Thursday, July 28, 2011

Historic Route 66: Odell, IL

The final stop on this particular sightseeing tour of Route 66 was tiny Odell, IL.

Odell lies about halfway between Pontiac and Dwight, and is a town of about 1,000 people. In fact, it's been stuck at that population since around 1900.

Driving up to Odell from Pontiac, I came upon (and photographed) a barn that advertised the "Meramac Caverns." The interesting thing about this is that the caverns are more than 270 miles away in Stanton, MO. This barn-side advertisement is a reminder of the old ads that used to grace the "Mother Road" luring visitors from Chicago to tourist traps throughout mid- and southwest.

The town was featured on an October 2006 edition of the USA Food Network's "Riding Old Route 66" program, which highlighted the historic Standard Oil Station, which we feature in our photos. The station was constructed in 1932, and restored over the past few decades. The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Odell is also home to the very large St. Paul Catholic Church. I mention this because the church seems rather large for a town the size of Odell. What's more, right across Route 66 from the church is an old staircase (now filled in with gravel) that, at one point, descended below ground. An historic marker tells us that this stairway used to lead to a tunnel which lead church parishioners underneath Route 66 to avoid the heavy traffic that once filled the highway.

That fact is hard to believe now, since the highway is now almost empty, and the sleepy town of Odell hasn't seen much car traffic in years.

Enjoy the photos here, and I hope you've enjoyed my series of posts about my trip along the Dwight-Springfield, IL segment of Route 66.

I hope to bring you other Route 66 sights in future posts. Until then, enjoy my upcoming posts from other historic sites from around the Prairie State.

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