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Pre-1930 Segment of Route 66 - Chatham to Staunton

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Upon leaving Springfield, Illinois, Route 66 travelers must make a decision as to which of two alignments to travel -- the pre-1930's alignment or the later alignment which continued as Route 66 until 1977. Both have their own unique history, interesting stops, and photo opportunities. 

 

The pre-1930's two-lane alignment meanders through Chatham and Auburn -- where you can see a piece of brick alignment -- before moving on to Thayer, Virden, Girard, Nilwood, Carlinville, Gillespie, Benld, Sawyerville and Staunton. South of Staunton, the road rejoins with the later alignment.

 

Concrete Route 66 north of Nllwood, Illinois

An old concrete segment and bridge north of Nilwood, Illinois. This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

 

Route 66 Emporium

Visit the Route 66 Emporium

 

One of the oldest and most scenic segments of Route 66 in Illinois, portions of this path pre-date the Mother Road, as it travels along the old Pontiac Trail. Named for Ottawa Chief Pontiac, this road was the main pathway between Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1900's.

 

In 1918, a bond issue was was passed to construct "hard roads" in Illinois and the old trail was designated as SBI-4 (State Bond Issue).

 

Originally, it began in the western Chicago suburb of Cicero and was fully completed by 1924. Roughly paralleling the Chicago & Alton Railroad, this old chunk of pavement not only represents the first hard portion of the Mother Road, but also is a testament of the birth of the interstate highway system. In its earliest years, it was used by hundreds of soldiers returning from World War I, then by Chicago mobsters during the Prohibition era, leading the the road's reputation as "Bloody 66" and the birth of the Illinois State Police.  

In Springfield, it entered tot he east of the Illinois State Fairgrounds before traveling south through the capitol and meandering through downtown streets until following South Grand Street to what is now Chatham Road and exiting the city on the southwest side.

Along this route, travelers will see old brick road sections, concrete paths, abandoned routes, and old bridges, as well as numerous small towns where life goes by at a much slower pace. These many small towns provide numerous historic looks at the past and the countryside is filled with interesting barns, homesteads, and farms.

llinois Route 4, North of Auburn (1921-1932) - A bypassed portion of old Route 4 north of Auburn, Illinois is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This segment consists of two sections -- a 1932 1.53 mile long brick road and a 1921 Portland cement road. Both are well-preserved examples of Route 66's early years in Illinois, illustrating early highway era construction methods.

 

These sections served as part of Route 66 until 1930, when the realignment of the Route 66 south of Springfield rerouted traffic to the less populated eastern side through Litchfield in order to speed up the flow of traffic by avoiding as many towns as possible.

 

The concrete section consists of a 1,277 foot long, 16-foot wide Portland cement dating from 1921. After Route 66 was realigned in 1930, this section briefly reverted to its State Route 4 designation before being abandoned in a 1932 relocation of the State road.

 

The second 1.53 brick section was incorporated into the 1932 modifications and resurfaced with brick at the same time. Today known as the Auburn Brick Road, it contains two original single span concrete bridges over Little Panther Creek constructed in 1920 and paved with brick in 1932.

 

This segment was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. It is located on Curran and Snell roads north of Auburn, Illinois.

 

To reach the concrete 1,277-foot section, travel south on Highway 4 from Chatham to Alpha Road and turn west. The segment is located on Alpha Road between Highway 4 and Curran Road.  The Auburn Brick Road is located between Chatham and Auburn on Snell and Curran Roads. Heading south from Chatham on Highway 4, turn west on Snell Road, which will curve south and turn into Curran Road before rejoining Highway 4.

 

Continued Next Page

 

Brick Road Route 66 north of Auburn, Illinois

A 1932 portion of Route 66 is a 1.53 mile long brick road north of Auburn, Illinois. Legends has it, this portion was built of bricks because a politician in "high places," owned a brick factory.  Kathy Weiser, October, 2010. This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

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EZ66 Guide for Travelers by Jerry McClanahanRoute 66 eight state map series66 Package Deal - This Route 66 Package Deal includes both the EZ66 Guide For Travelers and the The Route 66 Map Series. The EZ 66 Guide includes up-to-date maps, attractions, tips and games.  The map series includes a packaged set of eight fold-out roadmaps, one for each Route 66 state, providing clear, detailed driving directions. This set will provide you with the basic tools for providing an easier journey on what can sometimes be a confusing piece of pavement. 

 

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