[APRIL 5, 2006] Even though new Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau
of Logan County director Geoff Ladd took the helm at the end of the
main tourism season last year, there was not much time for sitting.
Ladd came in less than two weeks before the 35th annual Abraham
Lincoln National Railsplitting Contest in mid-September.
Even though it has been the slow season for central Illinois, things
have not slowed down in his office, Ladd says. There is a lot going
on here, he said.
Over the winter, Ladd spent time building
essential relationships and strategizing with local groups to
promote the major strengths of the area. Additionally, he's been
getting the new office -- located in the "Information Station" at
Route 66 and Fifth Street -- in order, looking for grants and
networking within the industry to bring more people to Logan County.
Ladd says he sees this as an important period in Illinois'
tourism history, with the opening of the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library and Museum. It is important for Logan County to
take advantage of the opportunities that it offers.
Before even coming to Logan County, Ladd could see the potential
the county holds: the Abraham Lincoln connection, the new
National Scenic Byway, "That is going to be a huge deal for
Logan County," he said. "We have so much great Route 66 stuff."
The county has a variety of accommodations to offer -- good
motels, business and meeting convention centers, and sports
facilities -- making it a prime place to host events. Lincoln
College, Lincoln Christian College and the Lincoln Recreation Center
have graciously offered their resources to enhance conferences and
Two new national events were hosted here in the last year with
great success: a college volleyball tournament and a national dog
show, the Chihuahua Special. Then there is also the railsplitting
In addition, the fairgrounds hosts many events, including the
annual Logan County Fair, large craft shows and other attractions,
and weekly seasonal car racing.
Early this year Ladd saw the start of what he hopes will become
many highway signs going up and down the Interstate 55 corridor from
St. Louis to Chicago -- signs that will draw people into Logan
County towns. He said he even hopes to see some signs go up on
The first two signs are on either end of the county, at Atlanta
and Broadwell. They feature a combination of Looking for Lincoln and
Historic Route 66 emblems. Both are historic Illinois Heritage
projects that Logan County is fortunate to be able to claim, Ladd
"We are one of few counties in Illinois that you can go from one
end to the other and stay on Route 66 the whole time," he said. This
section features the only stretch of the original single-lane
roadway, located behind Graue Chevrolet, and the lost bridge, going
over Salt Creek by the Lincoln Sportsman Club. Historic Route 66
also passes or is within blocks of a number of museums and historic
Looking for Lincoln has sites spread over the whole county where
young lawyer Abraham Lincoln practiced law or stayed overnight with
some frequency. Mount Pulaski, Lincoln, Middletown and Atlanta all
host historical sites.
The state has approved a new type of highway sign that is like
the blue multiple fuel or food service signs, Ladd said. Interstate
tourist exit signs have been approved by the state to mark
communities with two to six sites. Exits that can list six sites are
higher on the sign priority list. Ladd said that having two Illinois
Heritage projects to participate in means that we'll be able to list
more sites per sign and we'll be higher on the list to get signs
For example the exit at Elkhart offers the most direct highway
access to Looking for Lincoln and Route 66 sites in both Elkhart and
Mount Pulaski. Elkhart has a direct route to Mount Pulaski via
County Highway 10. The double community and multiple tourist sites will
push their highway signage up on the priority list.
Another tourism development under way is for a bicycle trail that
would go the length of the county and connect with trails in McLean
and Sangamon counties. This trail is planned to run from Chicago to
St. Louis when completed.
Funds were allocated by the Department of Natural Resources to
perform a greenways study that will go into the Logan County
Comprehensive Plan. The trail is at the top of the Logan County
greenway priorities. A lot of work toward it has been done over the
years, Ladd said.
Ladd has spent time assessing sites along Route 66 that either
need taking over soon or hold potential for development that would
enhance the Logan County Route 66.
Atlanta -- Community leaders have identified a professional
building, across from the Paul Bunyan statue, that would make a
great museum and visitor center.
Broadwell -- Owner Ernie Edwards of the renowned Pig Hip
Restaurant Museum enjoys his work, but, now in his 80s, he's ready
Elkhart -- A Route 66 gas station that closed a couple of years
ago could be reopened as a gas station and convenience store. Ladd
sees that it could be reopened with the possibility of a museum
inside. Even the National Park Service sees it as a valuable
Lincoln -- The longtime famous Tropics property in Lincoln is up
for sale. The property location offers high-volume traffic and great
Lincoln -- The Mill
restaurant: Ladd has offered to work with the
owner on preservation and facade. The front portion may even be
usable. Tear down the part that needs to come down and leave the
front up. He's told the owner: I'll help you promote it as a Route
Lincoln -- Ghost bridge, located between the cemetery and the
Lincoln Sportsman Club, just west of where the current Route 66
crosses Salt Creek south of town. This bridge holds potential if the
bicycle and walking trail ever comes into play, Ladd said.
Ladd serves on the Illinois board for Route 66. He has already
submitted funding requests for the potential tourist spots he has
The annual Route 66 Motor Tour is scheduled to come through
Lincoln on June 10. The Hall of Fame will have an evening banquet at
the After Shock in Lincoln. [Route
66 Association of Illinois]
If you have interest in hosting an event in Logan County or would
like more information on any of the above, you can contact the
Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau office: