Saturday, May 23, 2009

Greetings from Atlanta (Illinois, that is): A peach of a town on Route 66

There is a great stretch of Route 66 that runs through Illinois and we were fortunate enough to drive down a good chunk of it recently. The tiny town of Atlanta sits at the halfway point on 66 between Chicago and St. Louis and it is wonderful. Not only does it host a terrific Muffler Man holding a hot dog, but there are some beautifully painted murals on building sides. The Muffler Man started as a likeness of Paul Bunyan and was purchased by a Mr. H.A. Stevens and placed in front of his restaurant, Bunyon's, in Cicero, Illinois, in 1965. Mr. Stevens replaced the statue's original axe with a hot dog because he sold wieners, not sharp tree-cutting implements. The statue stood proudly in that spot until 2003 when the property was sold and the owners were persuaded to donated the statue to its spot in Atlanta so it could remain a Route 66 icon. The murals were painted in the last 10 years or so and are the work of The Letterheads, a group of generous and free-spirited sign-painters from the U.S. and Canada interested in preserving the art of outdoor signs and murals. Their work is magnificent and they really brighten up this little once-bustling, now all-too-quiet Route 66 town. Atlanta sports another great eccentric roadside attraction, a smiley-faced water tower, but it was too foggy when we were there for me to get a good picture. That's okay, though, because even though I would like to go back to Atlanta again some day, now it's mandatory. Here's their website:

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