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Henry’s Rabbit Ranch among Illinois Hall of Fame inductees June 7, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Attractions, Businesses, Gas stations, People, Signs.
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Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Ill., is among the inductees into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame for 2012, according to a story today in the Bloomington Pantagraph.

The other honorees are Elmo and Eula Quinn of Quinn’s Shell station in Bloomington, gas station owner Samuel Reichert Sr. of Plainfield, and Roger Gray of Gray’s Garage in Pontiac.

The induction will be Saturday at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Ill., during the Illinois Route 66 Motor Tour.

I’ve informally lobbied for a few years now to have Rich Henry’s place inducted because he and his business have acted as great ambassadors of Route 66. The main building looks so much like a real gas station that an EPA inspector once demanded that Henry remove his underground tanks.

Henry also boast an extensive collection of Route 66 memorabilia, including neon signs and several trailers from the now-defunct Campbell’s “Humpin’ to Please” 66 Express trucking business.

Then there’s the rabbits. Henry owns dozens of pet rabbits on his property, including a semi-trained ambassador named Guy. The previous tourist greeter, Montana, died at age 7 in 2008.

Quinn’s Shell recently marked its 70th year on Route 66 in Bloomington. It remains a full-service station, one of the few still operating. And Elmo Quinn, at age 71, is the owner who fills your tank and checks your car’s fluids.

According to a story in the Plainfield Patch about Reichert:

For nearly 25 years, Samuel (“Sam”) L. Reichert, Sr. relied on U. S. Route 66 as much as its travelers relied on him. First, Reichert worked as a Greyhound Lines bus driver along the route. Later, he operated service stations along the legendary highway for more than 20 years.

Sam Reichert, Sr. first worked at Walt Russell’s Standard Service Station at the northwest corner of Illinois Route 59 and Commercial Street (present-day offices of Peter Muraglia, DDS). After 1953, Reichert took over his brother’s Plainfield station. Over 20 years, Sam Reichert operated numerous service stations along U. S. Route 66 as it passed through northern Will County. No other individual operator of service stations maintained a longer presence along U. S. Route 66 in the Plainfield area.

And here’s a story about Gray’s Garage in Pontiac, by the Pontiac Daily Leader:

Roger and Betty Gray opened Gray’s Garage March 22, 1963. The original location was primarily located where the Big R parking lot is now, moving to its new location off of Interstate 55, west of Route 23, nine years later in 1972. [...]

“We all really care very much for our customers,” Betty Gray said. “Through the years, we’ve always tried to be very good to them.”

UPDATE: Henry sent me this emailed comment about his impending induction:

We enjoy what we do here.  None of what we do here would not be possible without the support of the 66ers and related news network groups.  [...] One thing that we will proudly continue to do hare what we always have – trying to make it a fun and interesting stop and continue to promote and educate the travelers of Route 66.  Last but not least is all the little bunnies here, including Montana and her successor Big Red, who play the integral role in making Henry’s Ra66it Ranch what it is.

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