1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr. Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.

This President grew;
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership

Site Map

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL

Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville Courthouse,
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 Lincoln, Illinois,
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 Station

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
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 & Present

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 Historic District

The Foley House:  A Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

Agriculture in
the Route 66 Era

Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
including the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the 1950s

Business Heritage

Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era

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 Eras

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 Museum

with Distinction

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 Lincoln, Illinois

Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era

The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois

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, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)


Pages 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 Bulge)

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

Leigh Henson's 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 Lincoln, Illinois

Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life


Pages in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of other Lincolnites:

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 Site,
including photos of many churches

Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois

J. Richard
(JR) Fikuart
(LCHS '65):
he 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 66 Era

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 Times:

The Route 66
Association of Illinois

The Illinois State Historical Society

Illinois Tourism Site:
Enjoy Illinois



  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 Society  
  "superior achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater public"


Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois

 You can go home again.  Email Leigh Henson at dlhenson@missouristate.edu

6. Introduction to
the Railroad Heritage and Route 66 Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois

     "The 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), p. 24.


     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  7. The 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 Chicago"

  "The shortest all-weather route between these cities"

  A commercial lifeline for countless rural, small-town, and urban Americans

  "The symbolic river of America moving west in the auto age of the 20th Century"

  "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 Background). 

     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 Illinois.

The Story of How Route 66 Began in Illinois

      The 1857 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.)

     In 1852-1853, 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 County

6.3:  Panoramic View South from Broadwell:  Double Railroad Tracks Adjacent to the Highway

(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 Elkhart Hill.

     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 Association (IHIA).

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.  Unidentified location.) 

     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?)

Significance 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.

     This Web 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)

     Besides 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 (right); Blue = Union Street (the street "unifying" Postville and Lincoln); Maroon = Wyatt Avenue.


6.9:  Railroad Alignments, Business 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.


6.10:  Broadway Street Looking West on the
Logan County Courthouse Square, 1916, with Train in Background

     Broadway Street 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. 

     William Maxwell 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 better neighborhoods.

     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. 

     Sangamon Street 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

(From Official 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


Sources Cited

     An American Time Capsule.  1857 Map of the St. Louis, Alton, & Chicago Railroad. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amhome.html

     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 http://gbradleypublishing.com/.

     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.

     Illinois Magazine.  vol. 18, no. 3, April, 1979. 

     Logan County Map of 1895:  http://www.livgenmi.com/loganIL.htm

     Maxwell, William.  Ancestors:  A Family History, NY:  Vintage Books, 1971.  William Maxwell's works are available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

     ___________ . "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 Company, 1982.

     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 suggestions:

D. Leigh Henson
PO Box 3127 GSS
Springfield, MO 65808

"The Past Is But the Prelude"

The founding fathers of this town asked their attorney, Abraham Lincoln, for permission to name this new community after him, and he agreed.  On the first day lots were publicly sold--August 27, 1853--, Abraham Lincoln, near the site of the train depot, used watermelon juice to christen the town as Lincoln, Illinois.  It thus became the first town named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous.