Day 2: May 15, 2005
Ghost Bridge



The caravan that left Springfield was much smaller than the one that arrived. Most of the people who had joined us at the Luna headed home. A group of five cars pulled out of the motel lot and started northeast. We stopped at the site of the old Pig Hip restaurant but could only snap photos and peek through windows. Owner Ernie Edwards was not at what may be the world's only "musem" nor was he at home next door. It was Ernie's brother in law who checked at the house before walking over to our group. He lived some distance away and had not seen Ernie in a year or so. I thought it a little odd that he would make the trip without some telephone coordination but that's what he said.

We stopped near Lincoln to check out the remnants of a bridge that once carried US-66 over Salt Creek. Roadies often refer to abandoned items as ghosts. There are ghost signs and ghost buildings. This is a ghost bridge. The abandoned concrete that leads to the bridge starts in a cut between two cemeteries and runs for a hundred yards or more into the trees. Near the signed gate, earth, dead leaves, and foliage start to encroach on the edges of the old road. Nearer the creek, the encroachment is almost complete and only a narrow footpath is visible. The supports still stand but the road surface comes to a abrupt stop well back from the water's edge. Randy & Melody had started down the road during a 1992 visit but had not reached the bridge. They did find and photograph a 1937 date marked in the roadway. The date remained hidden today but the size of trees growing between the supports gives an idea of just how long the supports have been idle. Pieces of the deck they once held are still here; Twisted rebar poking from the concrete slabs.

ADDENDUM: On their way back home, Kent & Mary Sue made a visit to the other (south) side of the river and were pleasantly surprised to find it easily reachable. Not only was it reachable, the approach roadway shows signs of some caretaking. Photos from the Sanderson's are here, here, and here.

Almost every issue of the Route 66 Federation News tells of some newly uncovered piece of the route's past. Usually I can just read about them and consider it less than likely that I will ever see them myself. Now was different. The issue that arrived just days ago described some bits of single lane "sidewalk" roadway in Lincoln, IL. Today I was able to photograph one section disappearing beneath a locked gate and to actually drive on another.

Atlanta, IL, is less than a dozen miles up the road. I couldn't resist another picture of the wonderful octagon library. The large Judy & Sons mural/sign is just across the street from the library and is just one of several similar works sprucing up the town. Up the street, a former muffler man turned hotdog man has appeared since my last visit in 2003.

They might not all admit it but I think every roadie has a secret "places I'm really embarrassed to have not visited when I had the chance" list. I sure do and Funk's Grove is one of the entries. It was closed today so I can't actually take it off the list but I can be a little less embarrassed. Sure, there are other places on the list but they're secrets.

During the last year, the Dixie Trucker's Home changed owners and the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame that was housed there found a new home. That new home is in an old fire station in Pontiac. When I first heard of this proposed caravan, I thought it would be a chance to visit the new museum. Not much later, I learned that it was normally closed on Sundays and scratched it from the mental agenda. But luck was with us. The museum was open for a cruise by the Tri Chevy car club and we got in after all. I also got to meet Illinois 66 president Johnny "Moo Moo" Miller for the first time. That's Johnny on the right in the third picture talking with one of the cruise organizers. I'm not sure who the good looking eavesdropping blond is. I thought one of the cooler displays is the collection of license plates on back wall - 1911 through 1984.

The caravan was now down to the same two cars that had started in Indianapolis and Pat & Jennifer were starting to think about heading home. In Gardner, we stopped at the Riviera and checked out the former diner made from a former trolley car that sits behind the restaurant. Then it was inside for dinner. The downstairs dining room and upstairs kitchen are connected by dumb-waiter. The caravan officially disbanded here although I did see P & J one more time when I stopped in Braidwood to photograph the Polka Dot drive in. I next checked out the Braidwood Motel that's sort of behind the Polka Dot and decided to call it a day.

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