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On the 1926-30 Alignment of Route 66

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On the Historic Girard to Nilwood Segment

Girard is a town on the original 1926 to 1930 Route 66 alignment in Illinois. Here you can actually drive along the Historic segment: Girard to Nilwood which is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Other attractions include a 1940s Former Standard Station, a Former Shell station, and the two best known landmarks in town: the 1920s Doc’s Soda Fountain and the 1950s Whirl-A-Whip Restaurant.

Enjoy your road trip along the 1926-30 alignment of Route66 in Girard IL.

1926 US 66 in Illinois south of Springfield
< West - Staunton ¦ Benld ¦ Gillespie ¦ Carlinville ¦ Nilwood ¦ Girard ¦ Virden ¦ Thayer ¦ Auburn ¦ Chatham ¦ Springfield - East >

The Main Alignment of Route 66 (1930-77)
<West - Hamel ¦ Staunton ¦ Livingston ¦ Mt. Olive ¦ Litchfield ¦ Waggoner ¦ Farmersville ¦ Divernon ¦ Glenarm ¦ Springfield - East >

The 1926-30 alignment of Route 66 at Girard

< Head West
Gillespie ¦ Carlinville ¦ Nilwood

Head East >
Virden ¦ Thayer ¦ Auburn

Route 66 Road Trip in Girard:

Index to this page

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All about Girard, Illinois

Trivia, Facts, and Useful Information

Elevation: 668 ft (204 m). Population 1,732 (2020).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Girard is a sity in Macoupin county, south central Illinois on the 1926-30 course of Route 66 south of Springfield.

The History of Girard

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.

At that time the first settlers were arriving to the area where Girard is now located.

The first pioneer in Macoupin was John Woods, who came from Virginia in 1817. Macoupin County was created in 1829; it was named after Macoupin Creek, in turn a native- Miami ⁄ Illinois word for the American lotus (Nelumbo lutea).

At that time, a Frenchman named Girard set up a sawmill on what after then was known as "Mill Creek". By 1831 Girard, Warren, Ashlock, Cox and Harlan were living in a site known as "Girard Township". The stage line between Springfield and Alton followed the old indian trace through Girard and in 1835 Henderson built a "stage stand" roughly one half mile north of modern Girard. This route would become IL-4 and later Route 66.

In 1834 and again in 1835 a town was platted by Edwards and Mather but it was unsuccessful. But almost 20 years later, in 1853, Barnabas Boggess and Charles Fink laid out a town on the Chicago and Alton railroad that occupied the same area as the failed 1834 platt. They used the old name (Girard). It was incorporated in 1855 by the state Legislature.

The name Girard

Girard is named after the first settler in the area Mr. Girard. Surname which like Gerard or Gerald comes from the Germanic personal name Gerhard which means "brave spear".

State Highway, SBI 4 was built after 1918, paved in the early 1920s and in 1926 it became part of US 66. However it would not last long: in 1930 Route 66 was shortened, straightened and realigned to the east through Litchfield and Mt. Olive, bypassing Girard.

Coal Mine

The Girard Coal Mine dug its first shaft in 1869 and closed in 1922 with a negative impact on the local economy. The new "Coal Mine No. 2" opened in 1976 between Girard and Virden. advertisement

Hotels and Motels close to Girard

Lodging & accommodation in Girard; sponsored content. Find a room in neighboring Springfield, just a few miles to the north:

> > Book your hotel nearby, in Springfield IL

More Accommodation near Girard on Route 66

Find more lodging & accommodation close to Girard. There are plenty of lodging options in the cities and towns along Route 66; click on the links below to find your accommodation in these towns:

Hotels to the West in IL

Hotels to the East, Illinois

Hotels further west, in Missouri

>> Check out the RV campgrounds in Springfield and Litchfield.

Girard's weather

Route 66 in Girard; location map

Location of Girard on U.S. Hwy. 66, Illinois

Girard 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.

In Girard 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 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).

Tornado risk

The countryside near Girard is hit by some 7 tornados per year. Tornado Risk: learn more about the Tornado Risk on US 66.

Map of the 1926-30 Route 66 through Girard

click to see 1929 road map south of Springfield IL

1929 roadmap south of Springfield. Credits
Click on Map to Enlarge

Route 66 was aligned along Illinois state highway #4 in 1926, and ran from Springfield to Staunton passing through Girard. The course of U.S. 66 southwards from neighboring Virden to girard is marked with a pale green line and a brown line in our custom map of the 1926-30 Route 66.

After turning south Crown 2 Mine Rd. it went straight southwards into the business district of Girard where it took a different course to modern IL-4: It turned west (right) on Madison and then south (left) along 6th Street. When it reached the railroad tracks south of town, it continued straight (the later 1930s IL-4 ran south till it met the tracks, and then took a NE-SW course into Nilwood.)

Route 66, Girard to Nilwood (1919-1931)

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

This was a period of transition from cart, horse and mule to truck and cars. The old dirt track was replaced by a state of the art highway (by early 1920s standards): it was a concrete highway that had two eight-foot wide lanes and gravel shoulders 7 feet wide. The Portland concrete slab was 6 inches thick.

The original Illinois Route 4 in this area was paved between 1920 and 1922, it followed the former county lanes and lot demarcation trails and therefore had many sharp 90° curves.
This made it unsafe and also longer.

The pink line in our custom map shows how it zig-zagged its way across the farmland crossing the railroad three times! Also see this map with directions.

Old Historic Route 66 running through corn fields between Girard and Nilwood

narrow concrete road running between corn fields
Old Route 66 north of Nilwood. Click for st. view

It has survived the wear and tear for 100 years and although it has cracks, it still has its original concrete paving plus the concrete box culverts.

The Route 66 alignment in Girard

Visit our pages with old maps and plenty of information about US 66's alignments. advertisement

Girard: classic US 66 Sights

Landmarks & Attractions

Coming from Virden in the north, drive into Girard along the "old" Route 66. It becomes N 3rd Street as it enters the town. In the central district, on the left side of the road you will see a 1950s Standard Oil service station.

Former Standard Oil Station

At 227 S 3rd St, Girard, on the NW corner of N 3rd and W Center St. This is a rectangular, box-shaped building from the 1940s o 50s with porcelain metal skin. Its former two-door garages are clearly visible. The original windowed office is untouched. It was located on the strategic intersection in downtwon Girard. The sign on the corner has repurposed the original gas station oval sign.

former Standard Station in Girard, Illinois

icebox style 1950s former Standard Station
Former Standard Station in Girard, Illinois. Click for street view

Check it out in the aerial photo thumbnail below (click on it to enlarge it).

black and white aerial photo: crossroads and gas station on the corner

1984 aerial photo of the Standard Oil station.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge

1984 black and white aerial photo: crossroads and Texaco gas station on the corner

1984 aerial photo of the Standard Oil station.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Former Texaco (Gone)

Pictured above in a 1984 aerial photo, it was located at 105 South Third St. opposite the Standard Station was Brett Barnes Texaco Station, another oblong-box styled station. It stood where the canopy and pumps are now located. Pictured above in an aerial picture from 1984. The Shell's building is new and unrelated.

Downtown Girard

Take a left along W Center St. and head east to visit the town's main square that is just one block away. Turn right at the square along South Second St., stop and visit a Classic Drug store and Soda Fountain, an memory for the good old days:

Deck's Drugstore and Soda Fountain - Doc’s Soda Fountain

red 1960s Ford Mustang parked in alley next to red-brick building with sign painted in white letters on black background: 
" Deck’s Drugstore est. 1884"

View of Doc's Soda Fountain and a red Mustang. Credits

Americana: Drugstore & Soda Fountain

To your left, facing the square at 133 South Second Street.

Dr. B.F. Clark opened the first drug store back in 1865. He was joined by Lewis C. Deck in 1884, and it became Deck's Drugstore. Deck later bought Clark's share. Then in 1929 (3 years after Route 66 was aligned through the town) the soda fountain was added.

The last generation of Deck's (Bill and Bob) retired in 2001 and closed the shop. In 2007 Bob and Renee Ernst bought it and reopened it under the name "Doc's Soda Fountain". Enjoy some ice cream, lunch or ice cream sodas.

The Bob and Bill Deck Pharmacy Museum displays artifacts from the late 1800s it is named after the third generation of Decks to run the store.

Vintage picture of Deck's Drugstore in the 1940s

black and white vintage 1940s photo of brick building with sign "Deck’s Drugstore" over entrance, children on bikes ride along the street and a 1940s car
Deck's Drugstore in the 1940s. Girard, Illinois. Credits

Below is its current appearance:

Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard, Illinois

two story late 1800s red brick building with store. Red and white striped awning
Doc’s Soda Fountain nowadays. Girard, Illinois. Click for street view

Turn right on the south side of the town's square along W Madison. Route 66's original alignment runs along West Madison westwards, but before driving along it, take a short detour: two-block south along S 3rd St. Ahead, on the second block at its intersection with W Monroe St. are two landmarks:

Whirl-A-Whip Restaurant

1950s ice cream machine with its name Whirla Whip printed with red on chromed backing

Americana on Route 66

At 309 S 3rd St, Girard

Whirla Whip machine from the 1950s. Credits

It has a great Classic Sign pictured below. It opened originally in 1957.
The restaurant got its name from the special ice-cream maker it used: the Whirl-A-Whip (pictured). This machine allowed preparing single servings with custom flavors and served soft ice cream.

After several owners, it closed for good but reopened in 2013, and still uses the original 1950s "Wirla Whip" ice cream machine, whipping each ice cream individually!

Its first owners were the Lockwoods. As it has an open dining area it is only open from March to October.

Whirl-A-Whip Ice Creams and Restaurant in Girard, Illinois

Whirl-A-Whip sandwiches written on a white oval shaped neon sign and a drawing of an ice cream cone
Whirl-A-Whip Restaurant's neon sign in Girard, Illinois. Credits. Click image for street view

Former Shell station

Across S 3rd St. to your left, on the SE corner is a former Shell gas station that has been heavily modified and unrecognizable. Now it is a welding shop. Click on the 1984 aerial photo thumbnail for a full size picture, the red arrow marks the Shell and the Blue arrow is the Whirl-a- Whip.

black and white aerial photo: crossroads and Shell gas station on the corner

1984 aerial photo of a Shell gas station.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge

sheds on a street corner, a welding shop

Bruce's welding shop. Click for street view

Leaving Girard along Old '66

Retrace your steps to W Madison and turn left heading westwards. The Brown "Historic Route 66" sign at S 6th Street (street view) will prompt you to turn left along S 6th.

After 0.7 miles the road meets the later IL-4 alingment running from NE to SW beside the railroad tracks. The intersection and railroad grade crossing here were modified for safety reasons: Skewed intersections with acute angles are a safety risk, specially for older drivers or people with limited neck mobility. Guidelines states that: "Crossing roadways should intersect at 90 degrees if possible, and not less than 75 degrees." (1).

So turn right onto State Hwy. 4, and then left to cross the railroad and drive the Historic Girard to Nilwood" Route 66 segment.

Continue your Road Trip along Route 66:

This leg of your Route 66 Road Trip along the 1926-30 alignment through Girard ends here. Drive south towards Nilwood to continue your journey. advertisement

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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat

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