Road News

Nimblewill Nomad


78 year-old walking Route 66

Known as Nimblewill Nomad by fellow drifters, this man has his sights on the legendary highway. “I’ve hiked all the major national scenic trails,” he said. “I’ve hiked the six major trails of westward expansion, the pioneer trails. He carries a lightweight rain jacket and pants, no extra clothes, a GPS, and a map, and just a couple other items.

“I do one of these hikes about once a year, and Route 66 has just been hanging back in the back of my mind."

During his layover In Springfield, Illinois. Nimblewill explained, “I’ve been infatuated and mesmerized by Route 66 since I was a child. So here I am out here hammering on it."

“It's not dying,” he said. “Everybody is still so excited about it. It's a wonderful little road. For me, it's a trip back in time. It's absolutely a trip back in time."

You can follow Nimblewill Nomad's travels on

Historic 66 Landmark Open for Business

The gift shop and information center at the Ryburn Pace (formerly known as the historic Sprague's Super Service station) is now open for business. Terri Ryburn, who undertook the restoration of the unique gas station for over a decade before the city finished the job, sold the historic building to the City of Normal about a year ago, and the city has been completing the project. The historic site is located at 305 E. Pine St. in Normal.

“Thanks to the Town of Normal who shared my vision of restoring this building to its former glory, I am opening a Route 66 information center and gift shop on the first floor,” said Ryburn. “Featured will be Route 66 t-shirts, postcards, books, and memorabilia. Also featured is the work of local artists: original watercolors and prints, photographs, handmade cards, hand-dyed silk scarves, hand-woven baskets, creative crochet, and more.”

During the grand opening in August, there was an official ribbon cutting and unveiling of the National Register of Historic Places plaque, followed by a parking lot concert, with the local favorite, ”Wagon Load A Trouble.”

“One of the great things about The Mother Road is that attractions on the Road are able to re-invent themselves while still preserving their Route 66 essence. Ryburn Place at Sprague's Super Service is a wonderful example of this phenomena,” said William Kelly, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

The City of Normal and the City of Bloomington have also been busy adding Historic Route 66 directional signs in the twin cities, making the navigation of the historic road much easier to follow.

The unique structure opened in 1931 to serve travelers on Route 66. Built by William Sprague, it housed a cafe, a Cities Service gas station and garage, with upstairs apartments for the owner and station attendant. The building was uniquely designed as a gas station and residence. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Town of Normal Local Landmark, and is in the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame.

Courtesy Terri Ryburn and William Kelly





Ryburn Place

Neon Sign Art Found

University of New Mexico (UNM) Sculp- ture Professor Ellen  Babcock found hundreds of yellowing envelopes containing unfolded drawings of some of the memorable neon signs on Route 66. The sketches detailed signage for gas stations, motels, burger joints, bowling alleys, dry cleaners and coffee shops. In some cases, they were the only records left of the beacons that lit the legendary highway from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The professor spotted them during one of her many visits to Zeon Signs Company as part of her interest in sign-making and the installation of public artwork on unused signs in Albuquerque.

According to Professor Babcock, the artwork reflects some of the signs that currently stand in the Duke City.



What is it?

This is a VooDoo Sahara. Here are the specs: Full custom 902 hand made body. T-tops, 1960 Corvair headlights. 1958 Mercury tail lights. 1955 Chevy windshield. 1935 Ford headlight buckets - as Dagmars. Skirts made from a 1954 Kaiser manhattan top skin. Interior is stock Kaiser gauges. 1961 cut down steering wheels. Mercury seats on swivels. 1956 TV in dash. Handmade gear shift. 1950s phone and microphone.

Engine is a 1969 SBC/turbo 350 trans painted green. All chrome and polished engine accessories. Air ride 1980 Camaro sub-frame. 1954 Kaiser frame 1977 Nova rear end, Lyons hubcaps with Firestone white wall wheels.

Special thanks to: Brian Franse, George Barris, Bo Huff, Tony Wood and Rick Hoving.

Car exterior

Car interior

Joliet to Host “Miles of Possibility” Conference

The Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor is proud to present the 3rd Annual Route 66 “Miles of Possibility Confer-ence” to be held in Joliet, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, October 19-21, 2017.

Primary venue for the conference is the Joliet Area Historical Museum located at 204 North Ottawa Street, also known as Historic Route 66, in beautiful downtown Joliet. Additional conference breakout sessions will take place in the adjoining Renaissance Center at 214 North Ottawa Street providing seamless accessibility for attendees.  

The “Miles of Possibility Conference” offers high-level, detailed coverage of the key issues, strategies, challenges, tools, and opportunities facing Route 66 municipalities, counties, and businesses. The conference focuses on historic preservation, economic development, history, and marketing with practical solutions presented by an outstanding line-up of nationally known experts on Route 66.

All Conference attendees that arrive early on Thursday October 19th will have the opportunity to take a historic tour along Route 66 leaving the Joliet Area Historical Museum at 8:00 AM, visiting locations such as the Collins Street Prison, Joliet Union Station, Gemini Giant and the Two Cell Jail. Arrive in Dwight in time for lunch at the quaint Country Mansion and visit the notable Frank Lloyd Wright Bank.

Your final stop before returning to the Joliet Museum will be in Braidwood at the 1950’s Polk-a-Dot Drive-In for an ice cream sundae and photo opportunities with Betty Boop, Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.

Informative conference sessions will feature substantive presentations, panel discussions, and workshops taking place on Friday October 20 and Saturday October 21, 8:00AM-4:00PM. Our Keynote speaker Cory Jobe, Illinois Director of Travel & Tourism, will provide an update on the Illinois travel campaign “Are you up for Amazing?” which prominently features Route 66. 

Don’t forget your black fedora and sunglasses as you join us Thursday evening at the Blues Brothers Celebration welcome ceremony featuring the Blooze Brothers. Check our website for a BIG announcement soon regarding this event and its location. The Route 66 Rockabilly Street Festival Friday night will feature a car show with Elvis entertainment before the Road Crew; Ameri-ca’s Route 66 Band, takes to the stage at the Rialto Square Theatre.

As a member of the Route 66 Association of Illinois the code IL66MOP17 can be used after the early-bird special deadline of September 1 and still receive the discounted price of $90.00, ten dollars off the regular conference registration of $100.00.

If you have any questions please contract Debyjo at 815-690-3983, which is the Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor.

Courtesy Debyjo Erickson

La Bajada Hill Closed to Public

Cochiti Pueblo has closed La Bajada Hill, southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the public. Apparently, without prior notice, part of the Hill and area got blocked off with barbed-wire fences(A) and padlocked gates (B). In late spring, the Tribe installed a padlocked gate across the dirt road leading from the Tetilla Peak Road to La Bajada Hill. On the gate is a warning sign for a $500.00 trespassing fine. This road was the most popular and most used of the Hill’s four access points and was still open in May. A second road, skirting the village of La Bajada and leading to the hill’s base, was also barbed wire-fenced and padlocked. Other areas fenced off include the lower half of the Hill and both trailheads at the top of the Hill.

Initially, Tribal officials did not respond to communications concerning the closure, but eventually the Santa Fe newspaper was successful. A Cochiti representative said that the Tribe put up the fences to protect its borders from visitor abuse and deterioration. He said he expects the area to stay closed indefinitely but it was possible special use permits may be issued. The Albuquerque Journal newspaper reported the representative as saying that the fencing should have gone up thirty years ago and it was thirty years in the making.

The U.S. Forest Service, which owns the top of the hill and its slope down to the Cochiti fence line, said they became aware of the fence in January or February. They said they believe the Pueblo has every right to fence off their land from trespass. According to Julie Anne Overton, Acting Public Affairs Officer for the Santa Fe National Forest, the barbed-wire fences blocking the two trailheads at the top were put up by permittees. She said the permittees, consisting of individuals and an organization, are required to keep their livestock on the appropriate allotment and any fence work done is authorized by the SFNF. Overton also said the public is allowed to walk the trails down the Hill to Cochiti Pueblo property. The Forest Service once owned the land around La Bajada village, but in 1984 they transferred most of it to Cochiti.

In order to hike the two roads, visitors will have to navigate the two crude, substantial permittee fences. The western road fence (National Old Trails) reportedly has a hard wire looped gate; the eastern road fence (Route 66) has no gate and requires hikers to climb up to go around the end post. Neither fence is signed.

The blocking of the area by the Tribe has also adversely affected the inhabitants of the little village of La Bajada, at the foot of the hill, due to their water supply getting fenced off by Cochiti last October. According to the newspaper, residents recently received a key to the fence along with a warning from the Pueblo not to “venture beyond strictly defined parameters.” A July community meeting proved unproductive with the village rejecting conditions and restrictions of the Pueblo’s proposed agreement. At last report, the unincorporated village was trying to raise money for legal representation.

Due to the historical significance of the area, the La Bajada Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. There also had been a push to make the Hill a National Monument, but that campaign fell through. La Bajada Hill, a landmark in New Mexico transportation history, has been a favorite destination of hikers, researchers and photographers over the years due to the topography, geology and associated historical sites.

Areas now off limits to the public include an easily-drivable section of the National Old Trails Highway-old Route 66 with its 1926 wooden bridge over the Santa Fe River; remains of the Walden Tourist Camp complex; ancient petroglyphs; and portions of an old military road, the 1903-1926 National Old Trails Road, the 1926-1932 Route 66 alignment, and two paths of the El Camino Real dating back over four hundred years.

Courtesy Keith Kofford




Locked gate

Fence at top of hill