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The Blue Mill, Lincoln, Illinois, Another 66 Landmark Saved

The Blue Mill, Lincoln, Illinois

The Blue Mill, Lincoln, Illinois

I travel on my stomach, but I never had Blossom Huffman’s schnitzel sandwich at the Blue Mill.

The Blue Mill, built in 1929 and still serving schnitzel and beer in 1979, will be inducted in the Route 66 Hall of Fame at Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, June 13 in the evening at the Crown Plaza.

The Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County rescued the building in 2006 and is restoring it into a museum. Funding for the project comes from several sources.

By the end of the nineteenth century nearly every town on the Illinois prairie had a little brick steam mill along the railroad tracks. But none looked like the Blue Mill located at the southern end of Lincoln.

Never a Dutch windmill, the Blue Mill started as a vegetable stand and evolved into a tavern, designed to draw travelers off the road at mealtime. At the Blue Mill the Huffman family, who purchased the building in 1945, specialized in serving pork schnitzel in a quick sandwich served at the long bar, or with a leisurely meal served at a table in the dimly lit dining room.

Pig Hip Restaurant, Broadwell, Illinois

Pig Hip Restaurant, Broadwell, Illinois

Down the road in Broadwell Ernie and Frances Edwards named their restaurant after a sandwich of thinly sliced ham slathered in Pig Hip Sauce–a blend of egg, oil, catsup, Worcestershire, sugar, and salt.

It was typical of the family restaurants that lined the roadside. Ernie and Frances served their sandwich in a nondescript board and batten building with picture windows.

Unlike the Huffmans at Lincoln who could use their building to attract customers, the Edwards employed fat chef mounted on the top of a sign to get motorists speeding through Broadwell to pay attention and stop and enjoy Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner.

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3 Responses

  1. MS. Scott:

    I was wondering which state has the most interesting Route 66 era buildings. For my money, it would be New Mexico with its various ethnic roots and contrasts. Illinois, my home state, for example seems to sport mostly ‘rural America humble’ style (which proves that Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence in his home state was limited). Or Oklahoma, with its mish-mash of serious works and down home utility. One place that sticks out in my mind along the Route is Gallup’s El Rancho. I stayed there several times going back to 1976, and each stay is like the first. Although the service there is hit or miss, the hotel itself defies easy categoration (sp). And, Santa Rosa, NM is a place you could spend days staying at just trying to make sense of the place. Thanks for your books and this fine blog.

  2. Yes, the Prairie Style is mostly confined to Oak Park, with some in Wisconsin, Arizona, and other places where Wright picked up commissions.

    New Mexico had a genuine indigenous style to draw on in Santa Fe and the Pueblos.

    The biggest surprise was getting to Oklahoma and finding so many buildings devoted to roadside businesses. I had assumed that there would be no one there, that they had all gone to California with the Joads.

    Those that didn’t migrated to the roadside, where there was cash money to be made from the Joads.

    It was a time when building was a skill like cooking or sewing or farming. They built simply and out of necessity and of frame and stucco, materials available at the local lumber store. The Little’s Cafe and Motel at Hinton Junction is a good example. So are the Harvey House at Bridgeport and Lucille Hamons gas station at Hydro.

    Thanks for your comment,

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