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2014 inductees to Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame announced July 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History, Route 66 Associations, Signs.
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Three inductees — including a previously announced historic bar in Edwardsville — were announced to the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame during the Illinois Route 66 Association’s Motor Tour last month.

Detail on the inductees may be read here. Here’s a brief overview of each:

Hi-Way Cafe and Tavern, Edwardsville — Sicilian immigrants Frank and Dora Catalano opened the combination liquor store, cafe and tavern along Vandalia Street (aka Route 66) in 1934. Their advertising slogan was “Good Cheer with Good Beer.” The business eventually expanded and engulfed the house next door. It was known for friendly service, spaghetti and biscuits-and-gravy. The Catalanos died many years ago, but the tavern recently reopened as the Hi-Way after being closed for two years.

Postville Courthouse, Lincoln — The building, originally erected in 1840 in the village of Postville, was one of the many places in Illinois where a young Abraham Lincoln practiced law. Eventually the county seat was moved, and the building was used a store, post office and residence. In 1929, Henry Ford bought, dismantled and re-erected the courthouse at his Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. However, a replica of the building was built in 1953 on what turned out to be alignment of Route 66.

Nelch and Son Concrete, Springfield — The longtime business is located at 900 S. Ninth St., on a 1930-1940 alignment of Route 66. Not only did the business play a role in constructing roads in the region, but also with many buildings, sidewalks and parking lots. The company was founded by Henry Nelch, the son of German immigrants, in 1896. The company is considered to be the oldest family-owned company in Illinois. The company also has a historic neon sign, which is hopes to restore in the coming years.

(Image of Hi-Way Tavern courtesy of 66Postcards.com; image of Postville Courthouse by OZinOH; image of Nelch and Son sign by the_mel)

A chat with the operator of Texas Ivy Antiques March 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People, Route 66 Associations.
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In his ongoing “Genuine Route 66 Life” video series, KC Keefer interviewed Dora Meroney, operator of Texas Ivy Antiques along the Sixth Street Historic District (aka Route 66) in Amarillo.

Not only does Meroney sell Route 66 memorabilia and other items in a converted 1920s house, but she serves as president of the Old Route 66 Association of Texas.

Route 66 program is accepting grant applications January 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation, Route 66 Associations.
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The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program announced Thursday it has opened its 2014 season for accepting applications for cost-share grants.

The deadline to submit an application is March 28. It requires a minimum investment of 50 percent of the cost.

Nearly $1.8 million in grants have been awarded since 2001. Forms and more about the program’s guidelines can be found here.

If you’re a Route 66 business owner who needs a new roof, climate-control system, or some other essential work, I encourage you to apply. If you need technical help filling the application, you can contact the program’s office or your local historical preservation agency.

(Image of the Hill Top Motel sign in Kingman, Ariz., by Mitch Barrie via Flickr. The Hill Top was a recipient of a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program grant in 2013.)

John Lasseter’s introduction at the Route 66 roundtable December 7, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Movies, Route 66 Associations.
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The folks at the World Monuments Fund a few hours ago posted this video that played at the beginning of the “Route 66: The Road Ahead” roundtable a few weeks ago near Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

If you’re a newcomer to Route 66, John Lasseter directed the Route 66-inspired 2006 Disney-Pixar film “Cars” and is CEO of Pixar. Lasseter also is a member of the Route 66 Alliance.

Introduction to Route 66: The Road Ahead from World Monuments Fund on Vimeo.

An initial report about the roundtable — including a proposed merger of two national Route 66 associations — is here.

Route 66 Alliance and Federation may merge December 4, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Preservation, Route 66 Associations.
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Looking over the emails and posts that trickled in from the recent “Route 66: The Road Ahead” roundtable, it seems the most newsworthy thing from it is a possible merger of the Route 66 Alliance and the National Historic Route 66 Federation.

A merger may take months of talks. Or it may not happen at all. But a consensus emerged at the meeting that the pressing issues of promoting and preserving Route 66 in the coming years would be better served under one national organization instead of two, while letting Route 66′s state associations keep their autonomy.

In a recent email, 66-to-Cali owner and Route 66 Alliance member Dan Rice said:

The most common theme at the roundtable and the conference itself was the need for a unified national body that can include the varied voices of all 8 states and present them in one common voice.  [...] What I can tell you is that the Alliance and Federation heard the discussion loud and clear and have already started discussing the potential and possibility of that merger. Many have come forward offering to support that effort and I’ve spent 24 hours of the last two days, (literally 9-9 both days) in phone conversations and emails to make sure every state is represented and has a voice.  It’s been a whirlwind of positivity and pro-activity and amazing to witness.

In case you’re wondering about possibly a third national organization, that idea was swiftly dismissed and discarded.

Route 66 author Jim Hinckey, framing the issue of historic bridge preservation, wrote in a blog post:

A preservation project of this magnitude will not be accomplished by a single community, a divided entity, or a few spirited Route 66 enthusiasts. It will require a coordinated and unified sense of purpose from the Route 66 community if we are to emulate the preservation success of the Marsh Arch Bridge in Kansas, the Lake Overholser Bridge in Oklahoma, or the Colorado Bridge in Pasadena on a national level.

Hinckley posted several stories about the summit and ideas that came from it, by the way, and they’re worth perusing.

An Alliance / Federation merger looks like a great idea. The Alliance boasts a well-known and charismatic figure in Michael Wallis that any organization would be happy to land as a front man. But it hasn’t been in business long and is still trying to get its fundraising going.

The Federation boasts almost 20 years of history on the Mother Road, helped shepherd authorization of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, and publishes several useful books for Route 66 travelers. However, executive director David Knudson scaled back his energies — including the International Route 66 Festival — since the declining health and death of his wife, Mary Lou.

A merger would largely reduce each organization’s weaknesses and bolster its strengths.

If the merger happens, I hope the new organization soon gives a cost-share grant or two to cement its credibility as a champion of Route 66 preservation. The Corridor Preservation Program does this at a bigger scale, but it never was meant to be permanent. If a new national Route 66 organization gradually takes over more of the program’s duties, it would greatly benefit itself and the road. In my opinion, the preservation angle — even at a modest financial level — is every bit as important as advocacy and publicity for the Mother Road.

The World Monuments Fund, which organized the roundtable, put out this news release a few days after it adjourned..

As an aside, I was invited to the roundtable but was unable to attend because of a new job. I probably should have paid someone to file a story from the event, but didn’t think of it in time. C’est la vie.

(Image of brick Route 66 near Auburn, Ill., by Jim Grey via Flickr)

California Route 66 advocate Vivian Davies dies April 17, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, People, Route 66 Associations.
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Vivian Davies, a founder of the California Historic Route 66 Association and an author of a vital Route 66 guidebook to California, died on April 5 at age 95 in Sedona, Ariz., reported her daughter.

Davies “didn’t want anything extra done about her” her daughter said in an email, so there was no funeral service.

A 2011 story in the San Bernardino County Sun published these memories from Davies, who was living in La Verne, Calif., at the time:

One day in March 1943, she and her husband were in a car they were delivering to the West Coast when it began to rain, and rain.

Reaching Miami, Okla., they and everyone else on U.S. 66 were halted by a six-foot-deep creek that flooded the road. They waited, and waited.

“We were stopped by the water in the morning, and by 4 p.m. the line of cars waiting for the creek to fall was five miles long,” she said. “A farmer with a tractor offered to pull anyone across for $5, but few were willing because $5 was a lot of money then.

“Finally, when the water fell a little, we said the `Lord’s Prayer,’ plowed through the water and made it, even though the creek was above the car door.”

Davies and Darinn Kuna co-wrote “Guide to Route 66 in California” in 1994, a slim, spiral-bound book in black-and-white that still contains valuable information for travelers wishing to trace the Mother Road in the Golden State.

Several of Davies’ old stories for the association’s newsletter can be found on its website.

New “Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide” is available January 27, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Motels, Restaurants, Route 66 Associations.
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The updated 16th edition of “The Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide,” published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation, is now available to order.

The federation didn’t have the book listed on its 0nline store as of Saturday. However, it can be ordered from Amazon for $15.95 — although it’s “temporarily” out of stock. In early January, federation director David Knudson said in an email that copies of the book would be available in a few weeks. So, its arrival seems imminent.

For years, this has been one of the best guides to motels and restaurants along the Mother Road. Several dozen Adopt-A-Hundred volunteers check these establishments in over 100-mile increments of Route 66. (Disclosure: I was one of the volunteers on portions of Oklahoma and Kansas.)

Even so, deadlines and changes on the road keep this edition from being perfect. Shortly after the guide was printed, Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs, Kan., closed around New Year’s, along with its Little Brick Inn B&B. And had Green Chile Kitchen on Route 66 in Yukon, Okla., opened a few months earlier, it likely would have been included in the book. Keep those things in mind when planning your travels.

The guide contains 188 pages in a spiral-bound form, with more than 500 restaurants or motels listed. Information includes hours of operation, physical addresses, phone numbers, websites, specialties, price ranges, amenities, thumbnail ratings, and other notes of distinction.

“The Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide” includes old favorites, such as Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, Calif., and Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago. But it also includes a few new favorites, such as Burn Co Barbecue and The Campbell Hotel, both in Tulsa.

We always keep a copy of this guide in our car. You’d better get one, too.

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