Benld, Illinois: all about it
Trivia, Facts and Useful Information
Elevation: 620 ft (190 m). Population 1,556 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Benld is a city located in Macoupin county and this is a Map of Benld.
The History of Benld
People have been living in what nowadays is the state of Illinois for over 11,000 years, since the last Ice Age ended. Later, when the first European explorers (French, coming from Canada) reached the area, they encountered the Illinoisian Indians. This took place in the 1600s.
The territory was ceded by France to England after the Seven Year War in 1763, and after the American Independence it became a Territory of the U.S.A, it was admitted into the union as the state of Illinois in 1818.
The first settler in the region was John Woods, who came from Virginia in 1817. Macoupin County was established in 1829 and was named after Macoupin Creek (the word is a Miami-Illinois term for the American lotus Nelumbo lutea).
It was a farming area until Mr. Dorsey, an early settler platted the town (he also had the coal mining rights) in the late 1880s. It was formally founded in 1903 and the post office opened in 1904.
The name Benld
The name combines the letters from the town's founder's name: Benjamin L. Dorsey.
Route 66 was aligned through the city following the frist State Highway, SBI 4, in 1926, but it was short lived as in 1930 it was shortened and made straighter, realigned to the east through Litchfield, bypassing Benld.
Benld, its Hotels and Motels
Lodging & accommodation in Benld
> > Book your hotel in Staunton
More Accommodation near Benld on Route 66
See some more hotels & motels nearby
Hotels further East, in Illinois
On Main US 66
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
>> Check out the RV campground nearby in Douglas
Benld has a "humid continental" climate with wet and hot summers (which are quite long) and short but very cold winters -with plenty of snow and bitter wind.
The average temperature is 52.4 °F (11.3°C). The average winter temperatures (Jan) are: low 21°F (-6°C) and high 35°F (1.7°C). The summer averages (Jul) are: high 86°F (30°C), and low: 68°F (20°C).
In Benld snow may fall for over four months with an average 22 inches (56 cm) of snowfall yearly. Rainfall averages some 35.2 in. (893 mm) yearly.
The countryside near Benld is hit by some 7 tornados per year.
Tornado Risk: learn more about the Tornado Risk on US 66.
Map of Route 66 through Benld in Illinois
See the alignment of US 66 in this town, on our Illinois Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.
Route 66 in Illinois: Historic Route 66 in Benld
Route 66 across Illinois
Read this detailed description of Route 66 in Illinois.
Below we provide More information on US 66 in Benld (the 1926-30 alignment).
Route 66 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places on two segments of the 1926 alignment: in Auburn and from Girard to Nilwood.
Benld: classic US 66 Sights
Landmarks and Attractions
Getting to Benld
Reach Benld driving along Historic U.S. 66 or from the freeway I-55 (Exit 44 and then IL-138 from Mt. Olive). Current State Hwy 4 lies on the original Route 66 alignment.
The Benld Meteor
A meteor hit Benld on September 29, 1938, striking the garage of Edward McCain, making a hole in its roof and striking his 1928 Pontiac Coupe.
The meteorite embedded itself in the upholstry of the back seat of the car. It weighed 3.9 lb (1.771 g).
You can see both meteorite and parts of the car at the the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
The Benld Meteor
Drive into Benld along the "Hard road" (IL-4), from the north, coming from Gillespie, and as you enter the town, to your left is a Route 66 wayside kiosk and statue:
Route 66 statues and kiosk, Benld, Il. Click for street view
Route 66 statues and kiosk
West Walnut and S Hardroad Benld
Located on the SE corner of the intersection, the kiosk has a steel shilouette depicting two 1950s dancers enjoying themselves at the now gone Coliseum Ballroom.
The kiosk's display panel is entitled "Dancing the Night Away" and has images of the old ballroom and a flyer with Tina Turner on it.
On the next corner, turn left for a very short side trip (1.4 mi round trip - see this Map with directions) to visit an onion-domed Orthodox Church built in 1915:
The Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Orthodox Church, Benld, Il. Click for street view
The Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Orthodox Church
304 N 4th St, Benld
The local parish was organized back in 1907 when there were many Eastern European imigrants working in the mines around Benld. But later the mines closed and workers moved away so attendance dropped.
The church rules state that an unused building must be torn down but the church officials saved it by converting it into a monastery.
The Holy Dormition is a Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and was built in 1915 when the original wood church burned down.
Retrace your steps back to Route 66, turn left (south) to visit the remains of a Route 66 Icon: the Coliseum Ballroom, just one-half mile south:
Neon Sign of the Coliseum, Benld, Il. Coliseum Ballroom Documentary
Coliseum Ballroom Site
523 S Hardroad, Benld
The Coliseum burned down in July 2011, in a blaze that required 150 firefighterst to contain. The classic ballroom was built in 1923 and it had a 10,000 sq. ft dance floor (929 m2.
Fats Domino, Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington and Ray Charles were some of the celebrities that performed there. During its last years it was the venue for antiques sales.
Below is a view of the site, now vacant except for the neon sign (pictured above during its heyday) an below, too:
Coliseum Ballroom Site (it burned down in 2011) in Benld, Illinois
Ahead, to your left, at Fisher St. ⁄ Sawyerville Hills Rd., is the small village of Sawerville:
Pop 295 (2010).
Sawyerville is a small village in Macoupin County located next to Beld, on its southern side (Map of the village). It is just east of Route 66's 1926 alignment. It was named for Thomas Sawyer, a resident who sold part of his property to the Superior Coal Co. in 1904. The company founded the village in 1905, which incorporated two years later.
The town's main attraction is its water resevoir. Route 66 passed by it.
Just 0.4 miles south of Sawyerville, to your left is an Old Segment of Route 66:
Old concrete road surface
Fritz Road, Sawyervill
This is a short segment only 0.3 miles long, with the original paving of the 1920s Route 66: it is a narrow concrete highway, formerly IL-4 later Route 66. The famous "hardroad" now named Fritz Rd. Map with directions.
Old concrete road surface in Sawyerville, Illinois
Notice the concrete "curbs" on both sides of the main concrete slab. Similar to the Modified Bates design used in the 1929 US 66 in Arcadia, OK.
This ends your tour through Benld. Now drive south into Staunton to continue your tour along Route 66.
Historic Route 66 in Benld
Historic background: Pontiac Trail
The Pontiac Trail symbol shield
The predecessor of Route 66 was the "Pontiac Trail". The use of automobiles grew in during the early 1900s and this led to a public demand for better roads, suitable for cars.
Dirt trails used by carts with deep ruts, which became muddy traps during the rainy periods were not suitable.
A private association was formed in 1915 to promote the Pontiac Trail which became a "solid surface road" that linked Chicago with St. Louis. It was named for the famous Ottawa Indians chief. The B.F. Goodrich tire company marked its milage posts with its custom shield sign (see image).
The state government took over and issued a bond in 1918 which created the State Bond Issue Route 4 (SBI-4) which was more or less aligned along the Pontiac Trail.
SBI-4 was fully paved by 1926 from Chicago to St. Louis, and that year became US 66
1926-1930 US 66
This first alignment of Route 66 south of Springfield had a winding course following the former county lanes and lot demarcation trails. It had many sharp 90° curves, which made the road longer and hard to drive.
Route 66 Realigned in 1930
This new alignment is shown in Pale Blue in the map above.
Seeking a better alignment the Illinois Division of Highways shifted Route 66 to the east, aligning it through Waggoner, Litchfield and Mt. Olive.
This 1930 road split from the 1926 one on the southern side of Staunton and met it again, in Springfield, Benld was bypassed.
Original 1926-1930 alignment from Gillespie to Benld and on to Staunton
It is a 2.9 mile drive from Gillespie to Benld; see it in this Map Benld-Gillespie.
South of Benld it is 6 miles to Staunton: Map Benld-Staunton.
This alignment is marked with an Orange line in the Google map above.
> > See the previous segment 1926 US 66 Carlinville to Gillespie (east)
> > See the next segment 1930 US 66 Staunton to Mt. Olive (east)
> > See the next segment 1930 US 66 Staunton to Hamel (west)
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.