals and period decor." Sounds like a place to check out the next time I can afford to drive to Springfield, Mo. LOcated at 2204 College Street.

3. SANTA MONICA'S FERRIS WHEEL SOLD-- for $132,400 to Oklahoma man. No word as to what he intends to do with it.

4. ROY'S GAS STATION REOPENS-- The gas station at Roy's in Amboy, California, reopened this past week with gas selling at $4.49.9. Sorry about the gas price, but sure glad to see it reopened.

5. ROADSIDE ATTRACTION SIGNAGE IN LINCOLN, ILLINOIS-- This past Monday, Rt 66 Association of Illinois members and the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County put these signs up at the Mill and Postville State Historic Site.

I will be going into greater detail on these items later.

New News About an Old Road. --RoadDog

Will This Be the Week?

Will this be the week that Big Oil finally gets its magic $4 a gallon that they have yearned for for so long? Probably not around here. It will probably go to $3.80 on Wednesday or Friday. That would put premium at $3.99.9. Can anybody say $4.

However, I notice that a lot of stations around here are just showing regular prices and some are not raising premium the regular 20 cents higher than regular. A station on the Wisconsin border was at $3.80 regular with premium at $3.98. It seems that some are a bit shy about the rip off and fear the reaction they'll get when they hit the $4 mark.

The way I see it, if you're going to screw everybody, be proud of it. Go all the way and don't try to hide it.

Just Love Those Big Oil Guys!! --RoadDog

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just Returned from Illinois Trip-- No More Road Stuff in Smaterjax

My wife and I just got back from a six day trip across Illinois. We revisited many places and went to some new ones.

FRIDAY-- April 18th-- DWIGHT-- Took the usual Chicago Hassle By-pass, Il-47 from McHenry County to Dwight, Illinois, where we ate at Smaterjax and were disappointed to find that they had sold all of the gasoline-related items that were located all over the store, including that great run of Illinois license plates all bearing the same number, from the 1920s to 1980s.

We were told that they were sold as a group to a collector in nearby Coal City who put them up in his remodeled garage and they got a lot of money for it. Too bad the 1930s Standard station in Odell couldn't have gotten them so everyone could see them.

The $7.50 lunch buffet was still great, however. Still a great 66 stop, just not as authentic as before. We were told that cleaning the items and dusting was just too much of a problem. Now, the place features an HD TV and nondescript plants.

This restaurant used to be called Fedderson's after the Fedderson Buick dealership which was housed in the building.

Everything was still up when we last drove through there in February. We learned that the name Smaterjax came from the owners' dog Jax. Whenever they came home, they'd ask the dog, "What's the matter, Jax?"

Things Change, and Not Always for the Better--RoadDog

Friday, April 18, 2008

RoadDog to be Grounded?

The current round of gas prices increases and the distinct reality that prices are going to go over the $4 a gallon that Big Oil so wants, has put future road trips by the Old Dog in question.

Monday, I bought gas in Fox Lake for the ripoff price of $3.43. Tuesday, it was $3.52, Wednesday $3.55, and yesterday $3.66!!! That's 23 cents in four days. At this rate, the GRBs will have it up to $4 by month's end.

This is ridiculous and unnecessary. Yet, out leaders do nothing about it.

Give a Dog a Bone, or At Least a Gas Break. --RoadDog

No Takers for the Spindle

Bidding on e-Bay ended and there were no takers for Berwyn, Illinois'  "Spindle." It is believed the high cost of moving it was a major factor.

No word from the shopping center's owners or Walgreens as to what is next.

Save that Spindle. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Flakes, Then a "Spindle," Now a Wheel

The Santa Monica Pier's Ferris Wheel is also up for auction on e-Bay as is Berwyn, Illinois' "Spindle," and a while back, a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois. Of course, there are many who consider the pier as being the famous Route 66's western terminus, although technically it isn't.

It is nine stories high and has been on the pier since 1996. In 1998, it became the first ferris wheel to run on solar energy. There are 20 gondolas and 5,392 lights. So far, around 3 million folks have ridden on it and it has made numerous TV and movie appearances.

It originally cost $800,000, but initial bids are at $50,000, but you have to pay to remove it and take it elsewhere. A $1.5 million state-of-the art one is going to replace it.

The support base is another $135,000 and it weighs in at 122,000 pounds.

I'm considering buying it to put in my yard next to the "Spindle." That ought to get the subdivision association's dander up.

Few Things Prettier Than a Lighted Ferris Wheel at Night. --RoadDog

Want Some Wine to Go With That Lincoln?

The Iowa Bed and Breakfasts Innkeepers Association has a website and a recent posting had the Lincoln Hotel in Lowden, Iowa, offering a Wine Tour Weekend. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is on both the Hoover Highway and the Lincoln Highway.

First, you cruise north to Tabor Winery for a tour and tasting, then take the Grant Wood (think American Gothic) Scenic Byway to the Daly Creek Winery for more tasting. It didn't mention if they drove or you did, but with all that tasting, it might be a good idea for someone else to drive.

Price is $205 to $255 plus tax.


Personally, I like local breweries and their offerings. They get my support and drinking.

Little Old Wine Drinker Me-- RoadDog

Some More Trip gas Prices

I kept prices of gas along the trip, March 26th to April 11th.

It was $3.24 in Fox Lake, Illinois on 3-25. (Yesterday, 4-16, it was $3.52, a 28 cents increase in 22 days. Dadburn Big Oil).

On Illinois Highway 47 March 26th--Always more expensive than around Fox Lake. Huntly- $3.40, Elburn- $3.43 and $3.50, Yorkville- $3.36 and $3.50, Morris $3.27, Dwight- $3.40 and $3.30, Saunemin- $3.21.

West of Columbus, Ohio, off I-70 $3.16. Around Raleigh, NC- $3.20. Goldsboro, NC- $3.24.

Coming back April 9th-- Goldsboro- $3.30, Cana, Va- $3.20, Wytheville, Va- $3.22, West Virginia Turnpike- $3.50, Charleston, WVa--$3.50, Parkersburg, WVa-$3.35, Richmond, Indiana- $3.46.

These prices April 11th. Remington, Ind- $3.38, Lowell, In-$3.46, $3.52, $3.56 at a Casey's, St. John's $3.60.

Illinois-- US-6- $3.60, Oak Park- $3.50, $3.60, Sugar Grove $3.55, $3.55.

How Much Dough is Big Oil Going to Rake in This Quarter? Inquiring Minds Want to Know. AND, When is the Government Going to Do Something About It? --RoadDog

The Sad Gas News

I kept careful gas purchase records of this past trip to NC from March 26th to April 11th.

I covered the date, purchase site, gallon cost (regular), gallons purchased, total cost, and mileage.

Left home with 17,070 miles on the 2005 Dodge Dakota which was advertised at getting 22 mpg on the highway.

3-26 Lebanon, Ind-- $3.28, 12.812 gallons, $42.01, 17,323
3-26 Marietta, Ohio-$3.28, 14.507 gallons, $47.83, 17,646
3-27 Wytheville, Va-$3.14, 11.439 gallons, $35.91, 17,871
4-4 Goldsboro, NC--$3.25, 12.494 gallons, $40.59, 18,123
4-8 Wytheville, Va-$3.22, 11.269 gallons, $36.27, 18,372
4-8 Cambridge, Oh--$3.20, 11.402 gallons, $36.47, 18,631
4-9 Springfield, Oh$3.30, 11.850 gallons, $39.89, 18,832
4-10 Remington, Ind-$3.34, 11.678 gallons, $38.99, 18,832
4-12 Fox Lake, Il-- $3.42, 11.572 gallons, $39.64, 19,283

You'll notice gas in Wytheville, which is always cheaper and worth a stop ( but not at the Kangaroo station if you have to go to the bathroom. They are NASTY!!!) had increased by 8 cents in the 12 days between stops. Thanks BIG OIL!!! These stations are where I-77 and I-81 run together a bit south of town.

I should mention that the drive down was pretty much all interstate and highway. Coming back, I did some tourist driving around Mt. Airy, NC, the National Road through Ohio, and a lot of city driving when I got lost in Chicago's southern suburbs.

Overall, I purchased 109.023 gallons, spent $357.60, and drove 2213 miles. The truck averaged 21.5 miles on the way to NC. Coming back, with all the start-stopping, it was 20 mpg. This is not bad for a 6-cylinder truck, but with prices planned to top out at $4 by Big Oil, I need to get something with better mileage, hopefully 32+.

I Was Just Wonderin' Where All My Money Went. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some More on Mineral Point, Wisconsin

After eating at the cafe, which is on Main Street, we took a drive around town.

There is a marker showing the location of Fort Jackson on Fountain and Commerce streets. This was a Blackhawk War fort, but no longer there.

Also saw the Mineral Point Railroad Museum and an interesting name for a toy store, Leaping Lizards.

A little farther away is the Shake Rag area. Now, that is an interesting name for a place, so had to check it out. These cottages are Cornish and it got its name from the sound made when Cornish women would call their men in from the mines on the opposite hill by shaking rags.

Well, Now You Know. --RoadDog

Red Rooster Cafe-- Mineral Point, Wi-- Part 2

Still eating those pasties.

I saw a wilted salad offered on the menu and had to inquire. It is a salad with hot bacon dressing. You can get your pasty either as a pie or hand-crimped for 50 cents more. Hand-crimped was the way the Cornish miners ate them, so that's how I ordered mine. Liz had it as a pie.

I'd probably say a pot pie comes the closes to a pasty, but pasties are much dryer. We had ketchup on the table and Heinz Chili Sauce and I used quite a bit of that on my pasty.

The building went up in 1892. After it was a bank, it was the Tip Top Stop from 1936-1941. Coffee was a nickle, pie a dime, and a burger was a dime as well. A full meal and dessert was a whopping 50 cents.

The Red Rooster opened in 1972 and was featured in a Chicago Tribune article in 1988.

A Pasty a Day Keeps the Doctor... --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is it Pastys or Pasties in Plural?

I have seen it both ways, but wikipedia refers to them in the plural as pasties. Good article in it under "Pasty."

There is even a Pasty Fest held in early July in Calumet, Michigan.

Of interest, the Mexican state of Hidalgo has them as well as Cornish miners worked there as well.

You Can Check it Out. --RoadDog

Pastys at Red Rooster Cafe-- Mineral Point, Wi.

Also called Helen Lawinger's Red Rooster Cafe and located in what used to be the Iowa County Bank back in the late 1800s.

The menu said that the word pasty rhymes with nasty, in case you're wondering how to pronounce it.

The pasty is a humble pie, a simple meal consisting of meat, potatoes, onions and crust. They start baking them at 5:30 am in the winter and 4 am in the summer and sell around 150 a day.

The creation originates in Cornwall, England, and was a staple of the miners' diet. A they came to the US for mining, they brought it along with them which is why you can find them in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula as well as in many places in southwestern Wisconsin. Often, they're referred to as Cornish pastys.

Early pastys had a flap of crust where the miners could hold them so as to keep from getting their dirty hands on what they were eating.

Good Food if You Can Get It. --RoadDog

Don Q. Inn-- Dodgeville, Wisconsin--Da Plane, Da Plane

This is definitely a unique place to say, and I'm not even talking about the fantasuites they offer. This was the creation of a man with a vision. Not a cookie-cutter motel.

We first came across the place by accident quite a few years ago when cruising down the road and saw a huge plane sitting outside of a motel that looked to be part barn. Definitely something worth checking out.

Rooms (non-Fanta Suite) are around $50-60 and big, although the most recent stay back in Januray, the place looks like upkeep has been slipping, something we are not happy to see. Hope this does not signal the beginning of the end. The restaurant next door, at one time approached from the Don Q proper via a tunnel with toilets and a boot and other stuff along the sides and ceiling, was closed as well.

The mainroom has a huge circular firepit surrounded by vintage barber chairs. Plus, there is an indoor pool where you can swim outside. We especially like it as there are rarely any kids at the pool to scream since, of course, most people don't bring kids to the Fanta Suites for some reason.

Let's Hope the Don Q. Survives. --RoadDog

Monday, April 14, 2008

Trenton Makes, The World Takes

The Lincoln Highway Bridge in Trenton was featured by photographer Mark K on flickr see nobody@flickr.com.

It was originally a toll bridge and opened Jan. 30, 1806, the first bridge to cross the Delaware River. In 1918, the tolls were removed and the Lincoln Highway was realigned to cross it in 1920. (It had originally crossed the Delaware River at the Calhoun Street Bridge.

In 1927, the bridge became part of US-1. In 1928, the current bridge replaced the original one. The year 1952 saw US-1 moved to the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge and this one became Alternate US-1 which is now marked Bus US-1 on the New Jersey side.


The sign "Trenton Makes The World Takes" was originally put up in 1911. It is usually referred to as The Trenton Makes Bridge and the slogan has been adopted by the Trenton Chamber of Commerce. This was to espouse Trenton's huge role in manufacturing with its steel, wire rope, linoleum and ceramics industries.

In 1917, it was enlarged with 24,000 incadescent bulbs and the sign was removed whebn the new bridge was built. The sign remained off during the Depression and was replaced with neon in 1935. It is believed to be the world's largest neon community sign at 330 feet.

The sign fell into disrepair due to neglect until the Chamber undertook a restoration in 1981, adding even high efficient neon lighting.

See www.stanglpottery.org/trentonbridge.htm

Something I'd Like to See Some Day. Pretty Impressive. --RoadDog

The "Spindle" Cars

There are eight vehicles impales on the spindle, dating from the 60s to the early

Starting at the top is the cherry on the concoction, a red 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.

Then, from top to bottom:
2. 1976 silver BMW with license "DAVE"
3. 1981 blue Ford Escort
4. 1973 or 1974 green Mercury Capri
5. 1978 white over blue Ford Mustang
6. 1981 maroon Pontiac Grand Prix
7. 1979 or 1980 light yellow Ford LTD
8. 1979 or 1981 black Mercury

And, It Can Be All Yours. --RoadDog

First Flakes, Now a "Spindle"

E-Bay is at it again. About a month ago, they auctioned a cornflake that looked like the state of Illinois. And, now, for a $50,000 starting bid, you can get your very own 70 foot "Spindle" with eight 60s to early 80s cars impaled upon it. They will come with their own rust and pigeon poop as well (no charge).

All you have to do is remove and pay $100,000, and, oh yes, find a place to put it. Berwyn, Illinois', "Spindle" has been a point of controversy ever since it was built, but always a big tourist attraction for folks driving the nearby Route 66. However, a Walgreen's is going to be built on the site to rejuvenate Cermak Plaza, and it has to come down. A valiant fight has been fought to save it, now, this appears to be the last chance.


I wonder if the good folks in our subdivision association would say anything if I bought it and put it up in my yard?

Seriously, though, here's hoping someone buys it and places it somewhere along Route 66. Perhaps, the City of Atlanta, Illinois, could get it to go with their Tall Paul. Then they could take that ugly water tower with the Smiley Face down.

You can go to e-Bay and see it at "Spindle Art Work in Berwyn, Illinois".

Save the Spindle, But Not in My Back Yard. --RoadDog

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Midwest Presidents

People don't usually consider the Midwest as a major source of US presidential material, other than perhaps Abraham Lincoln. But that is not true. The Midwest has many presidential sites.

The August 5, 2007 Chicago Tribune Travel Section had an article on these sites, and I must admit, there were some I was oblivious to.

LAMAR, MISSOURI-- Harry S. Truman Birthplace
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI-- Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI-- White Haven-- U.S. Grant National Historic Site
DIXON, ILLINOIS-- Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
VINCENNES, INDIANA-- William Henry Harrison Mansion
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA-- Benjamin Harrison Home
FREMONT, OHIO-- Rutherford B. Hayes Home

I'd like to add:

TAMPICO, ILLINOIS-- Ronald Reagan Birthplace
WEST BEND, Iowa-- Herbert Hoover

Who'd Have Known? --RoadDog

Down Da 66-- A Symphonic Trip Down the Road-- Macaupin County Court House

Some News of the Mother Road.

1. The Springfield News Leader, Mo., reports that "Route 66: A Trip Down Memory Road" will be presented at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts May 10th by the Springfield Symphony as the last performance of their pops series.

It will include the songs "St. Louis Blues" and, of course, Bobby Troup's "Get Your Kicks." Videos of the Mother Road will be shown during the performance.

2. MACOUPIN COUNTY COURT HOUSE. CARLINVILLE, ILLINOIS-- An attempt will be made by folks in Carlinville to get the 138 year-old court house placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is already on the list because of its being in a historic district, but residents want it to stand alone as well.

It was built in 1870 at the cost of $1.3 million, a really huge price back then. Hence, its nickname "Million Dollar Court House." At the time, it was regarded as the largest court house in the country.

It is not the oldest court house in Illinois, however. The Putnam County Court House in Hennepin has been in operation since 1839.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

New Lincoln Highway Book Reviewed

The April 7th Joliet Herald News had a review of Cynthia L. Ogorek's book "The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago." The reviewer, Greg Houghton, said that thanks to Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, "Americans today barely think about driving 60 miles for a restaurant dinner or 120 miles for a round of golf." Someone must not have seen the price of gas these days. I think about even a five mile trip.

The Lincoln Highway can be considered America's first urban bypass. Even back in 1913, Chicago was seen as a possible traffic bottleneck to be avoided and a straight drive from Dyer, Indiana, to Joliet, Illinois, was selected, then north to Geneva. However, these days, anyone attempting to drive this bypass may wonder about bottlenecks in Chicago.

Local boosters in towns along the way were given the title of consul and encouraged to get sections completed. At one time, there were 262 consuls in 13 states. As such, hundreds of small road-building projects added up to one massive road-building project called the LincolnHighway.

Houghton concluded saying that Ogoreck's book "makes this story interesting and highly local.

I'm looking forward to seeing her and getting a signed copy of the book at the May Indiana/Illinois LHA meeting in Schererville, Indiana.

Give me a Book with Lots of Pictures Anyday. --RoadDog

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Down Da 66-- Dog's Grave-- New 66 Website

1. DOG'S GRAVE MARKER MOVED TO ROUTE 66 MUSEUM IN VICTORVILLE, CAL-- The gravemarker for Brownie was moved. During WWII, Brownie greeted soldiers coming home from the war.

The marker had been in Forrest Park, but that is being torn down. It has become a dangerous place.

Brownie was just a stray dog who showed up one day at the train depot and never left. Railroad employees "adopted" and cared for him. He was a smaller, tan mutt. Everyone coming through stopped and played with him and I'm sure on a few occasions, was fed.

Quite a human interest story. From Route 66 News

2. EDWARDSVILLE ROUTE 66 FESTIVAL GETS WEBSITE-- The Edwardsville-Glen Carbon (Illinois) Chamber of Commerce now has a website for its annual party in the park celebrating the Mother Road.

This is the 12th festival at City Park and will be held June 13th-14th.

Noted Beach Music performer Bob Kuban of St. Louis will be playing his big 60s hit "The Cheater" and other oldies on Friday night.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

West Sacramento's Motel Row-- US-40

This was a major approach to Sacramento from the Bay Area. It was also once part of US-50.

Being on the outskirts of town at that time, a string of motels, restaurants, and even a drive-in all competed to lure people into their establishments with boldly-designed buildings and bright neon lights before reaching the 1935 Tower Bridge.

When the freeway bypassed this strip, decline set in. West Sacramento was incorporated in 1987 and wantes to turn its bad image around by destroying the past. One of their efforts involves a strong sign ordinance.

This is from Tom Spaulding's blog at


He also did entries on two other US-40 roads: Auburn Boulevard and North Sacramento's Del Paso Blvd.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lincoln Logs-- Don & Millie's-- Illinois Dates

Some News along the Lincoln Highway

1. DON & MILLIE', OMAHA, NEBRASKA-- Roadfood.com recently did a story on this restaurant located at 14321 Harrison Street. They are noted for their cheese frenchies which are essentially a deep-fried cheese es. Also famous for their chili cheese dog.

It is a small chain with several located in the Omaha area, with one in Lincoln and another in Fremont.

This particular store looks like a standard fast-food place. There are two items of note for those of us who like out cocktails. The chain features 99 cent longnecks and 99 cent margaritas!!!

May-2-4-- Dutch Days in Fulton
May 10th-- joint meeting with the Indiana chapeter in Merrillville, Indiana
July 2-6-- Dixon Petunia Festival

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Glorious Dogwoods and Azaleas in Goldsboro and Mount Olive, NC

They're calling it the best show in years and I can believe it. The dogwoods in Goldsboro and Mount Olive, here in Wayne County, North Carolina, about 50 miles east of Raleigh are literally ablaze. It's a brilliant white along with the pink dogwoods that are just coming into bloom. Add to that, the red and white azaleas, gold forsythias, and purple wisterias and you have flower abundanza.

Just about anywhere you go, there is a mass of color. The bigger trees are just budding out, forming a canopy for the smaller dogwoods. My mother's yard is particularly stunning. She has added to what my grandmother started planting back in 1924.

As a matter of fact, the area behind her house, consisting of homes from the 1920s to 1940s, is a great drive. We were driving back in this area when I saw a particularly impressive blast of white, and, upon approach, it turned out, it was mostly my mother's yard.

Pill Hill, a neighborhood of upscale homes, is also stunning. It is located off Ash Street on Goldsboro's east side.

This color is so amazing, I had to go out and buy a new camera just to photograph it. That's right, I joined the digital age and bought my first digital camera Saturday with help from my sister-in-law Judy who is quite knowledgeable about such stuff. Unfortunately, it has rained and been overcast ever since. Hope I get some time to get some pictures in before I leave tomorrow.

This past Wednesday, I was in Mount Olive, my dad's hometown, and it is every bit as striking.

Goldsboro should have its own Dogwood Festival or, since Fayetteville already has one, perhaps a Blooming Spring Festival. Wilmington has the Azalea Festival and nearby Fremont has the Daffodill Festival.

Here's Hoping I Get Some Blue Sky Shots. --RoadDog

Saturday, April 5, 2008

If it Looks Like an Underground Railroad...

The March 23rd Courier News ran an article about the 1,500 square foot house on 606 Cedar Street in St. Charles, Illinois. It was constructed in 1837, and an addition was added in 1838. Currently it is for sale for $269,900, but any sale has been put on hold because of the discovery of an earth-filled room under the 1838 addition.

It very likely is a stop along the Underground Railroad that spirited so many from slavery in the years before the Civil War. Further proof was that it was owned by a succession of three abolitionists in the mid-1800s.

It ius also known that there was much Underground Railroad activity in St. Charles. three homes have been verified as stops and it is expected that another dozen might be as well.

Just Another Place to Visit in Historic Illinois. --RoadDog

Illinois' New Old State Capitol's 40th Anniversary

The March 23rd Springfield Journal-Register had an article about the 40th anniversary of the 1837 State Capitol. That would be the 40th anniversary of its rebirth.

The building was started July 4, 1837 and it took 15 years to complete. It served as the state capitol until 1869 when Sangamon County bought it for $200,000 to be used as a courthouse after the completion of the new state capitol building which is still in use today.

By 1960 it had deteriorated badly and there was discussion about its destruction. Fortunately, the state came forward with $1.8 million, the most it had ever spent on a building, and the building was taken down and a parking lot built under it and then the structure was carefully stone by stone.

Those of you attending the Route 66 International Festival in nearby Litchfield, Illinois, should definitely consider going by it. The past 5 years, Springfield has hosted its own Route 66 festival and the old state capitol alsways serves as a centerpiece of the celebration with most of the activities happening around it.

This is One Impressive Structure of a Past Time. --RoadDog

Friday, April 4, 2008

On the Road-- Part 3 Day Two-- A Rainy Day-- A Great Interstate Drive-- Tunnels-- Cheap Gas, Well, Sorta-- Back Home in NC

The second day out, I drove from Marietta, Ohio (not Georgia) to about 40 miles south of Charleston, WVa, on I-77 and in the rain, not particularly enjoyable. The trucks sometimes were creating white out conditions with all the spray they were throwing up.

Stopped at a Shoney's south of Charleston for their excellent breakfast buffet at $6.99. Haven't eaten at one of these in a long time.

Paid $3.75 ($1.25 at each of three toll plazas) to drive the West Virginia Turnpike, one of the truly beautiful drives in the US. And this is an INTERSTATE!!! Would have been even nicer had it not been for the rain during the first half.

Went through two long tunnels and then there was the long decline with great views of valleys in Virginia. Always love those Runaway Truck lanes at regular intervals. Sure gets you to looking over your shoulder. How about a Get Out of the Way of Runaway Trucks lane for those of us in regular vehicles?

Got gas at a Kangaroo station south of Wytheville, Virginia, for the cheapest I saw during the whole trip, $3.15. They are always cheaper here for some reason. Most of the time I was on the road, gas was around $3.28. There are several stations here at the same price and I don't intend to go back to the Kangaroo. That was the vilest bathroom I've ever had the misfortune to venture into. Then, I remembered, I had been here the last time through and it was just as bad. Went to a nearby Burger King to use their facilities.


Then took I-77 to I-74 in North Carolina, past the stunning Pilot Mountain and Mayberry, well, Mt. Airy, the town Andy Griffith based it on. Then it was US-52, soon to be the I-74 Corridor to Winston-Salem, and I-40 the rest of the way to Raleigh. This can be a really bad stretch of road during rush hours, but, fortunately, i was ahaead of it and I had smooth sailing.

Got off onto US-70, and stopped in Clayton to play NTN at McKinley's, and then proceeded to Mom's place in Goldsboro. I traveled 1,100 miles and spent $166 these past two days.

Curse You Big Oil!!! Sure Hope You're Enjoying Those Profits!! --RoadDog

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Most Endangered Illinois Route 66 Sites

Of course, all the Chicago sites could be included in a Route 66 list, but especially the Michigan Avenue Streetwall, which is the solid line of buildings fronting on Grant Park.

Springfield's Ursuline Academy, at 1400 N. 5th Street is a beautiful campus that originally was a girl's school founded after the Civil War. It is currently owned by the Benedictine University in Lisle and has been closed for awhile. It will either be reopened as a satellite college or, possibly demolished. I must admit that I have never heard of this building, but will check it out when I'm in Springfield later this month.

The Mill in Lincoln is on the list, even though a whole lot of work has been and will be done on the striking structure. Far from being angry about being on the list, Geoffrey Ladd, who is spearheading the Mill's resurgence says, "I feel it helps validate the project on a local and national level."

I am very glad to see efforts being taken to save this structure that was originally built in 1929 as a take-out sandwich joint to serve travelers along Route 66.

Saving Route 66, One Building at a Time. --RoadDog

Illinois' Eleven-Most Endangered Sites

Landmarks Illinois has just released its annual list of 10 most-endangered sites in the state. This year there are ELEVEN.

As usual, Chicago has the most with five: Wrigley Field, Daily News Building, Mates School, Michigan Avenue Streetwall?, and Germania Club and Theatre.

The others:

Fulton County-- Spoon River Bridge (Bernadotte Bridge)
Lincoln-- The Mill
Wheaton-- Adams Memorial Library
Eden-- Burlingame House
Springfield-- Ursuline Academy
Champaign-- Assembly Hall

Lists like these are great for bringing these sites to public attention. Unfortunately, being on the list does not guarantee preservation.

To see the complete list and more information, go to:


Save These Old Places. ==RoadDog

Chicago Public Sculpture-- The Lion

The March 26th Chicago Tribune had a March Madness-related Bracket contest, only for Chicago Public Sculpture.

They had eight well-known Chicago area sculptures, most of which I knew, a couple that I didn't know.

They were Cloud Gate (Bean), The Picasso, Spindle (Car Bob), Michael Jordan, Four Seasons, Flamingo, Chicago, and the Art Institute Lions.

The two finalists were Cloud gate and the Flamingo.

I would have had the the Picasso and Art Institute Lions with the lions winning. Those lions ARE CHICAGO!!! And they sport CUBS, SOX, BEARS hats as well as the wreaths at Christmas time.

I would have had Berwyn's Spindle in third. Unfortunately, it has been or is about to be torn down. Hopefully, it will be put somewhere else and it would especially be good if it is placed along Route 66.

I don't yet know which one won the Tribune's brackets, but of the two, would pick The Bean.

Lions, and Tigers, and BEARS, Oh My!! --RoadDog

El Camino Real-- Kingshighway-- US-61

While in Sikeston, Missouri, I came across some good information about a major historical road that went through it. There is a downtown marker at Kingshighway and Woodlawn Avenue.

At times, Sikeston has been under French, Spanish as well as US control.

In 1789, the Spanish king ordered an overland route to connect St. Louis and New Orleans and superimposed it on an old Indian and buffalo trail. Hence the name Kingshighway. In the 1920s, it became US-61 which is Sikeston's main street.

In 1939 it became the site of the Missouri Sharecropper Protest. Nearly 1000 black and white sharecroppers gathered to protest the new farm policy called the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

Going Down the King's Road. --RoadDog

How Do You Like Your Poppies?...On a State Scenic Highway

Evidently,the state of California has a real gem of a road along the winding two State Route 24 on Niles Canyon Road between Mission Blvd. and I-680. This 7.1 mile stretch of asphalt has been named an official state scenic highway and will have a ceremony at Sunol's historic rail depot on April 15th.


California's scenic highway signs feature the poppy, the state flower. Those signs will be going up soon and the state also will be planting poppies alongside the roadway.

The process to become a scenic highway began over twelve years ago and it passes through the town of Fremont and Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It joins three other scenic highways in the Bay Area: State Highway 24 east of Caldecott Tunnel to I-680, and two stretches of I-680. Sounds like I-680 must be another of those really scenic interstates (like the West Virginia Turnpike and I-70 from Utah to Denver).


This is also along the path of the first transcontinental railroad, California's first railroad transportation. A very well-preserved section is used by the Pacific Locomotive Association to run the Niles Canyon Railway between Sunol and Niles.

April 2nd Fremont, Ca. Argus "Route named scenic highway" by Meera Pal.

Sounds Like a Place a Dog Might Want to Go. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On the Road Again-- Ultimate State National Road Guide-- Marietta, Ohio-- Part 2

After leaving the National Road Visitors Center in Richmond, I got back onto I-70 into Ohio, under that wonderful arch.  I don;t know, but passing under an arch, especially a huge one like this that stretches over both east and west bound lanes as well as the median strip, just makes me feel like a returning conquering hero. "All HAIL JULIUS ROADDOG!!!" Or is that RoadDog Caesar?

Got off at the Ohio Welcome Center since my appetite was now whetted for a National Road Trip on my return from NC in April. They have a tour guide which should be the standard for every state when it comes to touring old roads. This is a fantastic one and, it's a date, the National Road I'll be a-driving in a couple weeks. They also got me one for the Lincoln Highway, which was good, but not Ohio National Road good.

Missed the rush hour in Columbus and drove on to Cambridge where I stopped at a Burger King which has to have set a new record for the "SLOWS: when it came to getting my junior whopper. I went through about two Cokes awaiting the blessed appearance.

Then, it was I-77 to Marietta, right on the Ohio River. I read that this is the oldest town in Ohio. Getting dark so pulled off the road and got a room at the Super Eight. The motels in Marietta were quite difficult to get to because of frontage roads. Played NTN at the Holiday Inn, the only site in the town. I don't know of many Holiday Inns with it.

Still More to Come. --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On the Road Again

Last week I took a drive on my usual Chicago by-pass, Illinois Highway 47. I just HATE putting up with what I call THE CHICAGO HASSLE, what you run into while trying to go around Chi-Town.

Drove from Woodstock to just west of Pontiac and then took Il-110 east, and after awhile was back on US-45. which we drove a large part of its length earlier this month. Also, went on a short section of US-52, another road I have on which I've driven a fair stretch.

On US-45, we started in Mobile, Alabama, at the southern terminus, and drove all the way north on it to Champaign, Illinois. (It continues on to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior.)

Took US-52 into Indiana, past a small town called Sheldon which for some reason has a four lane bypass going around it. Went through Kentland and out to Remington, where I picked up I-65. Took that to Indianapolis, stopping in Lebanon for gas ($3.28 regular) and my complement of Sliders at the Castle. They also have a new 99 cent pulled pork sandwich which I highly recommend. As Homer would say, "Ummmm,

Since it wasn't rush hour, went through downtown Indianapolis to I-70 and then east. Stopped at Richmond, Indiana, on the Ohio border when I saw a sign for The National Road Visitors Center. This is a mighty nice place and should be a definite stop for any roadie. They even have COOKIES and some of the most helpful folks you'll likeley find. Of course, we know road folk are some of the most friendly folk.

Picked up a great Indiana National Road tour guide.

More to Come. --RoadDog