Route 66 history in Pontiac dates back to the earliest days of the “Mother Road.” From the road’s inception in 1926, through its decommissioning in the 1980s, Pontiac has been blessed with a number of famous Route 66 icons. There have been four different alignments of Route 66 as it made its way through town. Today there are six wayside exhibits in Pontiac, and each tells a different story about America’s Main Street highway and the City of Pontiac.
The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, the Schmeeckle Reserve at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and Illinois Route 66 communities, including Pontiac, have developed and designed three types of interpretive displays; Wayside Exhibits, Experience Hubs, and Interpretive Statues. Each display is placed in a location that has Route 66 significance and explains that importance through various media forms.
In Pontiac, there are 6 Wayside Exhibits, one Experience Hub, and one Interpretive Statue.
Behind the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum.
Route 66 Experience Hub
Route 66 Wayside Exhibit
Route 66 Shield Mural – first mural in Pontiac
Route 66 Wishing Well
Bob’s Road Yacht
Route 66 – The Mother Road
Route 66, the Mother Road, is an American icon that symbolizes romance and freedom of the open road. Born in 1926, Route 66 was one of the first numbered US highways, journeying through 2,500 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. Today you can still “get your kicks on Route 66″ by exploring the Illinois Highway Route 66 National Scenic Byway.
Historic Route 66 begins in downtown Chicago, the business and cultural capital of the Midwest. It travels through bustling Chicago suburbs before reaching rural countryside.
The Mother Road
Route 66 was the road of flight for people escaping the dust bowl in the 1930s. It was the route of adventure for families seeking the wonders of the Southwest and California in the 1950s and 60s.
Main Street of America
Grain elevators and fields greet modern travelers, much as they did in earlier eras. Journey through prairie farmland and friendly Midwestern towns.
Quirky attractions lured travelers off the road with the promise of fun and adventure. Explore giants, museums and other attractions that still exist today.
Diners and cafes sprang up along the road catering to people on the move. You can still enjoy home-style cooking from a time before fast food.
Service stations along Route 66 did more than just pump gas. Friendly attendants assisted travelers with a smile. Today you can rediscover several historic service stations.
On to Missouri
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge is the scenic endpoint of Route 66 in Illinois. It served as a crossing over Mississippi River for traffic from 1936 to 1955. It is now open for walking and biking.
Route 66 Lives On
Unable to compete with fast-moving freeways, Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985. Nostalgia for hometowns and America’s landscape, fueled by movies, TV shows and music, keep the Mother Road alive.
Route 66 Wayside Exhibits:
. Chicago, IL / Lou Michelle’s
. Joliet, IL / Route 66 Experience
. Wilmington, IL / Gemini Giant
. Dwight, IL / Ambler-Becker Texaco Station
. Pontiac, IL / Route 66 Hall of Fame
. Atlanta, IL / Palm’s Grill Café
. Lincoln, IL / World’s Largest Covered Wagon
. Springfield, IL / Cozy Dog Drive-In
. Raymond, IL / Our Lady of the Highways Shrine
. Litchfield, IL / Ariston Café
. Staunton, IL / Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
. Collinsville, IL / The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle
. Granite City, IL / Chain of Rocks Bridge.
The Route 66 Shield Mural is our oldest mural. It was painted in 2006 by the wonderful artists at Diaz Sign Art. This shield is located on the outside, back wall of the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum. The bricks you see in front of the mural are original Route 66 bricks. You may drive your car, truck, motorcycle, or other mode of transportation in front of the mural for a photo. Access to the mural for all types of vehicles is located in the 300 block of North Main Street. The Route 66 Museum’s entrance is located at 110 West Howard Street
Original Route 66 Wishing Well
Route 66 has become a mostalgin symbol of Americana. This display honors just one of the many mom-& pop businesses that served weary travelers on the Mother Road. At its original location many thousands of people from around the world stopped to make a wish at this famous well. Even though it has been removed, the magic remains. “Yes dreams do come true on Ruote 66. All you have to do is Believe!.”
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