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Cozy Dog makes finals March 31, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Restaurants.
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The Cozy Dog Drive-In along Route 66 in Springfield, Ill., has advanced to the finals in the Central Division in the Seven Wonders of Illinois contest sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce.

The Cozy Dog is going up against fellow finalist Allerton Park of Monticello. Strong lobbying by the Route 66 community helped the Cozy Dog advance in the contest.

In the Southwest Division, another Route 66-related site, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site near Collinsville, is going against the Great Rivers Scenic Byway in its finals.

Joliet to launch Route 66 campaign March 31, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Movies, Restaurants, Theaters, Towns.
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After seemingly much indifference to the Mother Road for years, the city of Joliet, Ill., is embracing Route 66 tourism in a big way when it launches its Joliet Kicks on Route 66 campaign on June 2.

According to the Herald-News:

  • The Joliet Area Historical Museum will have a bunch of interactive displays, including watching a “drive-in” movie about Route 66 in couches shaped like cars, lounging in a “Magic Fingers” bed in a mock motel room that shows episodes of the “Route 66″ TV show, and a photo booth that provides different Route 66 backdrops.
  • The Rich & Creamy ice cream stand will feature plenty of neon lighting and Jack and Elwood from the Blues Brothers dancing atop it.
  • A “Route 66 Park” will have informational signs directing tourists to area attractions. Replica gas pumps also will be placed in front of select attractions, such as Rialto Square Theatre.

A few more details can be found on the city’s JolietKicks.com site.

I have to admit, Joliet’s newfound enthusiasm for Route 66 in the past year is intriguing. I have a hunch what sparked it, but I’d like to hear from them what started the sea change. Regardless, it’s a good thing going on here.

Illinois House passes police headquarters bill March 31, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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The Illinois State Senate approved a bill Friday that would transfer ownership of the historic Illinois State Police District 6 building from the state to Livingston County for $1, reported the Bloomington Pantagraph.

The Senate Bill 768 goes on to the House.

The pistol-shaped building, built on Route 66 near Pontiac in 1941, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. The long-vacant structure was recently declared state surplus, but the auction hadn’t yet been scheduled.

The idea behind giving the building to the county is to eventually turn it into a roadside park or museum.

Busy first day for Skywalk March 31, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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Nearly 2,000 people visited the Grand Canyon Skywalk during its first day open to the public on Wednesday, according to a news release from Grand Canyon West.

At a minimum of $25 a pop, Skywalk grossed at least $50,000 on its first day. Not bad.

The release also gives some details about future plans at the Skywalk complex:

Upon completion, the visitor’s center will include a museum, movie “The Making of the Skywalk,” a VIP lounge and gift shop as well as private indoor and outdoor facilities for meetings, special events and weddings. Several restaurants and bars will be available, including The Skywalk Cafe, a high-end restaurant with outdoor patio and rooftop dining on the edge of the canyon. The second floor of the visitor’s center will provide access to The Skywalk glass walkway.

The sooner it completes these improvements, the better. Give the folks who spent $50 or more apiece more than just a spectacular view.

Arson damages Winslow railroad bridge March 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Railroad.
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At least one local teen has ‘fessed up to starting a fire that damaged a BNSF railroad bridge just east of La Posada in Winslow, Ariz., reports the Winslow Daily Mail.

Repair workers had the bridge shored up enough that train traffic resumed within a day.

End of era at Totem Pole Trading Post (UPDATED) March 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History.
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The Totem Pole Trading Post on Route 66 just west of Rolla, Mo., isn’t going to close. But new ownership is taking over Friday afternoon, and the name — which has been there since 1933 — won’t stay, according to the Rolla Daily News.

According to this Rolla Chamber of Commerce release, Jones did not include the business’ name in the sale to the new owner.

Tom Ray, who also owns Memoryville USA car restoration shop, museum and antique store in Rolla, is set to take over the Totem Pole, at 1413 Martin Springs Drive, at 3:30 p.m. Friday from longtime owners Timothy and Alice Jones.

Jones has owned the Totem Pole for 32 years, and worked at the business with his father for 10 years before taking over. Over the years, he has seen a lot and met many interesting people.

“I have seen so many people from all over the world,” Jones said. “This is a stop-off point for so many people on Route 66. They will be disappointed, I know, when they come and we are no longer here. I will miss seeing those people.” [...]

The Totem Pole has also been a stop for several celebrities, including country musician Buck Owens, former St. Louis Cardinal Ozzie Smith, singer and Broadway actress Pearl Bailey, country musician Janie Fricke and singer Tony Orlando.

“We should have had a camera over the years to take pictures of the different people who came in,” Jones said.

Jones also remembers when the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team stopped in at the Totem Pole when he was a child. He remembers the players had to duck to avoid hitting their heads on the low ceiling. [...]

“We have been in business long enough to see all different types of businesses come and go on Route 66 and I-44,” he said. “Things have changed dramatically since the 60s and 70s, but we still have the same faithful customers who have been stopping by here year after year. We see people from coast to coast. We want to thank them for their patronage throughout the years.”

We learned about some of the Totem Pole’s history while researching the history of John’s Modern Cabins, near the Sugartree Road exit of Interstate 44 about seven miles west of Rolla. The Totem Pole was close to John’s, with a few tourist cabins, a restaurant and a Standard filling station.

The Totem Pole was forced to move twice because of realignments to Route 66 and, later, I-44. That stretch of road was always hazardous to incautious motorists, and highway engineers never quite figured out how to correct it.

We always appreciated Totem Pole Trading Post during our travels because for myriad reasons — clean bathrooms, sugar-cured bacon sold in burlap sacks, an excellent selection of snacks and soda (including Route 66 Root Beer), lots of Route 66 and Ozarks souvenirs, and plenty of antiques, too.

I never quite got brave enough to buy a bottle of genuine corn whiskey, however. ;)

UPDATE 5/24/07:  I talked to the owner over the weekend. Apparently the planned sale of the Totem Pole fell through because the buyer couldn’t come up with the cash. So the Totem Pole will remain in the family indefinitely. And it was still selling pop, snacks and cool souvenirs when I was there.

Photographer’s exhibit in Kingman March 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Photographs.
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Michael Campanelli‘s well-traveled collection of more than 150 photographs from Route 66 has made its way to the Mother Road city of Kingman, Ariz., according to the Kingman Daily Miner.

The exhibit will be at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts through June 10.

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