Paul Bunyon Statue, Atlanta IL

This 19 foot “muffler man” is a Paul Bunyan woodsman statue (for those who don’t know, Paul is a character from American Folklore), who stands alone without his trusty side-kick Babe the Blue Ox…. and is holding, instead of an ax, a hotdog.

IMG_2194.jpg

The Statue was built in 1966, and stood initially on the roof of a hotdog joint on Route 66/aka Ogden Ave in Cicero Illinois. The owner intentionally misspelt the name as Buyon instead of Bunyan in order to avoid any copyright infringements. After a while the statue became such a tourist draw that the owner moved it down to ground level, so that children could climb on it

IMG_2128.jpg

IMG_2132.jpg

When the business closed in 2002 the beloved Route 66 landmark went up for sale and was purchased by the city of Atlanta (a one stoplight sort of a town), as a tourism draw.

IMG_0338.JPG

Anyone reading my posts about traveling Route 66 knows one of my pet peeves was most of the gift stores along the route sell generic stuff you could buy on Amazon. The gift stores in town do have some of that stuff, but they’ve also got clothes and towels that have been embroidered with the statue, and even with some of the buildings in town. Didn’t buy any, but seeing these made me very happy. One warning about the town is that during the ‘off season’ which is when I was doing 66 — late October, most of the shop owners just can’t be bothered to keep their shops open. There are two museums in town, both were closed, and there’s a restaurant that’s supposed to be pretty good, and it was closed as well. And there were shops that, according to the signs in the window, SHOULD have been open and where not… the place was bit like a ghost town.

IMG_0344.JPG

Funk’s Grove Pure Maple Sirup, Shirley IL

Located Just southwest of Bloomington IL, and a good three house southwest of Chicago, Funks Grove is a historic purveyor of pure maple sirup located on Route 66 in Shirley Illinois. The Funk family has been making the stuff since 1824, and selling it as a business since 1891. That said, check their website before arriving, because they only sell their product and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

fullsizeoutput_4dae.jpeg

Personally, I had no idea that you could even make maple syrup this far south.

fullsizeoutput_4db6.jpeg

And here’s an interesting tidbit from Wikipedia, back when he was a young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln worked for the Funk Family. (Actually they have quite the family history, it’s worth reading)IMG_2203IMG_0325

IMG_2213

I arrived there in late October without first checking their web site, to discover that they were completely sold out. The owner, who lives on the property, said that they start selling it in mid-March and they’re usually sold out by mid August, and gave me permission to take my photos… but said the store was closed.

fullsizeoutput_4db1.jpeg

Towanda, IL Route 66 Linear Parkway

The Village of Towanda (population 550) is, in my opinion, one of the more fun stops along Route 66 in Illinois. While here, if you get off of the NEW route 66 route back onto the old you can experience what was the Dead Man’s Curve on the old route 66. (The town has re-paved ONLY this section of it, as a draw to tourists) … While on it I bet that the Jan and Dean song, “Dead man’s curve”  will most likely keep ringing through your head like it did mine

fullsizeoutput_4dac.jpeg

—  even though the words of the song are clear that THEIR Deadman’s curve was on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills California. There are TWO entrances to curve, the one above is at the north end, while the one below is at the south end of the curve… which is the one I initially took.

IMG_2258.jpg

The web site that I had learned about this curve from had talked about how hard it was to find…. the town has clearly fixed the problem because if you can’t spot these babies from the road… you’re blind

IMG_2261

the signs are really set up with the assumption that you, as most people do, are driving from Chicago to LA, i.e, motoring west… if you do it that way, first the have the sort of “scary” looking sign (above) followed by some of the old-fashioned Burma-Shave signs (according to Wikipedia there are 600 different variations of these — you will see MANY along Route 66).

IMG_2262

This one says: “Around the curve, lickety-split, beautiful car, wasn’t it?” followed by the words Burma Shave. That said …not only does the original Route 66 do something of a sharp curve to the left (of the sort you expect on mountain roads but NOT out here in the plain states)… but it’s actually on a natural hill so that it actually slopes left at the same time…. and then on the other side of the curve it’s a fairly tight S curve back to the right… so if you don’t know it’s coming you’re in trouble. And like I said plain states drivers aren’t expecting something like this. Apparently the house that was on the receiving end of drivers who took it unprepared and too fast finally up and moved  their house because their front porch was repeatedly getting hit by cars

IMG_2264.jpg

While driving on dead man’s curve is in effect a tourist attraction, and as such has been kept up, so to speak… On the North end of the curve, and then immediately across a street from it, there is one short piece of the original route 66 which they have not re-paved. This bit however ends pretty quickly at a farm-house.

IMG_0316.JPGOther than this one short bit, which you can drive onto…. from the town’s boarders (at either end) they have maintained the original route 66, but, not as a roadway for cars. Instead they’ve kept the original paving and opened it only to those who are walking, or on bicycles