Route 66 News

Gillespie receives state grant to improve its Illinois Coal Museum

The old Route 66 town of Gillespie, Illinois, received a $33,800 state grant to improve its Illinois Coal Museum.

The museum was one of 43 that received $22.3 million in grants from the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program.

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, made the announcement, according to The Telegraph in Alton:

“The Gillespie Coal Museum, located on Route 66, is a local treasure that provides visitors with a historic view of the coal industry and it’s importance to the State of Illinois,” said Bourne. […]
“I have visited the Coal Museum, and it truly is a local gem,” said Bourne. “The improvements made possible through this grant will improve the building’s aesthetics and enhance visitors’ experiences for years to come.”

The Illinois Coal Museum at Gillespie features displays that feature the history of mining in Macoupin County and the area, as well as the history of local towns. At one point, Gillespie purported contained one of the three largest coal mines in the world. More about Gillespie’s coal history can be read at this genealogy site.

Though the museum has limited hours, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is open for tours by appointment by texting (833) 228-8603 or emailing

The museum is at 121 S. Macoupin St. (aka Route 66) in downtown Gillespie. The city sits on the Illinois Highway 4 alignment that carried Route 66 from 1926 to 1932 until it was realigned several dozen miles to the east.

(Image of one of the exhibits at the Illinois Coal Museum in Gillespie, Illinois, via its Facebook page)

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