Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Springfield, IL

We spent almost a week in Springfield.  Although I had been there before and visited the Lincoln Presidential Library (which we visited again), we had time to explore much, much more.  And we got to visit with friends, Tom Gardner and Rosemary Lenaghan.

Rosemary took us to the famous Scheel's store.  It is so large it even has a full size ferris wheel inside.  They claim to be the largest sporting goods store under one roof in Illinois.  They also had a 16,000 gallon salt water aquarium and 8 life size bronze statues of famous people, plus all their sporting goods stuff for sale.  Definitely a place to visit if you are ever in Springfield.

We also like to visit unique one of a kind places, such as Cozy Dog Drive.  A popular stopping place along Rt. 66, it also claims to be the first ones to serve corn dogs.  (There are other claims too, but we liked this story)  Ed Wardmire Jr and his friend Don Strand claim they created the idea of a deep fried battered weiner while in the army in 1945.  When Ed came home in 1946, he perfected his idea and started selling them at the Illinois State Fair and later in the year opened the first Cozy Dog.

They moved to this location along Rt. 66 in 1966.  The place is filled with Rt. 66 memorabilia as well as the history of the cozy dog.

Another one of a kind place was Mel-O-Cream.  The business started in 1932 as a retail donut shop, but by the 1940s and 1950s had expanded to selling wholesale to grocery stores and restaurants.  In 1964 they started franchising and by 1980 there were 14 franchises.  But shortly thereafter, they changed to a primarily wholesale company, creating a frozen donut product for their franchises and the whosesale market.  Today, they are almost exclusively wholesale and sell throughout the midwest, including 11 other states in addition to Illinois.

You can't visit Springfield without a stop at the Lincoln Presidential Library.

Union Station was opened in 1898 and operated until 1971.  In 1985 it was bought and restored by the Sculley family for retail until the State of Illinois purchased the building in 1999.  It now houses the visitor center and a museum,

Lincoln mural on the side of a downtown building.

Old State Capitol, used from 1839 to 1876.  This was the operating capitol during the time of Lincoln.

The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon, dedicated in 1962.

Lincoln's Tomb

Dana-Thomas House, built in 1902 by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The home was built for the wealthy widow, Susan Lawrence Dana.  It was purchased in 1944 by Charles C. Thomas, who maintained the furnishing and style as built by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It was purchased by the State of Illinois in 1981 and is now open to the public for tours and special events.  This was one of his earlier, larger projects.  If you are in the area, go take the tour.

Parts of the Wabash and Interurban bike trails are also on historic Rt. 66.

The Interurban Trail is 8.3 miles one way to Chatham. 

One evening we went with Tom Gardner to The Muru, an outdoor play venue.

They have some seats, but many people bring their own lawn chairs.

We watched a traveling Broadway version of Jekyll & Hyde.

Although we probably did not get to see and do everything there was to do here, it's time to move down the road.

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