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Historic Route 66

On the Mother Road — Chicago to St. Louis

June 1-7, 2014
Historian Guide: David Clark

Winding across two-thirds of the continent, more than two thousand miles all the way, this highway more than any other connects not just east and west but the past to the present. Discover American history in all its incomparable diversity on this first in a three-part series of Route 66 tours: Chicago to St. Louis, St. Louis to Albuquerque, and Albuquerque to Santa Monica.

There is a spirit, a feeling that lives along Route 66 that resides in the panoramic views and in everyone's perceptions of the "highway of dreams." Officially inaugurated in 1926, it began linking the densely populated urban Midwest and Northeast to the isolated and predominately rural West. Representing more than just another highway, it became a symbol of unprecedented, free-spirited independence. Thousands of square miles were now opened up to the average American. The potential of the highway seemed unlimited and held forth the promise of adventure and a better life.

A thread in the tapestry of Americana, the fabled byway weaves distinctive images of everything thought to be characteristic of the United States — prairie and farmland, oil fields and ranchlands, Great Lakes and great deserts, and wonders galore, both natural and man-made. Discover subtleties along the way too in canyon lands and mountains. If time is on your side, you will want to join HistoryAmerica TOURS and awardwinning author David G. Clark on the open road of John Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie, and Jack Kerouac.

7 Days / 6 Nights

Cost: $2,450 Single Occupancy, $2,175 Double Occupancy

Click to request a 2014 printed Travel Guide.


Sunday, June 1
Gather in Chicago for a briefing and welcome dinner hosted by HistoryAmerica TOURS and David Clark.

Monday, June 2
"America's Main Street" begins at Grant Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, distiguished by grand promenades, groomed lawns, and many bridges and fountains. See iconic Art Deco architecture as we trace the highway through Chicago's west side to Cicero, notorious for attracting criminal elements, such as Al Capone, evading Chicago's law enforcement agencies. This stretch of the mythic road boasts the highest density of surviving Route 66 sites, along with other historic sites that travelers ventured off the road to see. We overnight in Joliet.

Tuesday, June 3
Tangible evidence of the old road's glory days remain – all you have to do is look. There is the Gemini Giant, resplendent in his green space suit, grain elevators, graveyards, churches, gas stations, cafes, and motels still standing on the shoulders of the highway. Memories are plentiful as we see tall grass prairies, 1950's roadhouses, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, and the Route 66 Hall of Fame. We pass through Chenoa and Lexington and stop in Towanda to walk down a closed section of the highway with outdoor exhibits. Our overnight is in Springfield.

Wednesday, June 4
Springfield clearly sets the standard for authenticity and excellence when it comes to all things Lincoln. Stroll through the Historic District, beautifully restored to its 1860's appearance. The memory of Lincoln is still fresh here, and you get the sense that he has just stepped away from his law office or wrapped up a court case. Visit the Lincoln Library and then Oak Ridge Cemetery, final resting place for the President, where the words "Now he belongs to the ages" command your attention. Overnight in Springfield.

Thursday, June 5
We spend the day exploring many sections of the old route originally built in the early 1920's. From the garden variety to the downright strange, stop at drive-ins and diners, and visit with Route 66 authorities. At the Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, we pay our respects to Mary Jones, "Grandmother of Agitators" for the coal miners of Illinois. Check into our St. Louis hotel for two nights.

Friday, June 6
First stop today is the majestic Old Courthouse, setting of the two famous Dred Scott slavery trials. At the awe-inspiring Gateway Arch, visit the unique museum in the underground complex, and you may travel to the top for spectacular views. Our final event is a dinner cruise on the Mississippi.

Saturday, June 7
Depart at your leisure following breakfast. You may choose to return to Chicago on our motor coach, arriving at 3:00 p.m.

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Updated on 18 February, 2014