We left off with the Hill-Top Drive-in Theatre in Joliet. Here's the screen tower of this ozoner, back when it was still open for business.
As you travel through downtown Joliet, you'll encounter a gem of a movie palace, the Rialto Theater. Opening in 1926, the Rialto is home to its treasured "Barton Grande Theatre Pipe Organ."
As you head out of Joliet, you come to a town called Wilmington. It's a can't miss place... because you can't miss the tall fellow in the spacesuit on the right. Yes, it's the Gemini Giant from the Launching Pad eatery. The Launching Pad was founded in 1960.
UPDATE 12/10 : The City of Wilmington is looking into purchasing the Launching Pad and the Gemini Giant to ensure the town mascot remains in perpetuity. The current owner who purchased the Launching Pad in 2007 has made comments about selling the giant, which City officials have taken seriously. For more information, see this article. 12-10
Across from the Gemini Giant is the Lombardi Chevy and Buick Dealership. What could be better than an old vintage car dealership on the Mother Road.
Traveling the Mother Roads in Illinois is very scenic. Here on the left is just one of the noteworthy sights along the Illinois Route 66..
Check out the Standard Oil Station in Odell. Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, this vintage petrol pump is a real treasure to be found off the Mother Road.
This old gas station in Chenoa, IL looks like its now vacant. Another business of the old road shuts down after being bypassed by the interstate.
Below are a couple of updates regarding the "Abandoned Eatery" 07/04 Many thanks to Joe Szabo and Erik C. Nielsen :
As a child, my family travel this route regularly from Chicago past Springfield to visit my grandparents. Lexington, IL was about half way and a regular stop was the "Oasis" a burger and milkshake drive-in. That's your unidentified drive-in in Lexington, IL. I'd recognize it anywhere. I'm not sure when it shut down, but I do remember stopping there after I-55 opened up. Ah, the best burgers and shakes!
- Joe Szabo
The drive in was called the "Oasis Drive-In". It is actually surrounded by the original Route 66 (30's-50's) on the east and by the new Route 66 on the west. It is on the very south, south-west portion of town. Was quite the place for teenagers to "hang-out" and show off cars during the late 60's through the 70's. I believe it finally shut down for good in the mid 80's.
Lexington is also host to an annual "Taste of Country Fair" and has often hosted the Route 66 Association in conjunction with this festival each summer. The "old" original Route 66 through town is no longer connected to the "new" Route 66 but still has a number of antique gas stations along the 2 miles that the original road follows through Lexington. To hear the "old timers" talk of back in the early 30's when the "gangsters" would drive their Cadillacs and Buicks through Lexington on their way to Saint Louis, you could almost hear the "open pipes" that these cars ran as they sped through town at 50-60 mph!
- Erik C. Nielsen
After Lexington, you come to a town called Normal. Past Normal is Bloomington and the home of this old theatre on the right, which was unfortunately vacant and looks to be on its last legs.
UPDATE 06/04 : This old theater is the Castle Theater, which has been restored and is now in business. Many thanks to Jim for update. 06-04
Traveling further out will take you to the town of Bloomington. Here, check out this vintage sign with neon outline, appropriately named TP.
Also in Bloomington is the old Westside Clothing Store. Here, the Mother Road meets Main Street USA.
Next stop: Funks Grove, IL
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Page Last Updated July 27, 2004