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Places - Jerseyville

Jerseyville

Branching inland to the northeast from Grafton is a short drive up to Jerseyville. Named for the many early settlers who migrated here from New Jersey, Jerseyville is the county seat for Jersey County. Dating back to 1834, a leisurely walk along the historic Courthouse Square offers many unique Gothic & Victorian style buildings and residences.

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Places - Edwardsville

Edwardsville

Edwardsville is the third oldest city in Illinois. The early founding fathers left quite the architectural impression with stately Federal style brick homes still lining St. Louis Street in a portion of town referred to as Upper Edwardsville. Main Street is thriving with older buildings brought back to life by arts, culture, restaurants, and entertainment. From March through October, visitors and locals alike love to stroll the Land of Goshen Market, featuring fresh produce, handmade goods, furniture, artisan crafts, jewelry and more. In the heart of Downtown, the Wildey Theatre brings classic films to the big screen and provides a stage for local musicians and entertainment acts. Edwardsville is also home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a satellite campus of Lewis & Clark Community College. Nature lovers can enjoy a walk through the tranquil Gardens at SIUE or explore the native flora and fauna at the Watershed Nature Center. Edwardsville has emerged from its quiet roots as a company town to become a center for retail and a shopper’s dream come true.

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Places - Glen carbon

Glen carbon

Just 15 minutes from Downtown St. Louis, Glen Carbon is village rich in heritage, dating back to its first settler of the “Goshen Settlement” in 1809. Trains, mines and merchants highlighted the early years of prosperity for the settlement. In 1891, industry came to the area with the establishment of the Madison Coal Company, which opened four mines and the St. Louis Press Brick Company. Paying homage to its coal mining roots, the village was renamed Glen Carbon and was incorporated in 1892. Today, Glen Carbon continues its merchant-based past with over 300 businesses calling the Village home. Named by various publications as “One of the Best Places to Live in the U.S.”, the Village has quality bicycle trails, walking trails and parks.

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Places - Benld

Benld

Get your kicks following the original 1926 Route 66 roadway, running through Benld, a mining town with a gangster past. According to the local legend, gangster Al Capone manufactured bootleg liquor in a secluded area on the edge of town. He established a still camouflaged as “Mine No. 5.” Travelers wishing to embrace the town’s gangster past, should plan a stop at Capone’s Saloon for a refreshing drink. Several American music legends also made their way to Benld. In its music prime, Benld’s Coliseum on Route 66 was the place to be on Saturday nights, boasting of the largest dance floor between Chicago and St. Louis. Big bands led by Duke Ellington, Lawrence Welk, and Tommy Dorsey graced the stage, and the age of rock and soul was ushered in by Ray Charles, Fats Domino and the Everly Brothers. The Dance the Night Away Interpretive Statue keeps this story alive. Many Italian and Russian miners settled in Benld, and in 1907, the Holy Dormition Orthodox Church was established. Plan a quick stop at this historic site, noted as the only Russian Orthodox Parish under the Moscow Patriarchate in Illinois. Finally, relax from your travels at one of the few remaining road houses found along Route 66 – The Cabin. Delicious food and friendly faces will leave a memorable mark on your visit to this small town.

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Places - Carlinville

Carlinville

Coal mining played a significant role in the local economy of Carlinville. As a result, in 1918, Standard Oil built 156 Sears and Roebuck mail order homes for miners. Visitors can take a driving tour of the Standard Addition neighborhood where 152 homes remain. The Downtown Square was designed to be used as a model for community development. Today, quaint shops and restaurants beckon visitors to take a leisurely stroll. Mother Road Antiques and Cherry Tree Treasures offer visitors a variety of antiques and Route 66 collectibles. Travelers on the Mother Road can recharge at The Refuge Coffee Shop or enjoy an authentic Italian meal under Sistine Chapel ceiling at Reno’s Pizzeria and Ristorante. Just four blocks from the Square, don’t leave town without checking out the famous and scandalous Macoupin County “Million Dollar” Courthouse.

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Places - Collinsville

Collinsville

From a gigantic catsup bottle to one of the largest pre-Columbian Native American settlements in North America, Collinsville offers a vast array of things to do. Topping the list of “must see” attractions is Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to the site will see that Cahokia, one of the greatest cities in the world, has been perfectly preserved. For the adventurous, a 100-foot climb to the top of Monk’s Mound yields panoramic views of the St. Louis skyline and surrounding communities. The height of Monk’s Mound pales in comparison to the 170-foot “World’s Largest Catsup Bottle.” The Brook’s Catsup Bottle water tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is celebrated each July at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival. Collinsville has also gained notoriety as the self-proclaimed horseradish capital of the world, with nearly 85% of the world’s horseradish produced here. Main Street in Uptown Collinsville is the place to be for shopping, food, fun and great festivals. Grab a bite to eat at the legendary Bert’s Chuck Wagon, or plan to attend great local festivals like the Annual Italian Fest and International Horseradish Festival.

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Places - Gillespie

Gillespie

European immigrants poured into Gillespie in the 1880s for the opportunity to work in the coal mines. In the early 1900s, the Chicago and Northwestern Railroads opened four mines just to fuel their locomotives. Though the days of coal mining are gone, the heritage is still celebrated each June at the Black Diamond Days Festival. Visitors to Gillespie can celebrate the coal industry year-round at the Heart of Coal Country Interpretive Statue. A drive through town is reminiscent of yesteryear with a quick stop at Michelle’s Pharmacy for a gift, or catch a classic movie at the Canna Theater, a single screen movie theater dating back to 1960.

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Places - Girard

Girard

Located just south of Springfield, growth in the city of Girard began in 1852, when the Chicago and Alton Railroad Company laid rail lines through the township. It was full steam ahead from there, and in 1869, the first coal mine was opened. By 1926, Girard became a stop for travelers on the original Route 66. Today, travelers looking for a blast from the past, won’t want to miss Doc’s Soda Fountain in the Deck’s Drug Store building. The drug store opened in 1884, and visitors stopping in today can still pull up a stool at the soda fountain for lunch, a slice of pie, ice cream treat, or old-fashioned soda. The adjacent Pharmacy Museum displays items dating back to the late 1800s, as well as a variety of Route 66 memorabilia.

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Places - Hamel

Hamel

Small town comforts and friendliness await in Hamel, Illinois. Located just 30 minutes from St. Louis, Hamel sits at the intersection of Interstate 55 and Illinois Route 140. Native Americans settling along the Mississippi River between 900 A.D. and 1500 A.D. would have been the first inhabitants of this land. Largely a farming community, the village of Hamel was not incorporated until February 1955. Today, weary travelers following the Mother Road, or just hitting the pavement on Interstate 55, should make a rest stop at Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill for big hometown flavors and taste of the history of Route 66.

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Places - Livingston

Livingston

When you see the giant pink elephant on Interstate 55, you know you have arrived in Livingston, Illinois. This small community of about 880 people was founded in 1905. The community was built upon coal mining, but today, it is a favorite stop for visitors venturing along Route 66. They are drawn to the giant pink elephant and enormous ice cream cone that reside outside the historic Livingston High School building that is now home to the Pink Elephant Antique Mall. You could spend hours browsing the booths for unique collectibles and antiques. Set some time aside for a treat at the Twistee Treat Diner located inside.

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Places - Mt. Olive

Mt. Olive

The legacy of the labor union lies on the Mother Road in Mt. Olive where travelers will encounter the final resting place of Mother (Mary) Jones in the Union Miners Cemetery. The eight-ton granite Mother Jones Monument stands 22-feet high and is guarded on either side by a bronze statue of a coal miner with his sledge. In the early twentieth century, Jones was one of the most well-known labor organizers in the world, as she sought to organize coal miners and communities in a movement that would bridge racial, ethnic, and gender divisions. She is buried among “her boys,” the coal miners that died in the Battle of Virden. Her story is preserved in the Mother Jones Museum at the Mt. Olive City Hall. Before heading out of town, no trek along Route 66 is complete without a pit stop at Soulsby’s Route 66 Shell Service Station. With the hope of capitalizing on the opening of Route 66, Henry Soulsby opened his gas station in 1926. It is still open today, and it is the oldest and most original station along the route in Illinois. It is a “must see” for the Route 66 enthusiast.

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Places - Staunton

Staunton

A stop in Staunton will not disappoint Route 66 and classic car enthusiasts alike. Dating back to 1869, the coal mines defined the town of Staunton for nearly 100 years. The Illinois Traction System, an electrified interurban railway, was all the rage in the early 1900s before Route 66, and the Staunton Illinois Traction System Interpretive Statue takes visitors on a transportation journey from rails to roads. For visitors wishing to take a piece of the Mother Road home, there are abundant opportunities to purchase Route 66 memorabilia. Country Classic Cars features more than 400 classic cars on display and a shop packed with Route 66 collectibles. Henry’s Ra66it Ranch celebrates Route 66 with an emporium of highway and trucking memorabilia, collectible Volkswagen Rabbits, Route 66 souvenirs…and real rabbits, of course. All week long, Route 66 Flea Market features vendors showcasing their antique and collectible wares. Before leaving town, take home the local flavors with a visit to the Farmer’s Market, or a get a taste of a Route 66 Roadhouse with a stop at Decamp Junction.

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Places - Virden

Virden

Located on the original 1926 alignment of Route 66, Virden is best known as a coal mining town at the center of the 1898 Battle of Virden. During this historic encounter, an armed battle ensued between the striking United Mine Workers and the African-American strikebreakers brought into town on the railroad to continue production at the mine. Several miners and guards were either killed or wounded. The town’s Central Park has a bronze memorial of that fateful day. While driving through Virden Square, stop off Silvernick’s, which is home to the Virden Welcome Center. Silvernick’s offers a wide variety of antiques, gifts, and unique Route 66 souvenirs.

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Places - Worden

Worden

Established in 1877, Worden was a small settlement built along the railroad and named after John C. Worden, an English immigrant, businessman, and railroad promoter. Worden is the perfect detour for travelers on the road looking for a quick bite to eat. Located near regional bike trails, the Yellow Dog Bar & Grill is a hometown bar at its finest. In the center of town on Wall St., the Wild Turkey Bar & Grill is serving up fresh homemade favorites from pot stickers and shrimp tacos to handmade burgers and loaded “shoes.” For a hometown feel in a relaxed atmosphere, plan on making taking a detour to Worden.

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Places - Calhoun County

Calhoun County

Sitting just north of Grafton, a quick ride across the free Brussels Ferry takes you into Calhoun County and the rural villages of Batchtown, Brussels, Hardin, Hamburg and Kampsville. During the month of July, get your taste buds ready for the ever-popular Calhoun County peaches. Visitors come back to the orchards and roadside stands of Calhoun County year after year to pick up a peck of the peaches for which the county has become famous.

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Places - Godfrey

Godfrey

In 1817, the first settlers arrived in present-day Godfrey. A small settlement in Godfrey known as Rocky Fork, may be the oldest and largest Underground Railroad site in the state of Illinois. There are many stories, oral traditions and evidence that the Underground Railroad was active along the Mississippi River and throughout the region.

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Places - Alton

Alton

In its early days, Alton was a bustling river town, much larger than Chicago. Alton was built on industry - flour mills, quarries, brick making, pottery making - and relied on the Mississippi River. The "Steamboat Era" played an important role of the growth of Alton, and riverboat traffic can still be seen from the riverfront up and down the Mighty Mississippi River.

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Places - Elsah

Elsah

Often referred to as the "village where time stood still," get ready to turn back the clock and take a leisurely stroll through the Village of Elsah.
At the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, experience life in a real river town - Grafton, Illinois. The early settlers of Grafton saw the potential of this plat of land at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

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Places - Bethalto

Bethalto

The Village of Bethalto was founded in 1834 before becoming incorporated in 1869. According to the village website,three words sum up the early history of Bethalto: grain, coal and trains. The first settlers in the area arrived in the early 19th century and found a land blessed with rich soil and various outcroppings of coal. The construction of the Alton-Terre Haute Railroad in the mid 1850s ensured Bethalto s destiny as a farming and mining center.

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Places - Wood River

Wood River

Like many of the byway communities, Wood River has a rich history ranging from the roots of the Lewis & Clark expedition at the Wood River to the development of one of the largest concentrations of Sears homes in the country. Once known as the fastest growing city in the U.S., the growth of Wood River began in the 1920s as Standard Oil employed almost 90% of the towns population.

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Places - Hartford

Hartford

Hartford sits at the southernmost part of the byway and is often a starting point for many byway travelers. More than 200 years ago, Lewis & Clark made the village of Hartford their winter home as they established their first camp, Camp River Dubois. It was here that the men prepared for their westward journey. At the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, it was here that the Corps of Discovery departed on May 14, 1804.

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Places - South Roxana

South Roxana

Roxana was founded in 1921 as Shell Oil Company began to grow its production of its Wood River Refinery in the area. Harry Gallatin, a member of the St. Louis Hawks and New York Knicks was born in Roxana. South Roxana was founded in 1967.

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Places - Roxana

Roxana

Roxana was founded in 1921 as Shell Oil Company began to grow its production of its Wood River Refinery in the area. Harry Gallatin, a member of the St. Louis Hawks and New York Knicks was born in Roxana. South Roxana was founded in 1967.

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Places - Roxana

Grafton

Sweeping views of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers is just one reason Grafton, Illinois stands out from the crowd as a vibrant river town planted at the confluence of America’s two great waterways. Located just minutes from the St. Louis region by river ferry or 30 minutes north of St. Louis by car, Grafton offers a growing shopping, restaurant, boating, winery and adventure scene. Stroll along the historic streets of Grafton to experience the history and charm of the community that once reportedly hosted outlaw Jesse James and had its own sort of Wild West persona and see how it has evolved into a quintessential destination and a thriving riverfront community.

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