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Romeoville

Illinois Flag

"Stone City"

Romeoville is a village on Route 66 (1926-39) and ALT US 66 (1940-77), visit its classic 1920s restaurant, The White Fence Farm and then some mid 1800s buildings: the Historic Fitzpatrick House and in Historic Lockport the Historic Gaylord Building.

Romeoville Illinois

1926-39 US 66 & 1940 -77 ALT US 66

< West     Gardner ¦ Braceville ¦ Godley ¦ Braidwood ¦ Wilmington ¦ Elwood ¦ Joliet ¦ Romeoville     East >

The Main Alignment of Route 66 near Romeoville

< Head West
Braceville ¦ Godley ¦ Braidwood

Head East >
Plainfield ¦ Willowbrook ¦ Countryside

 

Romeoville IL

Facts, Information and trivia

Elevation: Elevation 617 ft (188 m). Population 39,680 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Romeoville is a village in Will County, Illinois which is located on Route 66 - ALT US 66. (A Map of Romeoville).

History of Romeoville

Illinois' first inhabitants peopled the area about 11,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. During more recent times, the Potawatome people lived here.

Louis Jolliet and the Jesuit Missionary Father Jacques Marquette explored the region in 1673, paddling up the Des Plaines River, which runs just east of Romeoville and claimed the region for France ("New France").

Des Plaines River

The river is 133 miles (214 km) long and has a discharge flow of 535 cubic feet per second (15 m3⁄s). It runs from southern Wisconsin, western Chicago and then west and south, meeting the Kankakee River to form the Illinois River, which in turn flows into the Mississippi River.

Used as a route by the locan Indians, the French used it too and named it as La Rivière des Plaines (River of the Plane Tree) after the trees along it. They used the word "Plaine" to name the American sycamore and the red maple both of which resembled the European plane tree.

The Des Plaines linked with the Chicago River via the Chicago Portage, a link that had strategic importance and led to the creation of Fort Dearborn in 1803.

First settlers in the region arrived in the 1820s, shortly after the state of Illinois joined the Union (1818). But a real influx of pioneers began in the 1830s.

In the 1830s the Indian Removal Act was passed and the Indians were forcibly removed west of the Mississippi River and Will County was established in 1836, named after Dr. Conrad Will who had been a member of the first Illinois Constitutional Convention and later a member of the Illinois Legislature.

There is a similar sounding Romeroville, on Route 66 in New Mexico

Romeo was platted in 1835 and work began on the Illinois and Mississippi Canal in 1836, and was built between 1836 and 1848, further south Lockport and Juliet (now Jolliet) were laid out in 1837.

The village began as a small farming community but later became a quarry which provided material for roads and buildings shipped out via the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The State Capitol in Springfield is built with Romeoville limestone. The town was known as "Stone City".

Later, for sanitation purposes the Chicago Drainage Canal was dug (1892 to 1900), this ran parallel mostly to the old I&M canal, but its purpose was not only navigation, it was built to reverse the flow of the Chicago River inland so that the sewage of Chicago didn't mix with its drinking water supply (Lake Michigan) and eliminate the constant cholera outbreaks.

The village incorporated in 1895 and its name changed from Romeo to Romeoville.

The name: Romeoville

Italian form of the Late Latin name Romaeus meaning "a pilgrim to Rome". The name is well known as the lover of Juliet in William Shakespeare's tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet' (1596).

Perhaps it was named to complement the town of Juliet -now Joliet perhaps a corruption of the name of Louis Jolliet, the French explorer.

At the turn of the century, Isle La Cache and Romeo Beach were favored as countryside resorts, linked to Chicago by a streetcar line. Route 4 was aligned through the town in 1926 and Route 66 that same year. In the early 1930s, the drainage canal was deepened becoming the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Route 66 in town

When Route 66 was created in 1926 it followed State Hwy 4's alignment through Romeoville. Later, in 1940 it became US ALT 66 when a new US 66 was built from Braidwood to Plainfield and from there to Willowbrook, bypassing Romeoville.

Romeoville: Hotels and Motels nearby

Accommodation in Romeoville

> > Book your hotel in Romeoville

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Hotels east of Romeoville

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>> See the RV campground nearby in Braidwood

The Weather

weather in Romeoville, Il

Where is Romeoville?

map of Romeoville Illinois showing where it is on Route 66
Map showing the location of Romeoville, Illinois on U.S. 66

Romeoville's climate is humid and continental; with very well defined seasons: Spring is cool and wet; summer is hot and frequently humid. Winter is cold and has on average 28 inches (71 cm) of snow, while autumn is very mild.

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).

Rain averages 36.82 inch (936 mm) per year and it is heighest - 3 to 4.3 inch monthly (78 and 110 mm) from Apr. The rest of the year has an average of 1.7 in. (28 mm) per month.

Snow: In Romeoville you can expect snow from October to April, however usually the first snow falls in Nov. and the last happens in April (usually one quarter inch -8 mm).

Tornado risk

The area that surrounds Romeoville gets some 5 tornado strikes every year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk on US 66.

How to get to Romeoville?

You can get to Romeoville via Historic Route 66 or former ALt US66 and also by using I-55 and taking either of these exits: 267 or 269. US 30, US 6, US 52, I-80 and I-355 pass close to Romeoville.

Map of Route 66 through Romeoville, Illinois

Display Romeoville Route 66 Map


  Click Map will appear below
 

Color key for Romeoville:

Pale Blue: marks the 1926 - 1939 US 66 and the 1940 - 1977 ALT US 66 in Romeoville.
Red line or gaps in alignment, is I-55, where it overlaps the old alignment.
Green Line: is US 66 from 1940 to 1958. After that date and until 1977 it became part of I-55 through Plainfield
Black are the sections that are missing.

Check each individual city for its specific color key.

Google Maps. Terms. Nicolas Mollet, CC BY SA 3.0 License

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

Route 66 logo

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 Romeoville.

Romeoville's Route 66 Landmarks and Attractions

What to see in Romeoville

US 66 in Romeoville: historic context

In 1946 Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published his "Guide Book to Highway 66" in which he describes the whole road from Chicago to Los Angeles. He does not mention Romeoville because he drove the "Main US 66" through Plainfield.

The WPA's guide to the state of Illinois published in 1939 in its Tour 17 (Route 66) describes Lyons and Joliet, but does not mention Romeoville (its closest reference is the "Stateville" prison.

Drive along Route 66 in Romeoville

Begin your tour at then north side of town, at the Exit ramp from I-55. Drive south and just 1.9 miles west of the Exit is a classic restaurant from the 1920s:

The White Fence Farm

1376 Joliet Rd., Romeoville

The menu still offers "The World's Greatest Fried Chicken" and the restaurant can sit 1,000 guests.

Built by Stuyvesant "Jack" Peabody on a 12 acre plot of a larger 450-acre farm (Lemont horse farm in the early 1920s. It struck gold when Route 4 was aligned by it in the early 1920s and then Route 66 was created in 1926 and followed State Highway 4's alignment.

Not far from the big city it offered Chicagoans a countryside setting for dining.

Peabody died in 1946 it was leased out and eventually bought by the Hasterts (1954) and Robert and Doris' son, Robert Jr. still owns the place.

There is a Route 66 wayside exhibit on the premises (See location map).

The White Fence Farm vintage postcard in Romeoville, Illinois

The White Fence Farm vintage postcard in Romeoville Route 66
The White Fence Farm vintage postcard in Romeoville, Illinois. www.ebay.com. Click to enlarge image

The old neon sign is still there, and now more colorful than in the past:

The White Fence Farm nowadays in Romeoville, Illinois

The White Fence Farm  nowadays in Romeoville Route 66
The White Fence Farm nowadays in Romeoville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Continue west (south) along IL-53 and after 3.6 miles, at Romeo Rd. turn left towards the Des Plaines River to visit a museum:

Isle a la Cache Museum

501 E Romeo Rd, Romeoville

The name "Cache" in French is that of a "hiding place" where French trappers cached their goods to trade them with the Natives for furs. This is a "hands-on" museum.

Return to Route 66 (IL-53) and turn left (westwards) and after 2 miles, to your left is a Historic House:

Historic Fitzpatrick House

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Historic Route 66, Romeoville (See location map).

This was the homestead built in Greek Revival style by Patrick Fitzpatrick with local limestone in the 1840s. He built it on his 700-acre farm next to the Old Indian Trace (trail) and used it to ship his crops out to Lockport and the I&M canal.

There is a Route 66 wayside exhibit at the site.

Historic Fitzpatrick House in Romeoville, Illinois

Historic Fitzpatrick House in Romeoville Route 66
Historic Fitzpatrick House in Romeoville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

The Fitzpatrick family donated land to the Archdiocese of Chicago, which founded Lewis University in 1932.

Sidetrip into Lockport

Just ahead, turn left, to the east along IL-7, just 1 mile from Route 66 is Lockport, Illinois with its Downtown Historic District. The town incorporated in 1853 on the Illinois & Michigan Canal and got its name from the canal's Lock No. 1. It was also the seat of the canal operations.

Illinois & Michigan Canal

In 1825 the Legislature incorporated the Illinois and Michigan Canal association, but the construction of the canal was delayed many years, beginning in 1836 and ending in 1848.

It is 96 miles (154 km) long and runs through the town's business district. And there is a trail along the canal's towpath. Catch a glimpse of the remains of Lock #1 too.

It was built from Chicago to La Salle to link the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

The canal linked the Chicago River across the Chicago Portage. The following decade the railroad would replace canal barges and strengthen Chicago as a trade hub.

Just one block north, after crossing the canal is the historic Gaylord Building:

Gaylord Building

200 W 8th St, Lockport

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Built in 1838, designed by Erastus and William Newton with a partial 3rd story added in 1859. It was built as a warehouse on the I&M canal and owned by George Gaylord (1820–1883), a Lockport merchant.

Gaylord Building in Lockport, Illinois

Gaylord Building in Lockport Route 66
Gaylord Building in Lockport, Illinois. Lar Click to enlarge image

One block south of Il-7, on the canal is another ancient building:

Norton Building

201 West 10th Street, Lockport

It houses the Illinois State Museum-Lockport Gallery. Built ca.1850 in limestone it was a grain storage building. Now, the Gallery

Return to Route 66. This is the end of the tour. You can head south into Joliet.

Historic Route 66 in Romeoville, Illinois

Illinois funded its original state highway network by floating a bond in 1918. Among the roads built was SBI 4 (State Bond Issue) along what had been the "Pontiac Trail" that ran from Chicago to St. Louis. Originally it was aligned east of Romeoville, south of Lemont, bypassing Romeoville; Route 4 was paved completely by 1923, but in 1926 it became Route 4A after a new Route 4 was built from Joliet north through Romeoville. It was then chosen to become US 66's roadbed in 1926.

Route 66

US 66 1926 to 1939

Route 66 which nowadays is state highway 53 ran through Romeoville between 1926 and 1939. In 1940 with a new alignment built through Plainfield, the old road became ALT US 66 and remained so until 1977.

1928 Illinois State roadmap

1928 Illinois State roadmap

US 66 1940 to 1977

As traffic grew along Route 66, the highway was realigned to a shorter and straighter course. In 1939 a new road was built north from Braidwood to Plainfield and from there NW towards the older US-66 alignment which it met north of Romeoville.

The 1928 Illinois state roadmap shows the original US 66 and the other highways in the region (IL-4 and Il-4A), it also marks Lockport and Joliet but does not show Romeoville.

The new "MAIN" US 66 is marked with a Green Line in the google map further up.

This "new" highway also continued south (westwards) from Braidwood all the way to Gardner running on the western side of the railroad.

ALT US 66 1940 to 1977

The old road from Romeoville west through Joliet, Wilmington, Braidwood, Braceville and Gardner became ALT US 66; the Pale Blue line marks these 1926-39 US 66 and 1940-77 ALT 66 alignments.

US 66 final years: 1958 - 1977

In 1958 US 66 was moved further west to a brand new freeway that bypassed all the towns including Plainfield, Braidwood and also Gardner. US 66 and I-55 shared the freeway.

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 Romeoville, 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 Braidwood and a point located to the north of Romeoville. 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.

There are only three places along Route 66 where an Alternate alignment existed: this one into Chicago, one in Oklahoma City and the one leading into Los Angeles CA.

Drive from Willowbrook into Romeoville

It is 10.4 miles to Willowbrook, east of Romeovile, see this Map with directions.

> > See the previous segment Willowbrook to Plainfield (east)

> > See the next segment Romeoville to Joliet (west)

Sources

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.