Another great fall cruise to end our 2018 seasons! Cruising down Old Route 66 and seeing some great sights that we wouldn’t normally pull see on the main highways. A total of 32 people attended this cruise!
Our Saturday morning started by meeting at Minonk’s Exit 27 on Route 39. There is a seasonal candy factory in Minonk and we stopped there to hear the history of the candy factory and learn that they dipped 35,000 carmel apples last year and they plan to dip at least that many this year or more. They also specialize in chocolate whips and many other hand many candies. Many of our members indulged in chocolate purchases. They will be open for the Christmas season too so if you are going by the Minonk exit to Roanoke anytime soon, you should stop by the candy factory, you won’t be disappointed!
We then headed south to Bloomington and went by the first Steak n Shake ever. It was quite a surprise though to see if was a used car lot and the building didn’t look anything like the Steak n Shake picture. A shame that the building was not preserved as a Steak and Shake.
Oh well, down the road a little further and we toured the David Davis Mansion. A Victorian mansion built in 1872 was the home of David Davis (1815-1886), a U.S. Supreme Court Justice appointed by Abraham Lincoln, who was his friend and who had ridden the circuits with him.
The David Davis Mansion stands as an impressive reminder of the important role that Illinois played in America's history during the nineteenth century. The elegant Victorian home tells the story of the generation of men and women that created an orderly society out of a chaotic frontier world and then led the United States through the Civil War and early years of Reconstruction.
After our tour, was time for lunch at the DeStihl Brewery for lunch. After lunch we headed south out of Bloomington and down the Old Route 66. We drove through Funks Grove famous for maple sirup but the Maple Sirup place was closed and had a sold out sign. Still run by the Funk family, who have been making sirup since 1891. They spell it "Sirup" with an "i" instead of a "y", which is correct, and is used to distinguish genuine sugar maple sirup from the regular sugar-based syrup.
Did you know Funk’s Grove is the midway point on Route 66?
Our next stop down Route 66 was McLean, IL. There the Dixie Truck Stop, which was a well known stop for all visitors as well as truck drivers, was in full swing. This is the oldest truck stop in the state. It began in 1928, just two years after Route 66 was created. When it originally opened, the Dixie Truck stop was in a garage on the south side of Route 66. Soon it became a restaurant, they added cabins and even a cattle pen to it. Truckers and travelers were attracted by its family feeling and it’s great food. We stopped for a quick group picture and visited the silhouette of a man with a 1940s gas pump which represents the old Dixie Truck Stop and did another group picture.
Our next stop was Atlanta, IL. Atlanta is a quaint little town with several Route 66 memorabilia stores. They also had a museum, and it’s exhibits cover not only Atlanta’s history but also Abraham Lincoln and Route 66. There are several murals on the building walls plus a Grain Elevator that operated from 1904 to 1976. It is a museum and it gives you a good understanding of how things worked in the past. Atlanta is also known for the Muffler Man holding a Hot Dog! These statues were mostly placed in front of gas stations and garages with some holding auto tires and mufflers instead of axes, and that gave them the name “Muffler Men”. There are several of these statues on Route 66.
Atlanta knew we were going to visit so they asked me to write an article for their local newspaper and had the street blocked off for us to park our Vipers in front of the Palms Café which opened in 1934 offering “Home Cooking Quick Service, Courteous Treatment and Plate lunch for 25 cents. We were also told that the Palms Café offered blue ribbon pies and cakes so we all had either pie or cake before we left Atlanta. A very friendly little town that was excited we stopped, shopped and visited with their merchants.
Our next stop was Lincoln, IL named after Abraham Lincoln. Here we stopped and took another group picture by the Tropics sign. The Tropics restaurant has been demolished but a couple of our club members told stories of having dinner at the restaurant with their families! The Tropics restaurant opened in 1950 but the opening of the freeway hurt business and it opened and closed several times over the following decades. It was inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame in 2016.
Down the street from the Tropics sign is the largest hand built in oak and steel and is the current holder of the Guiness World Record for being the largest covered wagon. It is 40 x 12 x 25 feet and it was built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Route 66.
It was getting late in the afternoon and we needed to make another stop for the day. We headed north to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard for some wine tasting. We sat on the back porch of this lovely vineyard and enjoyed the fall like weather enjoying wine, cheese and crackers plus talking about the sights we seen during the day traveling down Route 66. After our visit at the winery, we head back to Morton, IL for a late evening meal and socializing and then everyone checked into their hotel.
Sunday morning, everyone headed to the Buckman’s home for breakfast and to check out the Rob’s Viperized garage and lower level of their home . A great time for more socializing and with fully bellies, we headed back to Bloomington to visit Sprague Service state, which is 90 years old. The original building catered to both local and travelers needs such as food, gasoline and car repair. Another great group picture with all of the cars was taken to remember our visit to this quaint old gas station.
Our next stop was a private collection of gas pumps, collector cars, lots of memorabilia and unique items. Club member Dale Naffziger recommended this collection and everyone had a great time looking at all of the “stuff” in this garage. Then off to another private collection of cars of Julius Alexander. He had a nice collection of older cars a lot of Fords from the 40’s and 50’s.
After our private collection visits, most of us went to lunch at Jason’s restaurant to visit and talk about our weekend. After lunch our cruise was concluded and folks headed home in the rain.
This two day event, even though It rained off and on a lot, was a memorable experience for all of us to travel Route 66 between Bloomington, IL and Lincoln, IL. Lots of history to learn and fun driving off the main highway. Our last cruise event for the 2018 season and for the memory books!
2019 should be another great season for cruising and we look forward to more Viper memories!