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Lincoln

"Railsplitters"

Last Updated: . By Austin Whittall

The city of Lincoln, a town named after Abraham Lincoln, has it fair share of Route 66 attractions, sights, and historic places.

We list some of them below, an assortment of classic US 66 motels, gas stations, and much more!

Lincoln Illinois with its Classic Route 66 motels and Landmarks

Discover Route 66 in Lincoln Illinois

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The city founded by Lincoln

Index to this page

The Mill in Lincoln, Illinois

former restaurant designed like a mill
The Mill, on US66 in Lincoln

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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.

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).

Railsplitters

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.

Reaching Lincoln

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.

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Lincoln's Weather

Lincoln, map showing it on US Highway 66

Location of of Lincoln, on U.S. 66 in Illinois

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).

Tornado risk

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 in Lincoln IL

Map of US66 in Lincoln

Map showing Route 66 in Lincoln
click to enlarge

Static Map showing Route 66 alignment through Lincoln IL.

Color Key to this map:
Pale Blue: marks the Historic Route 66 alignment (1940-77) known as Bypass or Beltline - Main 66.
Orange: the 1926 aligment across the town
Black: eliminated segments, still visible in part.
You can always check out our Route 66 Map in Illinois, with the complete array of alignments and all the towns along them.

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

Read our 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.

Lincoln and its Route 66 Attractions

Things to see in town

Lincoln's 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 mentions the bypass alignment as "Main US":

Main US 66 straight ahead 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. Jack Rittenhouse (1946)

He also writes about Logan county 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 Stringer 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.

City Tour in Lincoln

Head north along Stringer Ave. which was the 1926 alignment of Route 66 (also State Hwy 4), later it became City 66 and even later Business Route 66.
After 0.4 mile, at the railroad grade crossing, to your right, on the NE corner of Stringer Ave. and First St. is the "Mill".

The Mill Museum on 66

738 S. Washington (Route 66)

Route 66 roadside attraction
It first opened in 1929, just 3 years after Route 66 was created. 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

view of the odld mill
The Mill Museum on 66 in Lincoln, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

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.
In 1936 Raymond Hickman and his wife Fern took it over. The photo below was taken in 1937.
It was later known later as "The Mill" with its 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
The photographs below show it in 1937 and c.1940, old black and white images (Credits: The Mill Museum Route 66 Facebook.)

the Mill with a car beside it, black and white 1937 photo

1937 Photograph of The Mill

another 1940s picture of The Mill

ca. 1940 photo of The Mill

Continue north along Washington and when you reach 5th St., turn right. To your right is a Classic Gas Station.

Logan Service Station

5th St. and Washington

This service station is still standing, and 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).

Click images for Street View

Logan Service Station in Lincoln US66

Logan Service Station

Historic Postville Courthouse in Lincoln US66

Historic Postville Courthouse

Head east along Fifth Street. Three blocks ahead, to your left, set in the middle of a park, is the Historic Courthouse.

Postville Courthouse

914 5th Street

State Historic Site
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 St. eight blocks further east, to your left is a Former Texaco gas station.

Dial’s Texaco

106 5th St (Union and 5th NW corner)

Dial’s Texaco in Lincoln US66
Former US 66 Dial’s Texaco Lincoln, Illinois. Click to enlarge image
1970 photo of the Dial Texaco

1970 photo Dial Texaco Credits.

Now a monument maker (for gravesides), it used to be the Dial and Jones’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 the 1970 picture of it.

Red Brick Road

At Logan St. turn left and head north. To your left South Logan St. is paved with red bricks see street view.
To the right is a Tudor style building with leaded glass windows. We don't know what it was during Route 66's golden days.
Turn right into N. Logan St. and head north, take a right along Keokuk St. 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 Route 66
Cottage style gas station in Lincoln, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Sidetrip into Lincoln's Business District

Historic District

Turn right and head down N. Kickapoo St. into Lincoln's historic Business District.

Route 66 Marker in Lincoln

At the Intersection with Pekin St., on the SW corner is one of Route 66's "Experience Hubs", a sleek marker (Street View). It was erected by Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
At the next intersection, 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

Kitsch and Americana

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.
It is a watermelon slice sitting atop a concrete base. Behind it is a sign-marker with a descriptive text.

Retrace your steps but head straight along Broadway. On the block after the Courthouse, to your right is very strange sight: a phone booth atop a building.

Click images for Street View

Lincoln Watermelon Slice Monument in Lincoln US66

Lincoln Watermelon Slice Monument, Lincoln, Il

Phone Booth on Lincoln City Hall in Lincoln US66

Phone Booth on Lincoln City Hall, Lincoln, Il

Phone Booth on Lincoln City Hall

Weird Things

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.
It was slated for removal in 2009 as new technologies made it obsolete, but it was retained for its historic value.
If you head straight east for ten blocks you will see another vintage gas station.

Sinclair station

1717 Broadway St, Lincoln

This is a former Sinclair service station from the 1940s, although it was not on Route 66 it dates back to those days. Now it has been restored for another purpose. It is pictured below.

Click images for Street View

Sinclair gas station in Lincoln US66

Sinclair gas station, Lincoln, Il

Lincoln movie Theater in Lincoln US66

Lincoln movie Theater, Lincoln, Il

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 iconic gas station and just north of it the Lincoln Theater, a red-brick classic theater

Restored vintage Gas Station in Lincoln Route 66
Restored vintage Gas Station in Lincoln, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

This ends the Downtown Tour. Drive north to return to Keokuk St. and continue your journey across town.

1926 Alignment

Just past Yosemite Ave. to your left is a street that meets Route 66 at a 45° angle: it is the 1926 alignment of Route 66. This is its Street View.

He north until 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.

Original 1926 Roadbed

1926 US66 roadbed

The old 1926 roadbed of US 66

Turn left into Historic US 66, and just ahead, to your right, close to the tracks, you will see the old 1926 roadbed that we will describe further down.
Stay on the main highway. Ahead, Bypass Route 66 curves right and passes under the tracks. This alignment curves around the north side of the city.
Roughly half-way across it, to your left is the Former Buckles Motel.

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

Buckles Motel vintage postcard in Lincoln Route 66
Buckles Motel. Vintage postcard, 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 are gone. The eastern flank has survived.

Former Buckles Motel nowadays in Lincoln, Illinois

Former Buckles Motel nowadays in Lincoln Route 66
Former Buckles Motel nowadays. Lincoln, Illinois. Click for St. View

Ahead the road curves sharply to the south. This was a deadly curve; the Blu Inn once stood here, so it was known as the "Blue Inn Curve" or the "Killer Curve".

On the NW corner at the junction of US 66 with IL-10 & IL-121, at "Four Corners" once stood the Tropics Dining Room with its emblematic neon sign.

The Tropics Café Neon Sign

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 located close to its original placement (Street View).
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 during restoration funded with a National Park Service grant.

Restored Tropics Neon Sign

Blue neon Sign with a palm tree
Restored Tropics neon sign Lincoln, Illinois. Martha Raaymakers

Ahead, across Woodland Rd. is the old Werth Standard Oil.

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).

As you can see in the image below, the right side of the current building is identical to the original icebox Texaco from the 1930s.
Werth's Realtor offices are located behind the former gas station.
In 1956 he opened a motel next door, the Redwood.

Werth's Texaco station, then and now. Lincoln, Illinois

Werths Texaco station in 1930 and today
Werth's Texaco Station now (top) and in 1930s (bottom) Lincoln, Illinois. Credits old photo. Click for St. View

Redwood Motel

725 Hickox, Lincoln

Just a block or so south of the Tropics is the Redwood Motel, opened in 1956 by Wilfred "Squeak" Werth and his wife, Dorothy.

It had "Only 15 cozy very clean units". 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.

Redwood Motel in the 1960s. Lincoln, Illinois

1960s postcard Redwood Motel Lincoln
1960s postcard Redwood Motel, Lincoln, Illinois. Credits old photo

Redwood Motel nowadays. Lincoln, Illinois

Current view Redwood Motel Lincoln
The Redwood Motel today. Click for St. View

Turn eastwards along Woodland Rd., just 300 yards east of Route 66, to your left is a Classic Motel:

Lincoln 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 vintage postcard in Lincoln Route 66
Lincoln Motel vintage postcard, Lincoln, Illinois. www.66postcards.com

Lincoln Motel nowadays in Lincoln, Illinois

Lincoln Motel nowadays in Lincoln Route 66
Lincoln Motel nowadays in Lincoln. Click for St. View

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

1750 5th St, Lincoln

Americana - Kitsch and Guinness World Record and Route 66 Roadside Attraction
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

World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln Route 66
World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln, Illinois. Trip Advisor

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.
And this is the end of your Journey along Route 66 in Lincoln. Head west to Broadwell or east to Atlanta.

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. In the Salt Creek section, you can drive part of the original roadbed south of the cemetery and the creek until you reach a "Road Ends" sign (Map with directions).

1926 roadbed of Route 66 south of Salt Creek Lincoln, Illinois

1926 roadbed of Route 66 south of Salt Creek Lincoln Il
1926 roadbed of Route 66 south of Salt Creek in Lincoln, Illinois. Click for St. View

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 is a Street view of it. And this is a Map showing where it is.

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.

USGS map of 1958 Lincoln

1958 USGS Map of Lincoln

1941-77 Alignment

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)

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Credits

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

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