November, 2014Posted by Bill


At Towanda the former southbound lanes have been turned into a park


The start of this road side atraction is at Old Rt. 66 and Mc Lean County Highway 29 in Towanda. This park is along the old southbound lanes. There are eight displays along the park. They give some details of the states that U.S. Rt. 66 passes through. Besides the displays for the states, there are also exibits for some of the highways history at Towanda.

A attraction sign explaining the exibit.

Another look at the sign.

Looking south along the park.

Just behind the flags above, a map of the 50 United States is painted on the old highway. The yellow line is Rt. 66.

Along the park area, there are several historical plaques. The writing on each is belwo the picture.

Ahead is the former location of the Delco Truck Stop, a historical landmark opened in 1952. Three years later, the name changed to Pure Oil Truck Stop with gasoline selling at 17.9 cents a gallon. Pure Oil also featured a restaurant that served meals ranging from ham and beans to meat loaf. Between 1952 and 1960, the restaurant offered lunch specials for $1.20 and a bottomless cup of coffee for a nickle avalible any time during its year-round twenty-four hour service. Sleeping quarters were available for 75 cents per night for truckers who fueled at the truck stop. In 1963, Eddie Baize became owner/operator of this stop. In 1965, Pure Oil mereged with Union 76, and the truck stop became Eddie's Pure/Union 76 Truck Stop. With its location relative to Chicago and St. Louis, this truck stop, in its prime, averaged 30 customers per hour. In 1976, due to interstate highway site requirements and sewage treatment regulations, this facility closed its doors on May 31. This truck stop provided a home for truckers, and they became part of the fabric of Towanda. Today Pure Oil will be remembered as a significant feature of Historical Route 66.

Dead man's is located directly down the road approximately 400 feet north of this sign. It is along Old route 4, the "Original 66," and it is a sharp 90-degree curve. Being no more than 18 feet wide, this 2-way road was the site of many disastrous accidents. This curve became a very familiar site to patrolling District 6 State Highway Police, or the "Full Grown Bears," as they were jokingly called. Many of these accidents were caused by travelers from Chicago unfamiliar with the road and used faster speeds. A house located west fo the curve was removed after a smi-trailer truck ran off the road, knocking the house off it's foundation. Before this event, the homeowners had replaced the front porch on this house numerous times because of the damage from cars adn trucks crashing into it. Travelers stopped using Old Route 66 after World War II, when the first two lanes of Historical Route 66, the pavement on which you are standing, were completed.

Looking north from the Deadman's Curve Point-of-Interest.

Directly ahead lies the remnats of the Henderson's Dariy, which closed in 1942 due to a calling to war. Upon Jerry Henderson's return home in 1947, the Standard Service Station was built and opened. It was a small family-owned business that offered full-service gasoline for 16.9 cents a gallon. The service station provided a lube room in which minor repairs were made and products such as spark plugs and tires sold. Inside the quaint bulding, travelers and townspeople could purchase a Beich's Whiz, "the best candy bar there is," and ice cold six-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola for a nickel each. After 16 years of dependableservice, this station was closed in 1963 due to increased competition and addtional farming responsibilities. Henderson's Standard was a frequent stopping place that added to the character of Historical Route 66.

Why is this body of water here? Is it man-made or glacial? As you look beyond the body of water, notice Interstate 55 is elevated above the natural lay of land. Why has the road bed been raised? The land surrounding the interstate is low-lying and susceptible to flooding. Therefore, earth was excavatedand relocated to raise the roadbed. Thus leaving a large depression, which filled up with water to a depth of approximately twenty-five feet. This feature is known as a borrow pit. As you drive along interstate highways, here in the midwest, and pass lowlying areas, overpasses, and interchanges, you can observe borrow pits dotting the landscape near these features.

Looking north from the south end of the park. The northbound lanes are to the right and the southbound (which are closed) are to the left.

The display for Illinois. U.S. Rt. 66 is 300 miles in Illinois.

The display for Missouri. U.S. Rt. 66 is 300 miles in Missouri.

The display for Kansas. U.S. Rt. 66 is 13 miles in Kansas.

The display for Oklahoma. U.S. Rt. 66 is 400 miles in Oklahoma.

The display for Texas. U.S. Rt. 66 is 178 miles in Texas.

The display for New Mexico. U.S. Rt. 66 is 604 miles in New Mexico.

The display for Arizona. U.S. Rt. 66 is 400 miles in Arizona.

The display for California. U.S. Rt. 66 is 320 miles in California.

A sign along U.S. 66 at Towanda.

The sign on the guest box.