Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Last Visit to the Riviera...Sort Of

And not that casino in Las Vegas or place in Europe. It's the venerable old roadhouse on Route 66 in Gardner, Illinois, which closes tomorrow after being open since 1926. Owners Bob and Peggy Kraft are in their mid-80s, and like the Old Coot of Route 66, Ernie Edwards, says, "gettin' old and the equipment was too" so time to get out to pasture. I sure wouldn't want to be running an operation like a restaurant-bar at that age.

We used the new GPS to get there which took us I-55 to the Gardner exit from Joliet. First signs of a problem were the numerous vehicles parked on Route 66. Then, good luck finding a parking place in all the mud, blood, and beer (kidding about the last two, but plenty of mud).

The line waiting to eat was out the old basement door. I don't do lines and waiting whenever possible, so any thoughts of eating were dashed. None of that great Peggy's spaghetti sauce for me.

Hoped to get a seat at the bar to be regaled by Bob Kraft's sense of humor, but folks standing by it. Bob, however, was there and with his signature bow-tie. The last several times there, we were disappointed to find he was not at his usual position behind that bar.

I managed to side-step my way to the men's room for one last look at the mile high urinal and toilet. Decided this was not the place to be, so scrambled out to the mud and the car.

Sure would have liked to have had a meal and listened to the stories, but it was not to be. We're driving Route 66 northward from Pontiac, Illinois, today. We drove on here last night and ate at the Baby Bull, also on 66. Maybe they will be open and less crowded when we drive by. We'll stop in.

Good to See the Locals, Fans, and 66-ers Are Seeing the Krafts Out in a BIG Way. --RoadDog

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Pennsylvania House/National Road in Springfield, Pa.

The good folks at HMdb back on Nov. 3rd, ran a spotlight on the Pennsylvania House/National Road in Springfield, Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania House was built by David Snively in a Federal-style in 1839. The tavern and inn became a popular stop-over for people traveling along the National Road. Dr. Isaac K. Funk, of Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia (I have a set from the 1970s) lived there as a child in the 1840s when his parents operated the place.

After the Civil War, it closed as an inn and served as a doctor's clinic, boarding house, second-hand shop, and then fell into disrepair.

The Lagonda Chapter DAR saved it from demolition and have owned and operated it as a museum since 1941. Listed on the NRHP in 1972.

Photos accompanying the spotlight show an impressive structure and a National Road mileage marker.

You Could Spend Lots and Lots of Time at the HMdb Site. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Been Good to Me

It was some good roadie stuff for me.

Liz had two items framed that I've been intending to do.

One was a great picture of the Blue Swallow Motel sign and a gorgeous sunset, probably the prettiest I've ever seen. Bought it back in 2006 on our end-to-end run on Route 66. The owner had spent many hours and days at sunset waiting for just the right shot. I'd say he got it.

Also, back in June, 2006, we had attended the Munger-Moss anniversary party and I had won one of Ken Turmel's postmark art prints. It had remained rolled up in the tube ever after, but no more.

My mom got me a watercolor original of Wilber's barbecue in Goldsboro, NC, one of my favorite places to eat in the world. If you haven't had eastern-Carolina-style 'cue, you haven't had bbq. While visiting the place, I had owner Wilber Shirley sign a business card and attached it to the front. Noted Carolina artist Brenda Behr did the watercolor.

Now, I just have to find places to hang them.

Almost forgot to mention this, but Liz also got me a framed print of the famous "Injun Summer" cartoon from 1906. That is a personal favorite that I regret the Chicago Tribune bowed to pc and no longer prints every fall. It was TRADITION. At least they continue to selol the print.

Roadie Nirvana, Man. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Route 66 Backer Retiring in Joliet, Illinois

After serving Joliet for 21 years as deputy city manager, James Shapard, 62, will be retiring December 31st.

He was a lead person at City Hall in getting the formation of the Joliet Area Historical Museum and involved in the decision to create a Route 66 Welcome Center in it. As we know, Joliet has done a great job with its Route 66 heritage.

He was involved in getting the Joliet local sports Hall of Fame at Silver Cross Field.

In the military, he was a captain and worked with explosives and even nuclear weapons.

Let's Hope Mr. Shapard Continues Pushing Old Roads Like Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway. --RoadDog

Monday, December 22, 2008

"A Chistmas Story" Exhibit a Big Hit-- Part 2

I would have liked to see what they did for that "Mommy's Little Piggy" eating contest. I can just imagine. Had to be messy.

It was taken from Jean Shepherd's 1966 book, "In God We trust, All Others Pay Cash." These are recollections of Shepherd's childhood in Hammond, Indiana.

The movie is set in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, and depicts a 1940s Christmas as told by nine-year old Ralphie Parker who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun more than anything. Another exhibit is "Flick's Tongue and the Triple Dog Dare" about the tongue on the old flagpole bit. Then, there's the "It's a Major Award" about the wonderful leg lamp.

"Santa's Mountain at Higbees" where Raphie froze up when asked what he wanted (and the weird kid). "The Bumpus Hounds" is where the turkey met its fate and then there's the "Parker Living Room." An added bonus lets you vote for ugliest lamp from a collection specially assembled for the contest. Of course, one is the "electric sex" one as described by Ralphie.

Other things going on:

"Oh Fuuudge"-- a father-son relay featuring the tire-changing scene.

Scott Schwartz who played Flick was there this past Saturday. Wonder how his tongue is these days?

A special showing of Schwartz's "Shooting Your Eye Out: The Untold Christmas Story." That would be interesting.

Sunday they also had a showing of the movie.

And I'm even thinking of going to the local Chinese buffet for Christmas dinner. Wonder if we can get them to sing?

I'll Be Watching TNT On Wednesday Night. Let the Furnace Battles Begin!!! --RoadDog

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"A Christmas Story" Exhibit a Big Hit

If you're like me, that 1983 movie, "A Christmas Story" ranks right up there as a must-see flick. With me, it is Flick #1, followed by "Christmas Vacation" and "It's a Wonderful Life." I am anxiously anticipating the TNT marathon starting Christmas Eve. I'll see it once or twice or more, as well as parts.

The house used for the film has been turned into a museum in Cleveland. Now, there is another "Christmas Story" place to visit, a 25th anniversary exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center on Interstate 80 by the Illinois line.

This is in Hammond, Indiana, where author Jean Shepherd grew up. The story details that childhood. It opened over Thanksgiving and has already drawn 16,400 people. But, not me...yet. More than 4,000 came through when they hosted the "Mommy's Little Piggy" eating contest recently. But hurry up, Jan. 11th the exhibit comes down. Personally I think they should keep it up year-round.

There are six animated "A Christmas Story" displays, including the Higby Department Store window where Ralphie fell in love with he Red Ryder carbine-action 200 shot range model air rifle.

From Dec. 18th Chicago Tribune article "Holiday film exhibit a surefire hit" by Erika Slife.

More to Come. --Raphie RoadDog

Moving the Beehive in Minneapolis

The Oct. 7th Minneapolis-St. Paul Star News had an article by Jenna Rose "Picking up pieces of the past from area roads, highway."

A 10 foot high fireplace, called the beehive by locals is being moved from Lilac Park along Highway 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard to a new home on Highway 7.

It is part of an effort to save the remains of a historic rest stop that dates to the 1930s when Highway 100 was known as Lilac Way. It was built by the WPA to get people working during the Great Depression. It was Minnesota's first controlled access four lane highway and the first segment of the Twin Cities first beltway.

The park it is from, Lilac Park, is one of five along Hwy 100 that the St. Louis Park Historical Society has raised $7,000 to save. Today, few people use it, but at one time it was quite popular. More than 100,000 cars pass by it on a daily basis.

The Bees Will Be So Happy. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Portion of Old D-L-D Road Found

The Oct. 28th McCook (Ne) Daily Gazette had an article by Connie Jo Discoe about a section of the old Detroit-Lincoln-Denver Road that came to light because of the crumbling wing wall of a culvert on a county road east of McCook.

In Nebraska, the D-L-D Road became US-38 in 1926, then US-6 in 1931. The alignment was then located north of this site which became a county road.

The concrete highway became filled with potholes and at some point, the county built a gravel road over it. The wingwalls are now crumbling and the original concrete is being exposed.

This is today Red Willow County Drive 7161717 west of Deb and Kent Myers' home east of McCook and south of US-34/US-6.

A New-Found Old Road. --RoadDog

Friday, December 19, 2008

Don't Throw That Old License Plate Out

Came across an article about the most expensive license plates. I sure had no idea that these things could be more expensive than $5 to $10. But, wow!!

I sure used to hate it when we had to take them off every winter here in Illinois. Never failed to have the screws and bolts rusted that really prolonged the frozen fingers.

Tim Stentiford, editor of Plates Magazine, has one of the world's largest collections with over 17,000. The "Holy Grail" of license plate collectors is the 1921 Alaska plate which goes for---- $40,000!!!! only four are known to exist.

Then there's the 1913 Mississippi one that everyone though no longer existed until one was found in 1985. Since then, one more has been found.

Other "Plate"Facts

The first license plates were made in Paris.

The ALPCA-- Automobile License Plate Collectors Association has 3,000 members and holds 50 regional meetings a year.

Most plates average between $10 and $20.

The Ten Most Expensive License Plates.

10. 1913 North Carolina-- $10,000
9. 1906 Virginia-- $12,000
8. 1913 Idaho-- $13,000
7. 1905 Vermont-- $15,000
6. 1909 Delaware-- $20,000
5. 1906 West Virginia-- $25,000
4. 1922 Hawaii-- $30,000
3. 1912 Mississippi-- $35,000
2. 1913 Mississippi-- $50,000
1. 1921 Alaska-- $60,000

Let's Get Into Those Attics and Garages and Start Looking for Those metal Nuggets. --RoadDog

By the way, the Illinois motto is no longer "Land of Lincoln." It's "Where Our Governors make License Plates."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Aurora's "Garfield House" Up for Sale

Something else to see while cruising the Lincoln Highway through Aurora, Illinois, and that would be what is referred to locally as the "Garfield House" at 247 West Park.

It was built in 1901 by William Foulke. In the late 1950s, it was owned by Garfield Goose creators Bruce and Clare Newton. The buyer can also qualify for a $15,000 preservation grant and $4,000 for windows. The price has dropped from $250,000 to $224,900 (can anyone say $225,000?).

Now, some of you non-Chicagoland folks might be wondering who this Garfield person is or was. First-off, he is not a person, but a goose who had his own very popular children's TV show on Chicago's WGN TV during the 50s and 60s. I would immediately turn it on when I returned home from school. Also, Garfield Goose was a puppet.

The Newtons lived there for almost fifty years and raised five children in its 18 rooms. It included a workshop and an antique museum after several rooms were turned into set pieces like an old-time ice cream shop, barber shop, and general store.

There was also a mass of other antiques like 46 heating stoves, 35 pieces of old telephone equipment, 85 oil lamps, and literally thousands of knick-knacks.

Clare died in 2006 and Bruce in 2007. Unfortunately, most of the antiques were sold in an estate sale.

From Dec. 9th Daily Herald.

Good Old Garfield, Beauregard, Rhomberg Rabbit, and Frazier Crane. --RoadDog

Who Was George Bartholomew?

As the previous post mentioned George Bartholomew and his concrete, I needed to learn more about him. I'd never heard of him.

Thank you good old Wiki.

George is credited with inventing concrete. In 1886 (already knowing about concrete),he moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio which is located near a good source of key ingredients clay and limestone. He founded the Buckeye Portland Cement Company.

In 1891, the city ok'd a paving test on the streets around the Logan County Courthouse. It was a success and then the paving of Court Avenue approved. (The original concrete around the courthouse has since been covered with asphalt after water main problems.)

The actual laying of the concrete was done by county engineer James Wonder.

Mr. Bartholomew was honored for his invention at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. Court Avenue was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. A statue and marker to George Bartholomew is located along the street.

Thanks, George. --RoadDog

About Time Someone Fixed Those Potholes

With winter upon us, that means the return of those glorious tire-wrecking, neck-shaking potholes. And, around here, we also have a salt shortage because of GRB manipulations and huge cost increases. As such, side streets and roads are essentially sheets of ice.

Nut, this was good news last summer in regards to the nation's oldest concrete street in Bellafontaine, Ohio. It is getting its potholes fixed. Court Avenue is a major thoroughfare and a way to get downtown, where merchants would rather see it used than preserved.

ODOT gave $215,000 to repair and restore it. When completed, almost 60% will be the exact way that inventor George Bartholomew first tested it here in 1891.

Thanks to Mobilene of American Road Forum for alerting to this one.

That is a Hole of Another Color. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa Monica Pier 100th Anniversary

This past year, the famous Santa Monica Pier, generally considered the western terminus of Route 66, although it never was, celebrated its 100th anniversary of when its construction began.

It was originally built to carry sewage out to the Pacific. In the 1980s, we were fortunate to have a preservation group fight to keep it from being torn down. An estimated 4 million visit it each year, including my wife and I when we completed our Route 66 End-to-End Tour back in the fall of 2006.

The 1600 foot pier opened September 9, 1909, after 16 months of construction.

1910-- carousel opened (built by the man who also built Coney Island's first carousel)
1916-- Another pier built next to it.
1924-- La Monica Ballroom opened.

The halcyon days were 1924 through the depression/
1983-- storms tore off huge chunks of it.

A Fitting End to Route 66. Park Out Over the Pacific. --RoadDog

The Great Race 100th Anniversary Tour Stopped in Geneva, Illinois

The Oct. 24th daily herald, serving Chicago's suburbs, had an article by Susan Sarkauskas about the centennial stop of the Graet race in Geneva. This was the commemoration of the American leg of the 22,000 mile race from New York to Paris and it came through town back then and now.

The great grandson of the winner spoke at the Concours d' Elegance auto show.

The 100th anniversary trip started October 16th in Vew York City and will end in San Francisco after a three-week drive. The final stop will be at the Ferry Building.

It will go world-wide next year because of visa problems with the Chinese government .

In 1908, this was put on to show that cars could be driven in severe weather.

Keep On Truckin'. --RoadDog

Went to Chicago-- Part 4

Walked back to Union Station, next to the Chicago River between Adams and Jackson and like to froze. That wind had REALLY picked up and was blowing the cold on you. Here's a deal, it only costs $18 for the first hour at the Sears Tower. Glad I was walking, even with the biting cold.

Warmed up in one of my favorite little bars anywhere, the Snuggery. I've been going here for many years, but this was the first time since they had NTN installed. My visit was the 99th new NTN site I'd visited this year. Beer was $3.25 a pint, up from $3 the last time. Several days a week they have drafts at $2.75.

Talked with a guy traveling from New York to warmer climes in San Diego via Amtrack. I'd like to do train travel myself some time.

Then, walked a round and around before finally finding the Metro Deli which also has NTN. For some reason, I really get lost in Union Station every time I go. I've never gotten lost in an air port, but put me in Union Station, and I get lost.

Afterwards, I had a great rib sandwich at Richardson's #1. There are quite a few places to eat at Union station including pizza, Cajun, Mexican, and even Chinese.

I should really do this trip every year.

Good times in Chi-Town. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

That House Ain't Got No Home...For Now-- Part 2

They are moving the Maisenbacher House from 1028 S. Seventh Street to 503 S. Street. Evidently, it is sitting on its 64 wheel new home on a side street. The 300 ton home is 46 feet wide which is one foot wider than Seventh Street. Crews have been trimming trees and preparing to move power lines and street lights when the move is actually made.


The Expert House Movers of St. Louis is handling the move. And, they are good at what they do, holding the record for moving the heaviest building ever, the Gem Theater in Detroit at 2,750 tons. They also moved North Carolina's Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. In 1998, they moved Springfield's oldest home, the Iles House, from South Fifth Street to its new home on Seventh Street.

Too Bad They Couldn't Move the Maisenbacher House to Lincoln's Neighborhood. --RoadDog

Went to Chicago-- Part 3

I actually walked out the wrong exit of Marshall Field's (excuse me, Macy's) and ended up on Randolph Street, one block over from State Street, that Great Street. I did find an FYE store, the new Sam Goody and Musicland stores. These are a throw-back to the days of Tower Records and the old Mom and Pop record stores.

I like them, but normally their CDs are too expensive. However, they do have the Little Steven Underground Garage CDs. This is one of my favorite radio shows. I bought his "Coolest Songs in the World, Vol. 7" and a New Orleans collection to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I should mention that I saw the old Carson Pirie Scott store which is being restored to its former glory. This is one Louis Sullivan gem that won't get away from us. Even better, they found that the facades of two other adjacent stores were his as well. They are still under wraps, though.

Walked by the great lighted marques of the Chicago and Oriental theaters. Then encountered the mob at the Christmas Village by Chicago's Christmas Tree. They sell some mighty good-smelling food, but the lines were way too long. Lots of neat and overpriced German items being sold at the many distinctive red and white striped topped booths.

Next, Hangin' Out at Union Station. --RoadDog

Help Bring Back Chicago's Marshall Field's!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was given a flyer for this anti-Macy's group.

They claim the boycott is working (as is the economy these days). Macy's is definitely hurting.

"For over 154 years, Marshall Field's defined Chicago as an international set the standards for world-class quality in service, fashion, merchandise, food and culture....In 2006, Macy's took away Chicago's icon and made it one of over 800 Macy's. Since then, Macy's has proved that it is no Marshall Field's."

They have distributed over 120,000 buttons and lapel stickers and even more leaflets.

According to them, the boycott is working and that "it is only a matter of time until the visionary business and civic leaders with the needed clout come forward to bring back Marshall Field's.

I wish them luck, but doubt that this will bring it back. Even the Field family had no interest.

Web site:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Merritt Parkway Turns 70

There was an article in the October 13th Stratford, Ct. paper. This 4-lane highway was designed by noted architect George L. Dunkelberger and landscape architect Weld Thayer Chase who worked closely together designing the large parkway with trees and grass to separate the lanes. The outside lanes had places for folks to pull over and have picnics while enjoying the scenery.

It was named the Merritt Parkway for the Connecticut Congressman Schuyler Merritt who proposed it to relieve traffic on US Route 1. It is located in Fairfield County, CT. an is on the list of the National Resister of Historic Places.

The first 17.5 miles of it officially opened June 29, 1938. Bridges were of art deco/neo-classical and modern design with some of them being WPA projects. Tolls were charged at first, but, believe it or not, removed in 1988. I NEVER thought tolls were removed anywhere, anyhow. One old toll plaza is preserved at Stratford's Boothe memorial Park (just a coincidence in name).

Today, the Parkway runs 37 miles. Exit numbers were attached to the interchanges in 1947 and the official name is Ct-15.

There is a two-day Merritt Parkway Tour at

An Impressive Early Form of the Interstate. --RoadDog

Hard Times for Tourist Spots These Days

The horrific shape of the economy has had an adverse impact on the nation's tourism industry, both privately-owned and public. First, there was the Gas Gouge. I know it pretty-well grounded me a lot more than I wanted to be.

Now, it is the whole economy in general, with folks losing jobs, getting laid off, and many others worried about their jobs.

Today's USA Today had an article about state tourist spots across the country becoming the latest victims. Many are closing, have closed, or are in danger of closing.

My state of Illinois has been particularly hard hit. Seven parks and twelve historic sites are now closed as Governor Blagojevich has trimmed half of the state's historic preservation budget in an attempt to balance the overall one. These include the Lincoln cabin where Abraham's father and stepmother lived as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Dana-Thomas Home in Springfield.


NEW YORK-- 75 parks and historic sites have had service reductions
NEW JERSEY-- was to close 9 parks, but instead, closed 19 administrative offices which means no bathroom at those sites.
GEORGIA-- closing 6 state parks and 7 historic sites
FLORIDA-- 19 state parks at risk of closing.

Dadgum GRB's. --RoadDog

Went to Chicago-- Part 2

On the way, I saw the Chicago icon, the Berghoff on Adams Street. We sure got taken for a ride a few years back when it was announced that the family was selling it to their granddaughter who was closing the place and would reopen it in a much-different form. Did we ever get sold a bill of goods. It is still there in all its history and unchanged. I had heard they also intended on taking down the wondrous old sign. It's still there as always.

Foot traffic picked up as I approached Marshall Fields (Macy's). So this is where everybody was. Big crowds out on the sidewalks under those giant horns. Of course, they were looking at the famous window displays. I was not impressed with them, but part of that is due to all the moving Christmas items we have these days. Back in the 60s, when I first went, all that motion in the windows was something else.

There were crowds inside and even more folks as I took the escalators up seven floors to the Walnut Room, another Chicago institution. There was a line just waiting to get the pagers. No way I was going to wait in a line like that. I did get to see the equally famous Christmas tree.

Say what you will about Macy's taking over Marshall Fields, they still retain all the things that made Fields famous: the windows, clock on the corner, old Fields name plates by the entries, the Christmas instruments on the outside, the Walnut Room, the Christmas tree, and even Frango Mints.

On exiting the building, I was approached by a guy involved in the Macy's boycott and given a flyer. They are still calling for a return of Fields. That's not likely to happen.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Springfield's John L. Lewis Home

I looked up the Lewis Home in Springfield, Illinois, in regards to the moving of the Maisenbacher house since it was regarded as having little historical significance.

I came across another Lewis house in town that definitely did have historical significance. It was something I'd never heard of despite many trips there over the years.

This is the John L. Lewis House at 1132 West Lawrence Avenue, home of the renowned labor leader who lived there from 1917 to 1965. He left school at age 15 to work in the mines until he was blacklisted for labor organizing activities. He became the president of a local United Mine Workers chapter and in 1911 the general field agent for the AFL. In 1920, he became president of the United Mine Workers, a position he held for the next forty years..

He died in 1969 and is buried in Springfield.

Now, we have another unionist along Route 66 to go with Mother Jones who is buried in Mount Olive, Illinois.

It's a Labor Thing. --RoadDog

That House Ain't Got No Home...For Now

A Lincoln-era house in Springfield, Illinois, has found itself literally "out on the street" this past month. Thankfully, it is on wheels, but even then, a house is not a home until it's got some ground to sit on.

The Maisenbacher House is sitting there because of a battle between the city council and mayor Timothy Davlin. The council has already approved $115,000 to move it, but rightfully balked when Davlin requested another $822,000 to build a foundation for it. THAT IS A BIT HIGH!!!! They also rejected a scaled-back request for $279,000. After the happenings this past week, one has to wonder whether the illustrious governor was somehow involved.


The house dates to the 1850s and historians believe it was built partly with a $650 loan from Abraham Lincoln. The brick Italianate home is one of about 100 Lincoln-era homes still standing in Springfield and of note, is very little changed in appearance from then. According to Springfield Journal Register archives, the first owner, Isaac Lindsay had it built from 1855 to 1856.

It became necessary to move from 1028 South Seventh Street to 503 South Seventh because of Springfield Clinic's expansion. The clinic bought the Maisenbacher property in September 2007 for $190,000 prompting the fear of a parking lot construction. This October, the council declared an emergency and approved an agreement to move it.

The Lewis Home at 503 South Seventh Street was not deemed as historical and demolished last week to make way for the Maisenbacher house. A federal grant of $55,000 and a tax-increment finance of $60,000 was enacted for the demolition of the Lewis house with $32,000 of that going for the construction of a new foundation. This is a much more reasonable cost.

From Dec. 3rd Daily Herald and Nov. 11th Springfield Journal Register.

More to Come. It Ain't Over Till It's Over. --RoadDog

Went to Chicago-- Part 1

Yesterday, I took a train ride to Union Station in downtown Chicago from Fox Lake. This is a hard deal to beat as it only costs $5 round trip, AND, I could have used the same ticket today as it is good for the whole weekend. Good thing the CITY has nothing to do with it as Daley would surely tax it into the upper reaches. The governor would want to sell the franchise to the highest bidder in return for generous "political" offerings.

Why, you'd spend more just for gas and don't forget that highly enjoyable Chicago parking. One place was advertising special rates of $18 for the first hour. Hey, and then there's that enjoyable 10+% sales tax. Sometimes I have to wonder why I don't go into Chicago more often. Oh, yes, I remember.

AND, Union Station straddles both alignments of Route 66 in this part of Chicago, Jackson and Adams streets (or is it avenues?). Walked along 66 (Jackson) going east to State Street, then north to Marshall Fields, excuse me (that store beginning with "M").

If it is true what they're saying about the economy (Are we actually in a "recession?"), then what I saw confirms it. There were very few people walking outside the stores compared to what I remember. However, there were more folks begging for handouts. Sears was practically empty.

To Be Continued. --RoadDog

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Old Kentucky Back Roads

I came across this excellent blog by Steve Manning yesterday. As he says, he covers "Historic places, people, homes, churches and buildings along the scenic back roads of Kentucky."

Each entry has pictures and a short caption. So far this month, he has had entries about the 1803 John Soper House, Daniel Boone's 1795 cabin, Revolutionary War hero John Jouett (see my Cooter's History Thing Blog), and the 1842 Elmwood Inn.

John Jouett made a night-time ride of 40 miles, much longer than that of Paul Revere, to warn Virginia's legislature and Thomas Jefferson of a British march on them. Everyone's heard of Revere, but not so Jouette.

You can view this great road trip at

It's on my favorites.

Check it Out. --RoadDog

Road Bits: Inventor of Modern Road-- Widening Il-47

News of the Road.

1. INVENTOR OF MODERN ROAD-- Came across a story in the SDA Movers site about John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836) who designed the first modern highway by developing an inexpensive paving material of soil and stone aggregate (called macadam). He also embanked roads a few feet higher than the surrounding terrain to cause water to drain off.

2. WIDENING IL-47-- This is MUCH-NEEDED if you've ever driven the stretch through Woodstock to Huntley. Traffic along here has increased dramatically over the last ten years as Chicago continues its sprawl into farm lands. There is thought that this may be part of President-elect Obama's economic stimulus package and is estimated to cost $62 million.

Illinois Highway 47 is my preferred way to avoid the Chicago hassle when heading to points east. I take it from Woodstock, through Huntley, all the way to its southern terminus west of Champaign, and from there where I want to go.

There is also another $11 million project for US-45 in Grayslake where plans are to add 2 much-need lanes in both directions. Grayslake, much closer in, is even worse of a traffic jam than McHenry County.

Down That two-Lane (or More) Road. --RoadDog

Heritage Tourism's in the Bag for National Road

The Jan. 2nd Newark (Oh) Advocate had an article about how the increase in heritage tourism is a plus for the old National Road (US-40) according to Doug Smith, co-author (along with Glenn Harper) of the book "Historic National Road: The Road That Helped Build America."

Heritage tourism, where people tour according to a particular linear experience (such as light houses, civil war sites, old roads, blues music, etc., has increased as "people want to experience the authentic places, artifacts, activities, and stories."

Ohio has more miles, 227, of the National Road than any other state. And Licking County, has the most in the state at 32. There are old brick sections and stone taverns to accommodate the first wave of travelers back in the early 1800s. Then, tourist courts became motels with the advent of the automobile.

I had the opportunity to drive most of the National Road in Ohio back in the spring, and, it is impressive, especially the part east of Columbus. The state also has an excellent guidebook to use.

An IOld Road is a Good Road. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Old Spanish Trail

I'm not overly familiar with this road, so found the October 27th article in the North Florida News Daily of interest. It was the forerunner of US-90 and I-10 which largely took the OST's (Old Spanish Trail) alignment.

The eastern terminus is across from St. Augustine's Ripley's Believe It Or Not and is marked by a 6-ft diameter coquina stone monument.

The Old Spanish Trail was launched Dec. 10, 1915 to link Florida and California and officially opened for travel in 1929 at a cost of $80 million. Back in 1915, Mobile, Alabama, was finding its shipping industry in decline and went looking for money from travelers. A highway would be just the thing, so started the OST Association to connect the Dixie Highway in Florida with the Jackson Highway in New Orleans. The Association folded in 1919 and a Texas group took over.

San Antonio especially was pushing a road from there to El Paso. Noting that the road ran roughly parallel to the routes of the DeSoto, DaVaca, and DeNavarez expeditions, the name Old Spanish Trail was selected.

Hamal Ayres, a NJ businessman took over and issued thousands of brochures from 1923 to 1931. When US highways were numbered, US-80, US-90, and US-290 pre-empted OST and the interstates essentially doomed what was left of it.

In 1929, St. Augustine had a three-day party for the OST at which the coquina marker was dedicated.

Plans for an OST Centennial Celebration are underway at OST100.

No Road Like an Old Road. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lawsuits Along the Lincoln Highway

Rich Cholodofsky in the Nov. 19th Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in Ligonier Township is seeking $400,000 from EADS architecture group whose advice led to the razing of a century-old roadhouse.

The Heritage Corridor group planned to build an $8 million visitors center in the township and planned on moving the two-story structure to the site, but the architect seriously underestimated the cost.

Does this mean the visitors center is a no-go?

Too Bad If It Does, and I also take It That the Roadhouse Was Lost. --RoadDog

Madison, Indiana-- Part 2

Taken from various tourism brochures.

Some other things to see:

ELEUTHRIAN COLLEGE-- pre-Civil War seat of learning that took all genders and races. National Underground Railroad Site and National Landmark. This whole area was a major hub of activity on the Underground Railroad.

CRYSTAL BEACH POOL-- WPA project built 1938.

JEFFERSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE-- built 1854-1855 in classic revival style.

LANIER MUSEUM-- Greek revival structure, home of James Francis Lanier. completed in 1844.

LYMAN HOYT HOUSE-- Underground Railroad conductor and officer in the Neil's Creek Anti-Slavery Society. Currently being restored.

MADISON RAILROAD STATION-- Used for passenger service until 1955.

BEN SCHROEDER SADDLETREE FACTORY-- you can see how saddle "frames" were made between 1878 and 1972.

There are also three WINERIES in the area: Lanthier Winery, Madison Vineyards, and Thomas Family Winery.

River boats also make ports-o-call, including the Delta Queen (at least until this past year).

The Madison Bicentennial will be June 6-14th, 2009.


There is also an Indiana Wine Trail which features six vitners.

Underground Railroad Driving Tour

John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail (Civil War)

Ohio River Scenic Byway

And then, don't forget the good times and eatin' at the Madison RIBBERFEST (get it) the third weekend in August.

Definitely Have to Go Back. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lincoln Logs: LH Markers Located-- No More Goshen Motor Inn Sign

Lincoln Logs-- New News About an Old Road.

Both are these are from the excellent Lincoln Highway News blog.

1. LH MARKERS LOCATED-- Two long-lost Lincoln Highway Markers were unearthed recently in California. They were quite red because of the red volcanic soil leeching into them.

Ray Helm and his partner ran a salvage yard and when the business was dissolved, they had four old LH posts. Two were given to the El Dorado County Museum. Ray took the other two home. Over the years, they sank into the soil. His son-in-law, Lee Hollifield dug them out. Lots of photos accompanied the article. Of interest, this was also posted on a motorcycle club's web site and there were a lot of comments. Surprisingly, many of them didn't know much about the Lincoln. Hopefully they do now.

It's always great when you find "lost" history.

2. NO MORE GOSHEN MOTOR INN SIGN-- File this under "Crying Shame." The old Goshen (Indiana) Motor Inn sign is no more. It has been replaced with a generic back-lit one. Looking at the old one and the new one makes you just wonder "why?"

This reminds me of the great googie-style Chain of Rocks Motel sign by the Mississippi River along Route 66. That was a "for crying out loud" move as well.

The Lost is Found, The Found is Lost. --RoadDog

Madison, Indiana

On our way back from the NC/SC trip back in October, we spent one night and part of a day in Madison, Indiana, a historic town on the Ohio River, across from Kentucky.

I had visited the place in an earlier US-421 cruise from one end to the other, but this was a first time for my wife.

We had drive from Gatlinburg, Tn, that day and were getting quite tired by the time we got there and were unable to find any place to stay downtown. Sure didn't want to drive all the way to Columbus as tired as we were, but we did find plenty of accommodations once we got to the top of the bluffs north of town.

The next day, we took a ride back to the riverfront park which is worth the visit even if that is all you tour.

but, then there's that beautiful old downtown.

We'll have to come back and spend some more time, perhaps a full day, or maybe two.

Worth a Trip. --RoadDog

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gas Pumping on Recent Road Trip to NC

Ever since the gas gouge began, I've been keeping watch on my gas purchases. I'm liking what I've been seeing lately. NEVER EVER thought I'd see gas below $2 again. But, no complaint from me.

Gas prices are rounded up the .9. For example, $1.87.9 would be listed at $1.88.

Date----- Price-- Gallons-- Spent-- Mileage--Location

Nov. 21-- $1.88-- 8.779-- $16.50-- 21,121-- Morris, Il-- BP station
Nov. 21-- $1.59-- 9.383-- $14.91-- 21,289-- Crawfordsville, Indiana
Nov. 23-- $1.74-- 13.302-- $23.86-- 21,554-- Lexington, Ky
Nov. 23-- $1.64-- 14.596-- $23.92-- 21,849-- Wytheville, Va-- Kangaroo station
Nov. 23-- $1.68-- 7.275-- $12.21-- 21,996-- Princeton, NC-- Hess station
Dec. 3rd- $1.66-- 15.259-- $25.31-- 22,291-- Mebane, NC--Pilot station
Dec. 3rd- $1.60-- 13.699-- $21.90-- 22,571-- Dandridge, Tn--Pilot station
Dec. 4th- $1.60-- 10.631-- $17.00-- 22,794-- White House, Tn--Mapco station
Dec. 4th- $1.50-- 12.791-- $18.27-- 23,039-- Whiteland, In--Pilot station
Dec. 4th- $1.64-- 13.037-- $21.37-- 23,241-- Dwight, Il--BP station

Highest gas prices were in Illinois, West Virginia, and around Asheville, NC. Try to fill up before entering West Virginia, and, if on I-77, you definitely want to get gas in Wytheville, Virginia.

In NC going west on I-40, get gas around Burlington/Mebane and then once you start nearing Knoxville, Tennessee.

Gassing Down Da Road. --RoadDog

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pearl Harbor Anniversary Today

"A Day That Will Live in Infamy." A day that chnaged the life of all Americans back in 1941 as it plunged us into World War II (even though we had been gearing up for it for quite awhile).

This has always been a major historical interest of mine, along with the Alamo, and the Civil War. Thanks to my mom, I was able to visit Pearl Harbor four years ago and went to the USS Arizona Memorial. That oil still coming up from the hull definitely connected me to the event.

I had the students study Pearl Harbor and World War II every year around this time. Lest we forget.

Also so sad to see so many of the Greatest generation passing away. Estimates say that every day, 900 more veterans of that conflict die. Age is doing what enemy bullets and shells couldn't do back then.

The 67th anniversary.

America's Greatest Generation. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Plymouth, Indiana, Quite the Crossroads Center

The Nov. 28th Plymouth (In) Pilot News had a column by Mike Boys called "My View From the Pilot House," in which he talked about the number of major US highways that go through or near Plymouth. And, there are definitely some major ones.

They are featured at the new Crossroads Center at the Marshall County Museum. Here is the list: Michigan Road (US-31), Lincoln Highway (US-31), Yellowstone Trail, Dixie Highway, and the Grand Army of the Republic (US-6).

He gave these roads' alignments through Marshall County as well as a short history of each. The Yellowstone Trail entered Marshall County at the Kosciusko County line at 12B Road and went west to Michigan Road (US-31) to Plymouth, then west on then US-30 to the county line.

The routing of US-6 has remained essentially the same. The Lincoln Highway underwent frequent rerouting and most of the old Michigan Road still exists.

Well Worth a Trip Just to See All Those Old Roads. Now, If They Just Had 66 and the National Road. --RoadDog

Friday, December 5, 2008

Here's the Book for a 'Cue Trip

As I cited in the three barbecue posts, Jim Early's "The Best Tar Heel Barbecue From Manteo to Murphy" is probably the best guide book you can have when pursuing that ultimate Carolina-style stuff.

This guy visited 140 places and lived to write about it. Each entry has a short history and an in depth review of all the foods served. Now, that is a lot of eating.

The book is divided into topographic sections from the western part of the state to the eastern.

Section and sites visited:

Mountains-- 20
Piedmont-- 41
Flatlands-- 60
Coast-- 19

I especially liked the section in the back that is an ideal guide for a road trip. He lists bbq joints located along major routes throughout the state. And, they are I-40, I-77, I-85, I-95, US-421, US-158, US-220, US-64, US-52, US-264, US-70, US-1, US-17, and US-74.

I have personally been the whole distance on US-421 and US-70, but, alas, didn't stop at any. Too bust thinking about Wilber's I guess. Next 421 trip, there will definitely be a stop at Howard's in Lillington, which is owned by the family who also own the town home next to Mom's at Topsail Beach. He once cooked up some great 'cue for an owners meeting. Almost made the meeting worth it.

Next time you get the "hunger," get your hands on a copy of this book.

And Enjoy. --RoadDog

Doin' the 'Cue Thing-- Part 3-- Wilber's-- Goldsboro, NC

Third and Final 'Cue Entry. I dun et enuff!!! No more barbecue for me. As Much as I love the stuff, there comes a time....

The last day of the visit, we went to the grandaddy of them all, Wilber's, located on the US-70 Bypass near the airfields of Seymour Johnson AFB. You occassionally get rattled when those F-15s and F-16s pass nearby.

Love the decor with the old-style wooden slatted chairs, red and white table cloths, and stained pine interior. The environment alone says 'cue. Then, you have that barbeque, hushpuppies, and cole slaw (comes with potato salad, but I like to double up on the slaw). Every forkfull for me has to have both 'cue and slaw.

The price of a platter is $7.50 and includes all of the above. And don't forget the SWEET TEA.

Wilber's has been a family favorite since he opened and our group hails from Goldsboro (where I was born). In 1962, Wilber Shirley and Carl Lyerly bought Hill's Barbecue and renamed it Highway 70 BBQ. A year later, Wilber bought out Carl and changed the name. From 11 employees back then, there are more than 100.

Such notables as Bill Clinton, Geirge W. Bush, governors Jim Hunt and Terry Sanford as well as Sen. Jesse Helms have whet their appetites beside that pine paneling.

Wilber Shirley learned the art of cueing from his father and a 13-year-stint at Griffin's, a former barbecue hotspot in town. He still cooks the whole hog over pits with wood fires. You can see him at the place most days, even at age 78. No easy-life retirement for him.

As Jim Early in his "Best Tar Heel Barbecue" said, "A visit to the beach is not complete without a stop at Wilber's Barbecue.

Mighty Good Stuff, Maynard. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lincoln Highway

John Peterson writes a column for the Emporia (Ks) Gazette. In his Nov. 20th article, he wrote about his hometown of Dekalb, Illinois, and mentioned that barbed wire was invented there and that the Lincoln Highway had once run through it. His sister, a life time Dekalb resident, informed him he was wrong.

The Lincoln Highway still is Main Street through town. A long time ago, US-30 replaced the Lincoln and was moved ten miles south onto an improved road. The old Lincoln Highway was renamed Illinois Highway 38.


1915-- movie star Anita King became the first person to drive the road coast-to-coast.

1914-- the "Seedling Mile" built at Malta, Illinois (6 miles west of Dekalb).

1919-- An Army convoy with a young Lieutenant Dwight Eisenhower drove the length of the road.

1996-- the National Lincoln Highway Association was established in Franklin Grove, Illinois.

1999-- The Lincoln Highway National Museum and Archives opened in Galbion, Ohio.

I attended college in Dekalb at Northern Illinois University. I knew main street was called Lincoln Highway, but never knew why. We did the Lincoln Crawl many times from one bar to another along the old road. This is the main party strip for the school.

Doin' the Lincoln Crawl. --RoadDog

Doin' the Cue Thing, Part 2-- King's Restaurant, Kinston, NC

While in Kinston yesterday, I stopped at King's Restaurant, also off US-70 on the Bypass.

I had the large barbecue plate with two sides, cole slaw and fried okra, for $6.99. Of course, that came with lots of hushpuppies as well. I couldn't finish it.

King's supports the local Civil War efforts. Fifty cents of every bbq sandwich purchase goes to the full-size replica of the CSS Neuse in downtown Kinston. They have four different place mats , two of the CSS Neuse and one each for the first and second battles of Kinston.There is a big display of dug-up Civil War artifacts and pictures as well.

Enjoyed watching the miniature train layout as trains ran about from time to time. One sign proclaimed "Pig Country." No kidding. Not so good for the pigs, however.

One item on the menu was a pig-in-a-puppy sandwich. This is a big pile of bbq in a hushpuppy sandwich. Sounded good, but I was there for the straight bbq stuff. Next time.

Saturday nights, they have a shrimp dinner with cole slaw, fies, and hushpuppies for $4.99.

From The Best Tar Heel Barbecue" by Jim Early.

King's got its start in 1936 when Frank King, Sr., moved his family to the present site of King's Restaurant. To supplement his income, he built a general store. He died a year later, and his son Wilber took over the store. After WW II, a grill was added and later barbecue was added.

During the 50s it was a big teen hangout. During the 60s, the building was remodeled several times and capacity raised to 275.In 1971, they built an 800 seat restaurant, one of the largest 'cue places in the South. Each week, they prepare 8000 pounds of pork, 6,000 pounds of chicken, and 1,500 pounds of collard greens.

They also have a thriving shipping business for those living elsewhere who have to have their eastern Carolina 'cue.

As Arnold Said, "I'll Be Back!" --RoadDog

Doin' the 'Cue Thing-- McCall's Goldsboro, NC

When in eastern Carolina, you eat the cue with plenty of hushpuppies, cole slaw and tea.

I'm visiting my family in Goldsboro and, hey, it's 'cue time.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, we went to McCall's for their lunch buffet. At $7.50, it's all the salads, vegetables, breads, meats, and desserts you want. I was hoping they would also have the Calabash shrimp since it was Friday, and they DID!!!!

Next to barbecue, I awfully fond of that shrimp, so that made up my who;e meal.

Now, this is a great deal.

McCall's is located on the US-70 Bypass at NC Hwy 111 and open 11 am to 9 pm daily.

From "The Best Tar Heel Barbecue" by Jim Early.

Founder Randy McCall bought the equipment from a couple who had a small backyard bbq operation in their backyard and Randy and his partner Worth Westbrook leased a building in 1988 and opened McCall's Barbecue and Seafood and they have been busy ever since.

There is now a second McCall's in Clayton, NC, near Raleigh. It just reopened after being closed by a small plane crashing into it.

How About Opening Another One Up North in Illinois. --RoadDog

Monday, December 1, 2008

Trip to Kinston, NC

Took a ride about 28 miles east of Goldsboro on US-70 to check out Kinston, NC. I had read that there is a full scale replica of the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Neuse, a new Civil War visitors center, and quite a bit of work being done on both battles that took place there. I reported in detail on these in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog. (Saw the elephant is a term soldiers used to describe battle conditions).

Lots of small businesses and farms including many with what appeared at first to be snow, but later proved to be cotton remnants.

I had a picture of a noted Kinston/Lenoir County man by the name of Simon Bright III which had been given to my mother at a reunion. Since he was not from Goldsboro, she felt he'd be best at a historic place in Kinston.

I saw a billboard for the Kinston-Lenoir County Visitors Center on the US-70 Bypass and went there.

The center was financed by the local Pepsi-Cola distributor (New Bern, about 30 miles further east was where Pepsi was invented).

They were more than happy to accept the picture and will either display it or turn it over to another historical agency in the area. If you are into Civil War stuff, this place is for you.

More to Come. --RoadDog