History, Road Trips

Driving the nine-foot concrete Illinois highway

On my Illinois National Road trip this year, I found a nine-foot-wide section of the old road near Martinsville. I estimated that it had been built between 1909 and 1916.

9-foot-wide concrete road

My research found that Illinois built other one-lane concrete highways, but I had no idea where. Another roadfan, a fellow named Rich Dinkela, found one: Old State Route 127 near Greenville. He made an extensive video in which he drives as much of it as he can. The video also shows a few abandoned bridges and a short brick (he calls it cobblestone) section. He begins to drive the narrow concrete at about eight minutes in.

If you’re wondering how this old concrete has survived in such good shape for so long, consider that 10 to 15 years after it was poured, the highway was rebuilt along a less curvy alignment. This old road has gotten only light duty for 90 years.

I’d love to drive the old concrete myself sometime. Greenville is about three hours from my home, making this a potential day trip.

Rich primarily covers Route 66’s old alignments. He shares dozens of videos from the mother road on the rest of his YouTube channel.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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6 thoughts on “Driving the nine-foot concrete Illinois highway

  1. Lone Primate says:

    Wow, you’ve just been a machine lately. :) Fascinating presentation by you both. What puzzles me is that this little road is still in use and has people living on it, but they never widened it. I keep wondering what the custom is if you meet someone coming the other way. Having stop signs on both sides of the intersection implies it’s a two-way street.

    • I’m betting that each driver just pulls halfway off the pavement and they pass. Based on diagrams I’ve seen of how these roads were constructed, they made a plenty wide road bed but just paved the central 8′ or 9′ portion of it.

      And there wasn’t much point to widening this road when its only real use now is for the few residents along it. Actually, the widening of this road DID happen — it’s the modern IL 127.

      • Lone Primate says:

        It was really astonishing to see it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, except being squired around the countryside in Northern Ireland in 2009. Not something I expected to see on this side of the pond. Are you making any plans to record it photographically? I guess it’s not going to vanish anytime soon but you never know, right? :)

        • I would love to go see this road. I could do it in a long day trip. I’d like to know if other 8-foot roads still exist in Illinois, perhaps closer by. The state did build others.

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