Springfield Stories and Tips

From Funk's grove to Springfield

Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup. We tried to find this for about half an hour and gave up so i have no idea what is there but if you do want to visit then be prepared to hunt as neither our satnav nor the instructions on our Route 66 guide took us there. The Funk's Grove Maple Sirup business was established in 1891. Sirup is correctly spelled this way to distinguish it from sugar-based syrup. This was and continues to be a major stopping point along Route 66. Anyway we failed to get to this magical place!

Funks Grove I-55 Rest Area; this we did manage to find and it was worth the stop because apart from the water fountains, drinks machines and toilets, which we made good use of, there were some unusual metal silhouette statues outside tell the story of travelling in automobiles, picnicking, and the beginnings of Route 66.
Inside the building are some historical exhibits about Abraham Lincoln and Route 66., not a lot but enough to be of passing interest as you stop for the toilets.

Dixie Truck Stop; this was an original truck stop for Route 66 since the 1930s and originally had a restaurant, cabins and even cattle pens. No problems parking here as the parking lot is huge. The Dixie was owned and operated by the Geske family from 1928-2003 and was only closed one day after a fire in1965. The truck stop has now got new owners but still serves travellers along Route 66 for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The original Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame was here from 1990-2004, then it moved to Pontiac which we visited but there is still quite a lot of Route 66 memorabilia around the place and even a mini section specifically with Route 66 artefacts

No not that one in Georgia but a small town in Illinois which seems to have a few places of interest to see. None of them is individually that exciting but it is certainly worth a slight detour to visit this town.
Atlanta Public Library was built in 1908 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is an octagonal and has a domed rotunda. A Seth Thomas clock tower beside the library has to be hand cranked every 8 days.

Just across the road in Route 66 park is a lovely mural which celebrates the fact that Atlanta is approximately 150 miles from both Chicago and St. Louis.

Palms Grill Cafe was closed when we passed through Atlanta so if you visit on a Sunday you will miss out too. The cafe is famous for its neon sign which could be switched on to tell the greyhound bus to stop there. There is another big mural across the road from here.

Bunyon's Statue Giant was the most entertaining thing we found in Atlanta as the place was deserted. This fibreglass giant was made in the 1960s apparently about 150 of these giants were made and put into service to advertise auto service. They became known as "Muffler Men." In 1965, this ex-Muffler Man was bought and the muffler (silencer to us Brits) was replaced by a hotdog and the statue was placed in front of "Bunyon's" the restaurant on Route 66 in Cicero, Illinois. For 38 years, "Bunyon's Statue" was a Route 66 landmark. In January 2003, the restaurant closed and the staue was brought to be enjoyed in Atlanta, so that it could stay on historic Route 66.

Smiley Water Tower can be seen from some way away and makes you smile as the bright yellow water tower has a smiley face painted on it .

This is the only town named after Lincoln in his lifetime and you can visit the site where he christened the town with a watermelon! I was expecting something large but in fact the water melon is not a lot bigger than a real one and took some tracking down. This is called the Lincoln Christening Site and the event took place on August 27, 1853. There is a bit of an explanation panel next to the watermelon.

Logan County Courthouse is another interesting historical building from 1905 and its claim to fame apart from the fact that Lincoln worked as a lawyer here, is that it is considered the second most architecturally spectacular historic courthouse in Illinois' 102 Counties (after Carlinville in Macoupin County, another Historic Route 66 town). It houses a statue of Lincoln, murals, plus historical display cases.

The City Hall is a pretty ordinary solid looking building but what we found really strange was to see a telephone booth on the roof which was not just a practical joke which we originally thought, it was
Railsplitter Covered Wagon; we had to ask directions to this from someone in a charity shop which the only place we found open. This huge covered wagon being driven by an equally huge Lincoln is slightly out of town and near a hotel This has been officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Largest Covered Wagon." It has to be seen to appreciate the size of this and can be seen from some way off but apart from this there is nothing else around it so it os a case of parking the car having a walk around, taking photos and driving on.

This is the capital city of Illinois but is a very sleepy city. I have written a separate review of sights to see in Springfield but will mention a couple of specifically route 66 places to see. Springfield is of course the place to visit to find our out Lincoln as the museum, his home, his tomb and so much more are within this city.
Yet another of the ‘Muffler giants’ is here , the Lauterbach Giant who used to hold a tyre, but now is more patriotic with a U.S. flag. In 2006, he lost his head during a twister, but it has been repaired.

Shea’ Gas station which is a private collection of gas station and Route 66 memorabilia of a lifetime local Texaco dealer Bill Shea who proudly overseas his museum. It was closed when we visited but to me it looked a bit like a junk shop but to those into Route 66 memorabilia and old signs, petrol pumps and the like might be interested in visiting and talking to Bill himself. It cost. $2 to visit and is open Wed-Fri & until Noon on Sat.

The Cozy Dog drive in claims to be the place where the corn dog on a stick is claimed to have been invented and was called a "Cozy Dog." I am not sure that this would be something I would be proud of and when we went to see the ‘Cozy Dog’ we decided we didn’t fancy it and drove on and not in!

While on this holiday we drive two major famous roads in the area, the Great Mississippi River Road and this section of Route 66, we have driven other sections from LA on previous holidays so it was interesting to see how much had to renovated and re opened at this end. It was a fun drive and we didn’t stop at every site only those i have mentioned. If you really wanted to look at everything closely then this section could take up to a week. We visited some places on our way to Springfield from Chicago, some while we were in Chicago and then others when we drove from Springfield back towards Chicago and then across to St Joseph in Michigan.

There was no site that was unforgettable but they were many and varied and on the whole fun to see. There was a lot of social history as well as historical buildings to learn about on the way. I would certainly recommend this drive and it made our drive between Chicago to Springfield and back up very entertaining.

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