Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois

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ScreamingChicken
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2018/03/23 21:17:49 (permalink)

Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois

Last year my job took me from southern Wisconsin to St. Louis on multiple occasions, so to make the best of those long drives I spent a lot of time on US-66 between Bloomington and Mitchell...in fact, I drove all of it.  Here are the better meals I had along the way, in geographical from east to west.
 
Atlanta
 
The Country-Aire Restaurant is right on the edge of town, near I-55.  I stopped in one Monday morning (all my other trips took place on Sundays) for a late breakfast and had a very good ponyshoe (the horeshoe's little brother) made with eggs, ham, potatoes, and gravy.  Filling!

 

 

 

 
Fortunately Atlanta also has The Palms Grill Cafe, located right downtown and absolutely worth visiting.

 

 
There's a back room for extra seating and special events.

 
What's this, now?

 
The chicken and mashed potatoes were terrific.

 
Excellent green beans, too.

 
Naturally, the pies are kept on metal stands under clear plastic/acrylic covers.  Anyone care for a slice of blueberry?

 
Time to pay up and get back on the road.  Yes, it's fully operational.

 
As an aside, the other half of the building that houses The Palms is used for the local museum and historical society and is a great place to check out.  Part of the museum is even devoted to classic arcade games from the '60s, '70s, and '80s.
 
Auburn
 
Surprisingly, I didn't make any food stops in either Lincoln or Springfield during my trips so the next place I ate was Fat Guy and a Fryer, on the western edge of Auburn.  I mentioned them in the BPT thread but they deserve a mention here, too, because of the excellent BPT they serve.  Big and flavorful, it even had a tasty little rim of fat along one side.

 

 

 
Girard
 
I didn't have a meal in Girard but I did stop at Whirl-A-Whip for a chocolate malt one afternoon.  I don't have much of a sweet tooth but I do enjoy a malt every once in a great while, and I was glad I stopped.  Perhaps another day I'll get a chance to see what the soft tacos are all about.

 
Litchfield
 
Everyone who knows about Litchfield has heard of The Ariston Cafe, but right door is Jubelt's and that's where I had lunch one Sunday.  The bakery side of the business dates back to 1922 (1952 at the Litchfield location) while the restaurant has been in operation since 1982.

 

 
Broccoli-cheese soup is one of my favorites.

 
I really liked the turkey ponyshoe.

 

 
Mount Olive
 
Less than 10 miles down the road from Litchfield is Mount Olive and the Crossroads Route 66 Diner, located just west of town at 66 and IL-138.

 
Crossroads is another place that serves up a really good plate of fried chicken.

 
I don't know how much I'll be traveling to St. Louis this year, but I do hope to make a few more drives in the future.
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/03/23 22:35:16
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    Root-Beer Man
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 21:58:32 (permalink)
    Nice! We're planning on going to St. Louis next week for a couple of days to see the sights during the kids Spring Break. Going to hit a few places up that I've wanted to see.
    #2
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 22:20:13 (permalink)
    Some of the things I saw along the way.
     
    Atlanta
     
    Reisch was a Springfield beer and last brewed in 1966.

     
    The Muffler Man and Route 66 Park are right across the street from The Palms.

     

     
    The Hawes Grain Elevator Museum.  I haven't stopped in yet but I'd really like to.

     

     
    The library.  The clock tower itself is fairly new and was built to house the clockworks salvaged from the old high school when it was torn down.

     
    Lincoln
     
    Did you know Lincoln is the only Lincoln that was named for Abraham Lincoln while he was still alive?  Now you do.  Griesedieck was a St. Louis beer for many years, first as a separate entity and then later as a Falstaff-owned label.  I did a little research and I believe this is an original mural and not a repaint.

     
    Some of the cities along 66 have these cool markers.

     
    The covered wagon is only about 10 years old IIRC, but is quite an eye-catcher.  Too bad it's not animatronic...

     
    A number of older Route 66 guides list The Mill as being open but I think it's currently closed, and to be honest the exterior looks like it could use some work.

     
    Williamsville
     
    This 1920s-era service station is currently under restoration and I hope to eventually see the finished product.

     
    Sherman
     
    This is the I-55 exit 105 interchange just east of Springfield.  It may not look like much but the closed section of road to the left was part of 66.

     
    Springfield
     
    There are still a few Hen House restaurants in Illinois and possibly Indiana; this one is located off of Toronto Road (I-55 exit 90) and always seems to be fairly busy.

     
    Auburn
     
    Just north of Auburn is a section of brick road.  The bricks were never actually part of 66 or IL-4 but the roadbed itself was (more here).

     
    Virden
     
    Virden is between the towns of Auburn and Girard and it has a very nice town square.

     
    This monument commemorates the Battle of Virden, a violent 1898 conflict between miners and mine owners.  Southern Illinois is coal country and there were several events like this in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

     
    Mount Olive
     
    The Soulsby Service Station was in operation until the early 1990s and is very well known to people with an interest in 66 and to some degree, architecture.  After it closed it sat idle for a number of years until restoration began.

     
    Edwardsville
     
    I saw this sign on Chain of Rocks Road just west of Edwardsville.  The painted panels say "Kaiser Frazer" and if you look closely you can just make out the neon tubing spelling "Town & Country Motel", both of which are extinct.  My guess is that the sign was originally at a Kaiser-Frazer dealership (maybe at this location?) and was later painted over and repurposed for the motel, and over time the overpaint has worn off to reveal the K-F sign underneath.

     
    Mitchell/Pontoon Beach
     
    The end of the line comes at the intersection of IL-111 and Chain of Rocks Road, literally for my trips on 66 and figuratively for the Bel Air Drive In.

    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/03/23 23:17:14
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 22:24:45 (permalink)
    Root-Beer Man
    Nice! We're planning on going to St. Louis next week for a couple of days to see the sights during the kids Spring Break. Going to hit a few places up that I've wanted to see.

    Hopefully the weather will cooperate for you.  If you have the time there's a lot to see away from the interstate!
    #4
    JRPfeff
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 22:28:49 (permalink)
    Quit all this fancy eating and get to work.
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    leethebard
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 22:44:00 (permalink)
    Enjoying this report. Thanks so much
    for posting...
    #6
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 22:47:57 (permalink)
    JRPfeff
    Quit all this fancy eating and get to work.

    How about if you get your nose out of your frou-frou food magazine collection and tell me if there are any Duncan Hines restaurants along 66?
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/23 23:12:16 (permalink)
    Great photos. I love those giant Muffler Man statues on 66 in IL; and the one of the giant spaceman, if that's still there.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/24 00:03:08 (permalink)
    The Gemini Giant is still standing in front of the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, IL.  The restaurant was closed for a number of years, but according to this 2017 article in a local paper, it was purchased by new owners with plans to reopen.  Not sure if that has come to fruition.
     
    Buddy
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/24 00:11:31 (permalink)
    BuddyRoadhouse
    The Gemini Giant is still standing in front of the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, IL.  The restaurant was closed for a number of years, but according to this 2017 article in a local paper, it was purchased by new owners with plans to reopen.  Not sure if that has come to fruition.
     
    Buddy


    Thanks. It was closed when we drove 66 from Chicago to St. Louis, but we still stopped to take a photo with the Giant.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/24 09:28:21 (permalink)
    A Muffler Man is also in use as the lumberjack mascot on the campus of Northern Arizona University.  We came across it completely by accident when we were in Flagstaff last week.
     
    And Route 66 happens to run right through Flagstaff as well.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/03/24 09:54:02
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    leethebard
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/24 09:43:17 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken
    A Muffler Man is also in use as the lumberjack mascot on the campus of Northern Arizona University.  We came across it completely by accident when we were in Flagstaff last week.
     
    And route 66 happens to run right through Flagstaff as well.


    My wife graduated from NAU. The lumberjack (Paul Bunyon) carries an axe. School legend has it that Bunyon's axe will fall if a virgin girl ever graduates from NYU!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/03/24 10:05:37 (permalink)
    One more.
     

     
    Due to realignments over the years US-66 takes multiple paths through Illinois.  Just south of Girard a section of original (1926-30 alignment) pavement veers off of IL-4 and there's a small cutout on the shoulder so people can park in order to read the sign, and while I was standing there a car went past, stopped, backed up, and pulled into the cutout.  The driver got out and came over to the sign, and said that it was a good thing I'd been parked there or he and his passenger would've driven by and missed the sign completely.  After a bit of conversation I remarked that he didn't sound like a Midwesterner.
     
    He and his traveling companion had taken a month's holiday and flown from London to Chicago in order to drive 66 all the way to Santa Monica and back again, and on a July Sunday had just happened to be in the same part of the country doing the same thing as me.
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    Ram4
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/04/15 17:11:09 (permalink)
    That's awesome that you saw a couple from London like that.  In 2012 I checked out the stretch of Route 66 between Tulsa and Joplin for a day.  While stopped in Afton, OK at the Packard DX station museum I was told I had just missed a group of 30 Australians on motorcycles. Then in October 2013 I drove from Chicago to Tulsa and back and I ran into a pack of 30 or so Australians on motorcycles!  We bumped into them later on the trip as well.  I've also been to Santa Monica Pier at the end.  So I still need to see 2/3 of the Mother Road one day.  The bad part is that I've already seen the first third of the trip so those surprises are gone.  The good part is that most of it remains for me and I now know that you really shouldn't be bypassing anything to get to your hotel for the night otherwise you are driving too far per day.  That means I'll be able to do it at the right speed.  I think three weeks is ideal for this trip but for many people that's a bit long so at the minimum - two weeks. 
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    leethebard
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/04/15 17:18:32 (permalink)
    Great story!!
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    irisarbor
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/04/17 17:25:11 (permalink)
    Love Rte 66 
    Love Jubelts! 
    One of the best bakeries, with a truly impressive mini pineapple upside cake mmmm
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/04/17 19:56:10 (permalink)
    Ram4
    That's awesome that you saw a couple from London like that.  In 2012 I checked out the stretch of Route 66 between Tulsa and Joplin for a day.  While stopped in Afton, OK at the Packard DX station museum I was told I had just missed a group of 30 Australians on motorcycles. Then in October 2013 I drove from Chicago to Tulsa and back and I ran into a pack of 30 or so Australians on motorcycles!  We bumped into them later on the trip as well.

    Stories like this are neat but what's even more neat is that they don't appear to be all that uncommon!  It's amazing how much of a worldwide attraction 66 is.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re: Bloomington to Mitchell: a Few Stops Along Rt. 66 in Illinois 2018/04/18 00:07:10 (permalink)
    Don't know if they still maintain it, but years ago when The Ariston Cafe kept a guest book, it was filled with entries from tourists from all over the world.
     
    Buddy
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