Route 66 - Pontiac to Lincoln's Tomb


Lincoln loitering around the Lincoln
County Courthouse.
After a good night's rest in Pontiac, we drove back a couple of miles to pick up Route 66 where we dropped it to find a motel the night before. The Lincoln County Courthouse  on the town square is an interesting place to spend a bit of time. Abe Lincoln just hangs around leaning up against a fence in spite of the No Loitering sign.

Down the road a ways in Lexington is "Memory Lane," a 1 mile section of the old original highway that has been closed and is now a walking trail with period billboards and Burma Shave signs. You have to watch close for it or you'll pass it. It's worth a stop. Get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy the shaded walk and old signs.

Youngest-daughter on Memory Lane - Route 66
N41 18'37.7" W088 08'19.6
 The next "Must" stop is Funk's Grove, world-famous for the maple sirup produced there by hand since 1824.  The legend of the discovery of maple sirup ("sirup" is the original Webster's spelling of "syrup") dates back to an early Native American story.


One evening after returning from hunting, an Iroquois chief named Worksis plunged his hatchet into the side of a maple tree for safe keeping. The next morning he retrieved it and went out on another hunt. His wife had prepared his supper the night before while sitting under that tree and had by coincidence left a bowl directly underneath where he had stuck his hatchet. The sap ran into the bowl. Thinking it was water, the wife used the liquid to make venison stew that afternoon in preparation for the chief's return. As the stew cooked, water evaporated from the sap, leaving a thick, sweet substance in the stew. That evening, both Worksis and his wife were delighted by the sweet-tasting stew. They figured out what had happened and thus was discovered how to make maple sirup from sap.

Original Funk's Grove general store.
Be sure to visit the old hamlet itself for some great photo opportunities and a taste of blissful peace in this hectic world. Most people totally miss it in their hurry getting to the famous Sirup Store and that's their loss. The interstate is only a couple of miles away, but you would never know it here in this quiet little community. Afterwards, go on down the road about 1/2 mile to the Sirup store where you can purchase some great-tasting, hand-made, old-fashioned maple sirup, souvenirs, caps and books. The folks behind the counter are sure to greet you with a smile. Funk's Grove turned out to be not only one of the prettiest, but also one of my very favorite spots of the whole trip.

The sign to look for if you want some good sirup!
We were blessed during the first couple of days of our trip with very nice weather - a little more warm than is average for the last week of May, but comfortable in shorts and t-shirt. This day was when things drastically changed. The clouds fled from the partly cloudy skies and the sun shown bright and hot. It got up to 95 degrees and with no shade and not even a breath of air moving, it was hot, hot, hot even for this native Texan who grew up in heat like that. Just because we didn't fry doesn't mean it wasn't pretty miserable for most of the day!

Humble blog author relaxing at Funk's Grove.
The truck was thirsty and we were too so we stopped in McLean at Dixie Trucker's Home to fill up the pickup with gas and ourselves with bottles of cold water. Opened in 1928, Dixie Trucker's Home was open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Until 2003, it was closed only 1 day and that was due to a fire. In 2003, John Geske, one of the original owners passed away at almost 100 years old and Dixie Trucker's Home was closed. It was purchased in 2006 by a company who reopened it as the Dixie Travel Center and purchased by another firm in 2009 which did extensive remodeling. I guess you can say it is still open, but it's no longer the old Route 66 icon it once was.

Dixie Trucker's Home, May, 2012
N41 18'37.7, W088 08'9.6
In Atlanta, Illinois we found Tall Paul, the fiberglass "muffler man," cousin to the Gemini Giant. Holding a giant hot dog, Tall Paul used to advertise a restaurant in Berwyn, but was moved to the downtown square in Atlanta and restored in December, 2003.

Tall Paul and his giant hot dog
N40 15'36.6 W089 13'5.8
Notice anything strange in the next picture? Maybe you noticed the phone booth on the roof of the Lincoln City Hall. In the late 1960s, the city decided it needed a spotter system when the weather turned severe. So the city fathers decided to use the City Hall roof as a vantage point. Naturally, during storms and tornadoes, the weather might get a bit wet so the lookout would need protection from the elements.

Phone booth on the roof of the
Lincoln City Hall
In a stroke of brilliance, somebody got the bright idea to put a phone booth up there. Being practical, they put in a phone wired directly to downstairs rather than a pay phone. It wouldn't do to have the weather spotter spy a tornado bearing down on the town and not have a dime to call it in! And for years, the Fire Department was very particular about who it sent up on the roof during dangerous weather - only their youngest non-married fella. That way if something happened to him, there wouldn't be a family counting on him for support.

The roof phone booth is no longer used, but people still come from all over the world to stand and stare up at the phone booth on the roof. We did too, but the sweat started rolling into my eyes and Youngest-daughter quickly climbed back into the air conditioned truck. I joined her a few seconds later and we left Route 66 proper for a short side trip to see Abraham Lincoln's tomb.

Lincoln's tomb
More than 200,000 people a year stop to visit Lincoln's Tomb, located in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, and apparently, most of those visitors stop and rub Lincoln's nose. You see, according to folklore, rubbing the nose of a statue is supposed to bring good luck. I'm not so sure about that, but before leaving, we both rubbed Abe's large proboscis just in case there's any truth to it. One can never have too much good luck!

Youngest-daughter getting
her share of good luck.











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