Living in Springfield, you’re often surrounded by history. From Lincoln to the 1908 Race Riot (that led to the creation of the NAACP) to Route 66, you can’t escape history. In fact, sometimes you’re on it.
There’s a stretch of road south of Lake Springfield I drive a few times each week while taking my kids to school.
At first glance, there’s nothing really remarkable about it; it’s a little more than a mile long, has white and yellow lines and it’s made of concrete with a few potholes here and there. But as it turns out, this is a road with a past.
Some historic preservationists and Route 66 enthusiasts believe it is the longest drivable stretch of the famed ‘Mother Road’ remaining in Illinois. The stretch would have been one of the earliest, dating back to the 1920’s, since the lake sitting to the north was built in the 1930’s. The road is significant enough that there’s even an effort underway to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One thing that you’ll notice when driving the road is that it’s narrow; only 16 feet wide. Modern two-lane roads are 24 feet wide. It gets more noticeable when the school buses are coming toward you at 45 mph. I just try to get out of their way.
The road can take you back in time, since on a summer day – from the corn to the clouds – you’ll see and hear the sights and sounds that a traveler would have in 1929.
From I-55, get off at exit 88 and head east on East Lake Shore Drive past the Illinois State Police training center. Just past Canterbury Drive is a fork in the road; stay to the right and you’ll be on Old Route 66. When you get to the end, turn right past the school to head back towards I-55.
To learn more about Scott, check out his bio.
Springfield State Journal-Register Article:
Stretch of Old 66 may win spot on register soon