Making tracks

Dave Bakke of the Springfield State Journal-Register takes a closer look at the set of turkey tracks that were left on a section of original Route 66 near Nilwood, Ill., between 1926 and 1930.

Those turkey tracks wouldn’t be the attraction they are if not for Bob Donaldson. Bob moved into his house right on Old 66 south of Nilwood in, appropriately enough, 1966. He was an avid bicyclist in those days. He took his children on family bike rides down that original stretch of 66. He pointed out the turkey tracks to his kids and made it a big story.

“He found them way back when our kids were little, and now they’re in their 40s,” says Bob’s wife, Ruth Ann. “He told the story kind of wild because it was just for our kids. At first, he told them the tracks were made in 1826, but they didn’t know the difference.”

“I had a ‘once upon a time’ deal going,” Bob says. Bob told his kids that the turkey was crossing the road and when it came back, that made it a “double crosser.” His kids thought that was just too funny.

Car clubs and tour guides have used the tracks as a quirky point of interest for years. A sign has been erected to show the spot where the bird danced merrily on that wet cement more than 80 years ago.

More about the tracks:

I took Bob to the turkey tracks for a picture and on the way he mentioned that there are 34 separate tracks there. He counted them. […]

In the 1920s, there were virtually no wild turkeys in Illinois, so the tracks almost certainly had to be made by a domestic turkey that lived on a nearby farm.

Photos of the tracks can be seen here and here.

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