Facts, Information and trivia
Elevation: Elevation 577 ft (176 m). Population 601 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Godley is a village in both Will and Grundy Counties. See this Map of Godley.
History of Godley
Illinois was initially peopled when the Paleoindians reached the area after the end of the last Ice Age some 11,000 years ago.
The French from Canada and Louisiana explored the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, reaching Illinois in the 1660s, they encountered Illini (Illinois) natives and Kickapoo people.
After wars between France and Britain, the land passed to the British and after 1776, to the U.S.A., it was organized into a Territory and in 1818 admitted into the union as the state of Illinois.
In 1836 Will County was established and named for Dr. Conrad Will a businessman who had been a member of the first Illinois Constitutional Convention and later a member of the Illinois Legislature. Grundy County was created in 1841 and it was named for US Attorney General Felix Grundy (1777 -1840).
Some pioneers settled in the area in the 1830s and 40s, but it was not suitable for farming. Coal was discovered in Braidwood in 1864 and that sparked more shafts being dug and coal finds in what are now Godley, Braceville and Gardner. This led to a town being platted to house the mine workers: Godley.
The name: Godley
The origin of the town's name is uncertain. But the surname is a habitational name: for those who lived in Godley, Cheshire or Goodleigh, Devon. Derived from the Old English words "Goda" (good) and "leah" (woodland clearing): Good clearing in the forest.
Coal brought work and prosperity. The village incorporated in 1888 and its population grew until the 1900s. The mines further south in Illinois had thicker veins of coal and were more productive. Output in Godley fell and finally by 1916 the mines here closed, followed by the one at neighboring Torino in 1918. Men lost their jobs and moved on to the mines further south, with their families. Godley became a ghost town with only 10 houses occupied at that time.
When Route 66 was created in 1926 it followed State Hwy 4's alignment. It became US ALT 66 in 1939 when a new US 66 was built through Godley.
Godley: Hotels and Motels nearby
Accommodation near Godley
> > Book your hotel in neighboring Wilmington
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Hotels east of Godley
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More hotels, heading West
- 14 mi. Dwight
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>> See the RV campground nearby in Braidwood and also in Joliet
Where is Godley?
The climate of Godley is classified as humid continental and has clearly marked seasons with hot and often humid summers, cool and wet springs, mild autumns and cold winters.
Temperatures: Average high in Jan (winter) 31°F (-0.3°C) and the average low is 17°F (-8.6°C). Average high in Jul (summer) 84°F (29°C), with an average low of 64°F (17.7°C).
Precipitation: Rainfall is between 3 and 4.3 (78 and 110 mm) inch per month between April and November, falling to around 1.7 in. monthly (28 mm) during winter. Average rainfall is 36.82 inch (936 mm).
Snow: The city gets 28 inches of snow per year (71 cm), with the first snowfall usually taking place in November and the last one happening in April (with less than a quarter inch - 8 mm). You shouldn't see snow from May to September.
The county around Godley gets some 5 tornado strikes every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk on US 66.
How to get to Godley?
You can get to Godley by driving along Historic Route 66 of from I-55 using the nearest exits: 227 in Gardner or 233 in Braidwood.
Map of Route 66 through Godley 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 Godley
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.
Below you will find More information on Route 66 in Godley.
Godley's Route 66 Landmarks and Attractions
What to see in Godley
US 66 in Godley: historic context
The WPA's guide to Illinois written in 1939 describes the town: "GODLEY... now merely a highway stop with one school, a few taverns, and a score of scattered houses, was once a booming coal town peopled by a thousand Scotch, Irish, and Welsh, the overflow of Braidwood's mining population. During the 1880's, 21 mines were in operation within a mile and a half of Godley; by 1906 all were closed. Bohemians have since settled in the village. Their pursuits are largely agricultural, and Godley's boom mining era is recalled only in the great 'gob-heaps' that almost encircle the town.".
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published the "Guide Book to Highway 66" after driving it from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1946. He also described Godley: "No facilities. Once a booming mining community. Now only a few homes remain. South of the town are more slag heaps".
Drive US 66 through Godley
It is still a very small community and it has one main attraction linked to its coal mining origins (on the eastern side of IL-53):
Godley Illinois Route 66 Mining Museum
Wayside Exhibit and silhouette
150 South Kankakee St. Godley
The museum reminds us of the influence that coal mining had on these Route 66 communities. It also tells us about the fossil finds in the slag heaps of the area.
Mining Museum in Godley, Illinois with silhouette in the foreground
The Godley Silhouette
Next to the old mine, there is a steel sheet silhouette depicting a coal miner and his donkey. The wayside exhibit next to it tells about "Mining Black Diamonds", of the boom-bust cycle suffered by the region after coal (black diamonds) was discovered here in 1864.
Coal in the region
Thomas Byron struck coal while digging a well in 1864. A Scotsman, James Braidwood with sound engineering knowledge sunk the first mine shaft the following year. The coal boom had begun.
More coal mines opened across the region, in Diamond, Coal City, Torino, South Wilmington and Godly. Towns and villages were established to house the workforce and soon thousands of miners toiled in the mines.
The railroad switched from burning wood to burning coal in their locomotives and the railroad provided a quick and simple means for getting the coal into the Chicago urban market.
Tragedy struck when the Diamond Mine flooded in 1883 killing 74 workers, two of them just boys aged 13 and 14.
The workers unionized in 1890 (United Mine workers Union) to fight for better working conditions and wages. But shortly after the mines began closing, cheaper mines had opened further south in Illinois.
Less labor intensive strip mining began in the late 1920s, digging up the surface and creating large slag piles. By the early 1970s, the coal period had ended.
There is also a chance for Fossil Hunting:
You can hunt for fossils (permit required): collectors come from all across the country. The Tully Monster fossil was discovered in this area in 1957 by Francis Tully.
Jellyfish imprints and shrimp fossils are abundant: strip mining upturned the strata from ancient seabeds, bringing these layers to the surface, now piled up as slag piles.
The Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium) lived in shallow coastal waters 300 million years ago and was a type of jawless fish similar to a lamprey. Read more Scientific American article.
Burma Shave Signs
Driving through Godley along IL-53, keep your eyes open for the replicas of the Burma Shave advertising signs. These red and white signs were part of the shaving cream advertising campaign (from the 1920s to the mid 1960s). They used catchy jingles distributed among six signs located along the edge of the highway. In this case they lie between Historic Route 66 and the railroad tracks.
See this one as an example of a Burma Shave jingle: "Within This Vale - Of Toil - And Sin - Your Head Grows Bald - But Not Your Chin - Burma Shave". Check this website for more Burma Shave Jingles.
There is not much else to see in Godley. Head north and visit neighboring Braidwood.
Historic Route 66 in Godley, Illinois
Illinois funded its state highway system by issuing a bond in 1918, this resulted in SBI 4 (State Bond Issue) highway number 4 being built along the former "Pontiac Trail" from Chicago to St. Louis. By 1923 it had been totally paved and in 1926 Route 66 was created and aligned along it.
US 66 1926 to 1939
Route 66 which nowadays is state highway IL-53 ran by the town, on the south side of the railroad tracks from 1926 until 1939. It then became ALT US 66 until 1977, when US 66 was decertified.
1928 Illinois State roadmap
US 66 1940 to 1977
As traffic grew Route 66 was shortened and straightened out across the state of Illinois. In 1939 a new road was built northwards from Braidwood to Plainfield and from there it followed a pre-existing road to meet the the US 66 alignment north of Romeoville.
The 1928 Illinois state roadmap shows the original US 66 and the other highways in the region. Godley is in the lower left corner.
This new MAIN US 66 is marked with a Green Line in the map above.
The "new" highway also continued south (west) from Braidwood to Gardner running on the western side of the railroad.
ALT US 66 1940 to 1977
With the construction of the new highway, the older 1926 alignment from Romeoville through Joliet, Wilmington, Godley and all the way to Gardner became ALT US 66 and remained so until 1977 when US 66 lost its certification.
The Pale Blue line marks the 1926-39 US 66 and the 1940-77 ALT 66 alignments.
US 66 final years: 1958 - 1977
In 1958 US 66 was moved even further west to the new freeway that bypassed all the towns from Plainfield to Gardner. US 66 & I-55 ran together.
Alternate US 66
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) created the "Alternate" designation in 1959. Its purpose was to designate a route that branches off from the main highway, passes through given towns or cities and then connects again with the main numbered route. The idea is to accommodate a high traffic demand. When the Alternate and Main highways followed a similar course, the shorter and better built highway would be marked as main and the other as alternate.
By 1945, Route 66 north (east) of Godley, all the way to present Wellco Corners had been designated as ALT 66.
And Route 66, the main highway now ran along a new highway parallel to the old one, on the western side of the railroad, between Godley and a point just north of Braidwood. Here it turned sharply and took a straight course northward, crossing the Kankakee River and passing by "Blodgett", then it crossed the Des Plaines River and intersected US 6, passed by "Birds", intersected US 52 and finally reached Plainfield where it met US 30 and turned with a northeastern course towards Cicero and Chicago. It met the ALT 66 at Wellco Corners.
US 66 Alignments South of the Kankakee River
The original Route 66 alignment followed this course (this was later ALT US 66) Map 1926-39 US 66. It later became the ALT 66 alignment from 1940 to 1977.
The later US 66 alignment from 1940 to 58 ran parallel to it south of Braidwood: map.
Then, from 1958 to 1977 US-66 shared the roadbed with I-55, along the current freeway.
Drive from Godley to Braceville along US66
It is only 1.5 miles from Godley to Gardner, see this Map with directions.
> > See the previous segment Braidwood to Godley (east)
> > See the next segment Braceville to Gardner (west)
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
The WPA Guide to Illinois: The Prairie State, Federal Writers' Project 1939
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.