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  • August 2009
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Route 66 Landscape: The Bloomington Moraine

Lake, Moraine View State Park, east of Bloomington, Illinois

Lake, Moraine View State Park, east of Bloomington, Illinois

Two weeks ago I traveled up I-55, the road the replaced U.S. 66 though Illinois with plans to visit Moraine View State Park, just east of Bloomington, which sits on the highest elevation in Illinois.

When a glacier pushes south across a landscape it scrapes up soil, breaks down rocks into cobbles and gravel, and flattens the terrain. When it reaches its southern extent and the climate warms, it stops and drops the sand, clay, and rocks it has carried south and builds a morain, that rises above the flat landscape. As it withdraws, it stops and starts, stops and starts. With each stop it lays down a recessional moraine. In between the land is flat, wet, and marshy.

The Bloomington Moraine, about 20 miles east of Bloomington, Illinois, while not the southern extent of the Michigan lobe of the Wisconsinan ice sheet, tops out at 920 feet.

The park is lovely, its forest soothing, its lake pleasant, though artificial.

The big surprise is the wind farm that marks the northern edge of the park. Of course, high and windy, the Bloomington Moraine is ideal for a wind farm.

Twin Groves Wind Farm, Bloomington Moraine, Illinois

Twin Groves Wind Farm, Bloomington Moraine, Illinois

So, if you travel down Route 66 from Chicago or north from St. Louis, get yourself to LeRoy, Illinois and go north. Stop and have a picnic in the Moraine View State Park, and then continue north on McLean County Road 36.

And, should you not want to take the time to detour to the park and wind farm, there is a second one under construction up Route 66 near Odell in Livingston County.

Twin Grove Wind Farm, Bloomington Moraine, Illinois

Twin Grove Wind Farm, Bloomington Moraine, Illinois


Route 66 Bike Trail, St. Louis to Chicago

Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis

Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis

Between August 29 and September 3 there will be a bike tour to promote the development of a Illinois Route 66 bike trail between Chicago and St. Louis. For those of you in St. Louis, it will start at the Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi, the old bridge that has been converted to a biking/hiking bridge. The ride will end at the beginning of Route 66 on Jackson Avenue near the Art Institute in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is developing the trail with the help of the League of Illinois Bicyclists.

The Bloomington Pantagraph has an extensive article on the section in McLean County, Illinois, which includes abandoned sections of the old route at Chenoa, Lexington, and Towanda.

For more information go to http://www.bikelib.org/route66/2009ride/ for information about food, lodging, and route. This last comes in a 14 page users’ guide.

For a great read-aloud guide to Route 66, check out my book Along Route 66 and my history of Route 66, Route 66: The highway and it people, with Susan Croce Kelly.