Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 12 Cuba (MO) to Edwardsville (IL) 29th June

By daytime Cuba was well illustrated showing the small town’s history went back much further than just Route 66.
 Forget Jim Beam or Jack Daniels...  in this part of the world it’s ‘Make our Bourbon Your Bourbon’. That’s their motto...  what else for a town called Bourbon. The Methodists might have the numbers but the Seventh Day Adventist take the prize for best presented... and in a town that has no choice advertising alcohol!

That’s not the only liquid they’re famous for, the Circle Inn Malt Shop has a reputation for shakes and malts. Compulsory sampling confirmed it rightly deserved.

The old road is usually located near the railway... back nearly a century ago, trains provided the easiest access, so it was a logical choice for a new road. Near Sullivan it was still obviously the best route for the interstate as well, all passing within eye shot of each other.

At Stanton we headed out to the Meramec Caverns. We’d been seeing advertising for the last 200 plus miles and wondered what it was all about. Considered the best advertising on the route, back in 1935 then owner Lester Dill erected signs up and down Route 66 and the rest of the mid west (some suggest up to 350 signs were broadly painted on anything and everything) pointing to the huge natural caves on the Meramec River where Jesse James and his Gangs reportedly hid out on numerous occasions. Part of the advertising by Dill was a concept he initiated – small stickers he had the kids sticking on every car’s bumper. This is supposedly where the now common bumper sticker originated from.

We passed through a number of small towns, a couple of options on roads including the pre 1932 road via Ballwin. Cutting through to the Interstate 44 we doubled back to the Route 66 National Park at Times Beach Resort and the huge steel bridge that crossed the Meramec river. It’s no longer in use but its presence makes you realise the enormity of the challenge they faced all those years ago building structures like this.

On to St Louis and the biggest of them all. The bridge over the river Mississippi was hailed as a break-through in building technique a hundred or more years ago. This was the first use of arches for strength as well as the new innovation of cast steel (as opposed to iron). A modern day Arch monument in the centre of the city pays homage to the shape that connected the east USA with the west and provided the world with a means of building bigger and stronger bridges.


Next stop was the Blueberry Hill Cafe, a famous musical venue to the stars... still going strong all these years later.

On the edge of the mighty Mississippi came the last monument to Missouri... the Iron Bridge at the Chain of Rocks spanning more than a mile across the river connecting Missouri with the state of Illinois. Today it is the longest foot and cycle bridge in the world.

The Mustang Corral was closed, so we would find camp nearby and come back and check that out in the morning. (obviously!)

The flat fertile agricultural land of southern Illinois was a marked change to previous states... While Oklahoma had lush pastures... in this region everything was green right up to the black top we were driving on. Still through the long grasses we could see remnants of one lane of old Route 66. With 2000 plus miles under our belt there is only a couple of days and less than 400 miles to go.

1 comment:

  1. We're sorry it's all coming to an end... A lovely record. What are you going to do now? Take it the other way? Are you, perhaps, never going to come home?

    Love from us oldies...