Hollywood Casino, Illinois

Day 759

     The Empress Casino opened on June 16, 1992 as a riverboat type casino in Joliet, Illinois. The casino is on barges on the Des Plaines River in Northern Illinois. Supposedly, because of the gaming laws in the State of Illinois, you could not have gambling in the State, but riverboat gambling was permitted. 

     Empress was the only casino in northern Illinois to have an onsite RV park. We are now staying in this park. Penn National Gaming acquired the casino, hotel and RV park in 2005. They own the brand “Hollywood Casino.”

     While undergoing a $50 Million renovation, a fire broke out at around 10 a.m. on March 20, 2009. The fire was caused by a spark from a welder’s torch which ignited grease in one of the kitchens. The subsequent fire spread rapidly. The casino was able to reopen on June 25, 2009 as the Hollywood Casino Joliet.

     We stayed here for two days. I was able to win enough at blackjack to pay for Barbara’s losses, and for all of our expenses while staying here. 

Technical Stuff:

Kellogg, Iowa to Hollywood Casino, Illinois: 262.8 miles

5 hours 7 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.00 

Washington Park, Springfield Il

Day 440

Day 440 Washington Pk Springfield Il 4711_Fotor

     Went to Washington Park in Springfield, Illinois to hear the Carillon concert. The park was established in 1901 and the Carillon built in 1962. A carillon is a musical instrument that is typically housed in the belfry of a church or in a municipal building. 

     We went up in the belfry to the very top to view the City of Springfield

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     And to view the bells. 

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     This carillon has 67 bronze bells and is played by a special keyboard

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    We stayed for the concert.

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Route 66

Day 437

     Since our adventures are more exploration and less destination, which is the difference between getting THERE and GETTING there, we are always on the lookout. 

     While in Litchfield, we realized that Route 66 cuts right through the town. One of the items on my long list of adventures to take in this Country, is to travel the entire 2,448 mile road of Route 66, which connects Chicago to Santa Monica. But since we happened upon it here in Litchfield, Illinois, we drove it. This is one of the perks of having no agenda and going where the wind takes you.

     The first place we stopped was the Ariston Cafe. It is the oldest restaurant still operating on Route 66. I would show you a picture of our meal, but I hate when people do that. What makes them feel that I care what their food looks like?

     Later on, since we always seem to be hungry, we stopped at the Cozy Dog Drive-In. It was here that the corn dog on a stick originated in 1950.

     We did stop at some drinking establishments. Barbara thought she saw a pink elephant. 

     As Nat King Cole said: We get our kicks on Route 66. 



Springfield, Illinois

Day 436

Day 435 Springfield Il 4748_Fotor

     Rather than be re-created, Springfield Illinois was preserved. A two block area, including Lincoln’s home, have been restored.

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     Although Springfield has grown up, you can still visit various sites where Lincoln worked,

     His law office

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     Capital Building, which included the Courthouse where Lincoln argued his cases. This portrait of Washington is the same one Lincoln saw when he faced the Court.

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      The train station is also preserved from when he left Springfield to assume the role of President of the United States in Washington.

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    We also visited the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Day 435 Springfield Il 4444_Fotor     We went to his modest grave marking at Oak Ridge Cemetery . Day 435 Springfield Il 4662_FotorTidbit of Information: The street in front of the Capital Building in Springfield was the departure point of the Donner Party on April 15, 1846 for their ill-fated trip to California.

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New Salem, Illinois

Day 435

     Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville on the western frontier in Kentucky, in a log cabin…….. yea, yea, we all know that. Ok, how about this?

     As a teenager and young man, Lincoln did not get along with his father, and decided to strike out on his own. He went to the recently established town of New Salem, Illinois.

     In 1829 a saw and gristmill was built on the Sangamon River and the town of New Salem laid out. The settlers believed that the river would provide a trading connection to St. Louis by way of the Mississippi.  In 1831, at age 22, Lincoln arrived. He worked numerous jobs and eventually Lincoln and a partner bought a small general store on credit.  It did not do well and he ending up leaving the venture with a large debt. 

     New Salem only existed about 10 years. The village declined when it was determined that the Sangamon River could not be navigated by steamboats. Lincoln lived there for 6 years from 1831 to 1837. Admitted to the Illinois bar in 1836 he moved to the Capital of Illinois, Springfield, and began to practice law. By 1840 New Salem ceased to exist.

     The town was never re-established, but because Lincoln became President, it was re-created for us tourists. 

Tidbits of Information: 

1)  In 1849, Lincoln received a patent for a flotation device for the movement of boats in shallow water. The idea was never commercialized, but Lincoln is the only President to hold a patent.

2)  Grace Bedell, born November 4, 1848, at age 11, wrote Lincoln a letter when he was running for President saying his face was too thin and he should grow a beard to help him win. Not only did he do that, but later actually met with the little girl.

Litchfield, Illinois

Day 434

     For our next spot, we wanted to go to Springfield, Illinois, the land of Lincoln. The closest RV park was here in Litchfield.

     The town was developed in 1853 and was incorporated April 21, 1856. It was named for Electus Bachus Litchfield, who worked for the railroad and developed the route here.  

     In expanding the west in the prairie State of Illinois, small towns would spring up trying to anticipate the path of the railroads. When the railroad came here, those other small towns migrated here, leaving those other towns to fall into dust.   

Technical Stuff:

Rockville, Indiana to Litchfield, Illinois: 172.4 miles

3 hours 41 minutes

9.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.48