Friday, April 30, 2010

Grace Hall is No More

Yesterday, the historic Grace Hall in Woodstock, Illinois, was torn down according to the April 30th Northwest Herald. There had been a valiant attempt to save it by local preservationists, but to no avail.

I've seen it on several occasions and it was a striking Prairie-style brick structure that had at one time housed students at the Todd School for Boys. Probably the best-known resident was one Orson Welles, but also, Robert R. Wilson, architect of the Fermi National Laboratory was a student.

It was demolished by the Christian Life Services in order to build a duplex for seniors.

The cost of transforming Grace Hall would have been $150-160,000 more than building a whole new building.

This destruction is too bad, especially in light of Woodstock's constant efforts to keep their village of yesteryear theme and that wonderful downtown square where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed.

Here's hoping the replacement structure is in keeping with Grace Hall.

A Sad Day. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Bus Trip to Chicago's Wrigley Field-- Part 2

The first entry was April 20th.

In the late 70s and early 80s, we used to go to Wrigley very often. During summer vacation (Three Good Things About Teaching: June, July and August) I'd get up and say, "What do you want to do today?" Liz would say, "The Cubs are in town," and off we'd go.

We'd either drive there, stopping at the White Castle on Irving Park Road (one of the few around) and then finding a parking place on a street, or, we'd drive into Evanston, catch the elevated and get off at Wrigley.

Back then, there were always tickets available and Cub fans tended to not be of the yuppie variety. You could also afford the tickets, usually around $7 for lower grandstand. The only problem was when the Cardinals were in town and tickets were hard to get.

Of course, this all changed when the Cubs got lights. The local residents were worried about guys urinating in their yards and a parking sticker law was enacted where only people in the neighborhood could park in the streets. This immediately caused prices to go up in the parking lots.

After that, I don't think I have been back, until now.

Bring Back Daytime Baseball. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

America's Ten Prettiest Cities

Forbes has listed America's ten prettiest cities according to natural beauty, unique identity or combination of the two. Photos and information accompanied the article.


Union, Washington
Crescent City, California
Deadwood, South Dakota
Cape May, New Jersey
Marfa, Texas
Savannah, Georgia
Lake Placid, New York
Guttenberg, Iowa
Cambria, California
Burlington, Vermont.

Well, I've been to exactly one of these really pretty places, Savannah. My sister lives near there.

Guttenberg isn't too far away, so I'll have to check it out sometime.

But, Will I Be Able to Afford the Gas This Summer? --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apping Chicago Architecture

April 17th Chicago tribune "Historic buildings on app parade" by Blair Kamin.

The next time you're in Chicsgo and would like to learn more about the many historic buildings downtown, all you really need is an iPhone or Blackberry and get an app guided walking tour and off you go.

You can get lots of information on ten famous Chicago landmarks including the old Carson Pirie Scott, Marquette Building and the railway exchange Building.

This was put together by the Chicago-based Society for Architectural Historians as a public service for which they get no money. They have posted signs in the various lobbies with a bar code to feed the information to Web-enabled phones.

You can download the free Tag Reader App through Apple's App Store or at

Of course, if you're like me and iPhones and Blackberries are alien technology, it will do you no good.

I think the same group offers walking, bus and river cruises using older technology as well. And, of course you can also book a fantastic walking tour with Chicago Route 66 expert Dave Clark by going to his Windy City Road Warrior website.

It is Always Interesting to Find Out the History Behind Those Old Buildings. --RoadDog

Monday, April 26, 2010

100 Years and Still Going Strong

This past Saturday, i went with my wife Liz to the one hundreth anniversary of the school she went to from kindergarten to 8th grade in Chicago. It is Our Lady of Grace, a Catholic school, located a couple blocks from where she was living at the time.

One hundred years is a long time and it is my opinion that Catholic schools offer one of the best educations around. They would have to as parents have to spend money above and beyond what their taxes pay for in public schools.

Our Lady of Grace was built the same time as the tragic Our Lady of Angels and was of the same design. Liz was in school that day and survivors of OLA attended her school until a new school could be built.

When Liz attended, most students were Polish, but there were some Italians and Irish as well. We sat at a table with several members of the Mullins family. Today, most students are Hispanic as the neighborhood has changed. Sadly, classes during the 50s and 60s when Liz attended, usually had 40+ students and there were four or more of them, but the whole Class of 2009 had just 12. This does not bode well for the school's survival.

Liz even remembered exactly where all her classrooms were and we got photos of all but one. According to Liz, they looked amazingly the same as when she attended.

There sure was a lot of history in that building. Liz's Class of 1965 had one of the biggest turnouts of all, with about 12 grads.

I graduated 8th grade from Winston Park Junior High School in Palatine, Illinois, in 1965. That building probably was built in the early 60s.

A Real Piece of History. --RoadDog

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What'sa Chicago Indian Boundary?-- Part 3

The Treaty of St. Louis ceded land for white settlement along a 20-mile corridor. Today, Rogers Avenue and Forest Preserve Drive roughly follow it. Although, it was never a straight-through street.

Sometime around 1900, the name Indian Boundary Road was changed to Rogers Avenue which is why today so few Chicagoans know of its historic significance.

However, there is an Indian Boundary Park along Rogers Avenue. The field house has a bas-relief of a Indian head on one of the entrances.


So, who was this Philip Rogers who had the road named after him and for whom the Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park was named after?

He was born in Ireland in 1812. He immigrated to the US and came to the area that is now Rogers Park at the northeast corner of Chicago and bought 600 acres of land from the government for $1.25 an acre. Eventually he expanded his holdings to 1600 acres.

He first lived in a log home at the corner of today's Lunt and Western avenues and he established a trading post. As of 1925, the house Rogers later built still stood on the northwest corner of Rogers Avenue and Clark Street, but no efforts were made to preserve it. Today its site is in the parking lot of a Walgreens.

The area Rogers owned was named after him in 1844 and it became a village until annexed by Chicago in 1893. Rogers died in 1856 and was buried in Lincoln Park, but his remains were relocated to Calvary Cemetery in 1863. His son-in-law, Patrick L. Touhy, inherited the land. (There is also a Touhy Avenue in Chicago.)

Some Chicago History. --RoadDog

Friday, April 23, 2010

What'sa Chicago Indian Boundary Line-- Part 2

From Forgotten Chicago.

Rogers Avenue runs diagonal across Chicago, one of the few roads to do so in the carefully laid-out Chicago street grid. It follows an old Indian trail.

On August 24, 1816, the Treaty of St. Louis was signed which marked the boundary in Illinois between Indian and white territory from Lake Michigan to Ottawa, Illinois. Whites could settle south and east of it. The Ojibwa, Ottawa and Pottawatomie Indian tribes signed it.

The 1833 Treaty of Chicago moved all Indians in Illinois west of the Mississippi River.

The Rogers Park area in northeast Chicago was named for Philip Rogers, an early settler. There is a historical plaque at the corner of Clark Street and Rogers Avenue. Clark Street is named for George Rogers Clark, a hero of the Revolutionary War and brother of William Clark (of the William and Clark Expedition) who was one of the signers of the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis, which opened Illinois to settlement.

So, now you're learning about Chicago streets and avenues.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What'sa Chicago Indian Boundary Line-- Part 1

There was one in Chicago back in the early 1800s and it was a line separating Indian lands from those open to white settlement as per the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis. Today, Rogers Avenue and Forest Preserve Road follow it through Chicago.

Most people do not know this. I definitely had not ever heard of it either until I came across an article by Nina Metz "Return engagement for forgotten byway" in the April 16th Chicago Tribune.

Experimental filmmaker Thomas Comerford has made a 41-minute film "The Indian Boundary Line" which takes you through Chicago's northeasternmost neighborhood. He took the name from the early 19th century border between Indian and white lands, a boundary that last for 17 years until the Chicago Treaty of 1833 pushed the remaining Indian tribes west of the Mississippi River.

The street that came to occupy the space was called Indian Boundary Road until around 1900 when the name was changed to Rogers Avenue, named for an early Chicago landowner.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Down Da 66: Stilt Time-- Farm in Danger-- Bridge in Danger

Getting this in a bit late as I went by bus to Springfield to participate in a 15,000 person rally to Save Our Schools here in Illinois. More on it tomorrow.

Some New News About an Old Road.

1. STILT TIME-- The April 19th Pontiac (Il) Community News reports that Manu Cuadra arrived in town as part of his 2200 mile trek across Route 66. A lot of people have done this, but Cuadra intends to do it on STILTS, averaging 40 to 60 miles a day. He has a blog at: That sure would be something out of the ordinary.

2. FARM IN DANGER-- The Manske-Niemann Farm in Litchfield, Illinois has been put on Illinois' list of ten most endangered places. It consists of 21 original farm buildings and has been called one of the most intact examples of late 19th-early 20th century agricultural examples. It is located on Route 66, but I am completely unfamiliar with it.

It has been owned by the same family for 160 years.

3. BRIDGE IN DANGER-- First the Merramec Bridge in Missouri, now Emily Priddy reports that Catoosa, Oklahoma's 1936 Bridge has deteriorated to the point where it can not be saved. It is one of a pair of bridges near the Blue Whale which are must-photo ops for Route 66 travelers.

(Thanks for the spelling tip, Lulu.)

Here's Hoping Some Way Can Be Found to Keep the Bridge.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Bus Trip to Chicago's Wrigley Field-- Part 1

This past Tax Day, April 15th, I drowned my $5,200 additional taxes I had to pay by taking a bus trip from Antioch, Illinois, to the famed Home of the Chicago Cubs.

The week before, we had been at the Sequoit Lodge on Main Street watching the Sox and Cub season opener ($1.50 Old Style pints, free peanuts and hot dogs), and had seen a flyer for the bus trip to see the Brewers play. We used to go to Wrigley Field on a regular basis back BEFORE, but rarely go any more. We couldn't even remember the last time we went.

BEFORE refers to before Wrigley got lights and along with that, on-street parking permits. It used to be you could drive down early, do a little cruising and find free parking on the street. But no more, now you have to have a parking sticker or get towed by an outfit like Steve Goodman sang about in his "Lincoln Park Pirates." You can't afford that ripoff.

The cost was $65 apiece, but we didn't buy at the time as we wanted to wait until closer to the 15th to see what the weather was going to be like. By Tuesday, we saw forecasts of sunny, windy and temperatures in the 80s, so decided to go. Unfortunately, they had just sold the last two tickets, but we were placed on a waiting list and Wednesday were told there were two tickets available.

Going to Wrigley!! --RoadDog

New Lincoln Highway Book

Review of Brian Butko's "The Ship Hotel: a Grand View Along the Lincoln Highway" in the April 12th Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Patricia Lowry.

She describes Butko's book as "Part scrapbook, part family album, part communal memoir, this visually bountiful, right-sized book" is definitely one you should get.

Before it was the Ship Hotel, it was Grand View Point with a remarkable view and a place to sell stuff located 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, 17 miles west of Bedford and a mile east of Bald Knob Summit, at 2,906 feet the highest point along the Lincoln Highway/US-30 in Pennsylvania.

In 1928, Herbert Paulson built the Grand View Point Hotel based on a castle theme. In 1931, he enlarged it to resemble an ocean liner and changed the name to the Ship Hotel. Due to the rough terrain of the site, 18 steel piers had to be sunk 30 feet into the rock to hold the structure.

Six telescopes were available from which to view the striking scenery for those not spending the night.

In 1978, it was sold and the name changed to Noah's Ark. On October 26, 2001, a fired consumed the whole building.

Brian Butko was to have three book signings on April 10th.

Just another place I will never get a chance to see and visit, but this will have to do as I plan on getting a copy. Hopefully Brian will be at the Lincoln Highway Association's convention in Dixon, Illinois, this June.

Gotta Add This Book to My Collection. --RoadDog

Monday, April 19, 2010

How High's the Gas Prices, Father?

To paraphrase a Johnny Cash song, I'd say the answer here in the Fox Lake area in northeast Illinois is now $3.04.

The GRBs at Big Oil and hedgie-wedgies are back to their old tricks. Hurting regular folks, the economy and the United States in their blind quest for profit. They announced back in March that they were going to do this despite the fact that usage in the US is still way down and flat in Europe. They are not making enough profit. Of course, they use the long-time Chinese and Indian excuse.

Hey, these guys are cutting back production and laying off workers to make sure they have a reason.

Hey guys, I am already preparing to cut back seriously on my travel like I did the last time you did this in the summer of 2008. A lot of other people did just that as well.

Have you not learned anything or is your greed an overriding factor?

It's sad this happens again, but this time, hopefully, we have a government that will stand up to you, not like the last president who was one of your guys. It sure would be nice to have the government do something for me for a change instead of just helping the rich and poor.

All these wonderful bailouts has not helped me with the possible low interest rates helping me pay a couple hundred less on my taxes this year.

When you have most of your money in CDs, this really hurts.

Deja Vu, Folks. Deja Vu. --RoadDog

Genoa, Illinois' New Lincoln Highway Mural

Even though Genoa is not on the old road, it is part of the Lincoln Highway Corridor going across the state, so it gets its own mural as well. It is one of the Lincoln Highway's Coalitions 43 murals and is located at 232 Main Street.

This one features a horse pulling a sled in a contest. Back in the early days of road building, heavy horse-pulled sleds were used to pack and flatten road surfaces

There is also a new mural in Cortland at 55 West Lincoln Highway.

Both murals depict the early days of the Good Road Movement.

In addition to the murals which show various aspects of the Lincoln Highway, sixteen interpretive gazebos have been built along the Illinois stretch of the road.

I don't know of any other state along the LH doing as much as Illinois.

Way to Go Coalition!! --RoadDog

Saturday, April 17, 2010

While On the Subject of Oxnard, California

While looking at the article about the Wagon Wheel Motel, I noticed that Bud Smith started his motel with surplus barracks from the Port Hueneme Naval Base. I'd never heard of it, so did the old Wiki thing and found out this base is still there and is the main base for the US Navy Construction Battalion, better known as the Seebees (which comes from the initials for construction battalion, I didn't know that).

During World War II, over 100,000 Seebees trained here after the base was established on May 18, 1942. Over 20 million tons of supplies and 200,000 men shipped out of here for action in the Pacific Theater.

This is also where the Seebee Museum is located. Groundbreaking was held last August for a new $12 million, 33,000 square foot museum to replace a run-down World War II building. Significantly, the new museum will be just outside the base for easier public access.

Something else to see in Oxnard.

Fightin' Seebees!! Right John Wayne. --RoadDog

Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant

From the March 10, 2009, Ventura County Star.

When I first came across this article, I thought it was about Route 66's Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri, but this one was about a famous one in Oxnard, California.

This is a famous complex which also includes a bowling alley that is in serious danger of being destroyed. It is located at the intersection of US-101 and the Pacific Coast Highway and was a very popular stop for motorists traveling between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara from the 50s to 70s before closing in 2005.

Back in 2009, a suit had been filed by the Santa Bueana Ventura Conservancy versus the City of Oxnard to stop the demolition scheduled at the time. Evidently, it has succeeded because as of right now, the structures are still standing but a final decision is expected this summer.

A $750 million European-village themed development is planned for the site.

Martin "Bud" V. Smith started it in 1946 with three World War II surplus military barracks from the Port Hueneme Naval Base.

Here's Hoping the Wagon Wheel Remains with Us. --RoadDog

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lincoln Highway Update-- Part 2

Once on the Lincoln Highway in Dixon, where the 2010 Lincoln Highway Association Convention is being held this June, we drove east on the old road.

West of Franklin Grove, we saw a bald eagle flying over the fields, something we never expected to see. You see them around rivers or lakes, but not that often in a strictly-land area.

We ate at the Lincoln Highway Cafe in Franklin Grove, great food and even better prices and I went to the Lincoln Highway Headquarters in the Lincoln Building. Entering town via the original Lincoln, we saw that the old bridge is still sitting on the ground.

West of Rochelle, the great old car sitting and rusting in front of the old barn is still there.

ROCHELLE-- the old Beacon Restaurant is finally reopened as a Chinese buffet, but, unfortunately, the top of the sign with the lighthouse has been removed. We never got the chance to eat there.

DEKALB-- the mural on the side of the Edwardo's Restaurant building needs to be lit up at night as you can't see it. We saw the new Lincoln Highway art deco-style marker across the street from McCabe's Bar. McCabe's and Andy's next door were often spots where we did the old Lincoln Crawl.

Cruisin' the Old Lincoln. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lincoln Highway Update-- Part 1: Clinton, Iowa

This past February, Liz and I drove the Lincoln Highway back in Clinton, Iowa, and Fulton, Illinois, and from Dixon to DeKalb in Illinois.

Some things we saw:

*** Our first interpretive gazebo in Fulton, located a block east of the windmull. Construction on the new windmill museum is well underway.

*** J & D Steakhouse is still serving those great, reasonably-priced meals in Clinton.

*** The Frontier Inn Best Western is a good place to stay on Lincoln Highway in Clinton. Reasonable prices and one fantastic morning breakfast included. Also, an indoor pool and hot tub that was closed when we were there.  Plus, they have a bar on the premises.

*** Lots of much-needed urban renewal going on along the Lincoln Highway south of downtown Clinton, right after you pass Smith Brothers.

*** On the way back, picked up the Lincoln Highway in Dixon, Illinois. You can drive I-88 from the Quad Cities for free. After Dixon, it costs money as it becomes a tollway. And, if you don't have a transponder you pay double.

However, you can continue on I-88 after it becomes a tollway west of Dixon and still won't have to pay if you get off at Dixon.

More Lincoln to Come. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some More Illinois Lincoln Highway Murals

From the March 25th Sauk

A total of 43 murals are planned for the Lincoln Highway Corridor through Illinois.

One of the new ones is in Genoa at 232 Main Street showing a horse and sled dragging a sled on a road. This was part of early efforts to smooth and pack road surfaces.

there is also a new one in Cortland at 55 West Lincoln Highway.

Both depict the Good Road Movement.

Interpretive gazebos are also being built and 16 are in place now.

Hats off to the Lincoln Highwau Coalition for these efforts to inform the public of our historic roads. I'll have to make a drive along the whole route this summer to see the murals and gazebos.

Cruisin' the Lincoln. --RoadDog

On the Road: Doing St. Paddy's Green-- Part 5

It is amazing that after all these years, I can still get out and do some serious bar-hopping like today. We had hit three bars and it wasn't even dark yet.

Next stop was closer to Denny's home, and we drove that ever-present Montgomery Road, to another place called, I think, Clannaugh's. This Irish bar was also packed and possibly charging admission, but we missed it. After getting our drinks, we went outside to the patio which was also standing room only. We had a lengthy talk with a strange lady who I thought was Denny's friend. Afterwards, I found out she wasn't.

Then, it was a short drive to Bar 71 (so named because it is located by I-71). A band was setting up and we got into conversation with a guy from Columbus who was there on a business trip. He grew up in Antioch, Illinois, which is close to where I live and we talked about some favorite watering holes in the area.


Last stop was at TGIFriday's which used to have NTN, but has dropped it like most places in their system. All that great chili I had earlier this morning had been absorbed and I was in the mood for some corned beef and cabbage.

We inquired if they had it and were told they did and that it was FREE!! Sold me right then and there. Sure enjoyed that Irish food even if we had to put up with karaoke that was WAY TOO LOUD and singers who were WAY TOO BAD. The things I will do for free food.

Went back to Denny's and topped it off with a shot of Glenlivet XXV that he had gotten for his recent retirement. A fitting end to a great day.

When you hear of St. Patrick's Day celebrations, the name Cincinnati doesn't often come up. Bit I can now tell you, this place holds their own with the best.

A Big Thanks to Denny and Congratulations on the Well-Deserved Retirement. --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

North Carolina's Bald Head Island

From WECT-6, Wilmington, NC.

Bald Head Island is located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and today is an upper scale community with very expensive homes.

Before lighthouses, navigation into the river's mouth was based on looking for the "bald head." The head of an island is normally the highest point which is where we get the name Hilton Head (as well as Oahu's Diamond Head).

In 1794, the US Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and the Second Congress appropriated $4,000 for the construction of a lighthouse atop Bald Head dune. However, the dune eroded and the lighthouse was torn down.

Many of the bricks from the original were used to build the second one which still stands, though it was deactivated in 1935.

Gas-powered cars are not allowed, only bikes and golf carts on the island's few roads.

Rich People. --RoadDog

More Lincoln Highway Murals in Illinois

From the April 13th Southtown Star "Murals to show Lincoln Highway past."

Both New Lennox and University Park will be getting new 10X20 foot murals showing their Lincoln Highway heritage.

The one in New Lennox will feature a triangle of land between Haven Avenue, Cedar Road and US-30. When the Lincoln Highway was through built in 1920, an existing dance hall in its path caused it to be detoured at Cedar Road and Haven.

When the highway was paved in 1924, the dance hall was moved a bit south to where the 7-Eleven is today and in 1940 it became a bowling alley.

The mural will be mounted on the wall of a business on he northwest corner of US-30 and Cedar, marking the location of the original dance hall.

The mural in University Park at 580 Fairview Road will feature the Van Buren sisters, who, in 1916, became the first women to solo Lincoln Highway on their Indian motorcycle. They were arrested in one town for wearing mens' clothing.

Drivers can look at both murals as they drive by or stop to read what it says.

The Lincoln Highway Coalition installs the $10,000 murals for free.

It won't be long before the entire length of the Lincoln Highway in Illinois is muraled from Indiana to Iowa.

Hats Off to the Coalition. --RoadDog

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hitting the Road in June

Three big road events are coming up on consecutive weekends in June: two 66 and one Lincoln.

The 11th to 13th is the Illinois Route 66 Association's annual motor tour, this time starting west of St. Louis with big dinner at the Best Western Carlinville Motel. We are considering going on this one. Always wanted to stay at this place.

The following week the Tri-State Route 66 Festival takes place centered at Joplin, Missouri. We had considered going to this as well, but it just doesn't appear to be very well-organized so may take a pass on this one.

June 22nd to 25th is the Lincoln Highway Association's annual conference here in Dixon, Illinois. I have never been to one and am a member of the LHA an plan on making it to this one. I would have been to the last one in South bend, Indiana, but was in Europe at the time.

Just Hope I Can Afford the Gas Prices By Then. Thanks a Lot Big Oil!! --RoadDog

On the Road: Doing St. Paddy's Day Green-- Part 4

Then Denny and I walked across Montgomery Road to Molly Malone's which already had a big crowd in attendance with lots of green being worn. The inside was packed and the parking lot outside had a huge tent and stage and was serving up several Irish beers from a trailer.

An Irish band had just stopped playing (one thing for sure, I have the knack for almost always arriving at places right when the band is playing their last song of a set). But, another one was setting up. They were going to have around five Irish bands this day.

You had to buy tickets for the Irish which cost $5 a 20 ounce cup. (This price seemed to be a fairly common price at the Irish places except Murphy's. Food was available but in small portions for what I considered to be too much, so didn't order anything. Besides, I was too full from this morning's chili. I wonder if the chili places shouldn't have a special St. Patrick's chili, maybe with green peppers?

Just an absolutely great March day to celebrate outside with plenty of sun and temps in 60s.

We met several of Denny's friends and talked with them. It was a festive place to be.

They weren't charging admission when we arrived, but later were at $5.

We stayed for the band's first set and really enjoyed their music which was Gaelic Storm, Flogging Molly, Gleasons-style which means you can't just stand or sit still. During the break, a local Irish dancing troupe came in and put on a display. Unfortunately, they weren't in Gaelic attire.

We would have liked to stay longer, but we still had places to go.

Really Glad the Friend Mentioned the Party Here. If I'm Ever Back in Cincinnati, I Could Easily Spend the Time Here. --RoadDog

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Louisiana's "Great River Road" Designated a National Scenic Byway

It is always great to see a new road getting this designation. It is good for tourism, good for getting folks off the interstates, and brings attention to the joys of driving the "other" roads.

The April 9th reported that the Great River Road along the Mississippi River in the state of Louisiana has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the United States Department of Transportation federal Highway Administration.

This covers 717 miles along the Mississippi River Corridor.

In order to become a Scenic Byway, a road must meet the following criteria points: archaeological, enriching, historical, natural, entertaining, historical significant structures, cities and scenery qualities.

Congratulations Louisiana. --RoadDog

St. Louis' Big Chief Open Again

It is great to find out that the Big Chief Roadhouse, a Route 66 place dating back to 1929 is once again open. Pal Ron Sanderson sent along an article from the News Magazine by Suzanne Corbett.

It has been on Route 66 since 1929 as part of the Big Chief Highway Hotel and the restaurant part, a really neat structure, reopened this past November on the place's 80th anniversary of business. It is also now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The hotel was a big tourist destination 80 years ago when there were 82 cabins, a gas station and a restaurant. Visitors often stayed for two or three or more days. The mighty babe once visited as well.

It is located at 17352 Manchester Road.

Liz and I once drove by it while it was closed and thought this to be a building worth visiting and hoping it would be saved. It appears it has.

Thinking of a meal there this June when we go on the Route 66 Association of Illinois' Motor Tour.

Always Great to Report a Place Saved. --RoadDog

Four New NTN Sites Added-- Part 2

Sure would have liked to have been in Knoxville, Tennessee for a Volunteer Regional Championship victory, but that was not to be. There are three NTN Buzztime sites right on Cumberland Avenue (US-70) and two others within a couple blocks. I don't know how much playing I would have gotten in, but I SURE would have had a great time.

I drove on through Knoxville out to the west where I knew there were three sites along one stretch of road. I got off I-40 at Ten-131 and went south a block to Parkside Drive. This has to be the biggest single accumulation of all things SHS (Standard Homogenized Stuff) and Big Box I've ever seen, so much in fact, that it made finding the NTN sites difficult.

There were stores on both sides, with some up close to the road and others set farther back. I had to be very careful looking because of all the traffic and lights. Hint, BW3 and Beef are both on north side of road.

I evidently drove by the Beef O' Brady's and saw the BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings) and stopped there to play. Big crowd of Tennessee fans, but somehow very subdued.

After a couple games, I went back to Beef O'Brady's and found it this time. Big crowd watching the Duke game, but NTN wasn't on and the bartender didn't want to change one TV, so left. I really hate when this happens.

Last stop was at the end of the road on N. Campbell Station where I found the Mellow Mushroom. There were a group of guys playing and had a nice talk with them and would have liked to stay, but still had over a hundred miles to drive and it was getting dark.

Drove I-40 to Cookeville with the intention of getting a room and playing NTN at the two sites there, but was too tired, so turned in for the night.

NTN Cruisin'. --RoadDog

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lincoln Highway Pavers Arrive

From the January 5, 2010, Omaha World Herald.

After quite the journey, 2,200 rare paving bricks arrived at the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney, Nebraska.

In 2008, workers in Canton, Ohio, found them during street renovations in that city. As a Boy Scout Eagle project, Brian Cassler cleaned, stacked, and organized them. His father runs the Lincoln Highway Trading Post in Canton. On January 3rd, he delivered them.

The City of Canton had donated them to the Archway, but getting them there was another situation.

An article about it in the Omaha World Herald caused Tim Wunsch, a member of the Lincoln Highway Association, and a trucker, who would pick up the bricks on a return trip from Pennsylvania and deliver them.

The bricks will be used to create a display at the Archway (which stretches over I-80). Plans call for a sixteen-foot wide road, the original width of the Lincoln Highway.

Job Well Done Brian and Tim. --RoadDog

Four New NTN Sites Added to List-- Part 1

This past month's trip to North Carolina enabled me to add four new NTN Buzztime sites to my list of places visited. That brings me up to 24 for 2010.

I visited all of them on Sunday, March 29th.

The first was Fast Lane in Bristol, Virginia (or was it Tennessee since that street straddles to border). It was located just a block off I-81 and along the historic Lee Highway, US-11 in this area.

A fairly common sports bar theme with a lot of folks watching the Tennessee-MSU NCAA game, but, despite being within a hundred miles of Knoxville, not many Vol fans in attendance.

I would have made stops at the many NTN sites by UT in Knoxville along Cumberland Avenue (US-70) had the Volunteers not blown the game. That would have been one really great party. But, oh well.

Everyone had to be happy the men's team made it to the regional championship.

NTNin' Down Da Road. --RoadDog

Lighting the Nation's Streets-- Moonlight Towers

I came across an interesting photograph in the September 18, 2009 Shorpy site. It was titled Moonlight Tower 1890, the Majestic building in Detroit. The picture showed the building and had a view of the "moonlight tower" arc lamp standards.

The caption said that it is believed that some of the arc lamp towers still exist in Austin, Texas, where they are the sole remaining examples of these early forms of street lighting.

This arc lamp was free-standing in the square.

A comment was made that there are still seven of them in Austin.

A Slice Right Out of History. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 8, 2010

100th Anniversary of the Stairs

This past Sunday, a group of us went to the Castaways for Easter brunch and then over to the Oak Park Bar, next to the Oak Park Hotel, dating back to the Chain of Lakes Resort Mecca Days. The hotel was built around 1895 and the bar, which initially was a grocery, around the early 1900s.

The current owner, has a photograph book of many old pictures of the place which we enjoyed looking at until Sue commandeered it. I'll have to go back and look more carefully at it.

Since the hotel is higher than the bar, it became apparent that they were going to need stairs to connect the two. Tom showed us an old picture of the stairs that were built and said that their 100th anniversary was coming up in a week.

He knows that because someone was nice enough to write the date April 11, 1910, in the cement.

We walked out and looked at the stairs and the picture and they haven't changed a bit in all that time. We tried to get Tom to contact the local paper and have some sort of a party (we'll use any reason to have an excuse to have a party), but don't think he will.

However, if the weather is nice, I plan to go there and have a brew out on them in honor of the event.

This is the Oak Park Hotel on Pistakee Lake in McHenry County in Illinois.

A 100 years, That's a Long Time. --RoadDog

On the Road: Doing St. Paddy's Greem-- Part 3-- The Old Mom and Pop Record Store

At least being on the interstate made our drive to the next place faster. One of Denny's friends had told us last night about the party that was going to happen at Molly Malone's. With a name like that, they have to have quite a Paddy's party, and they did.

We were amazed to find a parking spot right across the street, but were delayed going to Molly's by an old mom and pop record store (the name I can't remember). I don't miss a chance to go to one of these stores while we still have them. This is record shopping the old-fashioned way, the WAY I REMEMBER. You flip through the albums and CDs looking for that special treasure, never knowing for sure what you'll find.

I am sad to report that over the last several years, I have lost three of these places: Record Revolution in Dekalb, Il., Full Cyrkle in Crystal Lake, Il., and The Record Rack in Goldsboro, N.C..

Plus, you have people working there who know the music and can find obscure stuff and answer questions.

This was the largest such store that I have been into that I can remember.
They even had several different Chesterfield Kings albums (CDs). I did a lot of looking, but didn't buy anything even though I probably should have to show support, but there was some serious drinking and partying to do across the street (that's my excuse, anyway).

I have yet to ever download anything off the internet not would I have any idea how to do it.

Give Me Those Old-Time Buying Experiences. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Clinton, Iowa Baseball-- Part 2: Clinton C-Sox

Minor League Baseball along the Lincoln Highway.

I never knew the WPA built ballparks, so that was interesting in itself.

Baseball was suspended for the duration of World War II.

In 1954, the park hosted the Clinton Pirates of Class D. names of teams for the last 52 years have been the Pirates, C-Sox (White Sox) , Pilots, Dodgers, Giants, padres. reds, Expos, rangers and currently is a Class A team of the Seattle Mariners called the Lumber Kings, a reflection of Clinton's lumbering past. Some local residents made huge fortunes in it.

The team has been affiliated with nine major league clubs over that period.

The Lumber Kings are the only remaining charter member of the 1954 Class A Midwest League and have operated continuously since that date.

A Great Way to Spend Some Time. --RoadDog

Clinton, Iowa Baseball-- Part 1: LumberKings

A place to visit along the Lincoln Highway.

Whenever we visit Clinton, Iowa, during the summer, we like to go out to Alliant Field if the Clinton Lumber Kings are in town. Minor League baseball is the sport at its best before these guys become multi-millionaires if they are fortunate enough to get to the majors.

The prices are right, for seats, food and drinks. Free parking across the street and lots of between-inning entertainment as well as a hilarious public address system.

Organized professional baseball came to Clinton in 1895 in the Eastern Iowa League. In 1906, the Clinton Orphans of the Class D Iowa State League were representing the town.

Over the next several years the Infants, Teddies and Pilots played at the old Ringwood Park. (Where did they come up with the first two names. Hardly awe-inspiring.)

Riverview Stadium was built in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project. The Clinton Owls, a Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate played the inaugural season. In 2002,the name of the stadium was changed to Alliant Energy Field.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Three of My Favorite Things in One Place-- Part 3-- US-421

Back on April 3rd, I wrote about an article from the Wilmington Star from February 1910 about a Good Roads meeting and mentioned this story had three of my favorite things involved in it: old roads, history and the Civil War.

I should also mention that I like the Beach, so make that four.

I do not know if the road they wanted to extend from Wilmington to Carolina Beach was ever built, but eventually there was a paved road in the form of US-421, one of only two major US highways I have driven from one end to the other (the other being US-66). Early on in my interest of old roads I drove from Michigan City, Indiana, to "The Rocks" in North Carolina.

I found no signage marking the end or beginning of 421 where it ends at US-20. However, there is a great "End 421" and "Begin 421" down at "The Rocks." Also, a few hundred feet from the end is the old Civil War Battery Buchanan, the southern-most part of Fort Fisher.

Also located here is the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry you can take across the mouth of the Cape Fear River which cuts significantly into travel time instead of driving all the way back to Wilmington to cross the river.

At one time, North Carolina planned to have an All Ocean Highway of which this was to be the last piece.

Gettin' in a Beach Mood. --RoadDog

The Castaways on Pistakee Lake

This past Sunday, Liz and I went with friends Paul and Sue to Castaways on Pistakee Lake and had a delicious Easter brunch of breakfast items and prime rib for $10.99. Normally, it is $7.50 when they don't have the rib.

Liz had gone here last Sunday and raved about their great, extra-crispy bacon. But when I went through, it wasn't so crispy. Mentioned it to the waitress who immediately went into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with heaping plates of the crispiest bacon ever. Paul later 'fessed up that he had gone through the line first and corralled the crispiest pieces.

Great price, good food, and what you have to call a "million dollar view" looking east across Pistakee Lake toward Fox Lake. Warm, bur a bit windy so ate inside by the windows.

This has been a place on the Chain that has been there ever since we started boating back in 1985. How long it was there before that I don't know. It is located near the entrance to the Fox River and by Bald Knob Marina.

For most of the time, it was Harmony Resort, then for awhile Lucky's which attracted some folks we didn't care for so stopped going. Castaways has been there two years now, and like Arnold says. "We'll be back!"

Getting Ready for Another Summer on the Chain. --RoadDog

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pops' Millionth

February 18th BAM's Blog.

The newer Route 66 place to visit, Pops' Soda Emporium is closing in on their 1 millionth bottle sold, not bad since its only been open a couple of years (since 2007) and is located in the out of way Arcadia, Oklahoma (near OKC).

Its huge LED bottle of soda fountain draws people during the day and especially at night. You can chose from an absolutely huge collection of pop from all over the United States.

There is also a restaurant in the building.

Pops is high on our agenda for the upcoming 2010 Fall end-to-end migration (well, except from Chicago to Joliet (who needs the hassle).

Thinking About a Green River With My name On It. --RoadDog

On the Road: Doing St. Paddy's Green-- Part 2-- Mt. Adams, Murphy's

Next, we drove out to Mt. Adams, overlooking Cincinnati. We were hoping to have a drink at the City View Bar. After awhile, we found it and it did have a great view of the downtown, but unfortunately didn't open until 4. Missed it by this much, but, you would have thought they'd be open early on Paddy's Day.

Read my lips, never miss a chance to sell a beer when you own a bar.


Next stop was Murphy's, close to the University of Cincinnati campus. On March 1st, you must have an Irish beer or Irish whiskey, but even more credit if you have it in a bar with an Irish name, and I can't think of much more Irish than Murphy. They were celebrating their 40th anniversary and Denny said he remembered when they opened. But, then again, Denny is an old guy (said the 58-year-old).

We were greeted by a guy with a foot high green Mohawk and a girl wearing a tee shirt with a saying on it that decorum doesn't permit me to print. This place really reminded me of the original Durty Nellie's in Palatine, Illinois. You enter to a a small bar and then, there are rooms obviously tacked on as business grew. To say the least, the place was quite green. Really good drink prices as well.

We went looking for where the great Federal/King Records were made, a great source of 50s and 60s R&B. Not much there to show for the site, but we just barely missed it when we ended up on the interstate.

Two Down, Four to Go. --RoadDog

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Three of My Favorite Things in One Place-- Part 2

The February 22, 1910, Wilmingtom paper reported that the event was a big success. Hosts were John W. Harper, Mr. Hans A. Kurz and Mr. W. H. Williams and Mr. D. J. Fergus spoke before the crowd.

Fergus actively promoted the development of rural roads in all of New Hanover County (where Wilmington is located).

Unfortunately, there was no follow up on whether the road was paved to Carolina Beach at this time, but I know that the coming of the automobile and paved roads opened Carolina Beach big time.

US-421 runs from Wilmington to Carolina Beach and on to the end of the peninsula by what is called the "Rocks" extending across what used to be New Inlet, a favorite point for blockade-runners to do their thing during the Civil War.

The "Rocks" was designed by Henry Bacon's father who was a civil engineer in charge of Cape Fear River improvements. Henry Bacon later designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Although born in Illinois, Bacon maintained his Wilmington connections for the rest of his life and is buried there.

History, Civil War and Roads. I Can Live With That. --RoadDog

Three of My Favorite Things in One Place-- Part 1

I came across an article in the February 17th Wilmington (NC) Star-News in the Back Then column, where they look back at events 50 and 100 years ago.

This article from one hundred years ago ties in roads, the Civil War and history in general.

From the Feb. 20, 1910, Wilmington paper.

A "Good Road Rally" is planned at Carolina Beach (NC) to support extension of the Federal Point Macadam Road to the township line. This would allow automobiles to drive all the way from Wilmington to the beach. before that, people had to rely on a ferry service down the Cape Fear River. This was to coincide with efforts to make Fort Fisher (about five miles south of Carolina Beach) into a national battle site.

"There will be an old-fashioned oyster roast and fish fry at the beach and Nine Host Kure will more than sustain his reputation as a caterer." (Kure was the founder of the community Kure Beach south of Carolina Beach)

A large delegation of people from Wilmington were expected to make an excursion downriver on the steamer Wilmington for the even.

An interesting story from the early days of automobiles and tourism. People owning land in the Carolina Beach area definitely wanted to open the place up to more tourists to make more money. No doubt the steamship lines weren't too keen on the idea, but at least one was more than willing to make money while he could by transporting them there.

Ah! The Good Old Days. --RoadDog

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's an Old Car Thing

The Old Picture of the Day Blog is featuring pictures of old cars all week, starting March 28th. The last three photos are of women driving cars back in the '10s and '20s. I didn't even though they were much allowed to drive back then.

A 1914 photo shows cabs line up in front of Washington, DC's Union Station (cabs that long ago?). A very interesting picture is of a US senator and wife in an auto looking more like a carriage without the horses and with two men sitting up front.

Well worth a look at http://old-photos.blogspot.

Also, the April 1st Shorpy photo site had a picture of Dr. Samuel M. Johnson standing in front of the Zero Mile Marker near the White House in Washington, DC, with the title "Nothing Special, 1925."

This led to lots of other research on my part and lots of interesting information.

More on Dr. Johnson, the ZMM and Lee Highway Later. --RoadDog

On the Road: Doin' Up St. Paddy's Day Green-- Part 1-- Camp Washington Chili for Breakfast, Arnold's

Definitely one of the best, if not the best-ever St. Patrick's Days ever, including those days in Dekalb while a student at NIU. Thanks Denny, one helluva tour director.

The day started with a trip along that wonderful Montgomery Road out to get Denny's Vette which he had injured while doing path finding in Texas by Buddy Holly's grave during the snow cruise earlier this year.

We then drove closer to downtown Cincinnati where we ate at another of the city's chili parlors, Camp Washington Chili, dating back to 1940. Denny says he likes their chili even better than Skyline and I have to say it is a bit meatier, but essentially the same.

Then, we went to Arnold's which is Cincinnati's oldest bar with the first folks bellying up to the old bar (which appears to be original) back to 1860. To think, Union soldiers were there. Of interest, there are four bottles behind the bar that have faces of former presidents. John Adams and Teddy Roosevelt are two of them and no one is sure exactly who the others are.

Upstairs there is a bath tub in which gin was supposedly made during the Prohibition days. They have a motorized version parked outside the building which they used in parades.

Looking for That Green Beer. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Cruising Music-- Part 2

Back on March 15th, I wrote about four CDs I was taking along with me on the trip.

I listened to all of them about four or five times in between looking for great cruising radio stations.

PSYCHEDELIC SUNRISE-- CHESTERFIELD KINGS-- Listened to this a lot, especially with Denny who wanted to hear it so that's what we did on our St. Paddy's Tour de Force. Garage Rock definitely isn't dead listening to these guys. All their songs are written by them as well. I especially liked "Elevator Ride" and "Up and Down." I wonder why I always try to spell psychedelic with an "a" behind the "h."

GET OFF ON THE PAIN-- GARY ALLAN-- Half of the songs were written by him. Actually, I only listened to this one once and will pop it into the truck's CD player for more play.

THAT LONESOME SONG-- JAMEY JOHNSON-- And, 14 songs as well. Waylon has returned to us, like Jamey said in his song "Between Jennings and Jones" referring to where his records can be found, but also this is his style. Cry in your beer is back. Then there is that wonderful "In Color" song which my nephew Andy says his son Charlie can sing all the words to.

NEED YOU NOW-- LADY ANTEBELLUM-- No sophomore jinx here at all. Even better than their first outing. Starting with that dynamite "Need You Now" and running through sad and uptempo the rest of the way. Great stuff. I seem to remember that the release sold very well, especially in this age of downloading before we unfortunately lose CDs.

Cruising to Tunes. That's the Way to Go Down The Road. --RoadDog

Carolina on My Mind 2010-- GAS GOUGE!! Get Used to It

I drove a total of 2,194 miles and averaged about 20 mpg on the truck. I need to get something with better gas mileage, however, especially with the GRBs stated intent to get gas up to $3.50+ even though gas consumption in the US is down and flat in Europe. They're using the old China/India excuse to raise it.

And, I definitely saw a gas gouge upon returning to Illinois!!


3-16 Morris, Il. $2.80
3-16 Crawfordsville, In. $2.60
3-18 Lucasville, Ohio $2.80
3-18 Wytheville, Va. $2.68
3-19 Goldsboro, NC $2.69
3-28 Wytheville, Va. $2.67
3-28 Crossville, Tn. $2.58
3-30 Springfield, Tn. $2.58
3-30 Gibson City, Il. $2.77
3-30 Dwight, Il. $2.78
3-31 Fox Lake, Il. $2.85

Gibson City had been $2.61 on the way down. Wish i had filled up in Indiana before I hit rip-you-offinois.

Gas along Illinois Highway 47 on 3-30 was $2.96 to $3.00!!! About five stations puppied out at $2.99.9 and I was just TOO DUMB to realize that was REALLY $3.

Let's See What the O-Man Does About This Latest Round of Greed and Avarice. --RoadDog