Legends Of America
Since 2003
Why am I seeing the old web design?

Legends of America

 

 Tip Jar

Legends Facebook Page    Legends on Pinterest    Legends on Twitter
 

Coal Mining Towns - Page 2

<<  Previous  1 2 Next  >>

  

Today Braidwood, with its population of just a little more than 5,000 people, still provides a nostalgic glimpse of the vintage Mother Road with icons such as the Polk-A-Dot Drive In. First started in 1956 in a school bus painted with rainbow colored polk-a-dots, lunch was served from a mini-sized kitchen inside the bus. Today this great drive-in at 222 N. Front Street sports bigger than life statues of James Dean, Elvis, and the Blues Brothers, along with great food. Several years ago, there was also a statue of Marilyn Monroe, but, she is gone today.

 

The Polk-A-Dot Drive-In in Braidwood, Illinois

The Polk-A-Dot Drive-In in Braidwood, Illinois, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, October, 2010.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

The Polk-A-Dot Drive-In in Braidwood, Illinois

When the Polk-A-Dot Drive-In still featured Marilyn Monroe, Kathy Weiser, September, 2004.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

Braceville, Illinois

 

The village of Braceville was actually once a thriving city with 3,500 residents at its height in the 1870's. By the late 1880's the town sported six general merchandise stores, two banks, a hotel, two restaurants and 18 other retail businesses.

 

Braceville thrived until the summer of 1910 when the miners of the Braceville Coal Company went on strike. Fed up with the whole affair, the coal company simply closed and within just a few months the town was all but abandoned leaving behind an opera house, a large frame school and many empty businesses. Of these today, there is no sign other than a few slag heaps along the old highway. However, the Braceville area still supports some 800  residents. Braceville is home to Mazonia/Braidwood Fish & Wildlife Area, which features quality sport fishing lakes stocked with largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, and bullhead as well as areas for waterfowl hunting.

 

Gardner, Illinois

 

The next town on this coal mining ride is Gardner. Right after crossing the Mazon River, two miles before reaching the small town of Gardner, is the location of the once popular Riviera Restaurant. The historic roadhouse, sadly, burned down in June, 2010. This historic Roadhouse was built in 1928 when a South Wilmington business man, named James Girot, moved the buildings from both Gardner and South Wilmington to form the structure. Reportedly, movie legends Gene Kelly and Tom Mix used to regularly stop here and it was a favorite out-of-the way joint for Al Capone during his heydays. During Prohibition the old roadhouse offered both liquor and slot machines to discrete travelers. Perhaps the booze was even provided by the infamous bootlegger, Al Capone himself.

 

Braceville, Illinois old General Store

W.C. Sheppard's was one of two grocery and dry goods stores operated in Braceville. The store was located on Mitchell Street.

 

 

 

Riviera Roadhouse in Gardner, Illinois

The Riviera Roadhouse in Gardner, September, 2004, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

 Remains of the Riviera Roadhouse, Gardner, Illinois

The remains of the Riviera Roadhouse in October, 2010, Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

Behind the Riviera once stood an old horse drawn Streetcar Diner that is well over 100 years old. In 1932 George Kaldem purchased the streetcar and moved it to Gardner. Soon it became a simple diner providing good food with just a small sign in front to identify it. For a while, it even became an unofficial stop on the Greyhound bus line before the diner closed in 1939. In 1955 Gordon Gunderson, James Girotís son-in-law purchased the streetcar and moved it to its present location behind the Riviera. The streetcar diner was used by the Riviera mostly as a storage space until the Illinois Route 66 Preservation Committee discovered it and restored it to its original Route 66 appearance.

Thankfully, the Streetcar Diner was spared from the fire that took the roadhouse. It has since been moved into Gardner.

Keep on kickin' asphalt as you head on down the Mother road to the small towns of Dwight, Odell , and Pontiac, and as always, enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2015.

 

Art deco ceramic tile station  Braidwood, Illinois.

This art deco ceramic tile station is still doing business

as Kelly Tires in Braidwood, Illinois, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, October, 2010.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

Gardner, Illinois downtown

Gardner, Illinois quaint downtown area, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, October, 2010.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

<<  Previous  1 2 Next  >>

 

  Return to Route 66 

 

To Dwight

 

Return to Route 66

 

To Wilmington

 

 From Legends' General Store

 

Route 66 Postcard Coloring BookRoute 66 Postcard Coloring BookRoute 66 Postcard Coloring Book - If you love Route 66, enjoy coloring, and like to share with others, this book is for you! The Route 66 Postcard Coloring Book contains 20 postcards of various places along America's Mother Road, each ready for your own artistic touch. Then after you color, remove each and send as a postcard. Complete with stamp placement on the back and information on each location. Or, keep your finished work as a reminder of fun times traveling Route 66.

 

Route 66 Coloring Book Postcard          Buy Product $7.95        Route 66 Coloring Book Postcard back

 

  About Us      Contact Us       Article/Photo Use      Guestbook      Legends Of Kansas      Photo Blog     Writing Credits     

Copyright © 2003-Present, Legends of Americaô