Experiences of Tragedy, Resilience, and Excellence
Route History Tours are available by appointment only during the winter and will reopen at full capacity in the Spring. Contact us at
Route History Highlights
Historic U.S. Route 66
Historic U.S. Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, was established in 1926. Originally one of the first highway systems in the country. The legendary highway originated in Chicago, Illinois, stretched across Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ended in Santa Monica, California.
From the State House to the Whitehouse
President Barack Obama started his political career in Springfield, Illinois. He served as an Illinois State Senator (1997-2003) and went on to represent Illinois in the United States Senate in 2005. President Obama was elected the 44th President in 2008. He is the country's first African American president.
Route 66 Black Business Operators
During the Jim Crow era, white only towns and segregated businesses were populous throughout the country and along the Historic U.S. Route 66 highway. For black families traveling Route 66, this made navigating particularly dangerous. Out of this demeaning racial climate of Jim Crow, the Route 66 Black Business Operators arose and provided food, shelter, gas and other services to Black travelers.
Springfield Race Riot of 1908
On August 8, 1908 a race riot occurred in Springfield, Illinois over reports that a black man raped a white woman and that another black man killed a white railroad engineer. When the falsely accused prisoners were not released to an angry White mob, the mob began destroying Black businesses and neighborhoods. The mob captured and lynched two black business operators, Scott Burton and William Donegan. The deadly rampage went on for 2 days resulting in the wounding and death of scores of black citizens, hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, and more than 40 black families displaced from their homes. The Springfield Race Riot of 1908 led to the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.