[August 23, 2014]A new series of interpretive
statues and corresponding wayside panels are in the process of being
installed in nine Route 66 communities along the famous highway in
Illinois. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway coordinated the
project, which was funded through grants from the Federal Highway
Administration's National Scenic Byway Program and the Illinois
Office of Tourism.
Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic
Byway, explained the significance of this latest series of
interpretive exhibits along Illinois Route 66. “Statues tell the
story of The Road in a way that is unique and unexpected by
visitors. They also serve as a fun photo opportunity”, said Kelly.
The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway in the past has also worked with
community partners to develop a series of 31 wayside exhibits and 14
experience hubs that have already been installed for the enhancement
of the Route 66 experience for the traveler.
The “shadow statues” are so nicknamed because they are
two-dimensional iron statues depicting a famous scene from the
history of Route 66 in Illinois.
Running north to south, the interpretive statues are as follows:
Godley: Miner & Mule – an interpretation of the strip-mining
of black diamonds in the communities of Braidwood, Coal City, Carbon
Hill, Diamond, and Godley that begun in the mid-1800s and ended in
Elwood: Rosie the Riveter – the symbol of the female worker
during WWII at the Elwood Arsenal, two massive plants that employed
20,000 workers making bombs and shells.
Pontiac: Motorcycle Police – this exhibit, located at the old
Illinois State Police headquarters in Pontiac, tells the story of
the beginning of the Illinois State Police motorcycle patrol.
McLean: Dixie Gas Attendant – interprets Illinois oldest
truck stop, The Dixie Truckers Home, opened in 1928 and still in
operation today. The historic McLean Depot is also featured.
Elkhart: Shirley Temple – tells the story of the famous visit
of Shirley Temple to the House by the Side of the Road Café in 1938.
Sherman: Wayside Park – depicts a picnic during the
heyday of Route 66 at one of the few remaining wayside parks
along Route 66.
Gillespie: Miner – Gillespie also was black diamond
mining country and central to the development of unions, with
organizing conventions and subsequent riots that killed over
Benld: Coliseum Ballroom Dancers – the biggest dance
floor between Chicago and St. Louis attracted large crowds, many
top-name performers, and the gambling and bootlegging that
inevitably came along with it. The Coliseum burned down in 2011.
Staunton: Illinois Traction System – Electrified
interurban railways connected travelers before Route 66 became
the major national highway. They became obsolete in the