Thursday, December 31, 2009

NTN/Buzztime 2009

I set a personal record by visiting 142 new sites this past year. These are all first-time visits for Liz and myself. Whenever on a trip, we are always looking for new places to play.

States and places played:

North Carolina-- 4
Virginia-- 1 (first-ever Virginia site)
Iowa-- 15
Florida-- 8
Wisconsin-- 4
Missouri-- 17
Oklahoma-- 1
Illinois-- 22
South Carolina-- 24
West Virginia-- 7
Alabama-- 5
Indiana-- 16
Ohio-- 13
Kentucky-- This gives a total of 858 NTN-Buzztime Sites I've visited.

Way Too Much Time Playing the Game. --RoadDog

The Jefferson Highway

November 18th Carthage (Mo) Press "Louisiana man travels Jefferson Highway from Canada to New Orleans"

Not as well-known as the Lincoln Highway and definitely Route 66 (as folks in southwest Missouri well-know), but the Jefferson Highway ran from Winnipeg, Canada, to New Orleans from 1916 to 1926 when the named highways were given numbers. US-71 shadows the old Jefferson most of the way.

Mike Conlin is the man pushing the old Jefferson Highway and has a blog about it.

Back in its heyday, it was called the Palm to Pine Highway and was a vital part of the National Auto Trail System.

It is still called the Jefferson Highway around Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Wadena, Minnesota. It passed through Alexandria and Shreveport, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Baxter Springs and Paola, Kansas; Carthage and Lee's Summit, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Conlin is selling Jefferson Highway merchandise and advertising, but doesn't expect to get rich. This effort is more of a hobby.

web site

Just Another Named Highway. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tidbits: Indiana-- Iowa-- Missouri-- Ohio

From American Some interesting facts.

INDIANA-- Oldenburg (pop. 647) was incorporated in 1869 by German settlers. Called "Village of Spires" because of its many churches.

IOWA-- Exira (pop. 810) has "The Plow in the Oak Tree. The handles and part of the blade stick out of a live bur oak. Legend has it that a farmer was plowing his field when Union soldiers passed by on their way to the Civil War. He leaned the plow against a sapling, joined the soldiers and the tree grew around it.

Good story. I'll have to check it out next time through.

MISSOURI-- Cuba (pop. 3,230) has the world's largest rocking chair a little ways west of town on Route 66 at the Fanning US--66 Outpost and General Store where you can also get your Route 66 wine. This is a new attraction along the old road.

Cuba is also called the City of Murals and has an authentic Route 66 motel on the 1920s Wagon Wheel Motel with its giraffe stone.

OHIO-- Columbus is home of the nation's largest college campus by enrollment at Ohio State University with 53,715 students. I am not a Buckeye fan at all, however.

Columbus and OSU have a connection to the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant chain. Two Ohio Stae students from Buffalo, NY, were not happy with the wings around Columbus and started the chain.

Always Something Interesting. --RoadDog

Monday, December 28, 2009

How Bleak is Route 66's Future?-- Part 2

Back to the March-April 2008 Preservation magazine article.

Two articles accompanied the pictures. The first one, "Scenes from an Open Road" by Ann Beattie, did a great job summing the old road in my opinion.

"Route 66 was the Romantics' toad, an optimistic road, the 'Mother Road,' as John Steinbeck called it in The Grapes of Wrath. It was going to stretch thousands of miles and provide travelers with unique places to eat and to spend the night as they made their journeys, their individual journeys that nevertheless took them to many of the same places accomplishing something, or perhaps searching for the holy grail of relaxation.

It was a road that had pride of place, and also a sense of humor: The neon signs you found there were illustrative, but many were created to amuse. If the Saturday morning cartoons appealed to the kids, the cowboys on bucking broncos and 10-foot-high hamburgers dripping neon-red ketchup, pointing to diners along Route 66, were there to make the grownups smile.

The signs were either so understated they were plaintive ('vacancy'), or they were happily hyper; the leaping lizards and sky-high ladies whirling lassos described something that wasn't exactly true, but wasn't entirely false, either. The wonderlands they blinked at and pointed to were outdoor graphic novels: The talk and visuals were interrelated; the world was telling its story and you-- assuming you weren't too cool to converse-- were telling yours."

Man, I sure wish I could write like this, but that will never happen.

Great summation Ann Beattie.

Still Gettin' My Kicks. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Bleak is Route 66's Future?

I'm finally getting around to reading the many, many back issues of magazines that I have accumulated.

The March-April 2008 issue of Preservation Magazine of the national Trust for Historic Preservation had an article by Ann Beattie featuring the photography of Edward Keating who has won a Pulitzer Prize for Photojournalism.

They are in black and white and, in my opinion paint a really bleak picture of the road as it appears today. Nothing but ruins and even the places doing well look bare and sparse.

It said that Keating had "spent many hours traveling Route 66, capturing its landscapes and historic architecture." Much of the the shots were in the west, which with its vast openness, tends to always look barren and bleak, especially in black and white.

Pictures were of the La Mesa Motel in Santa Rosa, NM, two pictures of ghost town Glenrio, Texas, the cross near Groom, Tx. and an abandoned motel and the ruined Triangle Motel in Amarillo, Texas.

Operating motels were the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Mo, Western Motel near OKC,, Blue Swallow in Tucumcari (where the daytime shot did absolutely nothing for that wondrous old sign) and Route 66 Motel (formerly the Royal Palacio) in Tucumcari.

To believe these shots, Route 66 is on its last legs with an undeniably bleak future.

Personally, I have to disagree and Will Discuss the Subject Later. --RoadDog

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Merry Christmas to You

I finished watching my three favorite Christmas movies earlier today. That would be #1 "A Christmas Story," #2 "Christmas Vacation" and #3 "It's a Wonderful Life."

Today, the Chicago Tribune ran its list of Top Ten Christmas Movie Favorites.

1. A Christmas Story (1983)

2. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (TV-1966)

3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

4. The Santa Clause (1994)

5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

6. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV-1964)

7. White Christmas (1954)

8. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

9. Elf (2003)

10. Love Actually (2003)

I never heard of #10. WHAT!! No "Christmas Vacation?" By the way, this year is the 20th anniversary of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Well Done.

Happy Christmas Trails to You. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Bad Was It?-- The Lincoln Highway in 1915-- Part 4

Continuing the "fun"trip across Iowa way back then, before "hard surface roads."

In a magazine article in Motor Age, Bement wrote that "Joy was having the time of his life...he laid on his back in 18 inches of gumbo mud with the rain in his face and examined parts to see how they were standing up."

We have pictures of them fixing a brake west of Ames, Iowa, May 31st, then adjusting them. Next, they are fording what appears to be a stream, but is actually the highway west of Boone. The water eventually got to what they called "within 10 inches of tops of fence posts."

June 1st, breakfast was again taken on the side of the road. No McDonald's Dollar breakfast selections for them.

I Think I Would Even Stick With an Interstate at This Point. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not Your Ordinary House-- "A Christmas Story"-- Part 3

Sadly to say, only the exterior and backyard scenes (the Black Bart shootout) were shot here. Fake snow had to be brought in because of lack of the stuff. Interior shots were filmed on a sound stage in California. The tire changing/really bad word and tongue on the flagpole scenes were filmed in Canada.

However, owner Brian Jones, has done a great job replicating the interior to the way we remember it from the movie from the lamp, its shipping crate and the bar of soap. You don't see do not touch signs as visitors are encouraged to re-enact as many scenes as they desire. You can even sit in the kitchen cupboard where Randy. Mommie's Little Piggy, sat when he thought Dad was going to kill Raphie.

Jones, a California native, bought the house in December 2005 for $150,000, after seeing it listed on e-Bay. He spent an additional $250,000 putting it back into its movie form (it had been modernized into a duplex).

It opened Thanksgiving weekend 2006 and this past August had its 100,000th visitor. Of course, there are many others who stop by and just peek into the windows.

Definitely on My List of Places to Go. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not Your Ordinary House-- "A Christmas Story"-- Part 2

The article says that even when the house is closed, folks still come by to see that holuiest of holy grails, THE MAJOR AWARD from Italy "fra-gil-le" that gave off "the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window."

You know, the infamous bane of Mom, the LEG LAMP!!!

It's the house of that holiday classic, and my favorite seasonal movie, "A Christmas Story."

I have lost count of how many times I have seen it, but anxiously anticipate seeing it in a few days when TBS has the 24-hour marathon starting at 6 PM Christmas Eve. Good old Ted for remembering us.


The 1983 movie has become a cult classic. If you're like me, you can almost say the lines as they are happening on screen. The house and its infamous furnace and questionable electric wiring, was built in Cleveland in 1895. The movie's creators were searching for a house with a 1940s feel and I'd have to say this one was perfect casting.

This one, unlike the Delta House from "Animal House" is still standing and in better shape than ever.

Not Falling for the Tongue/Flagpole Trick...Again. --RoadDog

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Your Ordinary House-- "A Christmas Story"-- Part 1

It is in Cleveland, Ohio, but it supposedly was in Hammond, Indiana, and a famous holiday movie was filmed there. Actually, mu favorite all-time Christmas movie, beating out #2 "Christmas Vacation and #3 "It;s a Wonderful Life." I refer to "A Christmas Story."

The house still stands even though a considerable amount of money has been spend to take it back to its appearance in the 1940s.

The December 6th Chicago Tribune had a nice article by Phil Marty about this holiest of bb gun palaces, where Ralphie, his mom and dad and brother Randy lived in Hammond, Indiana, but actually, it is located in Cleveland.

A Christmas Story House and Museum can be found at 3159 West 11th Street in Cleveland, about 345 miles from Chicago. More information at:

I'm Not Finished Yet. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mary Lincoln's "Personal Prison" Along the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 3

Mary Lincoln also started marshaling the support of friends, some in powerful places, and got her release September 10, 1975. She then moved to Springfield and lived with her sister. Time was spent traveling in Europe, before returning to Springfield and dying there at age 62 July 16, 1882.

Today, you can see the bed and dresser supposedly used by her at the Batavia Depot Museum. There is also a hospital ledger with notes on her moods and activities. One of these from may 20, 1875, reads "Case is one of mental impairment which possibly dates back to the murder of President Lincoln-- More pronounced since the death of her son, but especially aggravated during the last 2 months."

I have to wonder if she ever forgave her son Robert?

It is not known for sure which room she was in, but most believe it was on the second floor in what is now Apartment 2A.

The building stands a little ways off Illinois Highway-31 which also used to be the Lincoln Highway (interesting connection). A small brown sign explains the Lincoln connection of the building. Most of the once-sprawling grounds have been sold off, but there is still a garden out front.

Historians have long been divided on whether Mary Lincoln was insane or not. Some believe she was, others think she was the victim of an uncaring son.

But, Something to See Your Next Trip on the Lincoln. --RoadDog

How Bad Was It? The Lincoln Highway in 1915-- Part 3

Continuing with Henry Joy's photos from 1915 as shown in the Lincoln Highway Association's Spring 2008 Forum.

Nearing the town of Lamoille in Iowa, more difficulties were encountered, namely, stuck in the mud again.

Another phot was of a wash-out east of Ames May 31st. The road had been literally washed away near what appears to be a bridge. Another shows the crossing of a two foot washout a short time later.

They had to put new tire chains on west of Ames.

Then there was mud, mud, mud, and then some more mud in all the pictures.

Mud wasn't the only problem. On the afternoon of the 31st, a brake had to be repaired and adjusted.

I'm sure they were happy to later find a team of four horses "dragging" the Lincoln Highway near Ames on the 31st. The horses were pulling several wooden contraptions across the dirt with two me standing in the back. This stretch was actually looking non-rutted, flat, and dry. Joy and party must have been smiling.

This little part of the trip continues next entry.

And We Complain About the Occasional Roadwork. --RoadDog

Here's a Blog About One of Our favorite Route 66 Towns

I came across the Historic Tulsa Blog which on December 15th had an entry on the 11th Street Bridge which for so many years carried Route 66 traffic through town. Several pictures accompanied it, including ones from 1817, 1936 and several from 2009. It is a reinforced concrete multi span structure across the Arkansas River.

In 1929, it was altered to add ornate Zig Zag art deco and PWA Classical-oriented art deco sides. Currently, it is closed, in disrepair and unsafe even for foot traffic.

Plans are in effect to restore it and make it the center piece of a Route 66 center.

Here's what David Wickline had to say about it in his "Images of 66" book:

"The Cyrus Avery 11thy Street Bridge (19158) spanning the Arkansas River, Tulsa. This multi-span concrete arch bridge has both Zigzag Art Deco and Classical Oriented Art Deco (OK, I'm going to have to find out what these are) styling. It was used by Route 66 travelers from 1926-1973. The new I-244 Interstate Bridge was practically built on top of the 11th Street Bridge at the western end."

Why Dis the Chicken Cross the Bridge? --RoadDog

David Wicklines 66 Roadhouse-- Part 3-- Good eating Continued

Keeping with the Route 66 model, David's menu contains great road food located along the Mother Road as well as auxiliary food items and names.

Some examples:


66 Sunrise Special-- $4.66

Betty Boop Blueberry Hill Pancakes-- $4.66

Wide-A-Wake Coffee-- 5 cents


Cotton Eyed Joe's Pulled Pork-- $8.66

Texas Style CFS (Country Fried Steak)-- $8.66

Cowboy Pan Seared Steak-- $9.99 (Hey, it's under $10!)


Route 60 Chop Salad-- $3.66 side, $6.69 dinner

Tumbleweed Steak Salad-- $6.66 (Oops, that Could be devilish)


Roadhouse Chilli-- $3.99 cup $5.66 bowl

These are just some of the offerings in each category. Go on line to find the whiole thing.

Where's Dave Come Up With All These Names. And I'm Not Finished Yet. --RoadDog

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mary Lincoln's "Personal Prison" Along the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 2

Mary Todd Lincoln's son Robert, by this time was a prominent lawyer in Chicago, initiated court proceedings to have his mother involuntarily committed. After a three hour hearing, a Cook County jury found Mary to be insane and the next day she was taken to Bellevue Place.

This was not one of those horrible public insane asylums you so often hear about from the late 1800s. Bellevue catered to wealthy women and took more of a modern approach to the insane, advising plenty of bed rest and fresh air as well as activities such as piano and croquet. A period advertisement referred to it as a place "For the insane of the Private Class." Definitely not your pc-speak of today.


Even so, Mary Lincoln considered this place akin to prison.

An August 1875 letter said "It does not appear that God is good, to have placed me here." She said prayers three times a day to let her out, but to no avail. "I have worshipped my son and no unpleasant word ever passed between us, yet I can not understand why I should have been brought out here."

Historians report that she constantly lobbied for her release and that as time went on, she became more incensed that he would have placed her there.

No Place for a First Lady. --RoadDog

Mary Lincoln's "Personal Prison" Along the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 1

August 2, 2006, Chicago Tribune "Mrs. Lincoln's 'prison'" by Colleen Mastony.

Go to Batavia, Illinois, and there is a building called Bellevue Place apartments. Today people live here by choice if they have enough money, but back in the 1800s, it was an insane asylum for mentally disturbed female patients. In 1875, one First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln was involuntarily committed there by her son Robert.

There is a picture of the building with resident Chris Johnson in front of it. He occupies Apartment 2A where Mary is believed to have stayed.

Descendants of a Lincoln family lawyer were cleaning out an attic in 2005 and found a trunk with 25 old letters,20 written by Mary Lincoln herself and 11 from when she was at Batavia.


After Lincoln's death, Mary moved to Chicago, first living in the Tremont House, a fancy downtown hotel, then bought a house at 1304 W. Washington Street in Hyde Park that still stands. I guess there would be too many memories to return to her home in Springfield.

Insanity allegations started in 1875 as her behavior became more erratic. Supposedly, she walked around with $56,000 sewed into her petticoat, visited clairvoyants to communicate with the dead, and even reported that someone on a train had tried to put poison in her coffee.

Crazy or Not? You Decide. More to Come. --RoadDog

How Bad Was It? Lincoln Highway in 1915-- Part 2

Continuing with the photos in the Spring 2009 Lincoln Highway Forum of Henry Joy's 1915 trip by auto from Detroit to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. This being back in the real early days of the nation's road system, conditions were extremely bad, especially in Iowa which had had torrential rains turning the dirt Lincoln Highway into a regular quagmire.

Pictures of the car showed chains on it to get through the mud. At one place east of Marshalltoen May 31st, it took four hours to get dislodged. A team of horses is present (horses to pull a car out). Another photo is of "The new Fill east of Marshalltown where we were sunk the night of the 30th" according to Joy's caption. This photo showed a team of four horses pulling a flat board over some huge ruts with water clearly standing in it.

And breakfasts in this stretch were taken alongside the road, not in some nice restaurant. I guess no Made-Rite loose meat sandwiches for them.

First entry Dec. 15th.

Out Stuck in the Mud for Some More. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good News for Route 66 in Illinois-- Part 2

I just remembered a good Bob and Peggy Kraft story from the Riviera.

The first time we drove Route 66 in Illinois back in 2002 (at least drove it as hooked 66 nuts, I'm sure we drove it while it was Route 66 but back then, it was just another road), we stopped at the Riviera.

We told the bartender this was our first time on Route 66. She told Peggy Kraft, who came out and talked to us. Bob had already retired for the night, but she went upstairs and made him come down to meet us. Poor guy probably didn't want to do it, but when Peggy said do it, you did it. Well, on second thought, he probably was happy to do it.

It was fun talking to Bob, but even better the next time when he was "hiolding court" behind the bar and swigging all those shots. I didn't ask, but they had to be watered down. With that number of shots, I would have been on the floor and might have had to climb those steps to get at the skyhigh toilet in the bathroom.

Either way, it was just one more thing that got us hooked on Route 66.

Sure Glad to See the Place Open Again. --RoadDog

Good News for Route 66 in Illinois

I already mentioned it, but the December 15th Braidwood (Il) Journal (right up the road from Gardner, ran an article about the reopening of the great old, 80 year-old Riviera, which had been essentially closed since owners Bob and Peggy Kraft decided the time had come to retire (and deservedly so since they had run the place since the '70s).

After a rocky start with a short-lived opening back in September, issues have been settled and the venerable place will now be open seven days a week. Even better, it will be managed by long-time worker Tracy Storm who has been there 29 years Also, 26-year veteran waitress Betty will once again be serving up that great food.

And, speaking of food, they are bringing back Peggy Kraft's famous dishes and expanding the menu. It is rumored that every so often, a famous bartender will make a return appearance behind the bar he manned for all those years, that is, if he can get a ride since he never had a drivers license and he will be happy to tell you why.

Hopefully, they haven't changed anything inside.

We stopped by there when returning from the MoTour back in September, but the place was closed because of the difficulties with the town.

Getting Hungry About Now. Do They Serve Breakfast? --RoadDog

Tulsa's Queen Hotel, Back Again and Better

Route 66 fans have to be happy that the 1925 Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mayo Hotel has been saved from a date with the demolition team and is now open again. The 18 story hotel closed in 1981.

In the 1980s, a really bad restoration effort stripped the building of much of its remaining splendor. In 2001, the Snyder family bought it for $250,000 and $40 million has been spent bringing it back to its former glory. The city even kicked in $4.9 million in its efforts to revitalize downtown.

Tulsa began a rapid rise in stature starting in 1901 when oil was discovered in the Red Fork area, bringing riches and making millionaires out of many. The Mayo housed the rich, powerful and famous in its 600 rooms when it opened.

Today, you can get a room there or, even live full time in it as the seven upper floors are being turned into apartment lofts.

Of course, downtown Tulsa is one big collection of art deco-style buildings, my favorite. I'm not sure, but I think when I was there for the 2003 Route 66 Festival, they were using the lobby for weddings and events.

A Definite Stop the Next Visit, But I Have the Feeling I Wouldn't Care to Spend the Dough to Stay There. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Passing of Bob Waldmire

Word is all over Route 66dom of the passing of Bob Waldmire at 8:30 this morning. The road just won't be the same.

No more seeing that raggedy old Volkswagen van at Route 66 events.

However, very few people get to live their lives exactly as they wanted.

Guess I will never get Bob to make my RoadDog logo.

The funeral will be Sunday.

Happy Trails Ye Son Of 66. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How Bad Was It? Lincoln Highway in 1915-- Part 1

The Spring 2009 Lincoln Highway Forum ran a group of pictures from a 1915 Lincoln Highway trip by LHA President Henry Joy, LHA Secretary Austin Bement and mechanic E. Eisenhut who drove the new road from Detroit to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in a new Packard Twin-Six.

The weather was great until they hit Iowa and the deluge came, turning the road into a quagmire of sucking mud.

Henry Joy kept a photo album of the trip which is now at the Bentley Library at the University of Michigan.

The late-great Gregory M. Franzwa, Mr. Lincoln Highway put the article together.

The pictures in this installment began east of Marshalltown, Iowa, May 30, 1915, and it took them two days to get to Ames, a trip that today would take less than an hour. But that was then.

A Close Up Look at an Early Road. --RoadDog

Illinois Tidbits

I strongly recommend going to the American Profile Magazine site and checking out tidbits which are listed by state. Mighty interesting stuff there.

I have three about Illinois.

LINCOLN (15,369)-- The only town in the US named for Abraham Lincoln BEFORE he became president. There is a statue of a watermelon near the train station commemorating the town's christening when Lincoln supposedly did it with watermelon juice. Spitting? Yuck, spit. Even if it is Abe's.

The town is also really pushing its Route 66 heritage.

CAROL STREAM (40,438)-- Incorporated in 1959 and named after developer Jay Stream's daughter Carol who was badly injured in n auto accident in 1957 but recovered to see her namesake prosper. Hey, nobody's ever named a town RoadDog. It's about time.

ELDORADO (4,534)-- was originally named Elder-Reado after founders Judge Elder and Joseph Read. Legend has it that a railroad sign painter thought the spelling was incorrect and changed it.

So, Now You Know. --RoadDog

Down Da Road: Nat'l Road-- Don's-- Recommended

Some Old News/New News About Those Old Roads.

Theses go back about a year, but still interesting.

1. NAT'L ROAD-- The Mattoon (IL) Journal Gazette reported that the National Road Association of Illinois received a $62,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways Program for a travel guide to US-40/National Road sites in the state.

It will be the first comprehensive guide to the state's 164 mile stretch. It was hoped to be out by spring 2009. I didn't see it, but hoping it is as good as Ohio's guide to the National Road which sets the standard for state guides as far as I'm concerned.

2. DON'S-- From the December 19, 2008 Des Moines Register. There is a 1930s era terra cotta gas station at 203 East Grand Avenue Avenue. It was called Don's East Grand Service and was run by Don Roberts. It closed in August and the Des Moines Rehabbers put it on a list of 7 buildings in danger of neglect or demolition.

It was built in 1931 and is in the mission-style. The property sold for $300,000.

3. RECOMMENDED-- Jan. 13, 2009 mentioned two recommended scenic byways:

Wis. 33 from Portage to Lacrosse, 114 miles, mostly rural two lane.
Wis. 60 from Lodi (Hey, that's a Creedence song!) to the Great River Road near Prairie du Chien.

Old Stuff is Better Than No Stuff. --RoadDog

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mesker Me

The Mesker Company produced decorative sheet metal embossed with decorative objects which were used on the fronts of many downtown buildings in the late 1800s early 1900s (1885-1915 especially). This was a cheaper way to spruce up the front of your building and many business owners took advantage of it.

There were at least 54,000 Mesker installations across the nation with nearly 7,00 in Illinois. Indiana and Missouri had the second and third most Meskers. They fronts were produced in St. Louis and Evansville, Indiana, which accounts for why those three states had the most.

The Mesker business survived into the 1980s, before going under in 1986. Mesker Brothers Iron Works is now Mesker Doors, a maker of metal doors and frames operating out of Huntsville, Alabama.

Illinois is doing a survey of Mesker buildings.

Got Mesker? Look Around Your Town. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Down Da 66: Mayo-- Riviera

Some New News About an Old Road.

Good news to report along Route 66.

1. MAYO-- the famous old Mayo Hotel, hub of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, reopened officially on December 3rd. The hotel opened in 1925 and there for awhile was threatened with demolition, but after a lot of money was spent, you can stay there again, but most likely way too expensive for a poor soul such as I.

2. RIVIERA-- Also glad to see that the Riviera Restaurant in Gardner, Illinois, reopens this weekend. Hopefully the food and atmosphere will remain as it was before. Next time down, we'll be checking it out.

Great News Along the Route. --RoadDog

So, That's Utopia

Driving to work at Round Lake Middle School in Round Lake Heights, Illinois, the last two years I worked before retirement, I often wondered about a sign that said "Utopia" over a driveway along Rollins Road west of Fairfield.

I now found out what it is all about. The December 9th Chicago Tribune had an article titled "Lake County takes out its shopping list" by Krystyna Slivinski abut the Lake County Forest Preserve District going on a buying spree thanks to a $185 million referendum passed by tax payers last year.

The bad economy has caused many developers and other landowners to look to get rid of their property. Lake County, part of the Chicagoland Metropolitan Area, is one of the fastest growing areas in the US as the city sprawls outward. It has become very important to preserve as much open land as possible and as soon as possible.


One of those sites was owned by Becky Worozaken of Arlington Heights, whose grandparents purchased a few parcels of land west of Fairfield Road along what today is Rollins Road. Over the years, they slowly added to it until it today has ten acres.

Her father Alfred Hanson spent all his spare time planting trees, building bridges and ponds, landscaping and mowing. Evidently, he turned this into a place that could truly be called "Utopia." However, her father died five years ago and the family doesn't want to do the upkeep.

The land is located next to the district's Grant Woods Forest Preserve which makes it even better.

The Forest Preserve District bought the land for $535,000, about $200,000 less than it was worth during the recent boom times.

I am looking forward to when this new site is opened.

The drive along Rollins Road from Fairfield to Wilson roads is one of the prettiest in the state.

Must Be Utopia. --RoadDog

Next Up. the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 4

I did a little research on these two murals.


In 1900, the population of the city was 24,147. Today, 171,782 call it home. It was one of the first US cities to go to an all-electric street lighting system in 1881. Before that, streets were illuminated by gas lamps or not at all.

In 1908, the name "Aurora: The City of Lights" was officially adopted.

From Wikipedia


Pilcher Park is now called Pilcher Park Nature Center and still exists, offering hiking, biking and cross country trails. It is part of the Joliet Park District which was established in 1922 and today consists of 660 heavily treed acres. You Tube had a feature on a "Ride Through Pilcher Park" on a motorcycle.

Sections of the park can be rented.

I came across nothing about the old tent city, but hope they put up a marker at the site and see if there is anything left of it.

Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground. --RoadDog

Next Up, the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 3


This one shows the city's early electric street lighting system and is scheduled to be installed near the end of this year near New York and Broadway streets. The installation of these caused Aurora to be called "The City of Lights" by 1908.

Work on the Joliet one started a couple weeks ago and will be installed on the side Thayer Brothers Deli & Grill, 738 Ruby Street. This one shows the city's Pilcher Park in 1923 when it was used as a tent camp for travelers. These travel camps were a predecessor of today's motels. In 1923, about 9,000 people stayed there. The deli was chosen because of its busy location.

The murals and gazebos are all part of an effort to increase the Lincoln Highway's presence for townspeople and travelers.

The murals are being painted by Jay Allen, president of Shaw Craft Company in Machesney Park, Illinois and two others. He has spent hours of research looking at newspaper clippings and old photographs to insure accuracy.

Joliet, of course, is also known for its location on Route 66. But the Lincoln Highway goes through it as well, making it one of only two places the roads intersect (the other is in Plainfield, Illinois, on a different Route 66 alignment).

This coming June, the Lincoln Highway Association will be having its national convention in Dixon, Illinois and I am hoping to be able to attend it for the first time.

Looking Forward to Seeing Them. --RoadDog

Friday, December 11, 2009

Talkin' About US-6-- Part 2

The Nebraska Route 6 Tourist Association wants travelers to stop at the Filling Station Restorations on Saunders Avenue in the heart of Sutton. Sutton, population 8,081, is located in the southeastern part of the state and is where I-80, US-81 and US-6 intersect.

The Filling Station started out as Chris Lieb's private workshop where he restored antique cars. It didn't take long to outgrow his garage and when a building at 120 S. Saunders Avenue became available, he and his wife Barb bought it.

The back 2/3rds is full of his restoration area. The front was originally planned for his cars, but now it is becoming a Roadie-Paradise with murals painted by Carrie Bergen and other road items.

It is not open to the public yet, however, but plans are in place for it to be soon.

Something Else to Visit. --RoadDog

Next Up, the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 2

The two new murals in Aurora and Joliet will join 17 interpretive gazebos constructed mostly in the last year. These gazebos, in conspicuous places, not only offer a spot of shade, but through panels, tell the story of the Lincoln Highway and its impact on the town they're located in.

In addition, other murals have been installed in the towns of Creston, Dekalb and Rochelle. A total of 40 of them are planned for the route.

It is hoped that these murals will get families off the interstates to experience the shops, restaurants and small-town USA. The sooner they realize that the drive is as much a part of the trip as the destination, like us road folk, they more enjoyment they will have. As we see it, the trip is every bit as important as where you're headed.

All of this doesn't come free. The murals alone are valued at $10,000 apiece and are funded by grants from the Federal Highway Administration and the Illinois Department of Commerce. I don't know what the gazebos cost or who pays for it, but would figure that to be around $10,000 each as well.

I myself am a member of both the Route 66 Association of Illinois and the Lincoln Highway Association of Illinois. So I am into those old asphalt strips.

Crusin' Down That Old Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Next Up, the Lincoln Highway in Illinois-- Part 1

The December 9th Chicago Tribune "Murals to tell Lincoln Highway history" by Patrick Ferrell.

This article is primarily about the two 200-foot long murals in Joliet and Aurora, Illinois. Aurora downtown was a scary place in the early 1900s until the city spent lots of money for streetlights. Travelers camped in Joliet's Pilcher Park in the days before motels.

Both cities were connected by America's first transcontinental road, the Lincoln Highway which ran 179 miles across Illinois from Lynwood on the east by Indiana to Fulton on the Mississippi.

Both Indiana and Illinois were the first states to have what were called
Seedling Miles" which were paved mile stretches to show the possibilities of a national series of "hard" roads (meaning those that were paved).

The very first "seedling mile" was by Malta (west of Dekalb and home of Northern Illinois University as I sit here typing in my Huskies tee shirt). It is located in front of Kishwaukee College.

Back to Lincoln. --RoadDog

Talkin' About US-6-- Part 1

From the Nov. 4th York (NE) News-Times. "Route 6 landmark opens in Sutton."

I tell you, Route 6 can't get no respect. None at all. Folks only hear about Route 66 and maybe the Lincoln Highway or National Road, but rarely does the Grand Army of the Republic Highway (or is it Road) come up.

Such disrespect for the second longest highway in the US (#1 US-20 is 120 miles longer).

Like most early numbered US highway, US-6 was put together by a series of existing roads from Cape Cod to California and it could also be called the Capital Road as it passes through five state capitals, including Lincoln in Nebraska.

I have driven stretches of it through Iowa and Illinois. It's another road I want to drive the entire length.

It's a 6 Thing, You Might Not Understand. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

David Wickline's 66 Roadhouse-- Part 2-- Good Eatin' at the Roadhouse

The address of his place is 480 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Worthington, Ohio. It is just south of I-275 on the north side of Columbus. You can find the web site at

Phone 614-505-6140.

He serves breakfast as well and features 5 cent cups of Wide-A-Wake coffee since he has an old sign that says "Coffee 5 Cents." Most of the prices on the menu end in 66 cents.

One really fine appetizer is the CFB as in Country-Fried Bacon. Never had anything like it before.

No item on the menu is over $9.99! Something I can definitely live with. That $9.99 item is a thick-cut 8 ounce Cattleman's Pan-fried sirloin sprinkled with cactus dust. (I would have to find out exactly what cactus dust is.)

More Good Eatin' to Come. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 Thanksgiving Trip to NC-- Part 4

IS WEST VIRGINIA TURNING CHICAGO?-- It appears the West Virginia Turnpike is pulling a page out of the Chicago playbook, and that is that they significantly jumped the price of driving along I-77 south of Charleston. I am fairly sure that the last time I drove it, it cost $1.25 at each of the three toll plazas. It was $2 at each this time. Big increases is a Chicago trick. Seriously cuts into my bbq eating funds.

At least the people taking your money were friendly and pleasant, unlike on the Illinois tollways where gruff is often what you get for your dough.

WHAT'S WITH THOSE WV GAS PRICES?-- I always try to fill up in Ohio or Virginia as West Virginia ALWAYS has higher gas prices. It is usually 20 cents higher off the interstate and this last time, $2.95 at the oases. Never understood why their gas prices would be so high. Must be a COAL THING.

FRIGHTENING TRUCK RUNAWAY LANES-- It always gives a moment of reflection when I drive the last miles of I-77 in Virginia coming down out of the mountains and see the signs saying truck runaway lane ahead. The last thing I would want to see is one of those big rigs coming up behind me as full speed as that grill gets bigger and bigger in the rear view mirror. Probably WOULD be the last thing I saw.

However, I'd rather have these lanes going up the side of the mountains than not. Something I can live with.

TUNNELING MY WAY THROUGH THE APPS-- Don't forget to turn on and off your lights at the two long tunnels you go through on I-77. Boy, those trucks really fly through these. Guess there is no fear that old Barney might be running a radar.

It's a Road Thing, You Wouldn't Understand. --RoadDog

David Wickline's 66 Roadhouse-- Part 1

Back on November 24th, I wrote about visiting David Wickline's 66 Roadhouse Bar and Grille north of Columbus, Ohio.

The stated reason was to have him sign my copy of his "Images of 66 Vol. I." We had bought it from Laurel Kane at Afton Station back on our 2006 end-to-end Route 66 trip and found it very useful on the rest of our trip. We didn't have to take as many pictures and his captions provided excellent information. As I said before, anyone considering taking a trip on 66 really needs to have this book along with Jerry McClanahan's "E-Z Guide."

At Laurel's suggestion, we had people sign pictures of their places along the way as an extra keepsake. I bought his "Images of 66 Vol. 2 from him at the 2008 Route 66 Festival in Litchfield, Illinois.

My belief is that David really took the idea of showing off his collection to the extreme. Imagining opening up a restaurant and bar just to show it off. Now that is some commitment to the old road.

Since Route 66 is nowhere near Columbus, this place also just might get more people interested in the road, an added bonus.

Up Next, His Collection and Food. --RoadDog

Monday, December 7, 2009

Road-Travelin' Tunes

This past trip to North Carolina was a country one as far as CDs I listened to going and coming. These were all in the letter "A" and ones I had not gotten around to listening to earlier.

Of course, I was also careful to do a radio check from time to time. I found a really good station from Farmer City, Illinois, which played blues, bluegrass, Americana and all sorts of stuff you don't hear often on the radio. It goes over the web so I now have it as an alternative station when I am not listening to the Beach Music Ones.

It goes by the name "The Whip." I'm not sure if it is strictly local or if there is a national network that the local one taps into.

The four CDs I listened to:

"X"-- Trave Adkins
"Honesty"-- Rodney Atkins
"Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll"-- Keith Anderson
"Triple Feature"-- by Alabama. This was a compilation of their first three albums: "My Home's in Alabama," "Feels So Right," and "Mountain Music." I have all three on albums, but haven't listened to them in years. Really good stuff.

Kickin' It Out on Da Road. --RoadDog

Eating Around Goldsboro, NC-- Part 2


I should also mention the great Carolina bbq sandwich I had at Dowdy-Ficklin stadium in Greenville when I attended the East Carolina-Southern Mississippi game Nov. 29th. This puts the stadium right at the top of my list when it comes to REALLY GREAT football food.

It cost $5 and filled me up to the point I didn't want a second one, even though I thought about it.

We were hoping the Dail fried chicken restaurant in Snow Hill mentioned as the best in North Carolina would be open on our way back to Goldsboro, but it was still closed. Obviously, it is closed on Saturdays.

I did try a Hardee's Thickburger for the first time when we got back to Goldsboro. This is one really good sandwich, right up there with McDonald's Angus Burger.


Located in downtown Goldsboro and in business since around 1905. My great Grandfather often ate here as it was just a block from his tire store. A few years ago it was majorly renovated and updated. A great place to get in the Christmas spirit with all the decorations inside and out.

Mom had boasted about how good their Friday flounder dinner special was, so tried it. She was right.

For $8.26, we got two large filets, two sides, and some really fine old-timey biscuits. I could have made a meal just on those biscuits.

Good Eatin' in e Neighborhood. --RoadDog

Pearl Harbor Day

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the event that sent the US officially into World War II. I say "officially" because it was very apparent we were preparing for the war years in advance.

How we were caught so much by surprise is still a mystery to me. It should never have happened.

I have written many entries about Pearl Harbor on my blog.

Sadly, the ranks of the survivors of the event grow thinner every passing day.

Pearl Harbor is a major interest of mine ever since I read Walter Lord's book "Day of Infamy" back in junior high. My students had a one and later three day mini lesson on it the last twenty years I taught.

This is also my seventh entry for the month.

The Greatest Generation. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Down Da Road: The Ten Foot Rooster-- Luminary Tour

Some New News About Old Roads.

1. THE TEN FOOT ROOSTER-- I came across an article in the Nov. 13th Orlando (Fl) Sentinel about Barberville Produce in Pierson, Florida, that sounds like a real good place to stop when you're in the state. It is a two acre menagerie of all sorts of stuff, including a ten foot high rooster that you can take home for $2,300 and become the envy or scourge of your neighborhood.

The place is located at the intersection of US-17 and Florida Highway 40.

You can also buy cast iron Clydesdale's, buffalo, bears, lions, alligators and street lights. There is also a scale model of the Statue of Liberty placed in such a way as to attract tourists.

Only about 1% of visitors are locals, the rest from elsewhere as Fl-40 connects I-75 and I-95.

2. LUMINARY TOUR-- For you Route 66 enthusiasts, the Wilson Creek National Battlefield Park near Springfield, Missouri, is hosting their 6th annual Luminary Drive Tour December 12th.

A luminary is a bag filled with sand at the bottom and a lit candle. Volunteers will light them, then visitors can drive a five mile tour. There will be 2,539 luminaries, one for every soldier killed, wounded and missing in that battle.

People can get a better realization of the number after seeing the luminaries.

On the Road Again. --RoadDog

Eating Around Goldsboro, NC

I had that good old Carolina bbq three. I just could not go to the Tarheel state without savoring some of that good stuff.


Of course, one definite stop had to be Wilber's out on US-70 Bypass. and serving that bbq since the 1960s. It is now $8 for a platter with the 'cue, two sides and hushpuppies. I also get double cole slaw. To me, the proper way to eat bbq is to have some on each forkful along with coleslaw. Then, wash it down with sweet tea.

The inside of Wilber's with its red checkered table cloths, old wooden chairs and pine paneling just seems to say this is a proper place to consume barbecue.


Another day, we went to McCall's which is on the other side of US-7- about a half mile away. I like their bbq just as well, but this is also a buffet. Along with salads and vegetables, you can also get fried chicken, bbq chicken, ribs, cracklings, bbq beef, fish and Calabash shrimp. It cost $10 on Sunday after church. Drinks are extra.

I should also mention some of the best peach and blueberry cobbler and banana pudding you'll find anywhere. There is also a new McCall's that has opened in Clayton, outside of Raleigh and across from another good 'cue place called Smithfield's.

Fightin' the Cue Wars. --RoadDog

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009-- Part 3

I-77 through West Virginia has lots and lots of roadwork, all causing you to slow down to 55 from 70 with lots of warnings of dire consequences if you don't. Several of the road construction sites, essentially every overpass,had speed detectors that flashed how fast you're driving.

Paid my $6 at the three toll booths ($2 each) on the West Virginia Turnpike south of Charleston. Then drove through the tunnel separating West Virginia and Virginia.

You can really see Pilot Mountain (or Mount Pilot as Andy Taylor would call it) in North Carolina as you descend down the mountain in Virginia before entering North Carolina. It is many miles away at this point, but very noticeable.

Sadly, I missed having one of those mouth watering pork chop sandwiches at Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy, NC, the inspiration for Andy Taylor's Mayberry. Had to settle for grazing at the local Golden Corral.

Took US-52 to I-40 by Winston-Salem and was pleased not to encounter any traffic jams during the rush hour until I hit one by RDU Airport that lasted most of the way around Raleigh.

Way Too Much Driving. --RoadDog

Thanksgiving 2009-- Part 2

Gibson City also has a drive in theater called the Harvest Moon, but it is one with billboard screens. Not really impressive but still a drive in.

Odometer read 27,904 when I got in I-74 in Mahomet, Illinois. At the Illinois border, it read 27,952 at 12:02 PM.

Drove to Indianapolis where I picked up I-70 and took it to Columbus, Ohio, where I took I-270 north to David Wickline's 66 Roadhouse, a premier place for all road fans to stop.

Then, on to Zanesville, where I also found McRibs being back at the McDonald's west of town by the Super 8. Unfortunately, too full of an onion burger and CFB from David's. No McRibs for me.

Driving the National Road. Took this historic route through Zanesville to Cambridge, crossing the famous Y-Bridge and stopping to photograph both S-Bridges.

On the Road Again. --RoadDog

Thanksgiving 2009

I left Nov. 19, 2009 at 7:19 with 27,738 miles and arrived in Goldsboro in the evening of Nov. 20th after driving 1,087 miles. Two days of driving and a night spent at the Super 8 in Zanesville, Ohio.

Stopped at the old crossroads called Starks Corner which has sadly replaced the old gas station and restaurant. Also sad, it is usually the most expensive places for gas on the always expensive Il. Highway 47.

There is one of the largest Wind Farms I've ever seen located east of Odell, Illinois, stretching from Route 66 all the way past Il-47 for about a mile. Everywhere you look, there are windmills with those huge blades.

This past September, we saw one on a modified truck and it was huge. We've seen a big one near Lucille's in Oklahoma, but I think this is better.

Real good news. There was a sign at the McDonald's in Gibson City that the "McRib is Back." That is REALLY GOOD NEWS, but unfortunately, I had had a double bacon cheeseburger at the BP station in Dwight so was full. I am a REALLY BIG fan of these sandwiches. I didn't see it advertised at any other McDonald's along 47.

Sure Would Have Liked to Have Had One. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 3, 2009

National Road

Finally back at home after 15 days going to and returning from North Carolina where I had Thanksgiving with family.

I did manage to drive a short section of the National Road in Ohio earlier today from Jackson Town to Reynoldsburg. I had planned to drive from west of Zanesville, but it was just too foggy, rainy, and overcast. It finally let up when I got to Jackson Town.

Saw Clark's where I had that excellent chicken dinner and pie (they're famous for it and get lots of Columbus folks driving out for a bite, especially on the weekends.

Lots of neat old homes along the way.

All in all,I definitely like the National Road east of Columbus better than the Ohio stretch west of it.

Drivin' Them Old Roads. --RoadDog