1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr.
Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of
Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of LCHS Class of 1960
dignitaries & the Blanfords
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois,
on October 11, 1950?
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away,
revisits, and career:
About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me
A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold
Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and
the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln
Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and
email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos
related to Lincoln, Illinois)
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001
Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography
Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography,
Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski
Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's
Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois
Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of
Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine,
Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and
Correspondent with William Maxwell
Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their
connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of
family fun at Lincoln Lakes
Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois,
Memoirs & Other Stories
Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956
Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His
Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
| Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.
Your computer's settings may alter the display.
April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical
achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater
Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
6. Introduction to
the Railroad Heritage
and Route 66 Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois
small towns in central Illinois nearly all owe their existence to the coming
of the railroads in the decade before the Civil War. I have always had
the impression that Lincoln is in some way different from the others but
perhaps that is only because I lived there."
William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980),
This page outlines transportation history that connects railroad development
to hard road construction in central Illinois. Specifically, the location of Route 66 throughout
Illinois was determined by the alignment of the Chicago and Alton Railroad
(sometimes called the St. Louis, Alton, and Chicago Railroad). This
railroad linked Chicago and St. Louis to Kansas and Nebraska, was
responsible for the founding of Lincoln, Illinois, and contributed heavily
to the growth and development of central Illinois.
(See more about the Alton and Chicago Railroad at
Railroads and Streetcar Line at Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of
the celebrated GM&O train named the Abraham Lincoln.)
The Significance of Route 66
Route 66 was created in 1926 by the Federal
government as a way to connect rural and urban America (California Historic
Route 66 Association Web site, "Route 66 -- Historical Background").
In Illinois, Route 66 connected Chicago and St. Louis, paralleling the Chicago and Alton tracks.
Lincoln lies on old Route 66 (now I-55) about mid way between these two cities
and about mid way between Bloomington to the north and Springfield, the
state capital, to the south. Route 66 was
formed from the Logan County and state roads that paralleled this railroad.
Route 66 has played a vital role in 20th-Century
American history. The 1980 census proved that
population centers had shifted to Western cities away from the
industrialized Northeast and the agricultural Midwest (California Historic
Route 66 Association Web site, Route 66 -- Historical Background). US
Route 66 is arguably the most significant highway that enabled this massive
population shift. Route 66 was all of the following:
· "America's first continuously paved link between Los Angeles and
"The shortest all-weather route between these cities"
· A commercial lifeline for countless rural, small-town, and urban
"The symbolic river of America moving west in the auto age of the 20th
"A symbol of the renewed spirit of optimism that pervaded the country
after the economic catastrophe [Depression] and global war [WW II]"
(California Historic Route 66 Association Web site, Route 66--Historical
In view of this significance, there is little
wonder that in the last few years, many Americans who used to travel Route
66 for whatever reasons have expressed nostalgic interest in its history.
Route 66 has become a cultural icon, producing countless popular and
scholarly publications. One result of this activity is that
Route 66 fans search for and travel its remaining pavement. Any place
along the "Mother Road" attracts Route 66 fans and stands to gain from this
renewed fascination. For many Americans, this renewed interest creates
a better understanding of our history and culture. Also, heritage
tourism produces substantial economic benefits.
A central purpose of
this Web site is to inform viewers about the remarkable presence of Route 66
in Lincoln, Illinois, and of some of the Mother Road's remnants there.
At the bottom of this page is a map showing the
streets through Lincoln that were used by Route 66 and its predecessor,
Route 4. The navigation bar in the left margin contains links to
several maps showing Route 66 at Lincoln, Illinois. These maps are
designed to help you explore and enjoy this historic part of central
The Story of How Route 66 Began
map at the right shows various towns and cities along
the Chicago and Alton Railroad. Towns named Atlanta and
Elkhart are in Logan County. Lincoln was established in Logan County
as a location to provide water to trains on the new railroad.
Lincoln's location on the railroad prompted citizens to move the seat of
Logan County from Mt. Pulaski to Lincoln. (The map also shows the alignment
of the Illinois Central Railroad, which ran from Cairo to Galena and which
later branched through Lincoln.)
the town of Lincoln was laid out with streets parallel with and
perpendicular to the Chicago and Alton tracks. This layout deviated
from the north-south orientation of streets of the older town of Postville.
As streets of one town were aligned with streets of the other town, some
"dog leg" connections and small, triangular- shaped blocks resulted.
A main road in Logan County,
originally the Springfield Stage Road between Springfield and Ottawa, ran parallel to the
railroad. This road became State Route 4 in 1918, and Route 4 was the
predecessor of Route 66, commissioned by Congress in 1926. Figure 6.1
shows the railroad alignment that was paralleled by the main
northeast-southwest road in Logan County, as seen in 6.3.
The need for hard roads in Illinois became apparent with the growing
popularity of cars in the 1910s: "automobile registrations had
mushroomed from 131,000 in 1914 to over 375,000 in 1918, with the number
swelling daily" (Wrone, 1965, p. 68 ).
6.1: 1857 Map of the St.
Louis, Chicago, & Alton Railroad (Web site: An American Time Capsule)
"With rare exceptions, the roads of Illinois in 1910
differed only in number of miles from the roads of 1818. They billowed
clouds of dust in the summer, froze into ruts during the winter, and for two
months each spring and fall became quagmires to trap the stoutest horse and
the most powerful automobile" (p. 54). City streets, too, were often
muddy (p. 55).
Photos 6.4 and 6.5 reflect the simultaneous
occurrence of horse-and-buggy and automobile transportation in the 1910s.
Note that the photo of the classy Hudsons was actually taken
two years before the photo of the horse and buggy. The fashionable
drivers of the Hudsons in 6.5 faced the same conditions that mired the horse
and buggy in mud. Figure 6.10 (near the bottom of this page)
shows that Broadway Street in downtown Lincoln was paved in 1916.
Undoubtedly, paved streets in cities increased motorists' desire for hard
roads between cities.
6.2: 1895 map of Logan
Panoramic View South from Broadwell: Double Railroad Tracks Adjacent to
(Photo from Paul E. Gleason and Paul J. Beaver, Logan County
Pictorial History, p. 53)
The caption says, "An aerial view of Broadwell's
two most important transportation routes. Looking south towards
Elkhart one sees the railroad and later Route 4 which eventually became
'Route 66." Today I-55 passes it [Broadwell]," p. 53.
Note: The highway is paved, and so
must date to the 1920s. The rise in the horizon at the left signifies
In his autobiographical
short story, "The Man in the Moon," William Maxwell describes the challenges
of vehicle transportation in and around Lincoln in the 1910s before hard
roads. Maxwell's Uncle Ted Blinn had "persuaded my grandfather to buy a motor car. The distance
from my grandfather's house to his law office was less than a mile, and the
roads around Lincoln were unpaved, with deep ruts. Even four or five
years later, when motorcars were beginning to be more common, an automobile
could sink and sink into a mudhole until it was resting on its rear axle.
But anyway, there it was, a Rambler, with leather straps holding the top
down, brass carriage lamps, and the emergency brake, the gear shift, and the
horn all on the outside above the right-hand running board" (p. 254).
In her 1979
autobiographical sketch, my maternal Grandmother Blanch Hoblit Wilson
mentions the condition of Fifth Street in Lincoln before it was paved. She and
her husband, Harrison, had built a grocery store at the corner of Fifth and
Washington Streets and operated it throughout the Route 66 era:
"Until 1922 Fifth Street
from State and Fifth Street Road had dust three and four inches deep in
summer. That fall the hard road work began."
The construction of hard roads in Illinois became a slow, difficult process
of translating progressive thought into public sentiment and effective
governmental action (one governor slowed hard road development; another
promoted it). In 1912 civic leaders and such private groups as the Chicago
Motor Club sponsored the creation of the Illinois Highway Improvement
6.4: Buggy Nearly
Buried in the Illinois Mud, 1918
(Wrone, p. 64)
Through the 1920s and
1930s, this Association played a key role in educating the public and
supporting legislation for hard road construction. Effective
communication was needed to overcome the preoccupation of citizens with
World War I and the concerns of farmers, who were often resistant to
governmental programs calling for new public revenues. Figure 6.7
shows the cover of an eight-page pamphlet, one of "six million maps,
posters, folders, and pamphlets" used by the Illinois Highway Improvement
Association to promote the 1918 road-improvement bill (Wrone, p. 71).
The Illinois State Bond Issue (SBI) of 1918 was a positive response to
Federal legislation of 1916 that provided matching funds for states to
construct hard roads. The passage of the 1918 SBI led to the formation
of Route 4, but this road was not immediately paved. In the early
1920s, public demand for hard roads grew as "from 1918 to 1925, the total of
motor vehicle licenses increased by over 850,000" (Wrone, p. 73).
After Route 66 was commissioned in
1926, other conditions favored new road
construction: cement prices and laborers' wages fell . In Illinois, despite
conservatives' objections, another state bond issue was passed in 1924.
More additional money would be needed (to come from a state gasoline tax),
and the Depression complicated construction.
6.5: Hudson Day, 1916,
at the Country Club of Lincoln, Illinois
(Fish, Illustrated Lincoln)
Yet, "by the end of 1930,
Illinois could boast the finest system of permanent roads in America.
From its northern border to Cairo, between the Wabash and the Mississippi,
76 percent of the 10,098 miles comprising the basic highway system was
surfaced with concrete" (Wrone, p. 76). Illinois was also the
first state to complete paving of Route 66.
6.6: 1920s "Hard Road"
Construction in Illinois
(Photo from Illinois Magazine, vol. 18, no. 3, April, 1979, p. 4.
Note the vehicle at the left is an early dump truck. The large machine
appears to be a combination of concrete mixer and spreader/layer. The
road appears to be one lane: the characteristic early width of nine feet. I count at least 15 men. How
many are working and how many watching?)
of Route 66 to Lincoln, Illinois
From the 1920s, Route 66 was the main corridor of car and truck transportation
linking the Midwest, Southwest, and West. Route 66 brought economic
growth and development to towns large and small along its route.
Lincoln, Illinois, is a good
example. On Business 66 in Lincoln, gas stations, neighborhood grocery stores,
and other small businesses flourished.
New businesses were established
on the edge of town when the "beltline" encircled three sides of it in
the early 1940s.
At the intersection of Routes 66, 121, and 10, the
"Four Corners" developed with numerous gas
stations, motels, and restaurants, including the world-famous Tropics and Blu-Inn.
site includes other pages with maps, descriptions, and photos of many of the
sites along Route 66 in Lincoln from 1926 through the 1960s.
6.7: Pamphlet in the Hard Road Campaign of 1918.
Note the name of William Edens, as in Edens Expressway in Chicago
(Wrone, p. 7)
guiding the alignment of early hard roads, the railroads were also sometimes
used by early pilots to help them navigate. In "Come Fly with Me!" Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach tells the story of how a member of the Wright brothers' "flying
exhibition team" followed the tracks of the Illinois Central Railroad
during a race with a train from Chicago to Springfield. "At Mt.
Pulaski, folks had gathered near the railroad tracks to see the first
airplane to pass over Logan County. . . . The flight established
the first airline route in Illinois" (Our Times, p. 2.).
Major Streets and Their Relationship
to the Alton & Chicago Alignment in Lincoln
6.8: Panoramic View of
Lincoln, Illinois, in 1869
This map shows the different orientation of streets in Postville
and Lincoln. Postville street alignments are at the left of the blue
line (Union Street), Lincoln's
at the right of it. Colors have been added as follows:
Green = Alton & Chicago railroad track alignment.
Red on the map corresponds to red on other maps in this Web site to indicate
the streets used by Route 66: Red = Fifth Street (left of Union) and Logan Street
Blue = Union Street (the street "unifying" Postville and Lincoln);
Maroon = Wyatt Avenue.
Route 4 (1918-1926), and
Route 66 (1926-1960) in Lincoln, Illinois
The green lines of this map show streets used by both Routes 4 and 66.
Route 4 streets are in blue, Route 66 in red.
Information for the streets used by Route 4
comes from Mr. Larry Shroyer's description in the History of Logan County
in Illinois 1982 by Paul Beaver: "Old Route 4 ran from Kickapoo
to Broadway west to Sangamon then left on Sangamon to Third Street; it
turned on Maple to 2nd Street; down 2nd to College Street -- along First
Street to Washington Street and Stringer Avenue. It was completed by
1927" (p. 14).
Information for the streets of Business Route 66
comes from my own recollection. Business Route 66 entered Lincoln from
the northeast (direction of Bloomington) on Kickapoo, turned northwest on
Keokuk, then southwest on Logan Street, which ran adjacent to the downtown
business area and present Logan County Courthouse Square Historic District. From Logan
Street, Business 66 ran west on Fifth Street, passed the Postville
Courthouse block, and turned south on Washington-Stringer Avenue, passing along
Postville Park. Business 66 then ran down Cemetery Hill and over Salt
Creek toward Broadwell (site of the Pig-Hip Restaurant), Elkhart, and Springfield.
Street Looking West on the
Logan County Courthouse Square, 1916, with
Train in Background
looking west from the McLean Street
intersection in 1916 (Fish, Illustrated Lincoln).
Broadway appears to have a brick pavement. Fish's book does not
indicate to what extent streets in Lincoln were paved.
recalls from his childhood in the 1910s that "the streets were paved and
lighted except on the outskirts of town" (Ancestors, p. 188). I
suspect the paved streets were mainly in the business district and the
Darold Henson, my father, was born in the same
year that Route 4 (predecessor of Route 66) was designated (1918). He
was born on and raised on Fifth St., becoming part of Business
Route 66 in 1926, and he recalls it being paved with bricks sometime during
his childhood in the early 1920s.
Motorized vehicles are in the foreground.
The full-size version of this reduced photo shows a
horse-drawn wagon parked down the street on the right. A bicycle leans
against the Avery & Comstock storefront. A train is clearly visible in
the background, between Chicago and Sangamon Streets.
was the first street behind the train (north of it) and parallel with it.
Sangamon Street would also become part of Business Route 4 in 1918.
The old Methodist Church building, which stood in the 1950s as the Masonic
Temple and attracted
pigeons but is now demolished, is visible in the background. It was located at the
intersection of Broadway and Logan Street, which would become part of
Business Route 66 in 1926.
Note on the left in front of the Courthouse
are four, elegant, five-globed electric street lamps. The U.S. post
office is on the corner to the immediate left, city hall on the corner to
the immediate right.
GM&O & Other Railroads in Logan County at
the End of the Route 66 Era, 1962
6.11: 1962 Logan County
Railroad Alignments, with Route 66 Being Parallel to the GM&O
Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of Logan County, Illinois, 1962, p. 5)
This map is
labeled "Drainage Map," but the creeks, although shown, are not identified;
yet, the various railroad lines are labeled. So, Lincolnites at Heart,
can you identify all of the streams of Logan County?
6.12: Illinois, Where
the Mother Road Began;
1960, When It Was Decommissioned
An American Time Capsule. 1857 Map of the
St. Louis, Alton, & Chicago Railroad.
Gleason, Paul E., and Paul J. Gleason.
Logan County Pictorial History. St. Louis: G. Bradley Publishing Company, 2000. Material from Mr. Gleason's books is copyrighted with all rights reserved. Mr.
Gleason's material used in this Web site is with permission from the G. Bradley Publishing Company, 461 Des
Peres Road, St. Louis, MO 63131. Lincoln:
A Pictorial History (1998) (200 pages of rare photos and text) and Logan County Pictorial History
(2000) (also 200 pages of rare photos and text). Visit
California Historic Route 66 Association Web site.
http://www.wemweb.com/66_study/toc_0.html The information presented on the page titled "Route
66-Historical Background" is reliable because it is reprinted from Special Resource Study, Route
66 published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Fish, Henry R. Illustrated Lincoln.
Lincoln, IL: H.R. Fish, 1916.
Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence. "Come Fly with Me!" Our Times,
vol. 5, no. 1, spring, 1998.
vol. 18, no. 3, April, 1979.
Logan County Map of 1895:
Maxwell, William. Ancestors: A
Family History, NY: Vintage Books, 1971. William Maxwell's works are available at
___________ . "The Man in the Moon" in All
the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories. NY: Vintage Books, 1995.
Official Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of
Logan County, Illinois, 1962. Mankato, MN: No publisher, 1962.
Shroyer, Larry. "Old Route 4." History of
Logan County, 1982. The Logan County Heritage Foundation. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing
Wrone, David R. "Illinois Pulls out of the Mud." Journal of
the Illinois State Historical Society vol. 58, no. 1, spring, 1965.
Feel free to offer comments, corrections, questions, or
D. Leigh Henson
PO Box 3127 GSS
Springfield, MO 65808
"The Past Is But the