An experiment of history, The Lagrange Phalanx, in Lagrange Indiana

Had never heard of these folks till I passed this sign. From the sound of it, they were an experiment in kibbutzim, the communal villages that exist (but are also for the most part failing) in Israel for the last 70 years. Apparently there were 33 of these scattered around the then United States, most of which were formed between 1841 and 1869, none of which lasted more than a handful of years.

9BP+jgtuTcyLGH55G1pmrQ

Drove by this Marker while driving from Ohio to Chicago upon a diversion route off route I 80/90 (i.e., the Indian Toll road) on to State route 20 (apparently there was an accident or something slowing traffic ahead of me).

Version 2

The sign reads: “The Fourier System of communal living was attempted here between 1843 and 1848. Approximately thirty families lived by rules established in councils of industry, commerce, justice and education. Their “new social order” was a failure.”

the marker isn’t shown on google maps, so I am putting a link to the closest business I could find. It’s a bit west of that, near the corner of Route 20 and the Turkey Creek

 

Henrys Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, IL

Located in Staunton, Illinois, Henry’s Rabbit Ranch really is one of the route 66’s “must sees” and it’s one that lives up to the promise … mostly because of the owner. Remember the Cadillac Ranch and the Slug Bug ranches in Texas? Well this is the Rabbit Ranch…

IMG_1261.JPG
In the USA and Canada the Volkswagen Golf is marketed by the name Rabbit

That said, Henry, the owner of this place, who is a lover of rabbits (he told me that at one point he was fostering 27 rescues) really is why you come.

fullsizeoutput_4cb9.jpeg

IMG_1725.jpg

When you first approach the place it looks like run down pile of junk that’s trying to take advantage of some of the 66 trafficIMG_1266.JPGBut when you get out of your car and start really looking, you realize this is one of must see stops (with accolades from both the route 66 landmark group and the state of Illinois

IMG_1716.jpg

Among his “junk” he’s got a sign from a depression era WPA project on the route!!! (this should NOT be outdoors in the elements, it should be in a museum)

IMG_1263.JPG

Inside you’ll find Henry. I had read this over and over again but it’s true, he is a ridiculously sweet guy who takes joy in helping 66’s travelers, and will talk to you all day if you let him. All of his bunnies are rescue bunnies and he told me that at one point he had like 27 of them.

fullsizeoutput_4ccc.jpeg

After talking to me for a while, he took me around to see his property, including the fairly large a Rabbit cemetery along the side of the house (each stone marks multiple rabbits), which includes a MASSIVE fiberglass rabbit he insisted of photographing me on top of IMG_1262.JPG

To be honest, I almost missed the place… the two images on the left side of the picture above is what the place looked like approaching from the north bound route 66. NO references are made to it being the Rabbit Ranch… all of his signs assume those sorts of tourists (on 66) will be going south bound… starting in Chicago and heading to LA.

Weezy’s route 66, Bar and Grill, Hamel IL

Weezy’s Route 66 Bar and Grill, in Hamel, Illinois has had many names over the years, in addition to Weezy’s its’ been known as, “Tourist Haven”, “Earnie’s Roadhouse”, and “Scotty’s Route 66 Bar and Grill”.

IMG_1709.jpg

I wasn’t even expecting to stop here, but this state of Illinois reference post regarding the history of this location on route 66, was very easily visible from the road, and called to me to stop.

IMG_1702.jpg

IMG_1706.jpg

In this case the button work and I got to hear an interview with an elderly woman who had worked at the restaurant across the street talking about how if she’d been recruited in it included room and board +7 dollars a week and she said in those days seven dollars a week under those conditions was enough that she was able to actually save money.

IMG_1708.jpg

So I went across to see if there was anything there I could eat. It was a very cute place with very friendly staff and customers,

IMG_1236.JPG

but I didn’t find anything on the menu that was really tempting me and I needed to get a move-on

 

Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK

For the life of me I’m not sure WHY the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma has become one of Route 66’s must see locations.IMG_1145.jpgIt’s noted on ALL the lists. But, it was built in the early 1970’s, so it’s not even concurrent to the route’s hay-day, and on top of that it’s not even particularly impressive. IMG_1226It started off as a roadside attraction, a sort of very low rent amusement/water park…. (the whale offers multiple ways to slide in to the water) …. but when compared to pretty much ever amusement park or water park out there… I’m talking really really low rent.IMG_1225

AND, considering it’s supposed to be a water slide type thing, you’re not even allowed to swim in the water there anymore…

IMG_1144

It’s fairly close to The Nut House, which also for the life of me doesn’t deserve its acclaim. All I can thing of is that folks traveling the route are sort of desperate for things to see along it at time (there’s really NOT much in the way of mother nature to look at along this stretch of the road) and were grateful for almost anything diverting where they could stop and stretch their legs.

IMG_1151

That said, according to wikipedia it’s actually made it on to TV more than a few times (usually as part of a reality TV show).

Cozy Dog Drive In, inventors of the Corn dog, Springfield, IL

The Cozy Dog in Springfield, Illinois, is one of the iconic locations on Route 66, and is the first restaurant owned by the inventor of the Corn Dog.

IMG_1977

As this place closes fairly late (by rural America standards), when I arrived in town first I went to the hotel and checked in, and then I came by here to check it out

IMG_1205

From the sign its clear that this place USED to be a Drive-in, it’s not any more. At best, it has a small drive through window along the side but I didn’t see many people using it.

IMG_1944.JPG

Since all the reviews I had read where going on and on about how this was the best corn dog they’d ever had, I had to try it. Based on the sheer speed it was handed to me, it was NOT made to order, although it was still warm and very crispy on the outside

IMG_1206

Was it a good corn dog, sure… was it so much better than any other corn dog that I’ve ever had that I absolutely had to try it … no, not really.

IMG_1208

IMG_1207
There’s a library in the shop, but based on the discouragements, it’s just for show

The next day, since I was going to be staying in Springfield for a few nights, I went back to get daytime shots.  There must have been some sort of antique car club meeting there because the cars were so pretty

IMG_1210

IMG_1214.JPG

The Cozy dog was the first place I’ve seen so far to have TWO of these Illinois route 66 maps, The tall one, which is two sided — back is the bottom right image, was adjacent to the road, while the small one (upper right) was standing just by restaurant’s front door

IMG_1213

The weather had gone from overcast and rainy the night before to clear blue skies and a windstorm… 20 mile per hour winds with 40 mile per hour gusts… and those gusts of were making it very difficult for me to set up my iPhone, walk away, and then use my apple watch’s camera app to trigger the shots before a gust blew the camera over.

IMG_1989

 

The Maid Rite Sandwich Shop, Inventors of the Drive through window, Springfield, IL

The Maid Rite Sandwich Shop in Springfield, Illinois is located on one of the multiple  Route 66 that pass through this town…. There’s more than one, because of changes to the route over time. This restaurant is on the National Register of Historic Places and claims to have invented the concept of the drive-through-window, although that doesn’t quite jive with the corporate history of the chain as written up by wikipedia.

IMG_2011.jpg

According to the guy who owns and runs this place, who I got to talk to, this is the restaurant that invented the idea of the drive-through window. It is in what was originally the caboose of a train where they took the wheels off.

IMG_1164

The caboose was built in 1881, The building has been here since 1919 and it had a gas station in the front originally. It was registered as a business in 1924 which is when the tax system came into tax businesses. They’ve been selling loose meat sandwiches since 1919, and from the beginning the layout was as it is now, with sandwiches either being sold direct from the kitchen through the side window, or to customers at the bar. (Later, they expanded sideways and added more indoor seating.) Remember how on the Rosanne TV show, how her shop sold a loose meat sandwich… the Conners live in the mythical town of Lanford IL, which is supposed to be somewhere around here. This is the first place I have ever been to that had it. So of course I had to try it, it is not a sloppy Joe it’s different, they call it a sloppy Joe with no sauce. It was homemade pie, their maid-rite sandwich (loose meat), and homemade root beer which they still make.

IMG_1165

Now that I’m not in the building anymore it was not very tasty. The root beer was VERY good, but the loose meat…. the primary flavor was salt with a second flavor underneath it that I could not quite identify… it was some sort of spice. The guy as a hint said the woman who invented it was originally from Hungary, and that no it was not paprika, but the taste was really familiar I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I timed it right because they were closing up just as I was getting ready to leave   

IMG_2001

 

World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, Collinsville Illinois

This Big thing just south of the town of Collinsville, Illinois has actually managed to make it on to the National Register of Historic Places, as a prime example of 20th century Americana.

fullsizeoutput_4c5a.jpeg

According to their web site, among its other claims to fame, it is one of the weird places, mentioned in the movie Twilight: Eclipse, where Bella and her mom had traveled to, and that her mom turned Bella’s t-shirts from those places into a keepsake quilt for her daughter.

IMG_1537

When I saw I wondered, was it just an oddly shaped water tower? Apparently I was right, according to this discussion of the bottle’s history. Where I was wrong was when I opted to go here (World’s largest… so duh) I assumed I was going to a place NOT on Route 66, but it turned out that as far as the state of Illinois is concerned, it is.

IMG_1695

Luna Café, Granite City, Illinois

First opened in 1924, The Luna Cafe in Mitchel Illinois on historic Route 66 is a dive bar with historic value… supposedly Al Capone used to hang out here.

fullsizeoutput_4c4a.jpeg

Sadly, their Neon signs, which to be honest is half of why the place is worthy of note… were in a horrible state of disrepair when I saw it.

IMG_1145.JPG
The 66 sign is not part of the neon; it is reflective, and I had my flash on… so…

According to what I read, the upstairs at Luna’s was a whore house, and when the local ladies where ‘ready’ to see gentleman callers the cherry in the martini would get lit up with red neon… otherwise it was “apparently not working.” (Since this was NOT visible on the neon at all, I swung by the next day to get a picture of it in daylight. Good thing I was staying for two nights).

IMG_1146.JPG

That said, the place has HORRIBLE Yelp reviews, so I stuck my head in, took a look around — spotted a lot of people too drunk to drive… and left

fullsizeoutput_4c83.jpeg

The former historic Bel Air movie theater on Route 66, Granite City, Illinois

More history has disappeared… I came to the corner of Chain of Rocks Road (Route 66) and Bel Air Drive which is where the Bel Air movie theater sign is supposed to be and it was not there.

fullsizeoutput_4c48.jpeg

Instead, there’s a great big empty lot and a truck that says Bel-air commerce Park one and a half to five acre lots available, with the name of who to call. They tore down the sign. Now that I’m home, I researched and found this article — they only just removed it at the end this July… and it is now in the hands of private collectors