Old US 50 in Illinois

Abandoned US 50 in Illinois
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A long section of US 50 stands abandoned to the current US 50 alignment in central Illinois. The state planned at one time to build a four-lane US 50 here, but the plans were scuttled after the new lanes were built. So they just routed the whole road along the new lanes and left the old ones behind.


9 responses to “”

  1. oilyfarmgirl Avatar

    That would make a great road for the next Zombie flick.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Welp, it’s right out there in the open if filmmakers want to check it out!

  2. Bill Bussell Avatar
    Bill Bussell

    Illinois is a State without rudder in the water. High taxes, maybe three governors in prison recently, and no budget. Chicago is the money sink hole, and often in the news over homicide. All that being stated, I still like Illinois. It is not surprising they did not complete a road. Another great picture and story by Jim…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well, it might help to know that the coming of the Interstates is what did Illinois’ four-lane US highways in. The same happened to US 40 to the north; the westbound lanes got built, and then it became clear I-70 was coming, and so Illinois abandoned plans to tear out the old highway and build the eastbound lanes there. US 40 follows just those westbound lanes, and the old highway (brick and concrete) stands next to it, unused.

  3. JoHawkTheWriter Avatar

    Did you know that 50 follows along portions of an old buffalo trace that ran from Big Bone Lick in what is now Kentucky across Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis.

    Native Americans used the trace as a roadway and so did the early explorers. Notably François-Marie Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes founded the town of Vincennes at the point where the trace crossed the Wabash.

    Later George Rogers Clark who was stationed at Kaskaskia, received information that British had taken Vincennes. In February 1779 he launched an attack to reclaim Vincennes. He and his men used the trace to move from Carlyle to Vincennes. Since it was winter and the rivers were high they marched through high water and built canoes to achieve their objective.

    Later the trace was used as a stagecoach route and a route for settlers heading west to St. Louis. In the 1850s the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad built a line from Cincinnati to East St. Louis along the same route. In later years the O&M was to come under the umbrella of B&O. In the 1880s you could travel by rail from St. Louis to New York in about two days.

    Next of course came route 50.

    I had family that lived in the area and grew up hearing the lore. I am also writing a book whose story is in and around Salem. Thank you for the visual trip.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Funny you should mention the Buffalo Trace, as I just came across this site yesterday, which maps its route across Indiana!


      It turns out that the Trace is in the US 150 corridor in much of Indiana, but lines up with US 50 on its way into Illinois. Have you ever seen the monument where Abe Lincoln’s family crossed into Illinois on the Trace? It’s on Old US 50 just inside Illinois.


      1. JoHawkTheWriter Avatar

        Yes I found that site while I was doing research for the book. But I had not seen the Lincoln monument. Thank you for sharing. You just never know when a stray piece of information will help flesh out a story.

  4. hmunro Avatar

    I love your choice of perspective for this shot, Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! This is mostly a documentary shot but it did work out all right.

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