Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"37 Miles of Smiles"

We continued the route of the Route 66 Garage Sale with a stop in Lincoln, IL. With few sites braving the rain, we had been unsuccessful up to this point in finding any treasures.

In this town, we came upon The Mill and learned that the Route 66 Heritage Foundation was raising money through the Garage Sale for the restoration of The Mill.

Opened in 1929 under the name of the Blue Mill, the Dutch-themed building housed a restaurant that became famous for it’s fried schnitzel, originally made of veal and later of pork. The Mill has been closed since 1996.

We thought it was interesting that Lincoln "is the only town named for and christened by Abraham Lincoln before he became President. First settled in the 1830s, it was officially named for Lincoln on August 27, 1853. Lincoln had assisted with the planning of the town and worked as counsel for the C. & A. Railroad, newly laid through the community.

"During the naming ceremony, Lincoln chose a ripe watermelon from a nearby wagon, broke it open, and squeezed the juice onto the ground as an informal rite of baptism" (illinois

We took a short walk around the downtown square of Lincoln, admiring the architecture while trying to protect the camera from the day-long drizzle.

In the center of downtown, and of the county, was the architecturally-spectacular historic Logan County Courthouse.

On December 24, 1985, the Courthouse Square Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Adam May, Lincoln’s own painter, gathered 35 Wall-dogs (painters) in July of 2004, and created a visual personification for residents and visitors. Ten murals were painted in five days to replicate previous business advertisements and to enhance the recognition of Abraham Lincoln in our town" (illinois

This mural (photos above and right) seemed to be new, but I could not find any reference to when it was painted or by whom.

Shown here is the restored train depot in McLean (population 800). It now houses a shop selling model railroad material and other railroad-related products.

Larry Tallent, of Odd Things, an Antique Shoppe in McLean, passed along some stories about the items in his antiques shop, especially surrounding the three cash registers shown here. He restored these and other registers in his shop. Through newspaper articles and internet resources, he has developed a clientele from many states. He even was able to talk a caller through the process on "unsticking" keys and where to oil a register.

This machine, a St. Louis Cheese Cutter, is his wife's favorite. He demonstrated how the movement of the metallic lever (on the right in the photo) would move from left to right to line up with the amount to enter up to $1.95.

In the town of Atlanta, we came across The Palms Grill Cafe. Originally operated from 1934 to the late 1960s, the cafe has been refurbished and once again serves its traditional blue-plate specials.

The city is also home to a giant fiberglass mufflerman (so named because they were initially placed by service stations and shown holding a muffler) holding a hot dog, which stood for more than 38 years in front of Bunyon’s Hotdog Stand in Cicero, IL. (Bunyon's chose this spelling so as not to infringe on the trademark name of the Paul Bunyan Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, AZ.)

When the restaurant was sold in 2003, the famous Bunyon’s Statue was placed by the family on permanent loan to the town of Atlanta. The 19-foot tall statue thus continued to be a Route 66 attraction.

The folks at the Gunnar Mast Trading Post had a ton of Route 66 memorabilia--and a large screen TV surrounded by several day traders engaged in animated conversations.

So at the end of the day in spite of the rain, our three intrepid travelers (Dora, Kate, and me) agreed that The Fifth Annual Route 66 Garage Sale (stretching along the highway from Williams-ville to McLean) had lived up to its description: "37 miles of smiles."

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