In 2009, I was driving back to Kansas City from Chicago by way of Interstate 55 between Chicago and St. Louis. This route had once been designated as “US 66.” It stretched from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.
The actual highway number 66 was decommissioned in 1985, though, since the federal interstate highway system had supplanted all the earlier national roads like Route 66. A movement to venerate the highway and what it stood for swelled. Some states renumbered the remaining sections of the “Mother Highway” as state route 66. By now, remaining segments that are used for traffic have been designated across the country as Historic Route US 66, with states adding their name to the signage as you see.
My trip was leisurely. My curiosity prevailed, and I made two stops to visit the old highway. This above sign is from Lincoln, Illinois, where 66 had passed through the town on city streets as it had before it was rebuilt on the outskirts as a 4-lane divided highway that bypassed Lincoln. This rebuilding process in Illinois began after World War II. Segments were taken over for Interstate 55.
This next picture depicts Historic 66 as it passes toward the downtown of Lincoln, Illinois, on an ordinary street. National highways ran point to point from the center of one town or city to the next center.
These two pictures show the old highway’s original pavement as it proceeds out of Odell, Illinois, and wanders through the vast corn fields. The car is my old 2004 Dodge Neon that I acquired used in 2006 and relinquished in 2020 for a new 2018 Kia Rio. The Rio was my first car that didn’t have a previous owner.
Notice the Illinois license plate, if you can. I had been living in Kansas for a year already and hadn’t yet registered it in Kansas. There is a story here but not now.
I took a picture of this display in Interstate 55’s Funks Grove rest area. As you see, it commemorates Illinois’s section of Route 66. You also see the slogan that’s the title of this post “Get Your Licks on Route 66.” However, I’ve always heard the slogan as “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” I was getting my kicks on my side-trips. I don’t know what ‘licks’ means or refers to.
“Get Your Kicks on Route 66” is a 1946 song recorded by Nat King Cole.