Information about Elkhart Illinois
Facts, Trivia & Useful Info
Elevation: 596 ft (182 m). Population 405 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Elkhart is a village located in the south of Logan County, Illinois. See this Map of Elkhart.
The History of Elkhart
Human beings have lived in the prairies of central Illinois since the glaciers retrated some 12,000 years ago. More recently, there probably was an Illinois Indian village on the hill. The Kickapoos arrived in the mid 1760s from the great lake region and settled on the hill.
The "Trace" was an Indian Trail that linked Elkhart to Kentucky and the Mississippi and it passed through what is now Elkhart. In 1819 a treaty obliged them to cede the land to the U.S. and move west. That same year James Latham settled on the hill and became the first settler and squatter.
Logan county was formed in 1839 from Sangamon County and it was named for Dr. John Logan, an Irish born American physician and a pioneer. By then the Kickapoos had all been forced out, into Oklahoma.
The county built a road which followed the ancient "Trace", it later became the "Fort Clark or Peoria Road", U.S. 66 followed it from St. Louis to Lincoln, here it branched off to Peoria (present IL-121).
The Alton & Sangamon railroad (now the Chicago & Alton) reached Elkhart Grove in 1853. This led to the platting of a village in 1855 and its chartering in 1861.
The name: Elkhart
The local native Illinois people believed the hill had the shape of an Elk's heart. Their totem was an Elk heart.
There was a local myth that White Blossom, the beautiful daughter of the chief was courted by a Shawnee and an Illinois warrior. She said she'd marry the warrior who could pierce the heart of an elk.
The village was named Elkhart City, to distinguish it from the hill which gave it its name "Elkhart Hill" and which with 777 feet is the highest point in Logan County. It covers 600 acres of timberland and rises like an island in a flat and vast sea of grass.
Route 66 was aligned through the downtown district in 1926 and then moved west in 1940, bypassing it. In 1958 I-55 bypassed the town completely.
Elkhart, its Motels & Hotels
Accommodation and Lodging in Elkhart
> > Book your hotel close by in Lincoln
More Accommodation near Elkhart on Route 66
See some more hotels & motels nearby
Hotels to the East -towards Chicago
More accommodation Heading West through Illinois
Hotels, further west Missouri
>> See the RV campground in neighboring Springfield
Elkhart: its Weather
With a humid continental climate, Elkhart has wet hot summers and cold winters.
Summer (Jul) average high temperature is 85°F (29.7°C) and the avg. low is 65°F (18.1°C).
Winter (Jan) average high temperature is 34°F (1 °C) and the low is 18°F (-7.8 deg;C).
Yearly rainfall is around 36.6 inch ( 1007 mm) and is highest during summer, reaching 5.08 inches (129 mm) in July (129 mm). It is lowest in winter with 1.93 inches (49 mm) in January.
Snow falls each year between November and late March, and averages 22 inches (55 cm).
Every year some 7 tornados strike Logan County -Elkhart is located in this county.
Tornado Risk: learn more about Tornado Risk on US 66.
Map of Route 66 through Elkhart 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.
Accommodation Search box:
Route 66 in Illinois: Historic U.S. 66 in Elkhart
Route 66 across Illinois
Read this detailed description of Route 66 in Illinois.
Historic Route 66 was designated as an All-American Road and a National Scenic Byway in the state of Illinois.
Below we provide More information on US 66 in the neighborhood of Elkhart.
Elkhart its Route 66 Attractions
Things to see in town
You can get to Elkhart using Historic U.S. 66 or, alternatively taking the freeway I-55.
Elkhart US 66 in 1946
Jack Rittenhouse wrote his guidbook to Route 66 in 1946 and mentioned Elkhart as he drove past it: "Pop 436... garage; gas... The dozen ancient store buildings which comprise the town are off to the left on the one main street which crosses US 66. No courts here.".
Little has changed since then, Rittenhouse's description is still valid: Drive into the town from the north you will see the grain silos to your left, between Route 66 (1940s alignment) and the railroad tracks, and also, The 1926 alignment:
The 1926 alignment north of town
It is a short stretch of road 0.6 mile-long, with a cracked concrete surface you can reach it at the northern side of the silos; (this is Map with directions.
Looking south along the 1926 roadbed in Elkhart, Illinois
Then after passing the silos, to your left is a "rounded" Gas station:
Former Gas Station
Route 66 and the Main street-
This former gas station from the 1940s is probably the one mentioned by Rittenhouse. A garage bay is visible on its southern side, but it has been modified, perhaps serving as a cafe.
Former Gas Station in Elkhart, Illinois
Take a left, cross the tracks -grade crossing- and enter the village along its main street, Governor Oglesby Street to visit the historic downtown Elkhart:
Lincoln Heritage Signs
During the 2009 celebration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, one of the Lincoln Heritage signs was erected across the road from the Village Hall (on the SE corner of Bogardus and Gov. Oglesby). They tell about the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Logan County and Elkhart.
Veterans’ Memorial Park
On Gov. Oglesby St. it consists of a World War I doughboy statue and plaques that honor the names of Elkhart's veterans from WWII, the Korean War and all past wars.
Continue through the town and head for County Road 10, a very short drive to visit the sights at Elkhart Hill: the cemetery, chapel and Historic Bridge:
Elkhart Grove Forest Preserve
The Preserve protects the unique ecosystem of Elkhart Hill and spans 136 acres of forest where Blue Ash thrives.
Gillett Memorial Arch Bridge
Landmarks Illinois’ Most Endangered Historic Places
County Rd. 10, Elkhart
It is short 0.8 mile drive, see this Map with directions. To your left is the cemetery with its chapel ahead is the bridge.
The Gillett Memorial Arch Bridge was commissioned by Emma Gillett Oglesby -she had been the First Lady of Illinois- in 1915 as a memorial to her brother. It is a private owned bridge, and it consists of a concrete single-arch span which linked the family cemetery and the family's estate.
The county wanted to demolish it to widen the highway, but its designation as an Endangered Historic Place means that the county must request permission from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) or the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). In the meantime work is ongoing for it to be listed in the National Register.
Gillett Memorial Arch Bridge in Elkhart, Illinois
Built in 1874, in the woods, it is the burial place of Governor Richard Oglesby and John Dean Gillett who had been a cattle baron.
Gillett's widow, built a chapel in honor of her husband: St. John the Baptist, in stone and Gothic style.
A second "Looking for Lincoln" wayside exhibit is right beside the entrance of theCemetery.
Edwards Trace also known as the "Old Indian Trail" linked the Indian settlements from Kaskaskia in with northern Illinois and maybe even Wisconsin. It passed through Cahokia Mounds (Collinsville on Route 66) and, Edwardsville, Springfield, then Elkhart Hill and Lincoln, where it headed for Peoria.
French explorers and trappers used it during the 1700s and the pioneers followed it in the early 1800s. By the mid 1800s the railway and other roads had replaced it.
Farmers plowed it into oblivion and of the hundreds of miles it once had only some traces can be seen today at Lake Springfield and on Elkhart Hill.
Historic Route 66 in Elkhart
1926-1940 US 66
Above we have mentioned the The 1926 alignment at Elkhart and is marked in Orange in the map.
Route 66 After 1940
During the 1940s? the road was moved a bit to the west and remained a two lane highway when Rittenhouse drove by in 1946. The new interstate which by 1958 had been completed in this area, replaced the old Route 66 with a new alignment to the west.
We show this "Classic 1940s alignment in Pale Blue
From Elkhart to Williamsville
It is a short 6 mile drive along Route 66 to Sherman; this is the Map with directions.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.