Information about Lincoln Illinois
Facts, Trivia & Useful Info
Elevation: 589 ft (180 m). Population 14,504 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Lincoln is a city, which is the seat of Logan County, Illinois. This is a Map of Lincoln.
Lincoln its history
Central Illinois first inhabitants arrived shortly after the end of the last Ice Age about 11,000 years ago. In historic times both Illinois natives and Kickapoos lived in the area. The first to explore the region were French trappers in the mid 1600s, but American and European settlers only arrived here around 1800.
The distances to the large cities and the open grassland made farming complicated until the arrival of the railroad in the 1850s.
Nevertheless Russel Post, from Baltimore settled the area and in 1835 built a community (named Postville after him) by 1839 it had 100 residents and when Logan county was created that year, it became its seat.
At time when the Native Americans had been relocated west of the Mississippi and then further west, in the Indian Territories (which now is Oklahoma).
The nickname of the town of Lincoln is the Railsplitters (aka the Railers) because, Abe Lincoln split rails and used the wood too make fences.
The stagecoach that linked Chicago with ran through the town. But in 1848, the citizens of Logan County voted in a referendum to move the county seat to Mount Pulaski and Postville declined. In 1865 it merged into the new town of Lincoln.
The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis railroad (now the Chicago & Alton) passed through the area in the early 1850s and a town was platted by Latham, Hickox, and Gillette next to the station.
It was officially named Lincoln on August 29, 1853, and Abraham Lincoln, who was a lawyer pleading cases at the local courthouse in the 1840s and 50s, christened the newborn town with Watermelon Juice.
Route 66 was aligned along an existing state highway in 1926, and remained so until 1977.
The name: Lincoln
Named for Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), lawyer, statesman and 16th President of the US. Assasinated. He kept the country united through the Civil War, leading the way to the abolition of slavery. It is the only town in the United States that was named for and by Abraham Lincoln before he became president.
Lincoln: Hotels & Motels
Accommodation in town
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More Accommodation near Lincoln on Route 66
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Hotels to the East going towards Chicago
More accommodation Heading West through Illinois
Hotels, further west into Missouri
>> See the RV campground in neighboring Lincoln
The climate in Lincoln is humid continental one with humid hot summers and cold winters.
Average temperatures during summer (Jul) are: High: 85°F (29.7°C) and Low 65°F (18.1°C); the winter (Jan) averages are: High: 34°F (1 °C) and Low: 18°F (-7.8 deg;C).
Annual rainfall is 36.7 inch ( 1008 mm) with a peak of 5.08 inch in July (129 mm) and a minimum of 1.93 in. (49 mm) in January.
Expect snow from Nov. thru Mar. The average snowfall is 22 inch (55 cm).
Logan County gets hit by about 7 tornados each year (Lincoln is located in Logan County).
Tornado Risk: learn more about Tornado Risk on US 66.
Map of Route 66 through Lincoln, Illinois
Display Lincoln Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
This is the color key for Lincoln:
Pale Blue: marks the Historic Route 66 alignment (1940-77) Bypass or Beltline - Main 66.
Red line or gaps in alignment, is I-55, where it overlaps the old alignment.
Orange: the 1926 aligment in Lincoln, Springfield and Elkhart.
Black: missing segments.
Check individual cities for their specific color keys.
Route 66 in Illinois: Historic U.S. 66 in Lincoln
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 Lincoln.
Lincoln its Route 66 Attractions
Things to see in town
You can get to Lincoln driving along Historic U.S. 66 or, using the freeway I-55 or I-155 and use Exits 123, 126 or 133 to reach the town. US 136 runs to the north of Lincoln.
Lincoln US 66 in 1946
Jack Rittenhouse wrote about the town in his classic book published in 1946 (A Guide Book to Highway 66): He mentions the Hoelscher Bros and Sheer garages, the Western, Commercial, Lincoln hotels and Elm Grove Court.
Regarding the route's alignment he tells us that "Main US 66 straight ahead (the bypass alignment) city route forks left. At a junction with Illinois Road 10, just north of Lincoln are gas stations and cafes... at the south edge or Lincoln, City Route 66 comes in from the left to rejoin the Main Route.". He mentions the Logan cunty Fair Grounds, and that the city was named for Abraham Lincoln.
Drive through Lincoln on Route 66
Our city tour starts at the southern side of town Striniger Ave. and Historic Route 66 and ends on the north side of town; it is a 6.9 mile drive, see this Map with Directions.
After 0.4 mile, at the railroad grade crossing, to your right, on the NE corner of Stringer Ave. and First St. this was the 1926 alignment of Route 66 (which used State Hwy 4), later it became City 66 and even later Business Route 66 is the "Mill":
The Mill Museum on 66
Route 66 roadside attraction
738 S. Washington (Route 66)
Originally opened in 1929, just 3 years after Route 66 was aligned in front of it. It closed in 1996 and fell into disrepair. Funds were raised to restore its roof, windows and floor. It took 11 years of hard work and fundraising, but the building finally reopened as a museum in 2017.
The Mill Museum on 66 in Lincoln, Illinois
It was known as "The Blue Mill" (now it is painted red, but at that time it was blue) and was ran by Paul Coddington. Known later as "The Mill" it was a Dutch-styled building that even had a revolving windmill.
Albert Huffman bought it in 1945 and added a dance hall in the back, and painted it red. By the 1980s it had become the "Home of the Schnitzel" (a breaded veal or pork).
Visit their website www.mill66.com
continue north along Washington and when you reach 5th St. to your right is a Classic Gas Station:
Logan Service Station
5th St. and Stringer Ave.
This service station is still standing, it has a 2-door garage and a gabled canopy. It is pictured below. It opened as an Illico Service Station in 1925 and was owned by Herb Beach. Later Bob Sanders ran it in the 1930s. More recently it was Dick Logan AutoCare Center. (2000s).
Turn right and drive along Fifth Street. Three blocs ahead ,to your left, set in the middle of a park, is the Historic Courthouse:
Postville CourthousePostville Courthouse State Historic Site
State Historic Site
914 5th Street
The building pictured above, is a replica (completed in 1956) of the original building that was erected in 1840 in Postville, the seat of Logan County at that time. Between then and 1848, Abraham Lincoln visited this courthouse site twice a year during his circuit law practice. Later the county seat moved to Mt. Pulaski and the courthouse was relocated there.
In 1929 Henry Ford bought the building, dismantled it and set it up again at his Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.
Continue along Fifth and eight blocks further east, to your left is the Former Texaco:
106 5th St (Union and 5th NW corner)
Dial’s Texaco, Lincoln, Il. Click for street view
Now a monument maker (for gravesides), it used to be the Dial and Jones’s Texaco gas station (later just Dial’s). The building is still standing and the outline of the concrete pump islands can be seen in the tarmac. See this 1970s view of the old station.
At Logan St. turn left and head north. To your left South Logan St. is paved with red bricks see street view.
At Keokuk St. the old US 66 turns right. Just ahead, after crossing the railroad tracks, to your left is another Old gas station:
Cottage Style gas station
620 Keokuk St.
It has a two door garage (one was made smaller, but the old outline is visible) and is of the cottages-style, popular in the late 1920s to early 1930s when gas stations were meant to blend in with their urban surroundings. The shape of the former pump island is also visible on the concrete paving.
Cottage Style gas station in Lincoln, Illinois
Sidetrip into Lincoln's Business District
Turn right and head down into Lincoln's historic Business District. At Broadway turn right and to your right, two blocks away is the old Lincoln Depot and the Lincoln Watermelon Monument:
Lincoln Watermelon Slice Monument
480 Broadway St.
The Watermelon Slice Monument is located next to a sign at the Lincoln Depot, on the north side of Broadway, between the tracks and N. Chicago St.
The town was named after Lincoln and it was he who in 1853 christened it with melon juice. He said "Gentlemen, I am requested by the proprietors of the town site to christen it. I have selected the juice of a melon for that purpose, pouring it on the ground."
The monument was erected in 1964 thanks to th local Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs, it is tiny -see picture below in the blue circle.
Return to S Kickapoo and head straight along Broadway for one block to see a rare sight: a phone booth atop a building.
Phone Booth on Lincoln City Hall
700 Broadway Street
The City Hall is a red brick building built in 1895. You can see a telephone booth on its roof which was used by weather spotters to report the storms that they sighted. It is part of the Historic Downtown District. Pictured above, blue circle.
If you head straight east for ten blocks you will see another vintage gas station:
1717 Broadway St, Lincoln
This is a former Sinclair service station from the 1930s, now restored for another purpose. It is pictured below:
Return to S Kickapoo and turn left. Two blocks ahead, to your right, is the Lincoln Theater, pictured above, and just past it, on the NW corner of Clinton St. is yet anoter Antique Service Station
Vintage Service Station
Kickapoo and Clinton
Another classic gas station and just north of it the Lincoln Theater, a red-brick classic theater
Restored vintage Gas Station in Lincoln, Illinois
Drive north to return to Keokuk St. and continue north. Just past Yosemite Ave. to your left is a street that meets Route 66 at a 45° angle: it is the 1926 alingment. Keep going north till Kickapoo's junction with Historic Route 66.
This marks the end of your drive along the 1926-41 main alignment which later became the "City 66" or Business 66.
Return south along Bypass 66
Return to your starting point but now using the Bypass 66 built in 1941. It is a 5.5 mile trip and this is its Map with Directions. So, turn left along the Old Route 66 and head south.
To your right, close to the tracks, is the old roadbed described further down. Bypass Route 66 curves right and passes under the tracks. The road curves around the north side of the city, roughly half-way across it, to your left is the Former Buckles Motel:
230 W Feldman Dr and Oglesby Ave
This "L" shaped motel owned and managed by Paul and Ruth Buckles had, according to the 1959 postcard shown below: "12 Modern Units - Air Conditioned - Ceramic Tile Baths... T.V. in rooms...".
Buckles Motel vintage postcard in Lincoln, Illinois
The sign has gone, but the old motel's office remains unchanged and also the building to the right, across the street (we have marked both with blue arrows). But the main units to the south is gone. The eastern flank has survived.
Former Buckles Motel nowadays in Lincoln, Illinois
Ahead the road curves sharply to the south. Here, just on the northwestern corner of its junction with IL-10 & IL-121, at "Four Corners" once stood the Tropics Dining Room with its emblematic neon sign:
Tropics Neon Sign when it still stood, Lincoln, Il. Click for street view
Tropics Neon Sign
Gone but saved and being restored
NW corner of Route 66 and Woodland Rd.
The site was to your right but the restaurant has been demolished and the sign is now somewhere else.
The original Tropics restaurant building opened in 1950 by Vince Schwenoha. Later it was operated by Lew and Bev Johnson. The opening of the freeway hurt business and it opened and closed several times over the following decades.
It was inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame in 2016 and torn down shortly after (April 2017) to be replaced by a new McDonald’s.
The iconic Tropics Neon Sign
The original Tropics Dining room sign was taken down in 2014 and put in storage by the City after it had been abandoned for about 20 years. It had hundreds of pounds of bird nesting and waste in it which were removed. It is being restored.
In August 2017 the National Park Service gave a grant for the preservation and restoration of the iconic Tropics neon sign, which will find a new location in town. Below is what it looked like before it was removed.
Across the road is the old Werth Standard Oil:
Former Werth Standard Gas Station today, Lincoln, Il. Click for street view
Werth Standard Gas Station
1101 Woodlawn Rd, Lincoln
Wilfred "Squeak" Werth opened it in 1934, in its day it was a rough stone building. Later he reformed it adding two garage bays and a glass window office. Werth boasted that it had the most modern pumps in Illinois (displaying the value in dollars and cents).
See a 1930s view. Comparing it with its present appearance, we can see that the large garage to the left of the was added recently but the old part is still intact (right side of building - red box in the image). Now it is the Four Corners Lube Center.
In 1956 he opened a motel next door, the Redwood:
725 Hickox, Lincoln
Redwood Motel, click for street view
Just a block or so south of the Tropics is the Redwood Motel, opened in 1956 by Wilfred "Squeak" Werth and his wife, Dorothy.
They sold the motel to Ruth Buckles (of the Buckles motel) in 1963. The motel's sign was replaced in 2000 and Sherman West and his wife, Joan took over in 2003.
Turn eastwards along Woodland Rd., just 300 yards east of Route 66, to your left is a Classic Motel:
974 Woodland Rd.
It is a single-floor, rectangular shaped brick building with a gabled roof. It hasn't changed much since its heyday in the early 1950s, but its neon sign is gone:
Lincoln Motel vintage postcard in Lincoln, Illinois
Lincoln Motel nowadays in Lincoln, Illinois
Retrace your steps back to Bypass 66 and turn left, going south. Ahead is an example of Americana and Kitsch, to your left, on the west side of the road at the Best Western Lincoln Inn:
World’s Largest Covered Wagon
Americana - Kitsch and Guinness World Record
1750 5th St, Lincoln
Hand built in 2001 by David Bentley in oak and steel it is the current holder of the Guinness World Record for being the largest covered wagon
It is 40 x 12 x 25 feet (12.2 x 3.65 x 7.6 metres) and was built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Route 66. Guinness site, Read more.
World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln, Illinois
Route 66 in the Cemetery: 1926 alignment
Now is the final part of your journey. Visit the 1926 section of the highway at the Cemetery:
Turn ight at Kenwood Dr. and left along Cobblestone Dr. you are at the Union Station Cemetery (map with directions).
Ahead the road is closed to vehicles, but you can walk it. It is a brick paved in its first section. It is a short 0.35 mile walk to Salt Creek and site of the old bridge, which has been dismantled and only the concrete pillars remain.
This is a Street view of its first part.
Historic Route 66 in Lincoln
1926 alignment South of town
The original alignment laid down in 1926 is shown in Orange in the map above. You can drive part of it on the south side of the creek until you reach a "Road Ends" sign.
1926 roadbed of Route 66 south of Salt Creek Lincoln, Illinois
The road on the north side of the creek passes by the Cemetery (See Route 66 in the cemetery, above) and runs then into Lincoln along Stringer Ave. and S. Washington St. it then heads towards the downtown area along 5th St. This section later became City 66 or Business 66, and it had many turns as it zig-zagged through the city.
Northern 1926 segment
On the northeastern side of town, to the west of the modern highway you can see a segment of the original highway, now it is abandoned.
This original road continued parallel to the railroad and at the height of Harrison St. took a 45° turn south to then turn along what is now N. Kickapoo St. Most of it is now closed to traffic (except for the last section). It was the original road out of town towards the northeast according to the 1913 USGS map, and it is shown in Black on the map above.
See this Street View of the last part of the alignment (southern tip on Kickapoo).
Later (1930s?) the alignment was moved east along present Buusiness 55 loop.
1958 USGS Map of Lincoln
The "Main US 66" mentioned by Rittenhouse is the Bypass alignment which was built in 1941 and completed during WWII, to keep the heavy wartime traffic out of the downtown district (reducing congestion and accidents); it remained operational until 1977 when the highway was decertified.
This "beltline" route ran along the western and northern edges of the city.
The USGS map of Lincoln from 1958 (see image) shows an I-55 almost completed around the town, and no reference to US 66, even though it still existed at that time.
From Lincoln to Broadwell
This was a four lane divided highway after the mid 1940s, but the southbound lanes are now under I-55 for most of the way, current Historic Route 66 uses the former northbound lanes. They old four lanes vanish 2 mi south of Lincoln, just past Edward R Madigan State Park, and only resurface in Broadwell. Head south along US 66 (it's not far, just 5.8 mi) and you will reach Broadwell (don't miss the original 1926 alignment to your left as you reach Elkhart see this Map with directions.
> > See the previous segment Lawndale to Lincoln (east)
> > See the next segment Broadwell to Elkhart (west)
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.