Where the Mother Road Meets the Great River Road
There is only one place in America where two of our nation’s great roadways come together alongside the confluence of America’s three great rivers.
Journey down historic Route 66 from Carlinville to just outside St. Louis to explore classic roadside attractions and historic sites. Then hop on the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway to experience the majesty of the confluence of the Missouri, Mississippi, and Illinois Rivers.
As the only Carlinville in the world, this small city of 5,685 is filled with historic sites including the “Million Dollar” 1876 Macoupin County Courthouse, the 1896 “Cannonball” County Jail, and the “Millionaire’s Row” homes along East Main Street giving testimony to the wealthy businessmen who made their fortunes in banking and commerce. The centerpiece of the town is the turn-of-the century, brick-paved city square and large gazebo marking the former courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law and wrote his longest legal brief on record. Carlinville is also home to the world’s largest continuous collection of “Sears & Roebuck” catalog homes in the country, all within a 9-block radius on the north end of town.
Doc’s Soda Fountain
Established at Deck’s Drug Store in 1884, the original Doc’s Soda Fountain was added in 1929. The Deck’s Pharmacy Museum displays items back to the 1800s. Doc’s Soda Fountain offers group lunch menus, pies, ice cream and, of course, old-fashioned sodas.
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
This classic Route 66 stop is home to rabbits, rabbits, rabbits – the hopping kind and the VW kind! Henry’s Rabbit Ranch celebrates the people along Route 66 with its emporium of highway and trucking memorabilia. The Rabbit Ranch Station and Visitor Center is modeled after a classic filling station once found along the Mother Road and is filled with Route 66 gifts and collectible items. Appointments are required to visit this must-see Route 66 attraction!
Search for Route 66 treasures at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall, where oversized statues are just the tip of this nostalgic roadside attraction. Pose for photos next to the pink elephant statue, the original 1960s Futuro House, and the authentic “muffler man.” Grab a sweet treat at the ice cream shop shaped like an ice cream cone and the new fudge and candy shop.
Welcome to the historic Wildey Theatre, an iconic stop on Route 66. Opened in 1909 as an opera house, the Wildey closed as a full-time movie theatre on March 8, 1984 after more than 400 people attended the movie "The Big Chill." Recognizing the importance of the Wildey, the City renovated the theater to once again be a venue for live performances, classic films, and private events. Take a guided tour of the theatre and learn how they make their delicious popcorn!
Explore the “Land of Goshen” and the third-oldest city in Illinois. Stroll through the LeClaire neighborhood, built in 1890 by industrialist N.O. Nelson, who was inspired by a new economic philosophy of profit sharing to build a modern manufacturing facility complete with new homes for his employees. Travel the Route 66 trail to historic Saint Louis Street, lined with shady trees and classic Queen Anne, Greek Revival, and Victorian homes.
Complete your tour with a scenic drive through the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, situated on 2600 acres of woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottom land.
The World's Largest Catsup Bottle stands proudly next to Route 159, just south of downtown Collinsville. This unique 170 ft. tall water tower was built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell Company for the G.S. Suppiger catsup bottling plant - bottlers of Brooks catsup. Recognized the world over as an excellent example of 20th century roadside Americana, the World's Largest Catsup Bottle attracts visitors and tourists every day.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
A civilization was born over 1,000 years ago on the Mississippi plains in what is now known as the city of Collinsville. Stroll through parts of the 2,200 acres of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Historical Landmark. Visit the interpretative center to view the “City of the Sun” video and see scenes of what life may have been like during the time of the Mississippians. Climb the 147 steps to the top of Monks Mound, the largest man-made mound north of Mexico.
Enjoy magnificent views of the Mississippi River as you walk across the Chain of Rocks Bridge, a significant landmark for travelers driving Route 66. The bridge has a unique design with 30-degree bend halfway across! A Route 66 historian may be available to give your group a guided tour of the bridge based on availability.
Rising 180 feet above the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower honors the place where two men courageously journeyed west to discover the nation’s prosperous lands. Three tower viewing platforms highlight the stories of the surrounding area including the Village of Hartford, the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, the Lewis & Clark journey and the two great rivers. Tour the interactive displays in the Visitor Center with videos and graphic panels telling the stories of the history, wildlife and communities along the byway.
Walk in the footsteps of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they plan their journey to explore the western United States in 1804 at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site. As National Trail Site #1 on the Lewis & Clark Trail, the site houses a museum dedicated to the planning and journey of the two explorers and their Corps of Discovery. Experience Lewis & Clark like never before in five exhibit rooms, the film "At Journey's Edge" and a 55-foot full scale "cutaway" keelboat. Tour of a replica settler cabin and see how people lived in the early 1800's.
Allow 1-3 days
Historic Carlinville Tour, Doc’s Soda Fountain, Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, Pink Elephant Antique Mall
Overnight stay in Edwardsville, Collinsville, or Alton
Wildey Theatre, Historic Edwardsville Tour, World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Chain of Rocks Bridge
Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, Lewis & Clark State Historic Site