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Proposed Chicago park may include Route 66 museum September 16, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Highways, History, Museums.
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A small lot on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Chicago that’s planned as a Chicago Symphony Orchestra Park may include a small Route 66 museum to recognize its location on Route 66, according to a story in DNAinfo.

The so-called pocket park would sit just west of the Chicago Symphony building. Vanessa Moss, the symphony’s vice president for orchestra and building operations, said the pocket park would be part of an overall plan to revitalize Wabash. According to the article:

Moss said Friday that the CSO could partner with Blue Plate catering to “enhance dining options there and create a really nice oasis for people in the city, and help bring more traffic to the CSO.”

She said the plaza could include a “Route 66 museum” that will explain the site’s historical significance. In 1926, Route 66 started down the street at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.

Officials didn’t elaborate on what they had planned for the museum, but a rendering did not appear to show a new building on the site. [...]

If funds can be raised on schedule, the CSO hopes to start construction in the early spring and open the park by summer 2015, Moss said.

Based on the artist’s rendering, I suspect it’s not an enclosed “museum” per se, but a few well designed kiosks to tell the Route 66 story in that area.

Swa Frantzen at Historic66.com explains the Route 66 path in that area:

The start of Route 66 has moved a few times. Originally, Route 66 began on Jackson Blvd. at Michigan Ave. In 1933, the start (and end) was moved east onto the reclaimed land for the world fair to Jackson and Lake Shore Drive. In 1955, Jackson Blvd became one way west of Michigan Ave. and Adams St. became the westbound US-66. However the start of US-66 remained on Jackson at Lake Shore Drive.

So, even while currently Adams Street at Michigan Avenue is marked as the starting point, Route 66 never departed from there.

A short distance away in 1977, city workers took down the Route 66 signs at the highway’s eastern terminus at Grant Park at Jackson Drive. Twenty-five years later, Route 66 signs were reinstalled on that spot.

Route 66 coloring book published September 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Books.
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“Route 66 Coloring Book” cover

The “Route 66 Coloring Book,” in conjunction with American Road magazine, was published a few weeks ago by creator Rich Newman, writers Dave and Laura Newman, and illustrator Abby Smith on the Coloring Books USA imprint.

Here’s a description of the book:

Route 66 is one of the country’s most traveled routes stretching from Illinois to California. Hundreds upon hundreds of wonderful and exciting things to see along the way. Teepees, museums, modernized old fashion motels and gas stations, and natural beauty unmatched anywhere in the world.

Our two characters take you on a personal tour from round barns to robot dinosaurs and so much more.

The 44-page book costs $4.95 and can be ordered directly from the website. If you fret over the lack of a gateway to get youngsters interested in Route 66, this book might serve as one solution.

Here are a couple of sample pages depicting Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois, and the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma:

A preview of more pages is here.

Another “Route 66 Coloring Book” was published in 2009 by Carole Marsh. That one is 24 pages, and, at last check, Amazon has just two left in stock.

(Page samples courtesy of Rich Newman)

A visit to Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch September 1, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, People.
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A lot of videos have made their way on the Internet about Elmer Long and his unique Bottle Tree Ranch along Route 66 near Oro Grande, Calif.

But this one by KCET-TV, a community station in Los Angeles, is the best. The interview delves into Long’s background. And, much to my relief, Long says his sons will continue running the site after he dies.

But, if I had my way, I’d declare the Bottle Tree Ranch a national monument so people can enjoy it in perpetuity.

Long undoubtedly took some inspiration from Miles Mahan’s Half Acre, also known as Hulaville, which had a few bottle trees along with other quirky stuff in nearby Hesperia, California. Mahan’s Half Acre was bulldozed shortly after his death in 1997, although a few artifacts from there are on display at the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville.

(Image of Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch by Peer Lawther via Flickr)

Maple sirup and blue whales August 31, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, People.
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Since vacation, I’m getting caught up on KC Keefer’s latest videos on his Genuine Route 66 Life series. One that I missed was an interview with Glaida Funk, matriarch of the historic Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup business on Route 66 in Funks Grove, Illinois.

The second is an interview with Linda Hobbs, a volunteer at the gift shop for Route 66’s iconic Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma. She details some of the restoration of the adjacent grounds that once housed a children’s zoo.

Miniature created of 4 Women on the Route station August 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Gas stations.
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Willem Bor strikes again. The craftsman from the Netherlands, who has made miniature models of numerous Route 66 landmarks, created a new one of 4 Women on the Route 66 in Galena, Kansas, which now is known as Cars on the Route.

According to the Joplin Globe, the miniature was hand-delivered by fellow countryman and Route 66 aficionado Dries Bessels.

The model shows exactly how the attraction looked about two years ago, when the business was called 4 Women on the Route.

Located on the corner of Old Route 66 and Main Street, the former service station was transformed into a roadside diner and souvenir shop in 2007.

A yellow chair and a flower planter were placed in front of the red and white model building, and signs that were in the window also were added.

Melba Rigg, who manages the business, said she cried when she saw the model for the first time earlier this month in Kingman, Arizona, during the Route 66 International Festival.

KODE-TV also filed this report:

Bor’s blog also has a post and a photo from the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona, when the miniature was presented to Rigg.

More of Bor’s creations can be seen here.

Cars on the Route was a former Kan-0-Tex gas station that was converted into a small cafe and souvenir shop. But it’s biggest claim to fame is it has a 1951 International boom truck that served as the inspiration to the Tow Mater character in the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.”

California Route 66’s declining condition will be discussed Thursday August 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Highways.
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The poor or deteriorating condition of roads or bridges along the Route 66 corridor in California will be part of an online discussion Thursday regarding the California Route 66 Management Plan from Barstow to Needles.

Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, the contractor preparing the management plan, will host the webcast from 10:30 a.m. to noon Pacific time Thursday. It’s the third of four webcasts about the plan. The next webcast will be in October.

According to a news release:

The webcast agenda will include an update on the progress of the CMP, ideas for maintaining a safe and historic travel experience, and recommendations regarding how to preserve or maintain the roadway’s character-defining features. [...]

Anyone interested in participating in the web based meeting is requested to send an email to cart66cmp(at)lardnerklein(dot)com with the words “CART 66 WEB MEETING” in the subject line.
Participants are requested to RSVP prior to the webcast to ensure Lardner/Klein can plan for maximum effective public participation during the call.

Members of the public also may contact Lardner/Klein at 1-800-337-1370 to discuss transportation-related issues prior to or after the webcast.

Written comments may be submitted by mail to Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, 815 North Royal Street, Suite 200, Attn: Route 66 CMP, Alexandria, VA, 22314. The public also may submit written comments by using the CHR66A website at http://www.route66ca.org.

In particular, it seems addressing Route 66’s road surface through the Mojave Desert is overdue. During a road trip earlier this month, I found the stretch west of Amboy to Ludlow as rough. And the stretch Newberry Springs to Ludlow was deemed all but undrivable in Jerry McClanahan’s “Route 66: EZ Guide for Travelers” book.

The problem is a borderline safety issue for motorists, especially on motorcycles. And it will have to be addressed before the route will be used with any regularity by cyclists — a growing segment in Route 66 tourism.

(Image of Route 66 in San Bernardino County, California, via Lynne Miller)

Long-delayed overpass project in Missouri may restart August 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bridges.
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A long-dormant project to beautify a Route 66 overpass in Sunset Hills, Missouri, may be active again after a local group meets with the Missouri Department of Transportation, reported the South County Times.

The Sunset Hills Special Projects Committee, which met for the first time since 2008, met last week to talk about proposed improvements in the St. Louis suburb. Alderman Donna Ernst is leading the group.

Topics discussed ranged from the practical, like a simple concrete pad to support a trash barrel near a Lindbergh Boulevard bus stop, to the conspicuously ornate — a face-lift for the Route 66/Watson Road Overpass at Lindbergh Boulevard.

“It could become the jewel of the city, if it’s done right,” Ernst said of the overpass idea, which emerged as the committee’s early priority. “We have a huge shopping district. If we could make (the overpass) pedestrian-friendly with more sidewalks and a walk-over bridge, it would only enhance that.”

Ernst’s vision, based on a 50th anniversary calendar concept rendering, would expand sidewalks and add ornate light standards and granite accents to the bridge plus landscaping around its base.

A vintage image of the Watson Road and Lindbergh Boulevard overpass in that part of the St. Louis region is posted above, via 66Postcards.com. Whether that’s 100 percent what Ernst has in mind remains unknown. But even a close approximation of that appearance would be a very good thing indeed.

The interchange was part of the first cloverleaf west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1931. It was replaced in the 1980s by a diamond interchange.

MoDOT would have to approve any changes for the bridge.

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