We found this in Springfield, IL (they’ve taken Abe Lincoln as their own):
This mural is new since our last visit in 2012. Having been to Lincoln’s Library and Museum we are focused on perhaps less important, yet very engaging objects and places.
For instance, we saw both of these in the same shopping center parking lot as we drove through Springfield:
Neither was linked to anything — but fun!
However, the “Cozy Dog Drive-In” was an original. The home since the 1940’s to what appears to be, dare I say it, the pronto pup (copyright MN State Fair?).
I wish I hadn’t already eaten breakfast — the dogs looked mighty fine at a quarter of nine (A. M. that is).
From here we wandered down to Litchfield, the home of a drive-in theater — 3rd one we’ve seen so far.
More importantly we arrived in town during the noon hour. We elected to forgo our “house special –P & J” and instead eat at:
Starting in 1924 this establishment has provided “fine” dining for locals and the tourist trade. White cloth table cloths and napkins are de rigueur. You can get a steak, a salad or a burger. We chose two out of three — but no dessert:
Although these sure looked mighty appealing:
Once we’d eaten we jaywalked over to the Litchfield History Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center — I couldn’t say that three times in a row if I tried!
This place was mundane except for this nuzzled into the back of the building:
Pretty cool — right?!!
Anyway, we soon left for Mt. Olive where a more subdued visit was in order. The Union Miners Cemetery is located here. This region is a coal mining area and over 100-years ago the miners began to organize into a union — something the mine owners didn’t want to accept. This led to friction and then bloodshed:
Inside the neat as a pin confines of this cemetery is a monument to and the gravesite of the “famous labor activist” Mother Jones aka Mary Harris Jones:
The monument recalls the Virden labor riots that resulted in the Virden Massacre on October 12, 1898: 12 died and 35 were injured –this was on both sides of the conflict. Mother Jones is buried near her boys as she labeled them. Side note: in 1976 a progressive magazine was founded using the moniker of Mother Jones — it’s still published today.
On a more cheery note we then hustled just down the road to the “Soulsby Service Station”:
This restored edifice sells memorabilia and is a minor museum, of sorts. Yours truly was so enamored by the place that a remembrance photo was taken:
I could be a pump — I’m almost the same color!
The day was getting later and there were two more sites we hoped to see today. In Collinsville we found this gem:
Yup, a water tower shaped as a catsup bottle. We’d pulled into an adjacent lot to take a few candid shots of the tower when a local gent, covered with tattoos shared his story about the catsup bottle. It seems he had recently picked up a similar bottle from another town to be repaired. It stood tall and proud, as did he, as he shared his tale. His accent was southern and his photos were sublime. It was Americana at its best.
However, the day was wearing down swiftly. We turned our auto toward The Missouri border. We had to make the last stop. We made it!
“The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge” crosses the mighty Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri. Built in 1929 it bends half-way through its one mile length:
The bridge was closed to vehicles in 1970. It then converted into a bike and pedestrian venue opening a 1/2 hour before sunrise and closing 1/2 hour after sunset daily. Cyclists can ride 11 miles to St. Louis on designated pathways:
This lovely bridge spans both water and land:
We walked from one side of the bridge to the other. It afforded spectacular views of St. Louis and the surrounding landscape.
One couldn’t ask for a better ending to the day.
Eventually, we crossed over to Missouri.
Tonight we’ll plan for tomorrow. I’m told there are some wonderful places to see here as well.
It’s time to look over maps, brochures and websites.