Area Historic Places on Route 66
Cozy Dog Drive-In
The restaurant is a shrine to Route 66 and to itself, packed with mementos, clippings, and old signs, as well as with Mother Road souvenirs for sale. The “corn dog on a stick” was invented during World War II by Ed Waldmire when he was in the Air Force stationed in Texas. Cozy Dogs were officially launched at the Lake Springfield Beach House in 1946, and a stand was opened on Ash and MacArthur. The Cozy Dog Drive-In is now situated where the old Abe Lincoln Motel used to be.
Historic Brick Road
Snell Road and Curran Road. This original 1.4 mile hand-lain brick road was completed in 1931, and curves through corn fields near Auburn. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Art’s Motel and Restaurant
Art McAnamey opened a restaurant and gas station here in 1937 and rented six cabins to overnight guests. In 1952, his two-story building caught fire, and he rebuilt a single- story restaurant. After he died in 1960, his sons replaced the cabins with a 13-room L-shaped motel. The motel and restaurant are still open to travelers. In 2007, the Route 66 Association restored the classic motel sign, including the replacement of neon on the “Art’s.”
Sky View Drive-In Theatre
The Sky View Drive In, in Litchfield on Historic Route 66, is the last operating drive-in on Historic Route 66 in Illinois.
The Sky View Drive-In Theatre in Litchfield opened in the Spring of 1950 and has been in operation each season since then. The original owner/operator was Frisina Enterprises. It was then sold to Mid America Theatres and is now owned and operated by Norman Paul and his wife Del.
The Sky View Drive-In was constructed in the fall of 1949 and the spring of 1950 and was opened in June of 1950. It was one of central Illinois’ most modern Drive-in’s and is located on old Route 66 west of Litchfield. The Frisina Sky View Drive-In has a capacity of 750 cars. It offers its patrons many conveniences including a snack bar, playground for the kiddies, and at one time, offered dancing on the patio located in front of the snack bar. The policy of the Drive-In has always been entertainment for the entire family. Their patrons could always be assured of the finest in motion picture entertainment, since all productions from all major motion picture studios are under contract for showing at one of the three fine theatres in Litchfield.
The drive in is a seasonal operation and is usually open from the first or second week- end in April until the end of September. It is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays only.
Pete Adam started the Ariston Cafe in nearby Carlinville in 1924. When the Mother Road was rerouted in 1929, Pete leased a new building in Litchfield. The Ariston’s great reputation for service, excellent food and unbelievable desserts led Pete to relocate across the street in 1935 to his own building that still stands today. The family still offers the same wonderful food and great service that it has for more than 80 years. It is said to be the oldest cafe on Route 66. The Ariston was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006 and is in the Route 66 Hall of Fame.
Mt. Olive, Illinois
Soulsby’s Service Station
In 1926 Henry Soulsby and his son Russell built a Shell gas station. Today it ranks as one of the oldest filling stations still standing on Route 66. The original 1926 station was a mere 13 by 20 feet wide and had just enough room for a desk, cash register, battery charger, and a few supplies. The Soulsbys doubled the size of the station in the 1930s, but it was never big enough to be called a garage. There is a drive up ramp located outside of the station that was used for oil changes and minor repairs—it now has a large tree growing inside it. Russell learned about electronics in the Navy during WWII and started a TV repair business in the 1950s, which allowed him to survive the opening of I-55. After Henry died, Russell and his sister Ola ran the station until 1991, and continued to greet visitors until 1997. The new station owner is working with the Soulsby Station Society and the Illinois Route 66 Association to maintain this classic filling station as a historical and educational attraction.
Henry’s Ra66it Ranch
This modern attraction celebrates Route 66 and the people along the highway with its emporium of highway and trucking memorabilia that includes a collection of Campbell’s 66 Express “Humpin’ to Please” trailers next to a replica of a vintage gas station. This attraction offers all things about rabbits: Volkswagens or the furry kind.
Decamp Junction Roadhouse
This historic roadhouse on Route 66 had tourist cabins, a dance hall, gambling, and a brothel. In 1930, gangsters arrived in a black sedan with guns drawn and robbed the bar of slot machines, alcohol, guns, and cash. This historic tavern displays the photographs of the old dance hall that was here. Decamp Junction also has a wide variety of beers as well as a popular homemade apple cider.
Chain of Rocks Bridge
The third alignment of Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River here from 1936-1955. The eastern end of this scenic bridge is on Chouteau Island (part of Madison, Illinois), while the western end is on the Missouri shoreline. Its most notable feature is a 22-degree bend occurring at the middle of the crossing, necessary because of difficulties in finding solid footings. Originally a motor route, it now carries walking and biking trails over the river. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. The bridge’s name comes from a rock-ledged reach of river literally described as a chain of rocks, stretching to the north of St. Louis. The Mississippi’s water, narrowed by these ledges, roars down a decline of 11 feet in seven river miles. The bridge was privately built as a toll bridge in 1929 at a cost of $3 million and later turned over to the city of Madison, Illinois, the current owner of the bridge. Eventually, the toll was removed from the bridge due to a law prohibiting the collecting of tolls on U.S. Highways. In 1967, the New Chain of Rocks Bridge was built immediately to the north in order to carry I-270 traffic; the old Chain of Rocks Bridge was subsequently closed in 1967. The bridge walk offers an immersive experience of strolling high above the Mississippi River, feeling river breezes, while peering down into river bottom forests and watching floating logs as they ride south with the current. The structural engineering of the bridge with its unique bend in the center and the immensity of the problems of crossing such a huge natural feature can be appreciated when seen close-up on this high bridge.
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway