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'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
Overview of Route 66 at Lincoln, Illinois,
with Dozens of Sites, Descriptions, & Photos
"I wonder that so small a place [as Lincoln, Illinois] could hold so much
William Maxwell, Ancestors (1971), p. 189.
Maxwell's comment refers to
Lincoln in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but the remarkable
nature of Lincoln is evident in every decade. Much of Lincoln's
character in the 20th century extending into the present has been formed by the influence of Route 66
and its enduring memory.
depicted below suggests that Route 66 was the highway of opportunity for
millions of travelers to visit many marked sites in Lincoln, Illinois
(plus numerous unmarked historic sites as identified in this Web site):
8.1: Picture Postcard Image
Showing 1960s Billboard on Route 66 at Lincoln, Illinois
8.2: Robert "Bob" Waldmire
Picture Postcard of Route 66 at Cemetery Hill Near Salt Creek
For photos and
descriptions of this location, see
66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
Including the Rte. 66 Bridges, GM&O Bridges, Madigan State Park, &
the Old Dam
in this Web site. For information about Robert Waldmire and
where to find and buy Route 66 picture postcards by him, see Sources
Many people, from
historians to ordinary US citizens to international tourists, consider
Route 66 the most important highway in 20th-century America. Popular
books about Route 66 usually attempt to cover the entire span of Route
66, geographically and historically, so chapters are typically devoted
to all eight states crossed by this route. Thus, even major cities are
only briefly represented in these treatments.
Only two of
these classic works refer to Lincoln, Illinois, and even those
references have negative implications, neglecting the important history
of the town. In what is arguably the most
popular book about Route 66, Route 66:
The Mother Road, Michael Wallis briefly refers to Lincoln: "Old-timers claim that near Lincoln, Illinois, car
crashes occurred every few hours. On that part of the highway -- as was
the case for similar stretches in Missouri -- the route earned the
nickname 'Bloody 66'" (39). In his classic tour guide, Route 66
Traveler's Guide and Roadside Companion, Author Tom Snyder suggests
Lincoln, Illinois, is a place to ignore: "Lincoln is not a big place, so
it's fairly easy to get through town" (10). Today's Interstates, of course,
have eliminated any special danger of traveling to Lincoln, Illinois.
Most importantly, today's traveler to Lincoln,
Illinois, will discover a treasure trove of Abraham Lincoln heritage,
transportation history, and cultural diversity that explain how this city grew and developed
into its most remarkable combination of city, suburban, and rural
qualities. These are the strengths that hold the promise of future
growth and development.
Route 66 in Lincoln
followed two directions: Business 66, the original route,
went through residential neighborhoods and ran adjacent to the downtown
business district. The "bypass" or "beltline" branch of Route 66
(now part of Business 55), which was completed by the start of World War
II, ran along the western and northern perimeters of the city.
sometimes changed the streets used to route Business 66 through town,
but the route of Business 66 in Lincoln remained unchanged, so
re-visiting Business 66 here is straightforward, as shown below on the
map at 8.5.
8.3: Bright Highway Signs
Beneath Dark Skies Just South of Fifth Street on 1940 Beltline of
Route 66 at Lincoln
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-02)
Less than a mile ahead on this road on the right is the turn
off to original Routes 4 and 66 brick and concrete pavement.
Caterpillar was a major player in expanding
Route 66 from two lanes to four:
Adapted from a Full-Page, Full-Color Ad in The Saturday Evening Post,
8.5: The Past Gives Character to the Present
on Business I-55 (Route 66 Beltline) at Lincoln
(Leigh Henson photo, 8-02)
scene occurs on the east side of the Route 66 beltline just about a half
mile south of the signs shown in photo 8.2.
These truck relics are from Harold Merrill
Below is my map of Route 66 through and around the city as I
recall. Below the map, I briefly identify the 40
sites in the map's legend and offer a few choice corresponding images.
8.6: Diagrammatic Map of Route 66 at Lincoln, Illinois:
1-6. The Four Corners Region,
Including Killer Curve.
Intersection of Routes 66, 10, and 121. In the 1960s aerial photo to
the right, the Four Corners appear on the middle of the left
side at the large bulge in the service roads (boxed area).
Route10 runs from east and west (left/right) and
can be seen in the middle of photo 8.6 between the large track of the Logan
County Fairgrounds and the small track above it. The small track is the
Lincoln Speedway (#3 below). Route 10 continues today. Extending left beyond
the edge of 8.6, it leads to an interchange with I-55 (Exit 126 in Figure
8.5). Many motels, restaurants, and other businesses are located on this
stretch of Route 10.
In Figure 8.6, Route 121
can be seen just north of the Four Corners as it branched to the left of
Route 66 northward toward Hartsburg, Tremont, Morton, East Peoria, and
8.7: Box on Aerial View
the Four Corners Area
(Adapted from photo in Paul E. Gleason,
Lincoln, Illinois: A Pictorial History)
The dual pavements (four lanes) of the Route 66
bypass-beltline run from the southwest (lower left corner of 8.6) northward.
The road curves right to the east and was referred to as the Blu Inn Curve
because the Blu Inn restaurant was just south of the curve (so was the
Tropics restaurant). The Blu Inn Curve was also known as Killer Curve
because many fatal accidents happened there, adding to the basis for the
term "bloody 66" for Route 66 in the Lincoln area. (Before the 1940
four-lane bypass, the original Route 66 section near Cemetery
Hill, including the bridges over Salt Creek, was also especially dangerous.) Beyond the aerial view
of 8.6, Route 66 then
continued north toward Lawndale, the Dixie Truckers' Home at McLean (site of
Illinois Route 66 Association Museum), and
Bloomington-Normal. These dual lanes are now part of Business 55.
Illinois State Policeman George Garvey with Killer Curve in Background
(Lincoln Courier, June 9, 1990. Article provided by
Nonagenarian Willie Aughton)
author of the Courier article, Barry Bottino, interviewed several law
enforcement officers about Route 66 in Lincoln. All in all, their comments
reveal several factors that contributed to the large number of accidents on
Route 66. Speed and heavy traffic, of course, were the main causes,
especially on Killer Curve. Former State Policeman Roy Acup noted that the
speed limit on Illinois Route 66 was 70 and that the speed limit posted on
the Blu Inn Curve was 45, "but nobody paid attention to it." Acup said that
traffic was at its worst during the State Fair and during snow storms. "I
remember one Thanksgiving," Acup recalled, "when it snowed and the
northbound traffic was backed up all the way south of Elkhart because they
were working on the Salt Creek bridge."
Highway design may also have been a factor causing accidents. Former
Illinois State Policeman Mike Leake indicated that the highway medians
contributed to accidents. He described the medians on Route 66 as "real
deep. . . . if you ran down into one of the medians on Route 66 it would
take off your front bumper and you'd do a flip flop." Leake said that the
medians on the interstates, in contrast, "are fairly smooth and round. . . .
On the interstate, it's [running onto a median] like driving into your
growing up in Lincoln, I learned the lore that the design of Killer Curve
may have contributed to the accidents there (two of my neighbors were killed
on it). According to local lore, the beginning of the curve from the north
was very gradual but then suddenly "tightened," causing many speeding
vehicles to run off the road. A close look at Figure 8.5 confirms this. One
of my sources says that part of the lore of Killer Curve is that the civil
engineer who designed this section of the highway committed suicide because
of the large number of fatal accidents there.
About the heavy traffic on Route 66, Garvey said that on weekends many
people traveled between St. Louis and Chicago, and Friday nights might see
1,800 vehicles an hour. About Killer Curve, Garvey said, "I probably worked
15 fatals on that curve in 18 1/2 years." He estimated that he alone handled
about 50 accidents there.
Garvey said that the most memorable accidents on Killer Curve involved
semi-trucks. In one instance, he recalls "there was a semi which went off
the curve and ended up by the power substation. I remember I didn't finish
the accident report that night.
the next morning I was sitting (in my car) out there finishing up the report
when I heard a noise. I didn't really think anything of it . Then somebody
came up tome and said, 'Officer, you'd better get down there. There's been
"When I got there, I had another semi in the exact same position which ended
up in the exact same spot as the first one." Garvey said many other trucks
ran off the road in the same place.
Garvey also recalls one accident in which the semi-truck driver weighed 375
pounds and had to be lifted into the ambulance. In another accident, a truck
dumped a load of onion sets onto Routes 66 and 121, which was near the
dangerous part of the curve.
1. The Tropics. Business 55 & Route 10. Operating, summer 200l. World-famous restaurant opened
in 1950 by Vince Schwenoha [shwin-uh-haw][son of John, a.k.a. Coonhound
Johnny], who served in Hawaii during tour of duty, so he named
his restaurant The Tropics. "The sandwich he had discovered in
California -- the bun with two patties of hamburger -- became the Tropicburger"
(Nancy Gehlbach, "Let's Eat Out," p. 6). For more information
about Coonhound Johnny, see
Arts & Entertainment Heritage.
Tropics was featured in Route 66 Association of Illinois,
The 66 News, spring, 2001: "The Topics to be Warm Again."
Original restaurant included the South Seas Cocktail Lounge, pictured below at
Tropics in 1950
(Photo from Paul E. Gleason, Lincoln: A Pictorial History,
G. Bradley Publishing, St. Louis, p. 63.)
Tropics in 2002
(Leigh Henson photo)
8.11: Sign from Cover of Route 66 Association of Illinois The 66 News,
8.13: The Tropics: South Seas Cocktail Lounge (upper left),
Dining Room (upper right), and Coffee Shop
2. The Blu-Inn, later the Heritage Inn, then the Court
Yard. Business 55 & Rte. 10. Demolished May, 2002.
8.14: Blu-Inn in 1953,
Replacing Blu-Inn of 1939
8.15: Cover of Heritage Inn
Inn, Successor of Blu-Inn
Route 66 Motels
8.17: Picture Postcard
the Redwood Motel
(1 block south of the Four Corners on Business
55-66. Operational as of 12-01.)
8.18: Picture Postcard of
the Crossroads Motel
(1 block south west of the Four Corners.
Operational as of 12-01.)
8.19: Former Ramada Inn on
West Side of Route 66 Beltline
Just North of Fifth Street Road
(Just north of the American Legion and Logan Lanes Bowling Alley)
8.20: Former Holiday Inn at
The former Holiday
Inn was located northeast of town on the Route 66 Beltline near the Bennis Auto-Vue.
It thrived in the latter part of the Route 66 era. The upper part of this
postcard shows the lounge with piano just in front of the "fox and hound" mural.
Mid 20th-century Lincoln High alums returning from college often met in the
lounge during vacation times and observed the social activities of Lincolnites from the business and professional communities.
8.21: Former Buckles Motel on North Route 66 Beltline
(Another Spanish design in Lincoln, Illinois)
Lincoln Motel on Routes 10
and 121 (17th Street-Woodlawn Road)
8.22: Lincoln Motel Was
Just West of the Dairy Queen
3. Site of the Lincoln Speedway. Demolished. The Lincoln Speedway is identified above in the description of
the aerial view of the Four Corners in 8.6, where it appears as the
smaller track above the larger Logan County Fairgrounds track.
The Lincoln Speedway is one of the subjects described in
"Cars. . .and Drivers," Our Times, vol. 3,
no.4, Winter, 1998. This article is the basis for the summary of the
racetrack presented here. "The speedway was built in 1948 as a
racetrack for midget autos." Cost was $60,000, and capacity was 7,000. Hot rod racing began in May of 1949. [Gleason's Lincoln, Illinois: A Pictorial History,
p. 144, says the track was constructed in 1947 and seated 5,000.] "By 1957 modified cars were allowed." After owner Howard Langenbahn sold this property in 1965 to Joe Shaheen of
Springfield, Illinois, "races became less frequent." Nancy Lawrence
Gehlbach writes in
her 1998 article that "the racetrack had been vacant for some years when Cricket
Levi took a bulldozer to it in 1977" ("The Lincoln Speedway," p. 2).
In this day and age, there is less need for speedway
entertainment as now the average Interstate motorist has become a racetrack
driver -- pushing the accelerator into the radiator, tailgating, California
sliding, and flipping the bird while passing. No wonder many of the
remaining few civilized Americans take to old Route 66 and the blue highways of
a kinder, gentler time.
8.23: Midget Autos Racing in the 1940s
This is not a photo of the Lincoln Speedway, but it does show
midget auto in racing in the 1940s and the obvious danger -- no protection: "The little cars had open cockpits and no
roll bars, so you 'didn't get but one chance,' says Glen Bradley" (Gehlbach, "The
Lincoln Speedway," p. 1).
Nancy Gehlbach's article describes the racing life of Mr.
Glen Bradley. He says he loved racing, and it helped him to make a living
for his family, "although the prize money could be as little as $2.00" (p. 2). "Before Glen was old enough to drive, he had hung around the race track, helping
'Doc' Elkins with his cars. Later he raced Doc's midget racer; he also won
many races in Doc's old Hudson. . . ." (p. 2).
According to an article in the Lincoln Evening
Courier, centennial edition, "the track offers $150 to $500 purses weekly
for races there. A number of thrill shows have come to the Lincoln
Speedway, but in its history it has had only one major accident ("Lincoln
Speedway Thrilling Racing Fans Since 1947," section four, p. 8).
The Gehlbach article has other information about the history of
cars in Lincoln. An article, "The Lincoln Automobile,"
describes an attempt even to manufacture a car in Lincoln, Illinois, in the first
decade of the 20th Century.
"Cars. . . and Drivers" also contains anecdotes about the social history of cars
in Lincoln, Illinois,
with stories from native Lincolnites Marge and Fred Blanford.
8.24: Jim "Crickett" Levi and Machine
Gleason, Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 144. The
caption notes that Mr. Levi was a city alderman and that the track was 1/5
8.25: Hot Rod 77 at the Lincoln Speedway
(The above photo appears in "Cars. . .and Drivers," in Our Times
volume 3, issue number 4, winter, 1998, p. 1. The caption reads "Carlo
Catalano, Glen Bradley, and John Saconie. Courtesy of Glen Bradley.")
As I grew up in Lincoln, I knew of the Lincoln Speedway
but had almost no direct experience with it. After my parents moved to 7th
Street in 1948, I discovered that Fred Schaub across the street on the corner of
Seventh and Adams Streets had a two-car garage in which there always seemed to
be one or two midget autos in various stages of repair. They were owned by
Fred Schaub's brother-in-law, Doc Elkins, who lived just a block away on Adams
and Short Eighth Streets. The midgets were truly a curiosity for us
neighborhood kids. I remember seeing shop lights in the Schaubs' doorless
garage way after dark as mechanical work was ongoing. The cars' continuous state of disassembly always
Like all other families on the west side of Lincoln
during the Route 66 era of the 1950's, we heard the ferocious roar of the
Lincoln Speedway late into the evening and saw the speedway lights illuminate
the northern horizon. People came from near and far to see the races. Some of my relatives from southern Illinois timed their visits to my Grandmother
Ruth Henson's house on Fifth Street so they could attend the races.
To my knowledge, no one in my immediate family visited
the track. In my family, the prevailing wisdom was that the races were not
wholesome entertainment: how could decent people find amusement at others'
risk of injury and death? Also, beer was served there, and no one in my
immediate family admitted to drinking it. When I was in high school, my friend, Tom Culnan, and I
were curious about "the races." Tom, who lived on a farm east of Lincoln,
sometimes drove his dad's pickup truck into town. We parked just outside
the speedway grounds on the east side, climbed on top of the cab, and were
amazed at the action.
4. Site of Werth Standard Gas Station. Business 55 &
Rte. 10. Building intact housing another business.
(Photo at the right is from
advertisement in the Lincoln Courier Centennial Edition,
August 26, 1953)
8.26: Werth's Standard
Southwest Corner of the Four Corners
5. Site of Cities Service Gas Station and Tiz-Rite Grill.
Business 55 & Rte. 10. Demolished.
(Photo at the right is from
advertisement in the Lincoln Courier Centennial Edition,
August 27, 1953)
Cities Service & Tiz-Rite Grill
on Southeast Corner of Four Corners,
near the Logan County Fairgrounds
6. Logan County Fairgrounds,
Route 66 Beltline. SE
corner of Business 55 (66 beltline) & Route 10. Operational.
Annual fair held in the first week of August (the week before
the Illinois State Fair). The Logan County Fair is world famous for harness racing.
Also featured are exhibitions of farm equipment, livestock, produce, cooking,
and crafts. Beer tent.
These fairgrounds are the
site of various other recreational and cultural activities from flea markets to
Logan County Fair (annually in early August)
Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival (late August)
Site of the Annual Abraham
Lincoln National Railsplitter Contest & Crafts Festival
8.28: Annual Harness Racing
at the Logan County Fair
(Gleason, Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 159)
8.29: Logan County
Lincolnites of the Route 66 Era Reflect on Their Experiences at the Logan County
LCHS 1959, began
this thread on July 21, 2002, when he emailed the following to 160+ LCHS alums
of mid-20th Century:
This evening I was doing some
cooking -- more properly -- canning. I was doing some projects for the Logan County
Fair which is due to arrive in a week or so. It's kinda like -- if you live in
Bean Blossom Ark -- you join the volunteer FD and you play cards at the station
with other like-minded folk. When you live in Lincoln IL -- you have to make a
big Hoo Haw out of the County Fair. Canning is a solitary activity (can be
anyway unless you join canning bees) with a lot of down time -- waiting while the
cooker cooks, waiting for the lids to ping, waiting for the dishwasher to cycle
through. During this time the mind can string
together many random thoughts.
To this day, I don't feel the fair has been properly
visited until I have had my corn dog (they sure aren't as good as the Pronto
Pups -- encased in a different batter than the corn meal things today), order of
very salty fries and a lemon shakeup. The tastes and smells of the fair are
The other day while driving
in Bloomington -- I happened to see a sign for a local eatery there that was
advertising somebody's BarBQ joint -- but the hook was "open pit." In an instant
I was "transported" to a County Fair years ago when Harts (or Hartz or some
other spelling) dug their own pit at the fair and had a screened-in affair to
keep the flies out while they were doing the slooow cooking for their products.
I had the sensations of the sight, the sound, the smell and the taste. Quite
something when you recall (as I believe I do) that they were down toward the
North end of the track near the livestock pens.
They weren't just fair time folks though. They had an
establishment on the East side of town just off Rte10. I don't recall they were
open all winter -- but I do remember I ate from there many times other than just
fair time. If I said there was no BBQ available now that was near as good -- I
might be impugning some local establishment. Let me just say -- I haven't had
ribs or pulled pork like that in years.
I am not disclosing what entries I will have for the
fair. If I should get some sort of ribbon -- then I'll have something to talk
about -- new pleasant memories. If the judges don't smile on me (there IS an old
girl network that judges the food entries at the fair that has a glass ceiling
in place to keep male competitors from getting too successful) then I will have
to satisfy myself with the old ones.
8.30: Photo by Fred Blanford
of Some of His Logan County Fair Prizes, 8-2003
emailed me the above photo after the 2003 Logan County Fair -- one year after he
had sent the message quoted above. Humble as he is, Fred did not request
Web site publication of his photo, but I have taken the liberty of providing it
here as a token of my gratitude to him for his invaluable contributions to
Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of Lincoln,
Illinois. Many thanks, Fred. RIP, Fred (1941--2008).
Leigh Henson, LCHS 1960, responded on July 22, 2002:
Fred's post about the Logan
County Fair touches on one of my "favorite things" about the Land of
Lincoln -- fairs, county and state --, and nothing more fun to read (and write)
than stream-of-consciousness reflection.
Here, I offer some rambling
memories of the Logan County Fair and related matters:
-- My Grandfather Harrison Franklin Wilson seldom
left his grocery store at Fifth and Washington Streets (well, he did close it
on Sunday -- Presbyterian Church in the a.m., family drive in the p.m.), but he
took the time to take me to the fair and watch harness racing when I was a
-- When I was about 10 to 12, I could not get enough
of those mechanical cranes. The trick was to crank them as fast as possible
to get the cranes swinging wildly, banging the glass case, and
then suddenly crash landing the bucket on the prize -- a small piece of junk
such as a cigarette lighter --, which I then traded for a few more dimes to
play the machine again and again. More than once I went home to look under
the sofa cushions for more change so I could return to the fair for more
--When I was 15 and 16, climbing over the east fence
by the horse barns just for the thrill.
--Listening to Elvis Presley for the fist time
during the fair in about 1955.
-- In late teens, parking cars at the fair, directing
drivers with a yard stick. In about 1959, just at the front of the parking
lot, Harold Park in his new white Buick asked me if there were any places down
the first row, and I told him I could not assure him of one, and he instructed
me there wasn't much in life that could be "assured."
--Going back to the fairgrounds after the fair to
search the parking lots for coins.
-- Being envious of classmates from the farm who had to "sleep" in the livestock tents as an excuse to roam the night.
-- Being hired by Jim McKinstry, B.S. from SIU, to
work at the State Fair in one of his lemonade stands and partnering with Jeff
and Bob Fults. Jeff Fults had a most ingenious method of organizing
operations, which only he could explain but never will in print.
-- As a college kid, selling tickets at the gate,
working for Bob Taylor, wondering if Moose Woltzen would be returning and Ace
Hinman would appear, etc., for the annual ritual, reunion, and renewal of the
love of life for which the selling of tickets was a touchstone.
-- Besides the corn dogs and lemonade shake-ups,
loving the French fries, flavored with vinegar and plenty of salt.
-- As a kid walking past the enormous beer tent and
seeing the horse-troughs filled with ice cold beer.
-- As a young adult, only once or twice getting up
enough nerve to go inside the beer tent (yes, nervous even of age). It seems
there was one particular fellow who worked there who delighted in serving me. He was most affable, and I suspected he was especially delighted because he
would then be able to report the incident to my dad with whom he worked during
their day jobs. One of his offspring subscribes to this list.
-- Post-college, going back to the fair to see who
was still around (and always going to the Blu-Inn for the same purpose).
-- Then, a generation later, in approximately 1997,
while in Lincoln visiting family during the fair, looking for the beer tent
and not finding it in the familiar location between the front gate and the
grandstand but relocated to the south end past the expo buildings and no
longer a real tent but a roof with metal fence walls and concrete floor, sort
of a holding pen for the wildlife, I suppose. Crowded but not one
recognizable face. Packed with folks who seemed to be from some other
planet. The next day I visited an aunt and uncle and mentioned having gone to
the fair. They said their younger daughter's high school class was having a
reunion that weekend, and it probably had spilled over to the fairgrounds. Is
you have ever been to the great and grand Illinois State Fair, you have probably seen "the
blind man" sitting in front of the Expo Building, just off Main Street USA. His
name is Brenton Coffey, now in his 80s. I have been to the State Fair countless
times since childhood, and every year he is sitting by the door of the Expo
Building with his accordion and small container of candy for the benefactors
of his good cause. His seeing eye dog passed away many years ago. I always
slip him a ten spot and decline the candy. He is a most friendly, gentle,
Christian soul at peace with a world that has challenged him in ways we cannot
of 2002 and 2003 on my way to Lincoln and MN,
I saw Mr. Coffey across the south lawn of the Old State Capitol, where he likes
to hang out near the Prairie Archives Book Store. He told me this year may be
his last at the State Fair because his son is fearful of his going there and
mixing with the likes of today's rabble."
PS -- I
paid my dimes and played the cranes too. In retrospect -- do you realize how BIG
a dime was back then? I suspect the same company (besides the machines inside WalMart and Krogers) now makes poker machines. f.
PS -- The Big Tent (beer) franchise went to Vic Sandel
every year. He was a good friend of WG Colburn (who "ran" the fair for so many
years). Vic Gibson was named for his Uncle Vic -- and always had a box of seats
available from his uncle -- saw many of the afternoon and evening shows with VicG. After I was legal -- enjoyed getting served at the tent -- went with
friends -- did the "hammer and ring the bell" thing often. [Next
to the Big Tent was]
the large hammer with the vertical slide with the bell atop -- "strength
test" carnival attraction.
Vic Sandel only had a one week liquor license/year -- but it was a
good one. As with all real
estate -- location, location, location -- the nervous little hammer guy could not
have made the fortune he did anywhere else on the grounds. f.
That may have even been the summer I "worked" policing up pop bottles
from the grandstand at the County Fair after the afternoon and evening
shows. Royce Lovelace had the Grandstand concession for pop selling -- I
wasn't "old enough" to be responsible for the selling of the pop in the
Grandstand -- besides probably not big enough to lug the metal dispensing
tray through the stands. Combining the Carnival of the Centennial with
the County Fair -- it was, indeed a very magical summer. f
Stan Stringer, honorary LCHS 1952, responded from near Washington, D.C., on July 22, 2002:
I vaguely remember where I
was on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor occurred, but I precisely remember
where I was on August 6, 1945, when I heard the first A-bomb was dropped. My
Dad had taken me to the harness races at the Logan County Fair. Between races
the race announcer came on the loud speaker and announced an "atomic bomb" had
been dropped on Japan. Nothing more was said by the announcer. I asked,
"what's an atomic bomb?" The answer was something new. Dad knew what an atom
was, but that was all he could explain. As for the harness races, they went
on and nothing more was said about the coming of the atomic age at the fair. There was one thing more, we all seemed to feel this would end the war and
that was a good thing.
In recent years, well
meaning people have argued that the U.S. should have demonstrated to the
Japanese the futility of continuing the war by dropping the bomb somewhere
where casualties would have been minimal. My impression of that time, tells
me that Americans would have been very angry had this been done. Too many
American casualties in the Pacific, stories were circulating out about the
Bataan Death March and prisoner camps, and there was no reason to think Japan
would even act rationally in the face of such a demonstration.
So when I hear discussions
about Hiroshima and the first atomic bomb, they've always been mitigated by a
corresponding memory of the Logan County Fair and the harness races.
LCHS 1959, responded
from near Peoria, IL, on July 23, 2002:
I couldn't let this one go
without adding a comment.
I too used to stand in the
beer tent and wonder what it was like to order a beer instead of a coke. When
I turned 21 it didn't seem to matter anymore. The man who served me (and you)
was also watching me. Come to think of it, I always thought your Dad was
watching me too. Fathers, in those days, had networks much faster than the
internet. I didn't mind. It was nice to know that many people cared.
Remember the ILLICO
tent next to the grandstand? WPRC would broadcast live from the fair daily and The
Don Smith Band would perform -- usually early evening. Well, yours truly
would stand up and play the piano for most of the show. God only knows why. During one of the numbers I would always drop down under the keyboard while
still TRYING to play the darn thing. Getting all 6'3" under the keyboard was
no small task, but I managed until the last night of the fair.
I got down there OK, but
pulled a muscle in my leg and couldn't get back up. Someone helped me
up, put a chair under me where I stayed put. I don't think I missed a
beat but that was the last time I tried to imitate the rock pianists of the
day. The band members helped me off the stand afterwards but joked about it
for a long time. If I were to try that today, they would have to carry
me out on a stretcher.
I really looked forward to
the fair especially when I was old enough to go by myself. I didn't live far
so I could walk there several times a day. You could count on seeing everyone
you knew and we all had a great time. I've returned a few times in recent
years, but the number of people I recognize to has dwindled to zero. It's true
that one can never go back (and I really don't wish to) but it's nice to
remember once in a while.
Joe Webb, LCHS 1960, responded from California on July
I have thoroughly enjoyed the recollections of the Logan County Fair, and
hope that others are to follow. So, in hopes of keeping the conversation
going, I will look back to the fair a bit, too. But for me to do so is far
more traumatic (in a sense) than most of you, I suspect, experienced. For me,
the Logan County Fair in a very real way shaped my entire adult career, now
over -- what? -- 45 years? My encounters with the fair extended primarily from
about 1957 -- hadn't we all just finished our freshman year at the old high
school? -- to about 1965, after college for me -- I graduated from Lincoln
Christian College in 1964 -- and within two years moved on to Decatur, and from
there to grad school at Urbana. But those eight or nine years of the
fair -- well, forgive a personal memory or two.
The summer of '57 was when my dad told me to get out of
the house and get a job. I dawdled, not wanting to, and not knowing what to
do. Then came the fair and I was still without a job. But I happened to be
near the stage that evening that WPRC, you remember the radio station -- is it
still playing records? -- sponsored the Logan County Fair Queen contest. Shall
we say that the trappings of radio, and that contest, of course, caught my
eye. It was old Earle Layman at his best. The next week I rode my bicycle to
the radio station and told a laughing Ray Knochel, big, gruff Ray, that I had
come for a job. After he quit laughing and gave me a "tryout," he actually
hired me. And I did a thousand things at that radio station, always before or
after school, for the next four years. And each year for those four years I
be on that stage in my white jacket and weird looking bow tie with Earle
Layman -- and, of course, with all of those Logan County queen contestants.
In college, I quit the radio station, but that first summer of the Logan
County Fair (with nothing to do) my dad got me a job -- how I don't know -- taking
tickets at the harness races --I don't think I was alone as a
ticket taker. About the third day standing at the south end of the grandstand
taking tickets, one of those who came through my gate was Ken Goodrich, who we
all knew as the Courier editor. I had met him through the radio
station and he stopped and asked how I'd like to work at the newspaper. He
said to think about it and call him Monday. Well, when Ken Goodrich told you
to do something, you did it. I called him and within a week was a Courier
reporter--a job I kept until I was offered a better one at the
Decatur Herald; that was in 1965. But back at the fair the Courier
sponsored something like a Good Citizen night on the stage of the fair -- so
every year I still got to put on my white jacket and weird tie and play
sidekick to Ken Goodrich. What fun it was! I was hooked on radio and
newspaper work by
then -- so after a few years when I decided to go to graduate school, it was
into journalism -- newspapers, and the rest of media stuff, like radio and
television. From there, it was into a career teaching those very things all
Funny now, I look back and wonder what I might actually have done all
these years had it not been for those incredible little twists and turns that
all seem to have happened at the Logan County Fair. Memories of the fair. We
all have them, all very different, I suspect. What fun it would be to be
there again. Thank you all for writing about the fair."
Note: Joe this past year moved to FL, so
I do not have an email address for him, but I'll find him again. LH.
7. Darold Henson home. 7th St. Standing,
private residence. More information at
About Lincoln, Illinois, this Web Site, & Me
(link in bottom
8. William Keepers Maxwell, Jr., childhood neighborhood:
area bounded by 17th St. (north), Union (east), 8th St. (south), Elm
St. (west). Area of distinctive,
historic private residences.
William Keepers Maxwell, Jr. (1908-2000), was an
editor at the New Yorker magazine for 40 years. He is also a
major American author of novels and short stories.
William Maxwell lived in Lincoln on Ninth Street
from 1910 to 1920 during his childhood. After Mrs. Maxwell died from the Spanish
influenza in early January of 1919, the house on Ninth Street became a painful reminder of Mr.
Maxwell's profound loss, so he built a new house at the time of his second
marriage. This house was constructed on Park Place, a new, fashionable
street just a few blocks north of 9th St. William Maxwell's father and stepmother
purchased another house on Park Place when they retired to Lincoln in the early
8.31: One of the Most
Familiar Crossroads in William Maxwell's Childhood Universe
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-02)
Several of Maxwell's
works are set in Lincoln, Illinois. They include eleven short
stories (creative memoirs); they are contained in All the Days and Nights: The Collected
Stories (1995) and listed here:
"The Trojan Women"
(1952), "What Every Boy Should Know" (1954), "A Final Report" (1963), "The
Value of Money" (1964), "Love" (1983), "Billie Dyer" (1989), "The Man in the
Moon" (1984), "With Reference to an Incident at a Bridge" (1984), "My
Father's Friends" (1984), "The Front and Back Parts of the House" (1991),
and "The Holy Terror" (1986).
Maxwell also used Lincoln settings in his novels titled They Came Like Swallows (1937),
Time Will Darken It (1948), So Long See You
Tomorrow (1980), and one chapter of The Folded
Leaf (1945); and the autobiographical
Ancestors: A Family History (1971). These works feature
autobiographical childhood experiences and refer to the three residences in
Lincoln owned by his father, mother, and stepmother and other residences owned by grandparents and
aunts and uncles, including the owners of the McGrath Sand and Gravel
Company. More information about houses in Lincoln associated
with the Maxwell family appears at
In 2002, a plaque was placed on the front lawn of the house on Ninth Street
that was formerly the childhood home of William Maxwell.
Below is the text on the plaque:
WILLIAM MAXWELL (1908 - 2000), AUTHOR AND
EDITOR, LIVED AT THIS HOME FROM 1910 TO 1920. MAXWELL OFTEN RETURNED TO THE
HOME AND LINCOLN, ILLINOIS IN HIS NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES. HIS MIDWESTERN
CHILDHOOD, PARTICULARLY THE LOSS OF HIS MOTHER IN THE SPANISH INFLUENZA
EPIDEMIC OF 1918, INFLUENCED MUCH OF HIS WRITING.
MAXWELL GRADUATED FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF
ILLINOIS, URBANA AND THEN SERVED AS FICTION EDITOR FOR THE NEW YORKER FROM
1936 TO 1976. HE AUTHORED FOURTEEN WORKS OF FICTION AND MEMOIR, WITH THE
NOVEL, SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW, EARNING THE AMERICAN BOOK AWARD IN 1980.
HIS NAME IS ETCHED ON THE FRIEZE OF THE ILLINOIS STATE LIBRARY.
ERECTED BY FRIENDS OF WILLIAM MAXWELL AND
THE ILLINOIS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, 2001
Source of plaque text:
"William Maxwell Plaque to be Dedicated Aug. 24" in lincolndailynews.com,
August 17, 2002. For more information about the writing of William
Maxwell, see Missed Connections in Sources Suggested below.
8.32: Lush Foliage of Maxwell Neighborhood Street Scene After a
(Leigh Henson photo, 8-02)
"There was an
ornamental brick gateway leading into the street and a grass plot down the
center, and it was fashionable. In present-day Lincoln  it is
fashionable to live clear out in the country, surrounded by cornfields" (So
Long, See You Tomorrow, p. 25).
9. Wilsons Corner, Business
Fifth & Washington Sts.
Grocery store and home of my maternal grandparents, the Harrison F. Wilsons, constructed in 1922.
The grocery store was moved east one lot in 1935 to allow for construction of a gas
The grocery store was demolished in the early 1960s. The life of Wilsons' Corner almost exactly matches the (first) life of Route 66
The gas station building
was subsumed within
existing structure of Al's Main Event Restaurant. The Wilsons' house
was sold and relocated two blocks to Seventh Street. This area is within
the proposed historic
The photo at the right shows the Wilson Grocery in 1923, the
year after its construction. The Wilsons sold the first gasoline on
Fifth Street, which became Business Route 66 in 1926. The photo also shows glass containers of oil to the left of the
8.33: Wilson Grocery and Gas Pump in 1923 on Fifth Street
(Business Route 66 Beginning in 1926) in
photo from left to right are Marie Eimer, Jane
Wilson (age 2) sitting on salt blocks on barrels, and Harrison Franklin Wilson.
10. Postville Courthouse, Business
Route 66. 900 Fifth Street. More extensive information appears on the
1. Abraham Lincoln and the Postville Courthouse (within proposed historic district).
11. Polling Place #6, Business
800 block of Fifth St.
This building had been one of more than 100
cottages at the Lincoln Chautauqua, so it became an example of the "usable past"
when it served as a polling place for decades. Presently it is in Postville
Park, but its use there is unclear. Perhaps it's there just for the sake of
preserving a little bit of local history--certainly a worthy cause.
8.34: Historic Polling Place #6
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
12. Jefferson School, Business Route 66. 710 Fifth St.
Contemporary school operational. Mid-20th Century building demolished.
Historic bell located in front foyer of contemporary building. See
13. Former Ruth Henson Home of
Nearly 60 Years on Business Route 66. Fifth St. Standing.
Century-old private residence. See
9. The Hensons of Business Route 66.
14. Former Knochel Grocery,
Business Route 66. Fifth and College Sts. Standing. For
many years was a laundromat. Originally site of J.W. Heaton Grocery, where my
Grandfather Harrison Wilson worked before he owned his own grocery store at the
corner of Fifth and Washington Streets, "kitty corner" from Postville Park.
15. Former Dial (& Jones) Texaco,
Business Route 66. Fifth and Union Sts.
Standing. Presently another business.
8.35: Type of Sign at Fifth and Union
8.36: 1950s-Style Gas Pump
16. Central School. 101 Eighth St.
Demolished and replaced on Seventh St. See 33.
Schools for more information about Central School.
New Yorker fiction editor/novelist William Maxwell
and poet/social critic Langston Hughes attended Central School. Maxwell lived in Lincoln from his birth in
1908 until 1922, when the family moved to Chicago, except for his younger
brother, Blinn, who remained with his Grandmother Maxwell. Hughes lived in Lincoln only about a year while he finished eighth grade at Central School
In 1953, in response to an invitation to visit Lincoln during its
centennial celebration, he wrote the letter below to his English teacher, Ethel
Welch, attributing the genesis of his
poetry writing to his experience at Central School. The letter was published in
the Lincoln Courier's Centennial Edition.)
Miss Ethel F. Welch
828 East Pekin Street
Dear Miss Welch,
Please express to the Hospitality Committee of the City
of Lincoln Centennial my very great regrets at not being able to come to Lincoln
for the Celebration. Unfortunately, at this time I am hard at working
meeting a deadline on a new book which I must turn over to the publishers early
in September. But Lincoln holds a very warm spot in my heart for, as you
know, it was there that I wrote my first poem.
So, for Courier readers, some of whom were
perhaps my classmates, I would like to say that I can never forget Lincoln,
Illinois, because in a sense my writing career began there in the eighth grade
when I was elected class poet. I had never dreamed of writing a poem
before. But with helpful guidance of Miss Ethel Welch, I wrote one that
was well received at our graduation exercises. And from that time on I
kept right on writing poetry through high school in Cleveland, until the
present. My first book of poems, The Weary Blues, was
published in 1926, ten years after I left Lincoln. And since that time, I
have published a dozen more volumes of poetry or prose. But I might never
have been a writer had I not gotten off to such an encouraging start at our
school in Lincoln, and had I not had the kindly interest and encouragement of
Miss Welch, Miss Laura Armstrong, and Miss Frances Dyer, all of whom still
correspond with me and whom I count among the most prized of my friends. All my good wishes to the Centennial Corporation and
the City of Lincoln on its One Hundredth Birthday Celebration.
(Courier editor's note -- Mr. Hughes is often described as 'the poet laureate of
the Negro people.' Literary critics refer to him as 'a poet of the
present generation who interprets first of all life itself.' Many are the
recognitions which have come to him both here and abroad.")
weeks before Mr. Hughes wrote this letter, he expressed his
anti-capitalistic political views during congressional hearings in
Washington, D.C.: "I have believed in the entire philosophies of the
left at one period in my life, including socialism, communism,
Trotskyism. All isms have influenced me one way or another." According to
Time, Mr. Hughes made this statement "during a closed-door inquiry in
1953 before Senator Joseph McCarthy's Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations, as documented in transcripts released last week" (Time
5-19-2003, p. 21.) It is unknown whether Langston Hughes had any hurtful
experiences in Lincoln, Illinois, that might have contributed to his
A poem titled "Dreams" is inscribed on the
memorial plaque see in the photo below. Central School (now demolished and
replaced) is in the background. More about the Langston Hughes memorial at
Central School in Lincoln:
"Dreams" by Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Hughes Memorial with
Central School in Background
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
8.37: Young Langston Hughes,
Age and Year Unknown
For thirty years I
taught English at Pekin Community High School, a mostly white school, and I
recall the experience of teaching Hughes's poem "Theme for
English B" to juniors in American literature: "You are white--/yet a
part of me, as I am a part of you./That's America./Sometimes perhaps you
don't want to be a part of me./Nor do I often want to be a part of you./But
we are, that's true!" (from The Collected
Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Knopf and Vintage Books.
Copyright ©1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. All rights reserved.
In late 2020 the
lead story in the newsletter of the English Department of Illinois State
University is an essay by its chair, Dr. Chris De Santis, on the continuing
relevance of Langston Hughes's message of hope for social justice in
https://english.illinoisstate.edu/assets/documents/2020-2021 Dept of English
17. Site of 1900 Lincoln Community High School (demolished) and 1925 LCHS addition. Standing but scheduled for
demolition/replacement. Presently used as Lincoln Junior High School. 208 Broadway St.
See 33. Schools.
18. Lincoln Avenue area near Lincoln College. Area of distinctive, historic
19. Lincoln College (founded February 12, 1865, on the last
birthday of Abraham Lincoln). 300 Keokuk St. For a brief
history of Lincoln College, see
The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln and the Founding of Lincoln, Illinois,
also the Founding of Lincoln College, the Plot to Steal Lincoln's Body, and
Memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn. Lincoln College houses a museum with many holdings
related to Abraham Lincoln. See
Museums & Parks.
In the Route 66 Era, Lincoln College maintained the
Foley house (Harts Hall) on nearby Tremont Street. (standing) as a women's
information on the Foley house, see
The Foley House: A
to Civic Leadership (on the National Register of
20. Site of Former Stetson China Company,
Business Route 66. North Kickapoo St. at railroad
tracks. Demolished. A dramatic aerial
photo of these facilities appears in Paul
Gleason's Lincoln: A Pictorial History. St. Louis: G.
Bradley Publishing, 1998, pp. 38-41.
The Illinois China Company, later
Stetson's China Company, was a major industry in Lincoln from 1917 to 1965.
Skilled tradesmen "from families who had spent years in the English pottery
trade" were hired for supervision and training of local workers. Prior to
a disastrous fire in 1922, "white ware only was produced." Afterward,
"much decorating was done by the use of 'decalcomania transfers' and
hand-crafted art work. Products were sold throughout the Midwest and West
("The Illinois China Company," in Paul Beaver's History of Logan County 1982,
published by the Logan County Heritage Foundation and printed by Taylor
Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas, 1982, p. 54).
More information about
the former Stetson China Company is given at
Past and Present. That page shows several Stetson plates
commemorating anniversary celebrations of the city of Lincoln and Lincoln
8.39: Stetson Souvenir Ash Tray
from the Author's Memorabilia, a Gift from His Mother, Jane Henson
21. Area of Giant Shale Pile and Ice Plant,
Business Route 66.
North Kickapoo St. Giant shale pile demolished. Part of the ice
plant remains (8.42). Photo 8.39 shows original Route 4 pavement
to the right of Business 55 (formerly Route 66 bypass-beltline) on the north
side of Lincoln. The Route 4 pavement (background) is dissected (blocked)
by Business 55-66. The Route 4 pavement then continues on the other (south) side
of Business 55. This break in the Route 4 pavement is shown on the above
The pavement of original
Route 4 (photo 8.40 below) is nine feet wide. This width was common to Route 4:
the narrow width enabled highway construction to extend extra miles.
Despite a few cracks, most of this road is free of potholes, indicating superior concrete.
8.40: Looking Southwest at Original Route 4 Pavement (right) and Business 55 (left) on the North Side
Looking Northwest on Kickapoo Street, with Original Route 4 Pavement Angling
Left Between the Old Ice House and the Eagles' Building
(Leigh Henson photo, 6-02)
Original Route 4 Near Business 55-66.
This location is just north of
where this street connects to North Kickapoo St. (Business 55).
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
8.43: Remnant of
Ice Plant" (1923-1970s)
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01).
This facility "had a storage
capacity of 3,232 tons, a supply which not only can answer all Lincoln's
demands but fulfills the needs of 13 other towns. . . ." (Beaver, History
of Logan County 1982, p. 52). Octogenarian Willie Aughton indicates this building
also housed the Schlitz distributorship during the Route 66 era.
22. Site of the Bennis Auto View Drive-In Movie Theater,
Route 66 Beltline.
Off Business 55 (north) near railroad tracks.
23. Heritage In-Flight
Museum, located at the Logan
County Airport, 1351 Airport Road. Open Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4
p.m. More information at
Museums and Parks.
24. Krotz & Son Grocery,
Business Route 66. Kickapoo St. near railroad
tracks. Standing. Used as another business.
25. Logan County Courthouse Historic District.
14. Route 66 Map
with 51 Sites in the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District,
Including Locations of Historical Markers
(on the National Register of
Web page about downtown historic Lincoln, see "Walking the Path of
Abraham Lincoln" for descriptions and
map (on the tourism page of lincolndailynews.com).
26. To Fifth Street gravel pits. Site of secretive
swimming and fishing fun of several generations of youth on property marked "No Trespassing."
"A bond in 1917 passed by a county wide vote of 1,176 to 907 allowing the county
to proceed with the graveling of county roads. The work was responsible
for the digging of the Deer Creek gravel pits, 5th Street gravel pits, and
several others" (Larry Shroyer in Beaver's History of Logan County 1982,
The Deer Creek gravel pit was where the body of Clarence Smith
had been found after he killed Lloyd Wilson and then committed suicide: "On Friday, the third of February, fifteen days after Lloyd Wilson's body was
found leaning against a partition in his barn, another body was fished up from
the bottom of Deer Creek gravel pit, where the deputy sheriff said it couldn't
be. It was lying face down across the dredging bucket. Cletus's
father, not wanting to live, had shot himself through the head (William
Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow, p. 40). Cletus, the son of the
murderer, is also a playmate of William Maxwell. This murder affects
Maxwell's relationship with Cletus and leaves a haunting, life-long scar on
Maxwell's conscience. How? I suggest the best answer would come from
your own reading of So Long, See You Tomorrow, which is readily available
at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.
The pit shown below is on the south side of Fifth
Street Road. This pit is still private property with no trespassing signs.
Immediately across the road is another pit associated with public property named something
like the Lincoln Trails Park. This north pit is not as wide and deep as
the south pit. My teenage friends and I swam in the south pit. My
dad and I used to fish in the north pit. Also, when I was a teenager my
neighbor, Walter Ruwe, West Lincoln Township Road Commissioner, used to take a
couple of my friends and me to the north pit area when he let us ride with him on the Caterpillar road grader he used for maintaining Fifth Street Road.
8.44: Notice Published in the Lincoln Evening Courier June 20,
1953, p. 4.
8.45: Fifth Street Gravel Pit, 12-02
shore was a sandy beach.)
27. Postville Park,
Business Route 66. 1300 Fifth and Washington Streets. Operational. Public park where Abraham Lincoln
socialized during visits as a traveling lawyer riding the 8th Circuit Court
in the 1840s. Within proposed historic district. More
information appears at
1. Abraham Lincoln and the Postville
28. Logan Service Station,
Business Route 66. Fifth and Stringer
Avenue. Standing, operational.
28.a Site of the Deskins Tavern and Historic Well used by
Abraham Lincoln, Business Route 66. 915 Fifth St., across from Postville Courthouse.
Tavern demolished. Since 1953, the site of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
(VFW) Cronin Brothers' Post #1756, whose purpose is "to promote patriotism,
brotherly love and give help in whatever way possible to Veterans and families"
(Beaver, History of Logan County 1982, p. 81). Site of historic well is visible. All within
proposed historic district. The historic well is being restored.
29. Lincoln Community High School. 1000 Primm Road.
Site of Master Teacher Jack Bass memorial tree and plaque, which are
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001 (navigation panel at left).
30. Fuller Seed Company.
Route 10. See
the Route 66 Era.
Christian College. 100 Campus View
Drive. Just off Route 10. For a brief history, see
32. Area of Chester-East Lincoln Elementary School and site of the former
Lincoln Drive-In Movie Theater. For information about the
Lincoln Drive-In Movie Theater, see
Arts & Entertainment Heritage.
33. Site of the Mill Restaurant (and
Its Schnitzel Sign), Business Route 66. The former
Mill restaurant building is located at the intersection of Stringer Avenue and First Street on
the former Business Route 66, just north of the old State School site. This intersection is
historic because Route 4, the immediate predecessor of Route 66, used Stringer
Avenue from the south up to this point and then turned right (east) on First
Street toward downtown Lincoln. When Route 4 became Route 66, it
followed Stringer Avenue from the south and continued past the front of the Mill
to Fifth Street at Postville Park. (Stringer Avenue seamlessly transitions into
Washington Street at First.) Route 66 then turned right (east) on Fifth Street
toward downtown Lincoln, past my H.F. Wilson grandparents' Shell gas station and
grocery store, the Postville Courthouse site, Jefferson School (attended by
three generations of my family), my Grandmother Ruth Henson's home, and Knochel's
grocery at Fifth and College Street. The Mill is located at 738 S. Washington
St. in Lincoln, IL.
8.46: The Mill in
Photos by Leigh Henson
8:47: Mill Ad
(Lincoln Courier 1-30-47, p. 3)
As of 2006, the Mill building and sign
are standing, but
the restaurant has been defunct for years. A movement is now underway to
restore the front part of the Mill as a Route 66 historic site and museum (see
The Schnitzel Is Available in
Hallie's Lunch Box
(was owned and operated by a grandson of the Huffmans, who made the original
Schnitzel of the Mill). Hallie's was located on the square in downtown Lincoln at
111 S. Kickapoo St. 217-732-6923. Schnitzel was highly recommended by Leigh Henson
from personal experience 10-05. Tasted like the original.
8.48: Tourists at the Mill Near
the Start of Its Rehabilitation
(photo by Geoff Ladd published in the Lincoln Courier, p.1, 5-23-07)
8.49: Former Tourism Director Geoff
A Mastermind of the Campaign to Re-Invent the Mill
(photo by Leigh Henson, 6-9-07)
History of the Mill and the
The account below is quoted from Our Times, Volume
6, Issue 1, Spring, 200. Published by Sam Redding, researched and written
by Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach. Our Times was published by
Prairie Years Press
121 N. Kickapoo Street
Lincoln, IL 62656
year  was the year Paul Coddington opened the Blue Mill (later called the
Mill) on Stringer Avenue near the State School.
white Dutch building trimmed in blue, it featured a lighted revolving windmill
and a Dutch blue interior, waitresses dressed in white dresses and blue-trimmed
aprons, and enameled furniture with Dutch pictures.
Travelers driving by on Route 4 could purchase toasted sandwiches any hour of
the day or night. In fact, when Albert and Blossom Huffman bought the
restaurant in 1945, it still had two serving windows on the front of the
Albert built on a barroom of knotty pine, added an Army barracks from Camp Ellis
to the rear for a dance hall, and painted the building barn red.
delicatessen with curb service took the place of the dance hall for a number of
years, after which the building became a dance hall again.
Albert's daughter-in-law Eleanor worked at the Mill from 1948 until the late
'80s. The old windmill had come down; her husband, George, put up a new
one, also lighted and revolving--only to have a storm destroy it.
then, the interior had lost its Dutch motif and was becoming a museum of
oddities: a mechanical leg that protruded from the ceiling, a 20-pound
stuffed catfish, a suit of armor, four life-sized figures.
Mill was the 'Home of the Schnitzel,' the huge breaded tenderloin sandwich first
made by Louise 'Mom' Rofschansky, an Austrian immigrant who brought her recipe
from the old country.
Originally, the schnitzel was made from veal; Eleanor says Louise would
"sit there many, many nights pounding it until three or four in the
morning.' Later, it was made from pork.
down through George and Eleanor's son, Randy, and his two older sons, Brian and
Danny, four generations of Huffmans worked at the Mill before it closed in
Darold Henson's Memory of the Mill
told me that when he was growing up in Lincoln in the 1930s, at some point the
owner of the Mill was Raymond Hickman, who was an avid squirrel hunter. Willie
Aughton, at 92, remembers hunting with him. Darold recalls that when he was in
his early teens, he attended a dinner of fried squirrel at the Mill. Apparently
Mr. Hickman served his customers and neighbors such a feast at the end of the
squirrel hunting season as a special treat.
Leigh Henson's Memory of the Mill
from the 1960s
The Schnitzel was a super tenderloin that covered the
plate. The fries were thick and brown on the outside--just perfect! The draft
beer was always fresh and cold. The foot and leg protruded from the dining room
ceiling, and countless other whimsical decorations were the decor--in true
bizzaro Rte. 66 tradition--from antiques to collector beer cans stacked behind
the bar. The jukebox had great country tunes--Eddy Arnold being my favorite. (He
along with Jim Reeves invented "The Nashville Sound," and Arnold is second only
to George Jones in all-time country-western hits: see
The shuffleboard table did not have a long wait during lazy summer afternoons.
Blossom served very efficiently and very cheerfully. Albert looked most
business-like in his long, white apron. George and Eleanor assisted in all
was a happening! Weekends were wild and woolly with live country bands. Well,
the wild and woolly was not always confined to weekends, as I am reminded by
this little scenario:
One hot summer afternoon in the mid 1960s, I was with a
friend or two at the bar (Jeff Fults and Dick George, I think), admiring the
collection of vintage beer cans on the wall behind the bar, when George Huffman came in,
followed by his wife, Eleanor. She was giving him all kinds of grief for whatever
reason. The unflappable George quietly took his place behind the bar, while the Mrs. pursued
him, growing increasingly vocal. Frustrated with his disregard for her
she reached under the bar and pulled out a pistol, waving it at him. My friends
and I froze in fear. We quietly finished our brews and left. We heard no
gunfire, and the incident did not prevent us from returning another day.
Mill was where I taught Jon Diers, Jeff Fults, Dick George, and others
how to play shuffleboard. Others I had seen
patronizing the Mill include Jim Benner, Cynthia Stoltz, Vic Thudium (founder of
Lincoln Office Supply), and J.P.
Ressetar, who in the winter of '68 or '69 helped me push my red Triumph-4
British sports car out of a snow-covered ditch there, where I had taken my first
wife on a date. I had taken her there so she could enjoy the local culture. She
was a Pekinite and used to the crudities of that river-front, whiskey-laden
community and unfamiliar with the more refined hometown culture afforded by
Jerry Gibson's Memory of the Mill
Leigh, since I left Lincoln directly after my 1960 high school graduation, I must
have missed you at the Mill when I stopped in occasionally on some of my
infrequent trips to Lincoln. After a four year hiatus from the immediate Lincoln
area, I returned and found employment with Pittsburg Plate Glass Industries
(PPG) on North Kickapoo Street. Soon after that, Uncle Sam found me and
announced I was a member of the US Army.
returned from military service, I immediately returned to my previous employer,
PPG. Actually my employment was never terminated because most employers of
the Vietnam era kept drafted and enlisted military personnel on their roster
until their return. PPG was most generous and seniority was continued as if the
employee never left the payroll.
keep the proper operating temperatures in their manufacturing process meant PPG
was open and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year which
required hourly personnel to work rotating shifts. This translated that one
shift in three, a month, was worked from four o'clock in the afternoon to
midnight. Many midnight hours when I clocked out of PPG I would drive across
town to The Mill to get their delicious schnitzel and a beer before closing. It
was a treat to look forward to that sandwich treat after a night in the heat and
hazard of the factory. I recall I had to hustle to get there before the kitchen
closed, but they usually knew several Lincoln factory employees would be in
after the 4 to 12 shift.
The Mill's vehicle parking
situation wasn't without its perils. One night I parked my '63 Oldsmobile in a
parallel position across the street from the straight-in parking, and my car
received a sizable dent from a patron who needed a lot of room to back up.
I did go
in on other days. and it did not take long to find a shuffleboard opponent. One
of first memories of The Mill was when I was about seven years old after a
fishing trip with my dad, Ted Gibson, our neighbors Ray Lemme and Leo Jones. The
men all ordered a "G-B" beer. Long gone Griesedieck Brothers brewery label
that was eventually changed to Stag.
8.50: Loyal Patrons Jerry Gibson (l)
and Leigh Henson
Waiting for the Mill to Re-open
(photo, 6-9-07, courtesy of Geoff Ladd)
Joyce Ogden Gibson's Memory of
gosh, I really hope the new plan using volunteers gets off the ground. I
loved the Mill. In the 50's, Mom and I occasionally went out there for
schnitzel. Mom was friends with Blossom and used to help out occasionally
at the bar. Can you believe it? She loved 'reliving' the days. I never
really wanted to go because it was embarrassing to me that Mom had ever
worked there. Go figure. I used to think the Mill was the most wonderful
place because of the mill on the front. I was sad when it started looking
Jeff Fults's Memory of the Mill
looked over your "stuff" concerning the Mill. Oh what sweet memories. I remember
the summer that we were taking classes at ISU and we would close down the Mill
in the early hours of the morning. You would then pick me up around 6:30 or 7:00
and drive to Normal for class. The crazy thing about this story is that we would
repeat the whole thing the next night. Also the bit about "you" teaching the
rest of us how to play shuffleboard, my memory is a little fuzzy on that issue.
I don't know why I'm not receiving all of your updates but sure enjoy them when
forward to your next bojive.
Leigh's note: I guess the summer of
extensive patronage of the Mill was 1967. One irony here is that Jeff and his
wife, Carolyn Bailey Fults, lived in an apartment nearly across from the Mill,
so that when I picked him up early in the morning, we both had to face the scene
of the crimes of the night before. Your fuzzy memory on my teaching shuffleboard
makes me concerned that you also may not recall very well that I taught
badminton lessons to you and others in the backyard of your folks' mansion on Lincoln Avenue
during summers of the mid 1960s--draft beer and your mother's BBQ just the best!
I do remember that when you and I played together as a team in doubles, we were
unbeatable. My only regret is that we played without mercy, humiliating your
bother Bob and other opponents. Fortunately, your brother Don was too young to
compete and was spared the trauma of losing to us.
Oh, yes, bojive: thanks, Jeff, for
expanding my vocabulary.
8.51: Leigh Henson During Interview
to be First Bartender at the New Mill
About the Movement to Preserve the Mill Site
County Tourism Director Geoff Ladd and others are spearheading efforts to
prevent the total demolition of the Mill and preserve at least part of it as a photo-op on old Route
34. Lincoln Lakes. Private residential and recreational area.
South of Lincoln, a series of large gravel pits, some connected, is called
Lincoln Lakes. They resulted from the dredging by the Lincoln Sand and
Gravel Company, beginning in 1905, for the purpose of mining sand and gravel.
For more information about Lincoln Lakes, see
28. Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; &
35. Lincoln Memorial Park (Chautauqua site) & Elks Country Club and
Golf Course (private).
For information on Lincoln Memorial Park, see
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(Former Chautauqua Site), the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites.
36. Old Union Cemetery & remnants of original 66 and
its predecessor, Illinois Route 4. This remnant runs between Old Union
Cemetery & Holy Cross Cemetery. Old Union Cemetery has a
small but clearly identifiable section of Civil War veterans. For
information on these cemeteries, see 11.
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(Former Chautauqua Site), the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites.
37. Lincoln Developmental Center (formerly Lincoln
State School & Colony).
(operational). original administration building (demolished).
Stringer Avenue. Closed September, 2002. A major state
institution during the Route 66 era, with more than 5,000 patients in the
27. 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.
38. New Union Cemetery.
Just east of Business 55 (Rte. 66) and south of Lincoln Developmental
39. Holy Cross Cemetery. Immediately east of Old Union
40. Edward R. Madigan
State Park. Entrance just off Rte. 66 south of Salt Creek
Additional Sites on Route 66 at Lincoln
41. The Lincoln Inn
on the North Beltline
8.52: Lincoln Inn on the North Beltline of Route 66 in Lincoln,
Photo provided by Lindy Fancher and published in "Let's Eat Out," Our
Times, Spring, 2001.
(at right): Menu Published in the Courier, November, 1953.
42. The Kruger Elevator and
Giant Propane Tank Just North of Lincoln
Kruger Elevator: A Landmark Since the Earliest Days of Route 66
(Photo by Fred
Blanford, May, 2002)
looks southwest, and Lincoln is just beyond the horizon to the left of the
Blanford emailed the photos of the Kruger Elevator and the giant
propane tank to 160+ LCHS alums in May, 2002, along with the following
remarkable account of how these landmarks made Hollywood history as well as
"I'm not sure what confers
landmark status to any given structure. I am attaching two today that I had
forgotten about until I saw a rerun of a travelogue on TV the other day. The
film was a travel piece following the Clark Griswold (?) family on
their trek from Chicago to Wally World.
At the time of filming -- I did happen to be
'downtown' -- and saw this very strange car -- which I drove around the block to
get a second look at. On the second lap I noticed the 'support' vehicle
trailing and figured out what was happening. The occupants were all leaning
out the windows hollering and waving -- which didn't impress me at the time. I
had not been an SNL viewer and didn't recognize the driver as other than
someone that looked familiar.
In any case, doing what Hollywood does best -- they took
liberties. While the two landmarks were shot in Logan County, the movie IDs
them as being someplace in Kansas after they pick up Aunt Edna. I am here to
assure you -- they are still here.
The two structures are part of the East Lincoln Farmers
Grain Company [ELFG] -- being a propane tank (if you go to the video to verify
my claim -- notice the house in the background to the right of the tank) and
the Kruger Elevator. As an aside about acorns straying -- my maternal
grandfather was one of the original investors who built ELFG. Should you ever have occasion to see National Lampoon's
Vacation -- watch for Logan County landmarks."
8.55: Giant Farm Service Propane Tank on North Side of Route 66 with
Railroad Tracks in the Background
(Photo by Fred Blanford, May, 2002)
Beaver, Paul J. History of Logan County 1982. Published by the Logan County Heritage Foundation. Dallas, TX:
Taylor Publishing Company, 1982.
Dooley, Raymond, ed. The Namesake Town: A Centennial
History of Lincoln, Illinois. Lincoln, IL: Feldman's Print Shop, 1953.
Dye, Brad. Web site about Lincoln, Illinois:
Edward R. Madigan
Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence. "Cars. . .and Drivers," Our Times,
vol. 3, no.4, Winter, 1998. Sam Redding, Publisher.
Our Times. Prairie Years Press.
121 N. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656
___________. from "Let's Eat Out."
Our Times vol. 6, no. 1, Spring, 2001. Information about the Mill is online at
___________. "Water Works," Our Times,
vol. 4, no. 2, Summer, 1999.
Gleason. Paul E. Lincoln, Illinois: A Pictorial History.
St. Louis: G. Bradley Publishing, 1998.
Material from Mr. Gleason's books is copyrighted with all rights
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. Visit
Lincoln Evening Courier.
Edition, Section One, Wednesday, August 26, 1953, page 13.
"Lincoln Speedway Thrilling Racing Fans Since
1947." Lincoln Evening Courier. Centennial Edition, Section
Four, August 26, 1953, p. 8.
Polk's Lincoln (Logan County, Ill.) City
Directory 1934-35. Chicago, IL: R.L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1934.
Redding, Sam. "Water Works," Our Times,
vol. 4, no. 2, summer, 1999.
Route 66 Association of
Illinois. "Tropics to be Warm Again."
The 66 News, spring, 2001.
Snyder, Tom. Route 66 Traveler's Guide
and Roadside Companion. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.
"Walking the Path of Abraham Lincoln."
Tourism page of lincolndailynews.com:
to "Sites to See," and click on link to "Walking the Path. . . ."
Wallis, Michael. Route 66: The Mother
Road, 75th Anniversary Edition. NY: St. Martin's Griffin, 2001.
"William Maxwell Plaque to be Dedicated Aug. 24."
17, 2002. William Maxwell's works are available at
www.wildlife-images.com/Artist_Murphy-Charles.asp (for biographical
information about Designer-Artist Charles E. Murphy)
Henson, Leigh. "Vehicles
I Drove on Route 66" (in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s).
Illinois Route 66 Association:
http://www.il66assoc.org/index.html (A good place on the
Web to start.)
National Historic Route 66 Federation.
"History of Route 66."
Northern Arizona University. Route 66 for
Route 66: Springfield, Illinois:
Route 66: The Mother Road, America's Most
Teague, Tom. Searching for 66. Springfield,
IL: Samizdat House, 1996.
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