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Thread: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

  1. #1
    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650 mcrider1959's Avatar
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    Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Labor Day weekend was fast approaching and thoughts of an old historic road began entering my mind. With the help of Google, a bit of research revealed some interesting reading and information on what has been referred to as the first highway in America. This highway of historical significance, the National Road, has had many names over the years starting with the Braddock Road, the Cumberland Road, the National Road and U.S. Route 40. In 2002 the road was designated the “Historic National Road”, an All-American Road.
    The construction of the 820 mile path began its westward reach from the town of Cumberland Maryland in 1811. Crossing a total of six states to its final terminus, Vandalia Illinois in 1837, after funding for the road project dried up.
    To my way of thinking and having a bit of wanderlust, this Labor Day weekend was going to be a great opportunity for a closer look at the old National Road. Over the years I had ridden parts of the old National Road, not really giving much thought as to the history of the road or what one still might find along its section in Illinois. Time to make some plans for Carla and me!!
    To find our starting point for the holiday weekend a quick look-see at the map as to where the old road crossed the Indiana/Illinois state line. My plan was to begin riding at this point and to work our way west, following as close to possible the path of the old National Road. After that “starting point”, I had no other plans except to see what the old road would reveal to us, whether it was to be something old or new it didn’t matter.
    The National Road was to be another adventure on the “Road Less Traveled”!!

    Leaving our house Carla and I could have just jumped on the interstate highway and made fast tracks to our National Road starting point but, that would have been too easy! Plus, we might have missed something interesting along the way by not taking the little two lane and back road blacktops. I chose to ride east from Mt. Vernon on IL route 15 to IL Route 1 and turn north.
    A few years ago, long time friend of mine Jeff Keen had told me of an Indian massacre near the small town of Hutsonville IL. This needed to be check out! Turns out in 1813 the family of Isaac Hutson was killed by Indians at this location. **There are a few nice log cabin buildings to checkout at the memorial site.
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    After learning all we could about the massacre. We got back on Route 1 and headed north towards Lincoln Trail State Park. I had never been to this park before so I decided to have a look around. From the looks of things the campground is top-notch with nice campsites and clean shower house. There is also a really nice restaurant over looking the lake. We came back later in the day and had lunch there, the food was really good. Hope to get back there one day and do a little camping! Sorry, I didn’t take any photos at the park.

    Next stop finding the state line for the National Road. With the help of my Garmin 276c GPS I located the line on a section of old U.S. route 40/National Road, also called West Illiana Drive. I thought we took a couple of pictures at the state line but, guess we didn’t or I just can’t find ‘em.

    Time to head west, to the town of Marshall Illinois.
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    The Old Historic National Road runs thru the center of downtown Marshall. Marshall still hosts several old buildings and homes from the time of the National Roads popularity. For Carla and me, the main attractions of the town was finding all of the murals located around town. In the week of June 22-26, 2016, 150 artists known as the Walldogs converged on Marshall to paint 16 murals. Maps to these murals can be picked up at area business.
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    One of the cool old buildings in downtown Marshall
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    Honest Abe, standing watch on the courthouse lawn. **Also in front of the courthouse was this really nice restored popcorn wagon.
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    Just west of Marshall you will drive over an authentic National Road stone arch bridge that was constructed in 1834. If you are not careful you can miss it. Its location is Archer Ave. at Seven Acre Rd.
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    Traveling westward thru the small town of Clark Center we found a covered bridge crossing Auburn Branch creek.
    **Here is a sign you just don’t see everyday. I didn’t stop and pay any toll. No mention of motorcycles on their list.
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  2. #2
    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Further west on the ol’ road, Carla and I find a small park in the edge of Martinsville. This huge anvil caught my attention as we rode by. I made a quick turn back around the block for a closer look. The Rowe Foundry Anvil is believed to be the world’s largest cast anvil weighing in at 5530 pounds, 78 inches long and 34 inches tall. I don’t think any of the local pranksters will be carrying it off!!
    **Also in Linn Park was this nice chainsaw carved eagle.Click image for larger version. 

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    As we where traveling west on Old U.S. 40/National Road I kept seeing sections of old road beds along side the route we were on. Most of these old roadways were covered with weeds and grass but, I did find a couple of short sections that were bricked. Where I took these pictures, there was a sign put up by the state of Illinois telling people not to take the bricks as they were state property!
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    On we motor, west to the next town of Casey Illinois. I think Casey has cornered the market on big things!! Carla and I had fun finding all of the Big Things in this Small Town!! Some of the “worlds Largest” are walking distance in the downtown area and others require a short drive. Casey Illinois also has several historical homes and buildings still standing from the heydays of the National Road.
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  3. #3
    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    hey said this is the worlds largest bird cage but, I really think it is a throw back from the days of a Go Go dancers cage. What do you think??
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    Worlds largest wooden shoes??
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    Worlds largest wind chimes!! **Carla pulling the rope on the wind chimes.
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    You can actually mail a letter from this giant mailbox. There are stairs going up to the inside were you place your letter to be mailed.
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    Yep, Looks like the worlds largest to me!!
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    While searching to find all of the attractions in town, it was getting close to lunch time and what better place for a meal than Richards Farm Restaurant. Plus the giant pitchfork is in the restaurants parking lot!
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    For you golfers. Yep the worlds largest!
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    This is where the magic happens!
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    As luck would have it, while we were in Casey they were having their annual Popcorn Festival at the park. Fairview Park is a beautiful park with a rich history of when Casey was an oil boomtown in the early 1900s.
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    Here we have the oldest remaining structure in Casey. While checking out the old barn the owner of the property came out to visit with us. Come to find out during our conversation he was an old BMW rider and we actual knew some of the same people from the BMW motorcycle rallys. Small world! **Not many signs like this around anymore. A throw back of when they would check your oil and clean your windshield.
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  4. #4
    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Only 10 miles west of Casey is another historical town of the National Road, Greenup Illinois. Poor ol’ Greenup hasn’t quite got up speed as far as being promoted like Casey but, they are trying. Greenup has a few old buildings and such that are left over from days gone by. The Depot Museum or the Cumberland County Historical Museum is a good place to start exploring the history of Greenup.
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    Walking the downtown streets of Greenup we find an old soda fountain called the Candy Kitchen. **It is a shame that it is no longer in business. **I did find out from talking to one of the locals that the Candy Kitchen might be for sale. It looks as if it is ready for business, just needs a new owner.
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    Just west of Greenup Illinois on the old National Road/Cumberland Road you find the really nice Jackson Truss Covered Bridge. It cross' the Embarras River at this point.
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    Well, it was getting late in the day and our Labor Day weekend was coming to a close. We had barely scratched the surface as Carla and I only spent two days exploring the Historic National Road and the towns in Illinois along its route. I am sure there is much more to see and learn about. We shall to try to finish up the rest of the Illinois leg of the National Road in the future.
    Hope you enjoyed the ride along, on the “Road Less Traveled”!!!
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  5. #5
    Moderator lytle1gw's Avatar
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Very nice write up and pictures, been to most of those in my younger days.
    Gary

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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Great write-up and wonderful pictures. Thanks for taking the time to put all this together.

    Jeff
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Another great write up!
    I really enjoy your series of small town roadside attractions, Thanks!!
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Good read, I'm thinking I may head North this year instead of South, pic like yours are the reason. Thanks for sharing.

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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    I agree another great write up and pics. I'll have to go that a way next spring on the trip east. Been bypassing Illinois going up over the UP the past few years to see the grandkids but they moved back to Vegas a year ago, made it to Northwoods camp out last year going that way over the UP. Might be time for a different route. Or maybe next fall on the return to SoCal.
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  10. #10
    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650
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    Re: Murals, History and Really BIG Things in Illinois

    Thanks guys for the nice comments!!

    It's a really sloooow day here at work and my mind got to wandering again. Imagine that!!
    Anyway, I got to thinking about maybe riding part of the Indiana section of the ol' National Road sometime this year. If anyone has some points of interest that they like for the National Road in Indiana please post it. I am always interested in hearing about new things to see. And if you have a campground or restaurant that you like somewhere along the route close by please include that too.

    Thanks!
    Roger

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