Note to Self: You Are Busy August 8-12, 2018! Part III
Illinois Route 66
There are many activities planned for the 35th Anniversary of the Introduction of the Pontiac Fiero from August 8-12, 2018. One of the largest, a Fiero caravan from East Peoria, IL to Pontiac, IL called “Fieros on Route 66”, will take place on Friday, August 10. Our planned route will take us on the interstate to the Dwight, IL exit north of Pontiac, IL to Route 66 and then south to Pontiac, IL.
Route 66 has been dubbed many things: “The Mother Road”, “America’s Road”, and in the early days, the “most magical road in all the world”. Whatever you call it, it’s a part of American history and culture. In the early years of Route 66, service station prototypes were developed along the highway for eventual adoption across the rest of the country. Most evolved from the simplest “filling station” concept to become more elaborate. Route 66 was once the “Main Street of America”, a road where you could stop and see numerous attractions, stay in unique looking motels, and buy souvenirs from your travels to remember the journey.
“America’s Road” started at Jackson Boulevard at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, IL and extended across our beautiful country, ending at the Santa Monica (Los Angeles, CA) pier. Commissioned in 1926, it was the first highway to link the two cities, covering 2,448 miles and eight states (Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California). Now Route 66 evokes a time when traveling was as much about the trip as it was about the destination; when you saw America through a car window instead of out an airplane window, 30,000 feet above the earth’s surface. Route 66 is known all over the world. A few years ago, NIFE attended a cruise night in Lisle, IL where we met a group of German car enthusiasts who shipped their classic 1950s and 1960s American cars over to the US just to travel Route 66 from Chicago to LA. It was as intriguing for them to travel Route 66 as it would be for us to drive the Autobahn.
Route 66 has often appeared in popular culture. It was written about by John Steinbeck, who recognized a feminine nurturing quality in it and termed it “The Mother Road” in his 1939 book The Grapes of Wrath. The song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” was written about the road in 1946 by songwriter Bobby Troup, and to this day is covered by many artists. In the 1960s, there was a successful TV series about the road. “Route 66” was the working title for the 2006 film, Cars, set in large part in Radiator Springs, a composite of multiple real towns located along US 66. Phillips 66, a multinational energy company, took its name from the road. It seems that the road has become more of an American idol, as does a Norman Rockwell painting, than just a highway.
Sections of the road were decommissioned over the years as newer, faster highways bypassed the old. Although the remaining part of Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985, you can still travel on numerous sections of the original road. That is exactly what we will do on Friday, August 10 for the “Fieros on Route 66” activity. We will start our journey on Route 66 after exiting highway I-55 in Dwight, IL and traveling south to Pontiac, IL. We will see a number of sites that still remain from the glory years of traveling the road; sites that harken back to those simpler times in our history. It is an opportunity not to be missed, not only to be traveling on Route 66, but doing so with fellow car enthusiasts, fellow Fiero enthusiasts, and friends. This not only preserves the excitement of our beloved vehicles, but also keeps the interest of the road alive through shared stories of your travels.
As we travel the road, the first site you will notice on your left side in Dwight, IL is the Ambler/Becker Texaco gas station. This historic 1933 filling station is identified as the longest operating gas station along Route 66. It dispensed fuel for 66 continuous years until 1999. A little further down the road on your right, in the town of Odell, IL, is the Standard Oil gas station. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1932, serving travelers until 1975. Another site you will see is in the town of Cayuga, IL. It is the “Meramec Caverns Barn” (Meramec Caverns is in Stanton, MO), a restored example of early highway advertising. It is one of only two remaining advertising barns still left on the Illinois portion of Route 66. A short distance from there is our final destination of Pontiac, IL. We will turn into the town passing the “Old Log Cabin Inn”. The inn was originally built in 1926 to service cars and the people who rode in them along Route 4. When Route 4 was repositioned and integrated in the “new” Route 66, the entire building was raised on jacks and rotated 180 degrees to face the newer thoroughfare. It is still open as a restaurant and serves travelers to this day. While in Pontiac, be sure to visit the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum for further information, pictures, and other memorabilia. It is housed in a historic firehouse and displays significant Illinois artifacts from along Route 66. Upstairs features “Route 66 – A Photo Journal”, a selection of photos by Michael Campanelli that captures the true spirit of Route 66. It’s a must-see for the Route 66 fan. So, come join us and “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”!
National Historic Rt 66 Federation
“Route 66 Traveler’s Guide” by Tom Snyder
Pontiac, Illinois: A Must See Stop on Route 66
We asked Ellie Alexander, Tourism Director of the Pontiac, IL Tourism Bureau, to tell us a little about what to expect during our visit when we arrive in Pontiac, IL. Here is what Ellie had to say:
“Pontiac offers visitors a unique collection of interesting places to see and fun things to do. Pontiac, IL is home to four wonderful museums: the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum, the Livingston County War Museum, the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center, and the Museum of the Gilding Arts, Pontiac has something to suit everyone. In addition to museums, we have a colorful collection of 26 large, outdoor, painted murals that are conveniently located in the historic downtown shopping district. Jump aboard Pontiac’s Jolly Trolley for the Mural on Main Street Tour and walk across one of three swinging pedestrian bridges. No visit to Pontiac is complete without crossing the Vermilion River on at least one of them!
Visitors of all ages enjoy Pontiac’s small town hospitality, fabulous restaurants, coffee houses, and Pfaff’s Bakery, which has been operated by the Pfaff family for over 60 years. You can smell the decades of baked goodness when you walk through the door! For some outdoor fun, visit one of our quaint parks and enjoy the new splash pad slated to open in the summer of 2018. Finally, scattered around the downtown area are fifteen miniature “Art Cars” that the kids love to “drive”; be sure to bring a camera!
Pontiac’s local history includes many ties to Abraham Lincoln. There are nine “Looking for Lincoln” wayside story boards located in Pontiac, each telling a different story about Abe’s connections to Pontiac. If historic architecture is your goal, the 1875 newly restored Livingston County Courthouse, the jewel of our historic downtown area, is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful courthouses in Illinois. Additionally, there are several historic homes, including the Jones House, which is the oldest brick home in Pontiac, the Yost House Museum, and the Strevell House, a carpenter gothic wood-frame home that hosted Abraham Lincoln when he visited Pontiac as a lawyer traveling the judicial circuit.
We have such a wide variety of exciting things for you to enjoy during your day in Pontiac! We look forward to seeing all of you in August.”
Ellie Alexander, Tourism Director of the Pontiac Tourism Bureau
During your stay in Pontiac, IL, we encourage you to spend some time at the Pontiac-Oakland Automotive Museum and Resource Center on the downtown square. We asked Tim Dye, Director of the museum, to provide us with some words of welcome:
“The staff at the Pontiac-Oakland Museum are very much looking forward to the Midwest Fiero Clubs visit to the museum and our city of Pontiac, located in central Illinois on Route 66. We are proud to be included as part of your event and hope we can contribute to its success. When you come to the museum we will have just celebrated our seventh anniversary. The Pontiac-Oakland Museum is the only institution whose mission is preserving, displaying, and sharing Oakland and Pontiac history. The museum is housed in a building that is nearly 120 years old, located right on the town square across the street from the historic Livingston County Courthouse. The vintage look of our building with its wood floors and tin ceiling compliments the cars and displays perfectly.
Visitors can expect to see a variety of Pontiac and Oakland models on display along with many display cases filled with related historic pieces; and yes, there is a display devoted to the Fiero. The museum also houses the world's largest Pontiac and Oakland library. But that's what anyone can see. We have something special planned for your group; a behind the scenes tour. This tour takes special guests to places not normally seen by the public. Places like the basement and the second floor where there is much, much more Pontiac memorabilia on display. If there happens to be anyone who likes petroleum collectibles, they will be impressed with the large collection of oil cans on display both on the main floor and in the basement. Another stop on the special behind the scenes tour is the museum shop where cars are stored and where clean up and some restoration tasks are performed. Also housed in this building is the studio of an internationally known airbrush artist, Tang Dongbai. Guys and gals alike are surprised and delighted by the pieces on display there showcasing his amazing talent.
Don't forget to bring some extra money for the museum gift shop, which has a large variety of Pontiac and Route 66 items, many of which are unique to the museum. Within walking distance are other museums including the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum and the Livingston County War Museum, and unique shops all around the square. Are you getting the idea there is much to see and do here? I know some of you will be planning a return trip on your own as you will probably find one day just won't cover it all. Again, we look forward to seeing you in August; I know you will enjoy your time here.”
Tim Dye, Director, Pontiac-Oakland Museum
All You Can Find Near Our Host Hotel
After carefully studying from where the attendees of the 2013 Fiero’s 30th anniversary came, Pontiac, IL was chosen as being very close to the geographic center of where all those attendees live. As a result, we chose this as a destination point for the 35th Anniversary of the Introduction of the Pontiac Fiero event.
From there, the search began for a hotel large enough to handle our event. An indoor parking facility was deemed a “must-have” as it was a very popular part of the 30th event. It was found that the closest acceptable facility that met many of our list of demands was the Embassy Suites in East Peoria, IL. This location turned out to be golden!
You might want to consider dieting now as eating, possibly over-eating, will be an easy thing to do during our 35th event. Guests of the hotel will be treated every morning to a free, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet where you can get omelets made to order and much more. If you’re not registered at the host hotel and you want to eat with your friends, the buffet can be purchased for $13.95 per person. Later in the early evening is a reception for hotel guests with free drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
If you decide to get out of the hotel, there are many places to eat, most within walking distance. You can get steak, chicken wings, fish, and Japanese food, just to name a few. There are also fast food places like Steak n’ Shake and Arby’s if you’re in a hurry or, Culver’s if you need something sweet. It’s a short five minute walk to a convenience store if you need an ATM or a six pack of cola.
If you arrive and suddenly remember that you forgot to pack your swimsuit, you can walk on over to Walmart. The sportsman among us will probably want to take time to visit Bass Pro Shops; you could walk there in just fifteen minutes from the hotel.
We hope no one has any car trouble, but if you experience any issues, common items can be picked up at Walmart. If needed, there are four auto parts stores within four miles or less, all open until 9:00pm. The nearest car wash is less than two miles away, though there will be provisions made for you to clean your ride on the hotel grounds. If you’re in need of petrol, the convenience store previously mentioned also has gas pumps.
There are of course times you won’t want to leave our host hotel. That’s why on Friday night it has been arranged for two food trucks to be on location and on Saturday during the show there will be three! The trucks will be serving up nachos, tacos, gourmet grilled cheese and much more.
With everything you and your Fiero need in such easy reach you may find it difficult to want to leave! For more information on the events or amenities for the 35th event, check out the articles at www.midwestfieroclubs.com. If you haven’t already registered your Fiero it’s time for you to visit www.fiero35th.com.
Ken Nagel, MWFC Member