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Site of the Meramec Caverns Barn

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Cayuga is a tiny community best known for its Route 66 Attraction, the Meramec Caverns Barn. It also has the 1900s Old Cayuga Railway Depot and the Historic section of US 66.

Cayuga Illinois

The Alignment of Route 66 in Cayuga

< Head West
Chenoa ¦ Ocoya ¦ Pontiac

Head East >
Odell ¦ Dwight ¦ Gardner




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Cayuga IL

Facts, Information and trivia

Elevation: Elevation 689 ft (210 m). Population est. 200 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Cayuga is a small unincorporated community in Livingston County; this is a Map of Cayuga.

History of Cayuga

See Pontiac's history for a description of the early history of Livingston county.

Grain Elevator and old railway depot in Cayuga, Illinois

Grain Elevator and old railway depot in Cayuga Route 66
Grain Elevator and old railway depot in Cayuga, Illinois. David Wilson. Click to enlarge image

The Chicago & Alton Railroad reached the area in 1853 which made it suitable for settlement. Cayuga was laid out by Thomas F. Norton in 1855, for Corydon Weed. Farmers arrived gradually over the years shipping out their produce by rail.

By 1898 the village of Cayuga had a population of 160, in the 1910s, The "Pontiac Trail" passed by it, as a road for cars, it was later improved when State Highway 4 was laid along its alignment. In 1926 Route 66 was created, and it incorporated the former State Hwy. 4. The town remained on US 66 until it was decertified in 1977, when I-55 bypassed Cayuga.

The Name: Cayuga

Settlers from Cayuga County in New York state reached the area in the 1850s, the word is the name of an Iroquois tribe. The post office opened in 1857

The word Cayuga = "Guyohkohnyo", meant "People of the Great Swamp" and they lived by Cayuga Lake.

Cayuga: Hotels and Motels nearby

Accommodation near Cayuga

> > Book your hotel in neighboring Pontiac

Find More Accommodation near Cayuga along Route 66

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Hotels east of Cayuga

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Hotels to the west, in Missouri

Book your hotel on Route 66
Book your Hotels on Route 66

>> See the RV campground nearby in Pontiac

The Weather

weather in Cayuga, Il

Where is Cayuga?

map of Cayuga Illinois showing where it is on Route 66
Map showing the location of Cayuga, Illinois on U.S. 66

The climate in Cayuga is a "Humid Continental" one, so it has very humid and hot summers and cold winters.

Its average temperatures are the following: during summer (Jul) the hig is 85°F (29.7°C) while the low is 63°F (17.2°C). During winter (Jan) the avg. lows are a freezing 17°F (-8.3 deg;C) while the high is a chilly 30°F (-1 °C).

Rainfall is around 38 in. (965 mm) per year, and the sunny days are, on average 194 days per year.

Snowfall is 26 inches (66 cm) each year and falls from Nov to the first days of Apr.

Tornado risk

Livingston county, where Cayuga is located gets around 6 tornado strikes each year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk on US 66.

How to get to Cayuga?

You can get to Cayuga by driving along Historic Route 66, from I-55 you will have to use Exit 209 in Odell (to the north) or 201 (south).


Map of Route 66 through Cayuga in Illinois

See the alignment of US 66 here, on our Illinois Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

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Route 66 in Illinois: Historic U.S. 66 in Cayuga

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across Illinois

Route 66 is a Historic highway and has also been designated as a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road in the state of Illinois.

Read this detailed description of Route 66 in Illinois.

The Route 66 segment from Cayuga to Chenoa, through Cayuga is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, we describe it below.

Below you will find More information on Route 66 in Cayuga.

Cayuga's Sights and Route 66 Attractions

What to see in Cayuga

US 66 in Cayuga: historic context

After driving from Chicago to Los Angeles, Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" (1946), and describes Route 66 during its golden days. He has an entry for Cayuga: "A grain elevator, a small school, one store and a dozen homes... no gas station or other facilities".

And little has changed since then as we will see below.

Drive US 66 through Cayuga

Drive from north to south, starting just north of Wolf Creek, on Route 66, at the point where the freeway curves in from the west, towards Historic Route 66.

Here the former southbound (or westbound -for an East to West U.S. Highway with an even number like Rute 66) lanes are visible, abandoned and unused but visible. Further north (east) they lie beneath the northbound lanes of I-55.

Route 66 in Cayuga, timeline

Pontiac Trail sign

The Pontiac Trail symbol shield,

The Pontiac Trail and State Highway 4

Promoted by local automobile enthusiasts seeking a decent road across the state, the Pontiac Trail became in 1915 the main road linking Chicago and St. Louis. It had been named after the famous Ottawa Indians chief and B.F. Goodrich marked the milage posts. The trail even had its own shield sign (see image).

The state then took over from these enterprising citizens and issued a bond in 1918 to build hard surfaced roads in across Illinois. The Pontiac Trail became part of the SBI 4 (State Bond Issue) highway number 4, which was improved with new bridges and paving its surface.

Federal funds were also provided at that time so that the road was paved along its entire length by 1923. Even though it had a winding course running close to the railroad and pre-existing county lanes it provided a decent road between the two cities.

Route 66

Created in 1927 it initially ran along the State Hwy 4 roadbed. In the 1930s it was straightened out, shortening it and realigned (especialy between Springfield and Hamel). Wartime traffic in the early 1940s destroyed the old road and it was decided to upgrade it into a "super highway" with four lanes.

Historic Route 66, Cayuga to Chenoa (1943-44 ⁄ 1954-55)

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The original 1920s road had lanes 9 feet wide and was 6-inches thick.

The first step was to widen (to 24 feet) and repave the original road (with 10 inch-deep concrete), which was done in 1942-44, they would become the southbound lanes of the new freeway (they are the now abandoned lanes). Then in 1954-55 a new double lane road was built next to it as the northbound lanes. They are the present highway.

Route 66 had become a four-lane divided freeway. It still ran along its original corridor next to the railroad passing through Cayuga.

You can see the now abandoned southbound lanes both north and south of Cayuga, to the west of the current highway. Further north and south, these lanes are buried beneath the northbound lanes of I-55.

This is all shown in Pale Blue in the map above.

Wolf Creek Bridge

Just ahead is the 1955 bridge which was rebuilt in 1998. The other bridge on the original road is gone.

As you pass the bridge, there is a parking spot on the "old" lanes, to your right. Stop and see the Meramec Caverns Barn:

Meramec Caverns Barn in Cayuga

66 Roadside Attraction

North side of Cayuga between I-55 and US 66

The Meramec Caverns Barn also known as the Cayuga Barn is a survivor from bygone days. It is a barn painted with an 1930's advertising of the famous "Meramec Caverns" located on Route 66 in Stanton Missouri.

It was restored and repainted by the Route 66 Association of Illinois Preservation Committee, and you can see it safely from the pull-off area located on the old highway.

This is the Exact location of the barn.

Meramec Cavern Barn in Cayuga, Illinois

Meramec Cavern Barn in Cayuga Route 66
Meramec Cavern Barn in Cayuga, Illinois. Stefan's US66 pictures. Click for Street View

Barn advertising

There was a Barn with a Meramec Caverns advertisement (see Site of Meramec Barn) on Route 66 in Hamel, but it was hit by a tornado in 2011. There are three more that survive on Route 66: in Conway MO, St. Clair MO and Chandler OK.

Meramec Caverns are also located on on Route 66, in Stanton, Missuour, and are also known as "Missouri's Buried Treasure" is the largest cave West of the Mississippi. The caverns system was discovered in 1720 by French explorer Philipp Renault and used for many purposes over time.

In the 1890s it was a dance venue, but it became famous when Lester Dill (1898 - 1980) bought it in 1933 and turned it into a tourist attraction. Dill already operated Fisher's Cave in Meramec State Park, so Dill renamed the caverns as the "Meramec Caverns".

Dill promoted his tourist attraction using bumper stickers and also by paying farmers so that they painted the words "Meramec Caverns" on barn roofs all across the region. His painted barns covered 14 states. Few have made it into the twenty first century, this is one of them.

Drive on and just ahead, to your left is the town's grain elevator, on the eastern side of the railroad. At its foot is the Old Railway Depot

Old Railway Depot

E 2160 N Rd. and railroad tracks

The old railway station, which you can see below in a photograph from ca. 1905 has been moved from its original position next to the tracks, and placed under the grain elevators.

Present view of the old Depot in Cayuga, Illinois

Present view of the  old railway depot in Cayuga Route 66
Present view of the old railway depot in Cayuga, Illinois. David Wilson. Click to enlarge image

The old railroad depot, in 1905:

Old Depot in a 1905 photo in Cayuga, Illinois

Old Depot in a 1905 photo in Cayuga Route 66
Old Depot in a 1905 photo in Cayuga, Illinois Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

This ends your drive through Cayuga Drive south to visit Pontiac or north to visit Odell and Dwight.

Historic Route 66 in Cayuga, Illinois

Drive from Cayuga to Pontiac along US66

It is a short 6 mile drive from Cayuga to Pontiac, this is a Map with directions.

> > See the previous segment Odell to Cayuga (east)

> > See the next segment Pontiac to Chenoa (west)


Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.