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
— 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.
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
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).
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
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.
Other 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