Brick Route 66

Brick Route 66 in Illinois
Canon PowerShot S95
2013

When you follow Route 66 west in Illinois, when you reach Springfield you have to decide which of two alignments to follow to St. Louis. The newer one hugs I-55 — or, more accurately, I-55 hugs Route 66, as 66 came first. The older alignment is a little farther west, generally following what is now State Route 4.

That old road was routed around farm boundaries, creating a number of sharp turns. Over the years, the state rebuilt sections of that road to make it straighter and smoother. The old sections of the road were left behind so farmers on the road could still reach their properties.

Sometimes, the original pavement remains. This is one of those times. Thanks to a restoration, this is brick in wonderful condition. This is the typical Illinois brick highway, with bricks fitted inside a wide-U-shaped concrete pad. I wrote about how these roads were built here, with diagrams from old Illinois Department of Highways documents and photographs of one of these roads under construction.

I made this photo at the north/east end of this 1.4-mile segment, facing toward Chicago as the road goes. The road used to curve left here to flow into the current alignment of State Route 4.

This is a truly gorgeous segment of old brick road, and gives the best feel I’ve ever encountered for what these roads were like when they were new. If you’d like to visit, you can find it on the map here.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Brick Route 66 in Illinois

A restored section of brick pavement on Route 66 in Illinois.

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Road Trips

Me on abandoned US 50 in Illinois

As I’ve been moving my road-trip reports from my old site to this blog, I’ve looked back through my photographs.

Sometimes I brought a friend along on these trips. I loved sharing my odd hobby with others! When I explored US 50 in Illinois in 2009, I invited my longtime friend Michael along. He lives in Terre Haute, which was on the way.

Michael made a couple photos of me as we explored the road, shots with lots of context. They help me remember that very good day and my time with my friend.

I frequently brought my dear, departed Gracie along on road trips. She loved to go! We’re standing on the original alignment of US 50 where it enters Illinois after crossing the Wabash River from Indiana. The property owner was using part of the brick road as a patio for his home!

Here I am on an abandoned bridge, one of three in a row on a long abandoned section of US 50 that runs right alongside current US 50. I’m using my Kodak EasyShare Z730 to photograph the current US 50 bridge.

I started making road trips both to scratch a curiosity itch and to distract myself from the pain of my divorce and ongoing difficulties raising children with an acrimonious ex. These trips were a tonic. They were always better when I shared them.

My road tripping started to fall off about five years ago. I’d met Margaret, the woman I’d marry. I focused my time on her and on getting my old house ready for sale. It needed a lot of work inside and out. And then Margaret and I married, and I moved into her house, and we’ve had one incredible challenge after another in our family since then. Last year, for the first time, I made no road trips at all. Given COVID-19 and family priorities, I’m not sure I’ll make any road trips this year, either.

There are still roads I want to explore! I’ve long wanted to drive the many old alignments of State Road 67 between Indianapolis and Vincennes. I want to drive the National Road in eastern Ohio again — so many great old alignments with original brick and concrete pavement! I’d like to drive the Lincoln Highway across northern Indiana. And I want to search for old and abandoned alignments, especially with original pavement, anywhere they are to be found in Indiana.

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Lincoln Memorial Bridge

The Lincoln Memorial Bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2009

This isn’t the usual view of this stunning bridge. Normally, it’s photographed from the Indiana side, in Vincennes. (See my photo from that side here.) Here, I shot it on the ground, on the other side of the Wabash River in Illinois.

It’s called the Lincoln Memorial Bridge because it was near this point that young Abraham Lincoln crossed into Illinois as they left their Indiana home behind. There’s a lovely memorial to this crossing on the Illinois side, not far from where I stood to photograph this bridge; see it here.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: The Lincoln Memorial Bridge

The stunning Lincoln Memorial Bridge, connecting Vincennes, IN to Illinois, from the Illinois side.

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Road Trips

Refreshed: Posts about my 2009 road trip along US 50 in Illinois

Old US 50 in Illinois

On May 25, 2009, my longtime friend Michael and I drove to Vincennes, Indiana, crossed over into Illinois over the Lincoln Memorial Bridge, and explored US 50 and its old alignments until we ran out of energy for the day.

I wrote a full report on my old HTML site here. But I wrote about it in parallel on this blog, the first road trip to get that treatment. The HTML site had more information on it, so I’ve updated the posts here with that info and enlarged the photos. Here are the posts:

  • Where Lincoln first entered Illinois — Abe Lincoln’s family moved to Illinois from Indiana, crossing over the Wabash River at Vincennes at about the place where US 50 would eventually go.
  • Three abandoned bridges in a row — An old alignment of US 50 runs right alongside the current alignment for several miles in eastern Illinois. Three steel-truss bridges still stood on the old road when we made our trip.
  • The General Dean Bridge — A suspension bridge serves pedestrians today in Carlyle, Illinois. It is the original alignment of the road that was made into US 50.
  • What if they built a bridge and nobody ever drove on it? — US 50 was to be widened to four lanes, divided. The project was cancelled, but after several bridges were built that then were never used to carry traffic.
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Abandoned, never used US 50 bridge

Abandoned, never used US 50 bridge in Illinois
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2009

As you drive US 50 across Illinois, west of Carlyle you’ll cross four bridges that have unused twins right beside them. I told the whole story here, but in short they’re left over after a project to widen US 50 to four lanes was abandoned.

That’s my friend Michael there, balancing on the railing to make his photograph while I made mine of him.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Abandoned, never used US 50 bridge in Illinois

An abandoned, never used bridge.

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Road Trips

Turkey tracks

On this Thanksgiving Day, enjoy these photos of the famous Route 66 turkey tracks. When Illinois paved what would become Route 66 in concrete, a turkey walked into the still-wet road and left his mark for the ages. They’re in Illinois, on an old alignment of what is now State Route 4 north of Carlinville. Click here to see the location on Google Maps!

Turkey Tracks

Turkey Tracks

Turkey Tracks

Turkey Tracks

From our 2013 Spring Break trip along Route 66.

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