Illinois congressman Rodney Davis on Tuesday toured Route 66 in Illinois to drum up support for his bills for a Route 66 centennial commission and a National Historic Trail for the Mother Road.
Davis and state Rep. Avery Bourne, who introduced state legislation on Route 66’s centennial in 2026, made stops along Route 66. According to a news release from Davis, they made these stops:
- Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville
- Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston
- Litchfield History Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center and Jubelt’s Bakery in Litchfield,
- Macoupin County’s historic jail in Carlinville
- Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard
The lawmakers were joined by local officials and Route 66 advocates. Davis said the tour was meant to highlight the economic and historic significance of Route 66.
Beyond his prepared remarks, Davis talked to KBIA radio about what Route 66 means to him:
He said he took Route 66 for granted when he was growing up in central Illinois.
“A lot of the roads we drove everyday were ‘the road.’ So, I traveled it, but not for historic purposes like the many who come from countries all over the world,’’ Davis said. “I used to visit some of the restaurants along Route 66 because they were the restaurants we ate at as kids — not because of their historical significance but because they served good food. But now, I get to relearn the history of the road and be able to play a part in recognizing that history.’’
Billy Kelly, executive director of the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative, has expressed support for both bills:
“It is a very substantial economic driver for all the communities and all the states that it goes through,’’ Kelly said. “Lots of people spend a lot of time and money on the road, and that’s important. I like to think of Route 66 as really the world’s road, and so we want to get ready for the world to show up.”
Route 66 also recently was named one of the most endangered historic places by Landmarks Illinois.
UPDATE 4/20/2017: On Wednesday, Illinois congressman Ray LaHood and state Rep. Tim Butler joined Davis on stops at more Route 66 sites.
LaHood also introduced the two pieces of Route 66 legislation weeks ago, and Butler introduced a bill in the Illinois Legislature to establish a Route 66 centennial commission.
According to a news release from Davis, he, LaHood and Davis made stops at:
- Jungle Jim’s Cafe in Springfield
- World’s Largest Covered Wagon, Lincoln
- Palms Grill Cafe, Atlanta
- Route 66 Bike Trail, Towanda
(Image of Rep. Davis and other officials at Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston, Illinois, courtesy of Davis)