Homepage of "Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other
Highlights of Lincoln, IL"
A Long-Range Plan to Brand the First Lincoln
Namesake City as the Second City of Abraham Lincoln Statues
Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois
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 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
learned that I was not to be trusted."
William Maxwell, "With Reference to an Incident at a Bridge" (1984),
Salt Creek, called the Onaquispasippi -- no
wonder the term did not stick --
by the Indians (Stringer, p. 12), greatly affected the history of Lincoln,
Illinois. Salt Creek is a tributary of the Sangamon River, which flows
across central Illinois past Springfield and then to New Salem, where
Abraham Lincoln taught himself law and became a state legislator. Salt Creek, the largest stream in
Logan County, borders the southern edge of Lincoln, Illinois, as it flows to
its confluence with the Sangamon. Abraham Lincoln crossed Salt Creek countless times as he
surveyed the town site of Albany on Salt Creek at Rocky Ford, rode the Eighth Circuit
across the prairie for many years, and conducted legal and personal business
in the town he named.
Upper Salt Creek was the setting for two of Abraham Lincoln's
legal cases in Logan County: "In 1840 Abraham Lincoln tried a law suit,
under a white oak tree on a farm which later belonged to Joseph Ream, north
of Mt. Pulaski. It concerned the old Dement mill stand, with its dam,
which was the first on Salt Creek and had rights that were encroached upon
by a dam built a few miles below. Later, in another mill case, Mr.
Lincoln proposed that the parties, with their attorneys, should meet on the
premises on Salt Creek and make an effort at settlement. The attorneys
on the opposite side failed to come but Mr. Lincoln was present. The
whole thing was talked over by the parties, before Mr. Lincoln; arbitration
was agreed upon, and Mr. Lincoln was chosen arbitrator. He heard both
sides and then rendered a decision that tradition declares was satisfactory
to all concerned" ("Life of Emancipator Played Integral
Part in the Story of Early County Existence," Lincoln Evening Courier,
centennial edition, section one, August 26, 1953, p. 1).
12.1: Lloyd Ostendorf
Painting Titled Lincoln at the Dement Mill Trial
This image is from a laminated placemat most likely used at the Rustic Inn
at Lincoln, Illinois, when this business was a restaurant operated by Jackie
Sheridan in the 1970s. This placemat and others in a collection
were lent to me for use in this Web site by Judy Henson, who found them at a
yard sale in Lincoln. The original art work is in the possession of
the State Bank of Lincoln, located at 111 N. Sangamon Street in Lincoln,
In the mid 1850s, Preachers John
England and Walter P. Bowles held "a great meeting" on Salt Creek
four miles south of Lincoln. Other religious meetings with common
participants were also held in the vicinity of Lincoln. These
believers formed the Lincoln Christian Church ("Beginning of Lincoln
Christian Church Traced to Salt Creek Banks." Lincoln Evening Courier,
centennial edition, section 2, August 26, 1953, p. 2).
William Maxwell's paternal grandparents, the Robert Creighton Maxwells, were members of the
Lincoln Christian Church.
The John England referred to above was the brother of Author William
Maxwell's "great-great-grandfather, David
England, and the son of the pioneer preacher, Stephen England. . . ."
(Maxwell, Ancestors, p. 139). William Maxwell's maternal
grandfather, Robert Creighton Maxwell, had married Margaret Turley, and her
family belonged to the Christian Church. Mr. Turley gave his daughter
and son-in-law a farm just three miles from Lincoln. In Ancestors, William Maxwell
describes both sets of grandparents, including their religious views, which
The Christian Church placed great emphasis on baptism by immersion.
This importance is reflected in William Maxwell's description of his
paternal grandmother: "My grandmother [Maxwell], having no mind to
speak of, bypassed all questions of doctrine and went right to the heart of
the religion. She never stopped talking about immersion, or
thinking about it. She kept track of who was and who wasn't. She
had the makings of an evangelist" (Ancestors, p. 144).
12.2: Proper Baptism in
White Shirt and Vest at Salt Creek, Logan County, Illinois (undated)
(From Paul E. Gleason and Paul J. Beaver, Logan County Pictorial History,
photo above is included in a section of Logan County Pictorial History
that portrays Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, several miles east of Lincoln,
Illinois (I didn't even know the creek was wide enough for a bridge in those
Most likely the bridge over Salt Creek immediately south of Lincoln also
provided access to the creek for baptism by immersion for such denominations
as the Christian Church, which very strongly advocated that immersion was
the only valid version of this ritual.
Various bridges over Salt Creek were
required for the railroads and highways between Lincoln, Illinois, and the
state capital of Springfield.
Later, on this page, I describe how the bridges over Salt Creek were
unsupervised playgrounds for local guys, including William Maxwell and, a
generation later, my
own contemporaries. On such a highway bridge, Maxwell
learned he could not trust himself.
When landmark roads and bridges survive as ruins, some folks view them with
nostalgic fascination. Exploring unfamiliar ruins, however, requires
guidance. An indication of the practical need for the map below, plus
descriptions and photos, is
the following journal account of a visiting adventurer to Lincoln, Illinois, who posted this account on the Web:
"With me, I had taken as much literature about the old road [Route 66] as I could
gather. In the evenings, I would often get all my materials spread out on
the bed in the motel and check over them to see that I hadn't missed
anything. Driving and navigating at the same time can be a little tricky.
This morning, based on what I'd read the previous evening, I went gadding
about trying to find the Ghost Bridge over Salt Creek. This took me through
a cemetery and down a strange road. I'm not sure I ever found what I was
supposed to find, but the trip was interesting just the same" (April 7,
The following map and related information are intended to make
easier and more successful.
12.3: Diagrammatic Map of Salt Creek and
The numbers of the items below correspond to the numbers on the above map.
The following numbers and descriptions pertain only to Route 66 at Salt
Creek and Cemetery Hill, including the
highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, and the old dam.
items on the map that are not included below appear on
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(Former Chautauqua Site), the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites.
Legendary Cemetery Hill of Routes 4 and 66
Access this area by approaching from the north or south on Business I-55 (66).
Turn (west) onto original Routes 4 and 66 pavement where that road
diagonally crosses present Business I-55.
This crossing occurs near
the location where the campus of Lincoln Developmental Center (LDC) is
adjacent to New Union Cemetery (the crossing is about a quarter mile north
of the Salt Creek bridge.
Photo 12.4 was taken from near
the Lincoln Developmental Center and
New Union Cemetery. This view looks across Business I-55 at Routes 4 and 66 pavement.
Photo 12.4 looks south
toward the turnoff (between utility poles) onto original pavement of Routes
4 and 6.
North of Salt Creek Bridge on Business I-55 (Route 66 Beltline)
Henson photo, 6-02)
Original Routes 4 & 66
(Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
12.6: Brick Pavement of
Maple Street (Route 4) in Lincoln, Illinois
(Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
Directions to the North-Shore Piers of Lincoln's Route 66 "Ghost Bridge"
Just after the turnoff from Business
I-55 is a
section of original red brick pavement, now named Cobblestone Avenue.
Lincoln, Illinois, has many red brick streets of original pavement.
Straight ahead down the
road shown in photo 12.5 is a barricade near the crest of Cemetery Hill.
As you look at photo 12.5, beyond the
trees to the left is Holy Cross Cemetery; beyond the yellow sign to the
right is the entrance to Old Union Cemetery. Straight down this road is
Cemetery Hill. The barricade prevents driving down the old road, but
it is possible and pleasant to walk it. The "ghost bridge" piers near
Salt Creek are only about a half mile down this road.
12.7: Routes 4
& 66 Pavement,
(Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
Spring Wildflowers (or spreading cemetery flora?) Line Routes 4 and 66
Pavement on the Slopes of Cemetery Hill
(Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
12. Site of Several Bridges over Salt Creek
The site of several
bridges over Salt Creek is a quarter mile
or so south of the original channel (bottom of Cemetery Hill). Here, the land was low
and tended to flood, explaining the need
for other bridges. This area south of the original creek channel
became the site of the main creek channel when the stream was straightened
and deepened in order to increase water flow and decrease flooding.
12.9: 19th-Century Covered
Bridge over Salt Creek Below Cemetery Hill
This photo was discovered in family albums of Eleanor Gibson, LCHS Class of
1937, and provided to Leigh Henson by his cousin Jerry, Eleanor's son.
This view looks south over the Salt Creek flood plain. On the far side of the bridge, the road continued on
a levee. A small stream bed, visible in the background, later became
the main channel when the stream was straightened and channelized in the
early 20th century.
12.10: Lateral Reversal of the
According to the source of photo 12.10 (Paul Beaver, History of Logan
County 1982 [p. 30]), this photo shows the covered bridge in
approximately 1925. It was replaced by a steel truss bridge shown in
the foreground of photo 12.11 below.
"The flooding of Logan County streams in 1913
caused heavy damage, especially to bridges. This Salt Creek flood has
been noted as the greatest high water since 1844. The flood threatened
the interurban, Alton Railroad, and the old covered bridge and the covered
bridge north of Middletown. . . .
The flooding of Salt Creek brought about the
formation of the Lower Salt Creek Drainage district in the 1920s and work of
dredging and straightening the creek channel from near Middletown east to
the Alton railroad bridge south of Lincoln was begun. The limestone
rock on the bed of the creek at Rocky Ford was blasted for the channel and
the breaking of the rock barrier caused a drop of the water table upstream
and in the area of Lincoln Lakes more than a foot. Kickapoo Creek was
also dredged from Salt Creek to the Fifth Street road" (Larry Shroyer,
"Natural Disasters and Otherwise," in Paul Beaver, History of Logan
County 1982, pp. 11-12).
Civil Engineer John Werschey
of the Illinois Department of Transportation responded to my email inquiry
about bridges over Salt Creek with verification that more than one bridge
was located over Salt Creek near Cemetery Hill: "I do know a that an
SA road (County) existed in this area prior to1922 and that the northernmost
bridge was in place (was raised 2.1 feet) and was utilized as part of the SBI 4 [State Bond Issue
that created Illinois Route 4] along with two additional bridges to the
south built specifically for this project either as overflow or main channel
structures. All three were truss bridges of varying styles, including one
Pratt truss. There is at least one picture around here of a
horse drawn grader working Cemetery Hill during the construction in 1923. I
don't think you can see the bridge though in the picture." (John Werschey's email to Leigh Henson, 1-3-02)
Note: See Sources Cited below for links to information about Pratt
The original channel of
Salt Creek lay at the foot of Cemetery Hill. Here were located a covered
bridge and a later steel truss bridge that replaced it. The steel truss
bridge, shown in the foreground of the rare photo below, has been
demolished. Today the location can be identified by the dip in the road,
where the filldirt does not quite reach the grade. In the background of the
photo below is some kind of construction of the steel truss bridge at the
site of the famous Route 66 ghost bridge as depicted by photos below on this
Routes 4/66 Steel
Pratt Truss Bridges over
Salt Creek South of Lincoln, IL, Below Cemetery Hill
12.11: 1926 Road/Bridge Construction Southwest of Lincoln, IL
Thanks to Andrew Trello's activity on Facebook, I discovered Joe Sonderman's
encyclopedic trove of historic photos and postcards on the Web at
http://www.66postcards.com/postcards/il/index14.html. Above image republished here
courtesy of Mr. Sonderman. Original photo source: IDOT. Photo annotation by Leigh Henson.
Route 66 alignment shown above was changed to run about a half mile east of
this site in about 1940 (depicted/described later on this page), the two bridges shown in the background of the
above photo were demolished except for the piers, now known as a ghost
bridge. Yet the steel truss bridge that replaced the wooden bridge was left
standing for several decades before it, too, was demolished.
location is among my earliest childhood memories. Thus, in the early stages
of developing this website (2001-2), I revisited this area, hoping to see the
old bridge over the original Salt Creek stream bed and take photos, but by then the bridge
had been demolished--with no ghost bridge remnants! For a long time I looked for a
published photo showing these
steel bridges but
despaired of ever finding one. Then early in 2014 while browsing Facebook, I
was quite pleasantly surprised when I came across the above photo, which Andrew Trello had posted there. I
contacted him via Facebook, and he referred me to Joe Sonderman, also on
Facebook. Mr. Sonderman had first rediscovered this photo in connection with
research on one of his books, and he granted permission for me to use the
photo here. Note: the site known as the ghost bridge actually featured two steel
truss bridges in close tandem, as indicated in the above photo.
spring of 1947, at the age of five, I was with my parents as they casually
foraged for morel mushrooms near the old creek bed depicted above. We were
at the foot of Cemetery Hill just to the right of the scene in the above
photo. Dad taught me how to spot the tiny, grey morels. I also discovered an
unbroken robin's egg and the next day took it to show my kindergarten class
at Central School. Later that day the teacher, Mrs. Hodgson, told me I could
not take the egg home because it had been accidentally broken by one of my
classmates. She did not identify which one, and no one has ever confessed to
me. She said maybe some day I would
find another. Since then, I have looked and found some that were almost but
not quite intact. I've decided that finding the above photo is even better.
1940s, '50s, and 60s, many local youths stood on the bridge deck and shot at
cans, bottles, rats, and snakes in the trash that had been dumped beneath the
bridge into the stagnant water of the old creek bed and along the banks.
When I reached my
mid-teens in the late '50s, Dad let me take his 22-caliber, single-shot rifle out to the abandoned Rte.
4/66 bridge to practice on the targets found there. As a youngster growing
up in the Depression, Dad had used this 22 to hunt fox squirrels in the
wooded areas near Lincoln. His grandmother would "clean" them and fry them.
When I used this 22, its bolt housing had a hairline
crack, and I wondered whether the rifle would ever blow up in my face, but I
wasn't concerned enough to stop. I also borrowed Dad's old 410, single-shell
shotgun to shoot at this site. These firearms are still in the family.
The photo at the right
shows Dick George (l) and Mike Hudkins, LCHS Noble Class of 1960, standing
on the floor of that bridge during one of the shoots. The photo shows the
girders of the steel truss bridge at right. Bob Goebel, also LCHS Noble
Class of '60, sometimes targeted wayward squirrels. I was with Mike Hamilton
when he shot his
elephant gun "30 ought 6" at the bridge to see if the bullet would pierce the
steel girder. I do not recall the
results--I was long gone to
avoid the ricochet.
12.12: Dick George (l) and Mike Hudkins Appear to be Sentries at the Routes 4 and 66 Bridge
Looking north from the foot of
Cemetery Hill. Dick's rifle has a clip; he took owning a rifle
seriously. He joined the Marines right after high school graduation. Photo from the 1958 Lincolnite.
One afternoon in the fall
of 1959 or following winter of 1960, while some of my friends went "plinking
and plunking" with their 22s at the old bridge shown in photos 12.11,12, they
devised a practical joke. One guy was placed in the trunk of a car and
heavily smeared with catsup. Then, a couple of the guys drove into
town and to the parking lot at the back of Leonard's Cafe. These guys
went inside where they knew they would find the girlfriend of the guy in the
trunk. Feigning shock and confusion, they summoned her outside,
muttering something about a terrible accident. They rushed her to the
parking lot and opened the trunk to ask her what they should do about the
bloody body of the shooting accident victim.
She is a member of the LCHS Noble Class of 1960. From this (im)practical
joke, did she learn not to trust any of us?
My father told me that in the 1920s my Great, Great Uncle Boone Hoblit (brother of
Great Grandfather John Hoblit and great uncle of Cousin Jerry Gibson) lived in a shack at the bottom of Cemetery
Hill, and that shack would have been located less than a hundred yards or so
at the left of the scene shown in the above photo. Willie Aughton also
remembered Boone. As a kid, my dad used to go fishing in Salt Creek
and in the nearby marshy creek bottoms called Devil's Hole and so would
occasionally cross Boone's path. Dad said he was
much afraid of Boone. One of Boone's eyes was disfigured; he drank a
lot; and he threatened passersby who came too close. I suppose since
that was the time of Prohibition, I can understand why Boone did not want
anyone snooping around his place.
North Shore Piers of the Routes
4 and 66 1920s Two Bridges Over Salt Creek at Lincoln
12.13: 1920s Ghost Bridge Piers at Salt Creek after Channelization
(Photo taken on the north shore looking south. Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
From the foot of Cemetery
Hill, first there is a brief stretch of dirt road where the steel bridge was
removed and the area filled in. Then, for about a quarter mile, the
original concrete pavement continues on a levy, leading to the site of the
concrete piers of the 1920s-era bridges. The present channel of Salt
Creek is also located here.
This new channel was
formed in the late 1920s, when Salt Creek was straightened (channelized) to
expedite flow and reduce flooding. In the above photo, Salt Creek is
murky from heavy spring rains.
At the end of the pavement, it is possible and
pleasant to walk down the slope of either side to see the piers up close.
The steel and concrete bridge piers seen in photo 12.14 are
the piers nearest Salt Creek.
Photos 12.15 and 12.16
below show the unusual features of the concrete piers, which invite a close look at the
coloration and small stalactites.
Another set of photos and
directions to this "ghost bridge" are found at a Web site by Steve
Look, whose address is
under Sources Cited (below).
Beams (foreground) and Concrete Bridge Piers (background) on North Side of
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
The photo of 12.14 clearly shows
the remnants of a steel bridge across Salt Creek. I recall the twisted beams
of 12.14 from my earliest visits to this area -- in the early 1950s -- with my father and Grandfather Harrison Franklin Wilson,
who used to take me fishing for carp with cane poles, bobbers, and night
crawlers to the creek in this area. During the early 20th Century,
steel bridges were commonly used to span the creeks of central Illinois.
For more information about these early bridges,
including photos of iron bridges over other Logan County creeks, please
visit the Web site of Mr. Douglas Coulter of Morton, Illinois (Web
site address below in Sources Cited). One of his "passionate causes"
has been the study of these magnificent structures. Doug Coulter's
great photos are guaranteed to help transport you back 75 to a 100 or more
12.15: Multiple Arches of
Concrete Bridge Piers on North Side of Salt Creek Looking South
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
12.16: Stalactites on
Bridge Pier Caused by
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
North Shore Piers of Routes 4 and 66 1920s Bridges Over Salt Creek
taken from the south shore looking north. Photo by
Leigh Henson, 12-01)
December view is
from the south shore looking north. Just beyond the trees in the
background toward the right are Cemetery Hill, Old Union Cemetery, and Holy
Cross Cemetery. The white concrete piers shine in
the winter sun like bleached skeletons.
in winter months is at normal pool and free from the silt that muddies
prairie streams in other seasons. With a thin layer of ice in places, the
still, cold stream reflects the brilliant winter sky. Photos of the south
shore of the ghost bridge appear later on this page.
16. Circa 1940 Route 66 Bridge over Salt Creek and
Nearby Railroad Bridges
12.18: 1944 Photo of the
Recently Constructed Rte. 66 Bridge over Salt Creek at Lincoln, Illinois
looks north, clearly showing the curve of the bridge, with the sharpest
point toward the north end. The short, vertical
shaft extending above the tree line at the right is probably the smoke stack
of the city utilities power plant. Photos above and below sourced at Joe Sonderman's
with his permission. Original photo source: IDOT.
Median View of the Circa 1940 Route 66 Bridge Looking North
Note: Photos 12.18, 19 show dark oil staining more in the right lane
than in the left lane. The amount of staining looks like a lot for pavement
that was only a few years old. Apparently the quality of vehicle design and
build, including seals, at mid-twentieth century was not as good as today's. Also,
the staining in the right lane is significant. Traffic was light in those days, and perhaps folks
then did not otherwise find a need to travel "in the fast lane" on Route
66--or anywhere else in their lives.
12.20: Looking South on
Route 66 at Repair to the Floor of the 1940 Salt Creek Bridge Before
Replacement of Original Concrete Balustrade Railings in the 1960s
(Illinois Department of Transportation photo)
Photo Showing the Scene on 1940 Route 66 Salt
Creek Bridge in East Lane Looking North Toward Lincoln, Illinois
half mile ahead, original Routes 4 and 66 cross this road. Turn at the
second left, driving on original Routes 4 & 66 pavement toward the barricade.
Railing from 1940 Route 66 Bridge
Mysteriously Relocated to a
Large Patch of Poison Ivy on the Banks of Salt Creek in Madigan State Park
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-02)
Sometimes the past appears in unexpected and delightful ways. In late
July 2002, I discovered this section of the balustrade railing of the 1942
Route 66 bridge over Salt Creek while roaming the Edward R. Madigan State
Park along the south shore of Salt Creek near the railroad bridge.
Photo 12.20 shows original balustrade railing on the
Civil Engineer Nelson Teichmann, LCHS Class of 1960, mentioned in an email
that Bob Ware and he, working for the Illinois Department of Transportation
in the summer of 1962, were on a crew that removed this balustrade
railing in preparation for its replacement. Nelson describes Bob's
enthusiasm for the tricky challenge: "he was quite a dare devil, in my
opinion in that he would hang over the outside of the bridge, I want to say
without even a strap or maybe a crude one and jack hammer from that
position" (email to Leigh Henson of 1-22-02).
The location of this large bridge remnant is unusual for a couple of
reasons. First, no other traces of the railing are noticeable in this
area. Also, this heavy railing had to be moved at least a hundred
upstream to its present location, and that would take some doing. Was
it deliberately located there -- upright, intact, perpendicular to the stream,
and on the bank -- as a breakwater to retard creek bank erosion?
history reminds me of a scene
in William Maxwell's story titled "With Reference to an Incident at a
Bridge" (1984). Maxwell recalls his days as a senior Boy Scout when
some other Scouts and he were mentors to a group of Cub Scouts. One
night Maxwell and friends "walked the little boys clear out of town
[Lincoln, Illinois] in the
moonlight and halted when we came to a bridge. . . with low sides that came
up about to the little boys' belly buttons." The Cub Scouts were
blindfolded with their backs against one side of the bridge. On
command the Cub Scouts "charged bravely across the bridge and into the
opposite railing and knocked the wind out of themselves." Maxwell
rationalizes that the "incident" taught the boys that "cruelty could never
again take them totally by surprise." He concludes "I learned that I
was not to be trusted" ("Incident," p. 169). He also says he did not
ask God's forgiveness because he knew he would not get it.
Substructure of Circa 1940 Route
66 Salt Creek Bridge Scheduled for Replacement
12.23: Steel and Concrete
Substructure of the 1940 Rte. 66 Bridge over Salt Creek at Lincoln, IL
Photos above and below by Leigh
12.24: Cavernous, Long View of
the Substructure of the
Circa 1940 Route 66 Bridge over Salt Creek at Lincoln, IL
In 2014 IDOT is replacing the circa 1940 bridge. The bridge and I are
approximately the same age. If the bridge could speak, would it agree with
me that we are both yet viable and don't like the idea of being replaced? For information
about the bridge replacement,
of 1940 Route 66 Salt Creek Bridge from the GM&O Railroad Bridge
(Photos 12.25- 12.28 by Leigh Henson)
Millions of people crossing this bridge going north into Lincoln (left to
right in photo) have looked to their right and noticed the GM&O railroad
bridge. So, for fun, I thought I would show the Route 66 bridge from the top
of the railroad bridge.
GM&O Railroad Bridge Looking Toward Lincoln (north)
One of the two original tracks has been removed. Darold Henson
remembers when there were two tracks for the GM&O and one for the Interurban
(separate bridge) to accommodate the dozen passenger trains through Lincoln
daily. The Interurban bridge was to the right, upstream, about 1/8th
Massive Piers and Wide Gravel Bar
The discovery of this gravel deposit early in the 20th Century
led to the formation of the Lincoln Sand & Gravel Company and Lincoln Lakes.
For more about Lincoln Sand & Gravel, see
28. Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; &
Center Bridge Pier
I find no date for the construction of this bridge. It was
certainly built to withstand floods and support two trains. The skirt
of the base pier appears to be steel, perhaps walls of a coffer dam filled
with concrete. The yellowish red vertical line to the left of the pier is a rope
suspended from under the bridge so that today's youth can climb onto the
pier, swing out, and cannon ball into the creek when depth allows.
18. South Shore Concrete Piers of Salt Creek Bridge
To get to these piers, drive south
toward Springfield on
Business I-55 (old Route 66) over the 1942 Salt Creek bridge, and turn on
the first right (about a quarter mile south of the Salt Creek bridge). Then
drive about a quarter mile, around a curve to the right, until reaching the
barricade. You can park nearby.
If you choose to
walk forward toward the bridge piers, be careful. The old
roadbed is filled with concrete debris, which may be the remnants of the old
bridge floor. As you walk toward the bridge piers, take care to
walk to the left of the road because of an adjacent shooting range at right.
12.29: Looking South from
Business I- 55 to the Turn-Off on Original Routes 4 & 66 South of the 1942
Salt Creek Bridge
(Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
12.30: Barricade and
Leading to Debris and Bridge Piers
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-02)
12.31: From South Side of
Creek Looking North Across Tops of 1920s Bridge Piers
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
12.32: 1920s Bridge Main
Pier and Other Piers on South Side of Salt Creek
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
Main Pier of 1920s Routes 4 and 66 Bridge Over Salt Creek on Its South Shore
Here the scrub trees encircle the main pier of the
1920s Routes 4/66 bridge over Salt Creek. These arms of nature seem to
embrace this structure as if it were a coveted, towering boulder-monument, holding it
dear to protect it from the threat of man's "progress."
on Original Routes 4 & 66 Pavement
The photo below shows the beginning of debris that extends about 100 yards
up the old roadbed toward Salt Creek. Some of the debris visible in
the photo may be from recent dumping by the Highway Department, as suggested
by the black asphalt chunks in the foreground.
Yet, I remember seeing
chunks of concrete piled on this roadbed when I was a kid. My memory
of this area extends back about 55 years to the times I was with my dad and
Grandfather Wilson when they fished Salt Creek and the nearby gravel pit.
In the last couple of years, I have examined this rubble, and I am convinced
that the concrete chunks that I recall from childhood -- the ones closer to
the creek -- are indeed the remnants of
the Routes 4 and 66 bridge floor whose concrete piers remain and are
12.34: Remnants of a Lost
World: Chunks of Routes 4 and 66 Bridge Floor and Pavement
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-02)
tourists may be tempted to remove debris as souvenirs of the historic
highways, but this material belongs to the people of Illinois and is under
the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
R. Madigan State Park and 28 Salt Creek
"Situated on the southern
edge of Lincoln, Edward R. Madigan State Park is an ideal destination for
those looking for a quiet place to enjoy nature. The park offers
picnic areas and trails, plus canoe access to Salt Creek that borders its
east side. The park allegedly is home to the state's largest sycamore tree and
also features oaks, walnuts, ashes, hackberries, and hickories. Its
resident wildlife species include deer, raccoons, rabbits, pheasants, quail,
Correctional Center and Logan Correctional Center, the 750-acre park was
known as Railsplitter State Park with its inception in 1971. In 1995,
it was renamed to honor a Lincoln native with a distinguished career in
public service. Edward R. Madigan (1936-1994) served as state
representative, U.S. congressman and, under President Bush, agriculture
secretary" (brochure titled Edward R. Madigan State Park).
Herb Altman, Lincoln
Community High School Class of 1956, provides additional information about
the origin of this park: "It is great to be reminded of the local
congressman, Ed Madigan, at the park. But I would like to remind
everyone that the park was built by the efforts of my father, Fred E.
At the time he was a union official for the Operating
Engineers, and he pushed for the park to be transferred to the Department of
Conservation from the Department of Mental Health, and he had the vision of
the park, and obtained volunteer labor from the organized labor group.
That is the reason for the Flag at the entrance, and the memorial plaque at
the base of the flag. His efforts through Governor Ogilvie, a personal
friend, is the reason the park exists."
Visitors to the park
enjoy picnicking, fishing (channel catfish, bass, and panfish), canoeing, hiking,
and hunting. "The park offers a scenic
7-mile hiking/biking trail, which meanders through grasses, trees, and creek
bottoms. There is also a 3/4-mile jogging trail" (brochure).
More information is available by contacting the site superintendent at 1366
1010th Ave., Lincoln, IL.
Giant Cottonwoods Near the Banks of Salt Creek in the Edward R. Madigan
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-02)
I have not looked for the state-record sycamore tree located in this
park and would welcome a photo of it and a description of its location in
Misadventure on Salt Creek: Or, How I, Too, Learned Not to Trust Myself
(with apologies to William Maxwell)
The area of
the power plant's cooling lakes ("hot water ponds"), the back water lakes between Lincoln Lakes and Salt Creek -- "hoot
'n holler" --, and
the creek itself provided a "common man's" recreational paradise that did
not require purchased permits as did the Lincoln Lakes. Except in winter,
people daily fished for catfish below the dam on Salt Creek.
I learned a
lot about fishing by going with Dad to this area. I recall his meeting
his friend, Dr. Chester Davis, there one evening just above the dam when Dr. Davis
was fishing with a new-fangled spinning reel. Dr. Davis patiently
showed Dad how the gear worked, and soon after that Dad acquired his own spinning reel
the late summer Dad liked to fish for channel catfish just above the dam on
Salt Creek. At those times, he assigned me the task of venturing into
the tall weeds of vacant lots near home in the afternoon in order to catch
large yellow grasshoppers for bait. On a hot summer afternoon, that
proved to be sweaty work. When I caught one, I placed it in a pint or
quart mayonnaise jar. The lid had holes punched with hammer and nail
to allow the hoppers to breathe.
them required moving slowly through the tall weeds to avoid scattering them
in flight. As hoppers spotted me, they tried to hide behind stalk,
branch, or leaf. The trick was to reach forward slowly and quickly
grab the hopper. Hoppers would shift position on the weed stalk as a shield
against my hand. Once caught, the hopper would spit its "tobacco
juice" on my fingers as I slipped it into the jar among the blades of grass
I put there for its last meal. I was always concerned about having
enough hoppers but usually did have.
Hoppers had other uses than bait. My sister reminds me that sometimes I
arranged for the hoppers' "tobacco juice" to get on her. Another
"hopper prank" I pulled only once. My Aunt Mariann and Uncle Loren
Wood lived next door. One afternoon I crept up to their living room
window by the driveway, pried open the window screen, and released a few
hoppers inside. First, there was commotion; later that evening there
was justice. It may have been the following year when the Woods moved
to the arrowhead country of Minnesota.
When Dad got home from work, he would eat a quick sandwich before we were
off to the dam and creek. There, he fished with a fly rod, using just
a split shot weight with baited hook. The hook was inserted into the
grasshopper under its chin and threaded through the body with the hook
protruding. Dad waded out into the stream far enough to cast into the
middle, letting the bait drift into the eddies behind wooden pilings, where
the catfish would strike hard and fight vigorously.
The water rushing over the Salt Creek dam was a powerful force that I
learned to respect even before I reached the teen years. Yet, when I
was about 17 and a bit too rambunctious for my own good, I got into a
dangerous situation there.
It happened in the late winter of 1958 or 1959. Salt Creek was so swollen with
runoff from melting snow and ice that it was out of its banks and flooding
the whole region, even the crop land between the Lakes and Frorer Avenue.
Mike Hamilton and I decided to "borrow" my dad's canoe and explore the
flooded back lakes. On our way to launch the canoe, we managed to drive past the power plant, down to
the next underpass. It was flooded so we launched there and headed
12.36: Salt Creek Spring
Flooding of Farm Fields
Where Mike Hamilton and Leigh Henson Canoed Before "Shooting the Rapids"
Over the Old Dam
(This 1970s photo is from Flood Plain Information: Salt Creek, Kickapoo
Creek, Brainard [sic] Branch, and Salt Spring Branch, by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers for the Logan County Regional Planning Commission,
p. 24. The background shows houses at the southeast edge of Lincoln.)
After canoeing through the hot water ponds, back lakes, and the regular
Lincoln Lakes, we paddled over the flooded fields seen above in 12.35. From
there, we made our way south to Salt Creek above the dam and decided the
water was high enough that we could "shoot the rapids." We saw that
the water was near the bottom of the first railroad bridge (interurban) with
only a couple of feet of clearance, but we planned to paddle to the side
before reaching the bridge. The current was so swift that it carried
us toward the bridge, and we nearly had to flatten ourselves in the canoe
bottom, barely clearing the bridge.
The image below is crude, but it shows the dam and the Interurban bridge not
far beyond it.
Downstream Over the Salt Creek Dam Toward the Interurban Bridge
Photo is from the Lincoln Evening Courier, January 14, 1954, p. 10.
The image quality is poor because it is a scan from a microfilm printout,
but better than nothing. The Courier photo caption reads,
"Looking westward down Salt Creek not far from Lincoln Lakes one can see the
bare rocks below the dam and sandbars that ordinarily are not visible at
this time of the year. Instead of the water flowing over the whole
dam, liquid barely trickles through a single area, which in the photo is
just above the left arm of the Y-shaped stump."
It was getting dark, so we paddled through the backwater lake, close to the
Rubicon, and into the ditch near the parked car. We had to paddle a
ways into the ditch and go hard against the current. We got to the
place where the car was parked; and as we were trying to turn the canoe
toward land, it got sideways against the current, which overturned the
canoe, throwing us both into the near-freezing water. I went under but
managed to touch bottom and spring upward, grabbing the canoe. My
varsity jacket was soaked and seemed to weigh 50 pounds, so it was fortunate
that I did not have to swim out. Mike was closer to the shore, so
didn't go under, but both of us had our breath taken by the shock of the
When I got home, Dad was not there. He had gone looking for us, and he
was not happy when I later explained why I was soaked. This
incident should have taught me I could not always trust my judgment, but I
confess I'm not sure it did.
12.38: Ruins of Old Dam
Over Salt Creek
Robert Frost wrote that "the woods are lovely dark and deep," and they
are here, so dark that a flash was needed in mid afternoon. Finding
these ruins was almost like an Indiana Jones adventure and certainly
reminded me of my "float trip" over the dam with Mike Hamilton.
I find very little information about this dam. Darold Henson asked two
men who had worked at the old power plant, a son and his father, if they
knew anything about the origin of the dam, but neither did. At first
glance the dam appeared to be a jumble of broken concrete chunks dumped there, but a
closer look indicated at least the front of the dam had been carefully
designed. It had concrete slabs standing on edge end to end, forming a
shallow wall across the channel. This first row was abutted by other concrete slabs, lying flat in
the stream bed, whose ends were perpendicular to the front row to brace it.
Dad said the dam at one time had a wooden chute in the middle to allow fish
to swim through, further evidence of the dam's deliberate
design and construction.
Most likely the dam was constructed to raise the water level above Salt
Creek when Lincoln's first wells were located in this area. That
suggests the dam was constructed late in the 19th Century and was thus truly
an historic landmark.
The dam was demolished as a result of a controversial redirection of Salt
Creek, which was deliberately re-routed by a private landowner to circumvent
the dam. I know of at least one other case like this (on the Mackinaw
River) where the landowner was taken to court and ordered to return the
stream to its original channel, but that did not happen here.
observation is that the old dam was bulldozed to the edge of the new channel
to provide a barrier against bank erosion. As Alexander Pope wrote, "Whatever is, is right."
Visitors to the park enjoy picnicking, fishing (channel catfish, bass, and panfish), canoeing, hiking, and hunting. "The park offers a scenic 7-mile hiking/biking trail, which meanders through grasses, trees, and creek bottoms. There is also a 3/4-mile jogging trail" (brochure). More information is available by contacting the site superintendent at 1366 1010th Ave., Lincoln, IL.
12.39: Salt Creek Fisherpersons
in the Early 1950s
(Jane Henson photo)
Henson with Bass Caught in Salt Creek in the 1980s
(Judy Henson photo)
In photo 12.39, from left
to right front are Leigh and Linda Henson; at back left to right are Uncle Loren Wood and Darold Henson. Loren
and Dad often fished together, using a canoe they jointly owned and
refinished in Dad's basement one winter around 1950. They stripped the
bottom from an old wooden canoe and applied fiberglass, sending unpleasant
chemical odors throughout the house. Loren and
his wife, Mariann Wilson Wood, now live outside Cook, Minnesota, near Lake
Vermilion. Note in 12.38 that Loren
wears a service station uniform (Shell logo on shirt) as this photo is from
the time he operated the Shell Service Station at Fifth and Washington Streets.
Lee Walker Recalls Salt Creek,
the Old Dam, and Old Union Cemetery
From: Lee Walker
Sent: Mon 7/24/2006 7:36 PM
To: Henson, D Leigh
Looks like The Old Mill Restaurant (tavern) is doomed according the
"Courier". Probably lot of money to rehab it. We'll see. Another landmark
torn down. Ugh.
In one area of the website you wrote about Salt Creek and the old dam. A
group of us from LCC would drive down there. In those days, I think you had
to turn off on the West side of Rt. 66 and then go underneath the highway. I
believe we would end up (somehow) on the South side of the creek. As I
recall, it flowed East to West there by the dam. The current was quite
strong there in the Spring. We would halfway crouch and crawl out on the
downstream side of the dam, the current pulling and tugging. Toward the
middle of the dam, we would lunge out and let the current drag us downstream
twenty five yards or so. A park ranger or such like official appeared and
told us that we could swim there, but warned us that several people had
drowned there. Years later on a Lincoln pilgrimage, we drove down some
dirt/gravel road looking for the "swimming hole", but the road either dead
ended or went nowhere, having been changed, or blocked, I can't remember.
Apparently, as you wrote in the website, the creek had by then been
rerouted, and the old dam sat in a dry creek bed.
My friend Ernie Cornwell, and I wandered across Route 66 from where we both
lived with our spouses, in the apartments at 5th Street and Stringer Avenue.
A few blocks on the West side of 66 was, I guess, was part of a cemetery. It
was rather eerie as there was an abandoned mausoleum, the kind where the
caskets could be stacked four or five high. With a marble or granite end
plate to seal the shelf off. Room for I suppose forty or fifty of the
deceased in that structure. It was all empty, no end plates, and
fortunately, no stray caskets and/or bodies, left laying about. I'm guessing
that the dead interred in more conventional fashion there (that is to say,
buried), did not bother us because we showed proper respect and did not
bother them either. Although it was daylight, we "skedaddled" regardless,
and just that much more quickly. I'm sure that's all been torn down now. I
knew that there were two cemeteries in the Southwest corner of town, on the
East side of Rt. 66, but did not know that there was also one one the West
side of 66.
Enough silliness for now. With all good wishes, yours sincerely,
Leigh's note: Lee Walker confirmed that Ernie Cornwell had graduated
from Pekin Community High School, Class of 1968. There, he was a former
student of mine in my first year of teaching--1964--another example of how
the Web of the Internet shows the Web of Life. And this Web site has plenty
more examples of this "six degrees of separation" theory: .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation.
27. Route 66 to Broadwell
(Site of World-Famous Pig-Hip Restaurant)
Just seven miles south of Lincoln on Route 66 is Broadwell,
Illinois, hometown of the esteemed Benners and the world-famous former
Pig-Hip Restaurant, now a most pleasurable Route 66
12.41: Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum
at Broadwell on Route 66
(Leigh Henson photo, 10-03)
Photo from the Peoria Journal Star, March 3, 2003
Phil Luciano of the Peoria Journal Star
provides a full account of how Mr. Edwards' "local color personality" and
"labor of love" have created the Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum:
"The Pig-Hip Restaurant
Became a Standard Stop on 'The Mother Road'"
Ernie Edwards loves tall tales. Ask him how
he named his restaurant, a world-renowned Route 66 legend called The Pig-Hip
in Broadwell. He won't blink before explaining that the hip in
question refers to the swine's left leg, which produces a better cut of
pork: 'The hog raises its right leg to scratch, and that makes it
Or, question him about the old wagon in front of
his eatery -- one he'd gladly sell you, for a price. 'They made that
wagon special to take Abe Lincoln's casket off the funeral train,' he says,
not ashamed of himself at all.
No, a pig doesn't have a favorite scratching hoof.
And the wagon wasn't built until long after Lincoln went to his final
But Ernie is serious about one thing: Getting
his kicks on Route 66. He made a living and raised a family off the
old historic road, enjoying himself all the while.
'I've had a lot of fun,' he likes to say, like a
But even in his 88th year, he's not done having
fun. Ernie is turning that old, shuttered Pig-Hip into a new museum --
not to make a buck, but to leave a legacy.
'I'm not going to be around long,' he says
off-handedly, without self-pity.
But the notion seems ludicrous. It's almost
unthinkable that Broadwell (pop. 200) and Route 66 could exist without Ernie
and wife, Frances, 81, who seemingly have catered to the motoring set since
In 1937, nine years
after the laying of the Chicago-to-Santa Monica highway, Ernie and Frances
opened a small, three-table cafe they named (for reasons long forgotten) the
Harbor Inn. An aged menu in Ernie's den lists those initial prices,
including a 10-cent hamburger and 5-cent iced tea. You won't find any
ham sandwiches, because he didn't sell any at first.
Purely by chance, the next year Ernie found his
destiny. A hungry farmer bustled into the joint and asked for a
sandwich. When Edwards asked him to name his pleasure, the farmer
impatiently looked around, pointed to a steaming pork roast and blurted,
'Just give me one off that pig hip.'
Ernie, as always wearing his sky-high white chef's
hat, paused. He'd never heard that reference, but he liked the sound of
it. He had his gimmick, and soon changed the name of the place to The
The newfound pig-hip sandwich, served with a secret
sauce Ernie concocted, became an instant hit. Enthusiasts of Route 66
-- which John Steinbeck dubbed The Mother Road of westward migration --
began making The Pig-Hip a standard stop, and business boomed.
A few visitors arrived with more than a rumbling
tummy. One afternoon, a then-unknown Harlan Sanders sauntered in and
offered a franchise to Ernie -- who turned the tables and invited the
chicken huckster to buy a Pig-Hip franchise. Another time, Steak 'n
Shake founder Gus Belt came in to complain that Ernie had stolen Belt's
black-and-white color scheme; Ernie politely told him to get lost.
Meanwhile, next door to the eatery, brother Joe
Edwards put in a filling station. On the other side, sister Bonnie
Jean Welch and her hubby erected a motel, making Broadwell a full-service
Now 80 and 75, Joe and Bonnie Jean live in nearby
Lincoln. The secret behind the siblings' longevity? 'It's all those
pig-hips,' Ernie says, grinning.
In the 1960s, interstates pulled traffic from
highways and byways, and Route 66 fell into disuse and disrepair.
Eventually, the filling station and motel were sold, then closed. By
the early 1980s, the handful of other businesses in Broadwell shut down,
leaving Ernie, Frances, and The Pig-Hip as the sole commercial survivors.
Their perseverance was rewarded in the mid '80s,
when Route 66 aficionados succeeded in restoring much of the road, including
the strip through Illinois. Suddenly, The Pig-Hip saw a resurgence
in popularity -- so much so that the Edwardses (already past retirement age)
got worn out.
In 1990, unable to find a buyer, they shuttered the
place -- for good, they thought -- and retired to their quaint A-frame next
door. But curiosity seekers kept coming. Ernie has yet to turn
down a request of a tour, and even throws in a yarn or two.
'Most of my visitors are foreigners,' says Ernie,
who recently entertained a vagabond from Africa. 'They've heard so
much about 66.'
But rather than just regale listeners with stories
and photos of The Pig-Hip, he's decided to revive a bit of history.
He's busy turning the old ranch-house eatery into a museum.
For funding, he's been selling made-in-China
replicas of The Pig-Hip for $15. So far, he's sold 200, making a
profit of $1,800. Plus, on March 15, the Route 66 Association of
Illinois (Ernie sits on its board of directors) will bring a bevy of
volunteers to continue to gut and rehab the place.
Half of the place will feature a replica of the
original three-table restaurant. Another will display Ernie's
considerable collection of Route 66 memorabilia.
But most of all, it's Ernie's gift of gab that
makes his place a perfect regentrification [sic] project, says
John Weiss, chairman of the association's preservation committee.
'Here's a chance for people to hear about Route 66
through the eyes of someone who lived it," Weiss says. "And that's
pretty darn neat.'
And though Ernie will gladly serve as curator, he
won't be serving any pig-hip sandwiches.
'I might put on the white hat, but I'm not gonna
work,' he says, laughing.
A sign out front promises the museum will open in
time for the association's yearly Chicago-to-St. Louis motorcade on June 7
to 9. Eventually, Ernie envisions volunteers manning the museum on weekends.
But as much as Ernie is putting into the historical
effort, don't expect him to reveal the recipe of his secret sauce. He
plans to take it to the grave.
'I keep it up here,' he says, pointing to his
He thinks a moment, cracks a sly grin and adds, 'If
someone has a thousand dollars, I'd probably sell it to them.'
Write Phil Luciano at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, or call 686-3155 or
(800) 225-5757, Ext. 3155. E-mail him at
Visit the Peoria Journal Star online at
Request for permission to reprint article has been made to the
Peoria Journal Star.
Next stop heading south on Route 66 is Elkhart,
site of the historic Elkhart Cemetery on the hill. Buried there are
three-time Illinois Governor Richard Oglesby, America's "Cattle King" John
Gillett, and World-Champion Skeet Shooter Adam Bogardus.
This cemetery is a beautiful wooded site with many distinctive tombstones, a
rustic stone chapel, and the Gillette Memorial Bridge over the Elkhart-Mt.
90th Birthday Party (June 10, 2007)
On Sunday, June 10, 2007, I borrowed my wife's car--yes, entirely with her
permission--and drove south on old Route 66 from my dad and stepmother's
corner of Seventh and Monroe Streets in Lincoln.--my childhood home--),
heading to Broadwell--hometown of my esteemed high school classmate Jim
Benner--to attend Ernie Edwards' 90th birthday celebration.
(I'll never understand why my stepmother and wife Pat thought that going to
yard sales in Lincoln would be more fun than Ernie's party in Broadwell. My
dad at 88 was content to stay at home and dream about his next fishing trip.)
The day was partly sunny, and I seemed to have the Mother Road mostly to
myself--no one tailgating me just then and there. As I drove, I was
surrounded by lush green foliage: the prairie unmowed
"rehab" along old Route 66, the dense scrub trees along the former GM&O
tracks, and the thick, knee-high corn (an endless green sea). The
enchantment of this nostalgic six-mile drive kept my speed at 50 mph as I
watched the parallel traffic on I-55--the countless fools going 85.
When I got to Ernie's place, the parking lot was nearly full. Cars, RVs, and some
motorcycles began to line the service road in front of the Pig-Hip
Restaurant and Museum site. A small, circular flower garden memorialized the
site of the Pig-Hip Restaurant, recently destroyed by fire. I noticed Bob
Waldmire's famous Volkswagon van--I had previously seen it at the Cozy Dog
Drive In in Springfield, IL-- parked near Ernie and Fran's house, and
that was the first sign that this party would truly be a Route 66 historic
12.43: Bob Waldmire's Trademark
As I looked at the center of
side of Bob's van, I noticed a pocket with free copies of one of his
artistic postcards ("free while they last"). The postcard has a
12.44: Cropped Section of Bob Waldmire's Self-Portrait Picture Postcard
The van's roof on the driver's side has a map of old Route 66:
12.45: Bob Waldmire's Roof-Top
Map of Old Route 66 Showing Central Illinois Towns
12.46: Bob Waldmire Happily
Carries a Basket of 300 Pig-Hip Sandwiches to the Serving Table
The car seen below belongs to Mr. Bobby Olson, a good friend of Ernie,
and one of the key organizers of his birthday party.
12.47: Mr. Bobby Olson's Black
Cadillac Fleetwood with "Oly 2" License Plate
Bobby later emailed me to say that his trusty Fleetwood came in handy during
preparations for the celebration: "The hecticness of Sunday was compounded
by two flying trips to Lincoln between 10 AM and 11 AM to get additional
tomatoes and buns for additional Pig Hip Sandwiches."
12.48: Bobby Olson's Dashboard
Is the Desk of His Mobile Route 66 Executive Office
Mr. Olson has also been a good friend to me, providing information, gifts,
and encouragement in the development of this community history Web site of
Lincoln, Illinois. Last fall he generously sent me, as a gift, a copy of
Ernie Edwards' biography titled Pig-Hips on Route 66 by William
Kaszynski. Bobby explained that he sent me the copy after finding it in his
car several months after putting it there. As I looked at the interior of
his car, I saw a lot of things stored there, including a large box that took
up the passenger's side of the front seat. So, when I saw the packed
condition of this mobile office, I was glad my copy of Ernie's biography was
not somewhere still in it. (Below this series of annotated photos is a link to my
review of Ernie's biography.)
12.49: Bobby Olson (l) with His
Characteristic Smile and One of Ernie's Unidentified Relatives
12.50: Bobby Olson Sets up the
12.51: Ernie's 40-Pound-Plus
90th Birthday Cake
Ernie told the story of how he was invited to Colonel Sanders' 90th
birthday celebration several years ago. The Colonel had bragged that his
cake would weigh 40 pounds, so Ernie requested his own 90th birthday cake be
just as BIG. Patty Ambrose, executive director of the Illinois Route 66
Association, baked Ernie's cake and assured him that his cake weighed even
more than 40 pounds.
12.52: Patty Ambrose, Ernie
Edwards, and Unidentified Party Guest
12.53: Bob Olson (left) (former
IL state representative); Jonie Tibbs (Lincoln, IL, city alderwoman);
Bruce Huskins (Logan Co. Rte. 66 yard sale mastermind); and Jonie's husband,
Bruce Huskins is widely credited with the idea for the first Annual
Logan-County-wide yard sales ("Route 66, 37 Miles of Smiles") and doing much
of the hard work to organize this activity, which coincided with Broadwell's
sesquicentennial celebration and Ernie's 90th birthday celebration.
12.54: Leigh Henson (l), Jonie Tibbs, and Harry Tibbs
(photo courtesy of Geoff Ladd)
12.55: Ernie's Fans Line up to
Shake His Hand and Get a Free Pig-Hip Sandwich
12.56: Logan County Tourism
Director Geoff Ladd (right) Presents the
Mayor of Broadwell, Warren Bradley, with a Plaque Commemorating Its Sesquicentennial
Broadwell Mayor Warren Bradley made sure that the village provided signage,
funding for porta-potties, and some insurance for the event.
could anyone in attendance not be reminded by the US flags that events like
these could happen in only this country?
12.57: Fran Edwards Makes an
Emphatic Point About Being Ernie's Partner in the Pig-Hip Enterprise
12.58: Geoff Ladd Presents Ernie
with a Plaque Commemorating His 90th Birthday
12.59: Ernie's 90th Birthday
For Peoria Journal Star reporter Phil Luciano's 2003 story on Ernie
Edwards, scroll up this page.
Leigh Henson's review of Ernie Edwards' biography, Pig-Hips on
Route 66 by William Kaszynski. Scroll to the bottom of this
page for links to information about more Route 66 icons. Link to
mega-photo album of the first annual Logan County Route 66 garage sale and
Ernie Edwards' 90th birthday party, courtesy of Geoff Ladd. For
other Web pages about Route 66 in this site, see the
Cozy Dog Drive In
12.60: Tourism Director Geoff
Ladd Christens Pig-Hip Monument with Rte. 66 Root Beer (9-28-07)
courtesy of Geoff Ladd)
Pictured L-R: Frances Edwards, Ernie Edwards,
Patty Ambrose of IL Route 66 Heritage Project, Geoff Ladd, and Bob
Olson (longtime friend of the Edwardses)
Altman, Herbert M. Email to LCHS
Alums' Internet Community. May 3, 2002.
Paul. History of Logan County 1982. Published by the Logan
County Heritage Foundation. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1982.
"Beginning of Lincoln Christian Church Traced to Salt Creek Banks."
Lincoln Evening Courier centennial edition, section two, August 26, 1953, p. 2.
Coulter, Douglas. Web site with photos of iron bridges in Logan
Edward R. Madigan State Park Web
Ghost Bridge--Lincoln by Steve Look:
http://www.ilrt66.com/LincolnGhost.htm This Web site has numerous
photos of Routes 4 and 66 pavement north as well as south of
Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Edward R. Madigan State
Park (brochure). Springfield, IL: no date.
Luciano, Phil. "Still Kicks on Route 66."
Peoria Journal Star, March 3, 2003.
Maxwell, William. Ancestors: A Family History. NY:
Vintage Books, Inc., 1971.
___________ . "With Reference to an Incident at a Bridge." All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories. Vintage Books-Random House Inc., 1995.
William Maxwell's works are available at
Pratt truss design information:
http://mysite.du.edu/~jcalvert/tech/machines/bridges.htm. Photos of
bridges with Pratt truss designs:
"Natural Disasters and Otherwise," in Paul Beaver, History of Logan
The Logan County Heritage Foundation. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1982.
Steil, Tim, with photos by Jim Luning. Route 66. Osceola,
WI: MBI Publishing Co., 2000.
Stringer, Lawrence B. History of Logan County 1911. Reproduced,
Evansville, IN: Unigraphic, Inc., 1978.
Teichmann, Nelson, Civil Engineer, retired. Illinois Department of
Transportation. Email to Leigh Henson, 1-22-02.
Werschey, John, Civil Engineer. Illinois Department of Transportation. Email
to Leigh Henson, 1-3-02.
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln,
"The Past Is But the