Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Lil' Nick Special

This weekend was the Bureau County fair! A whole week of fun, festivities, fattening foods that would make a doctor weep at the thought of calories consumed and cholesterol levels shot.  There were exhibits and contests including one that this humble adventurer won a prize at.  But this weekend was Also Depot Days in Amboy. Also well attended and with much the same results.

Last week I, Tom Anderson and Lil' Nick happened to find ourselves up in Lee county meeting fellow photographer and history enthusiast, Kimberly Wattley.  Kimberly agreed to meet us at the depot museum and we chatted for about 45 minutes on places to go and people to see and I have high hopes she'll join us on some future expedition.

As she and I sat and talked Tom and Lil' Nick decided to take a closer look at the depot and locomotive. The last time we were there there had been some construction going on and the engine had been stripped prior to a fresh coat of pain. Now that it was all put together they wanted to check things out.  The following photo's were ALL taken by my Lil sidekick Nick. If you know him, congratulate him on a Job Well Done.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

You don't have to go to Holland to see a windmill.

They have one of their very own in Dwight, IL.  In 1879 Dr. Leslie Keeley in association with John Oughton announced that they had found a cure for alcoholism, dubbed the 'Gold Cure'. This led to the founding of the Keeley Institute located in Dwight but eventually had over 200 branches throughout the United States and Europe.

Oughton, an Irish chemist, Remodeled the house in 1894 which had originally been a club house for the Institute and located on the grounds of the Keeley estate. Upon completion his wife nicknamed it 'The Manse'.

Behind the house sits a 110 foot high windmill. Originally called the Pumping Tower it was constructed in 1896 by U.S. Wind, Engine, and Pump Co. of Batavia, IL. and at the time was one of the largest structures of its kind in the country. It remained in the Oughton family until 1996 before eventually being donated to the city.

Were it not for the presence of Dr. Keeley and his Institute, Dwight might never have become more than just a sleepy farming town. As it is, Dwight attained World wide recognition for a time as THE place to go for a cure to an insidious affliction.

Thanks to my sidekick Lil' Nick for some of these shots.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Can you hear the Clanging of the fire bell?

On our recent trip to Dwight we came across a wonderful old piece of technology sitting at the visitors center. A 1914 American La France Model "T" Ford fire engine. This is a type 32 which was produced between 1914 thru 1927. It was a marriage of sorts between the Ford motor company which supplied the rolling chassis and American La France which supplied the fire fighting apparatus.

The fire engine served Dwight faithfully from 1914 thru 1937 when it was acquired by the owner of the Texaco station as a promotional tool for his Fire Chief brand of gasoline. The engine was repainted and the motor restored in 1970. It was later sold and donated to the Dwight Historical society who then put it on display at the Texaco station it had once called home.

It's available for children to sit on ( Lil' Nick took advantage of that ) and is a cute addition to the Route 66 gas station we stopped at. People from all over the world stop by there, a couple from England were leaving as we arrived. So next time you want someplace to go, consider a drive down to Dwight.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cruising down the Mother road

Saturday was a sunny and relatively cool day. And so, I gathered up my camera's, topped off the gas tank, collected Lil' Nick and we went searching for the Mother road. I'm referring of course to historic Route 66. We found it in Dwight, about an hours drive away. Dwight is a small town of just over 4000 people and amongst the Many items of interest was that stretch of old Route 66 that still exists.

The first thing we spied coming into town was a old time Fillin' station that was built in 1933 and known by Basil "Tubby" Ambler who operated it continuously from 1938-1966 and then Philip Becker who ran it from '66 to 1999. In 2002 he donated it to the city who, after a complete renovation, turned into a visitors center with great fanfare.

Look at the station and you'll note that the service bay area was an add on put up in the 1940's as the war commenced and more and more people had cars serviced and kept them longer. Inside the service bays today is a special treat amongst the other souvenirs, Dwight's first powered fire engine, 1914 Ford Model T combination ladder and pumper truck.  Even Lil' Nick got in the act, pretending he was racing off to battle a roaring inferno.

So if you ever find yourself wanting something to do on a weekend, consider taking a short drive down to Livingston county and find yourself on Route 66. In addition to the service station there are a variety of other places of historical interest in town as you'll see in future posts.

Speaking of which, want to give a big Thank You to the folks at the Route 66 restaurant just down the road. They treated us like gold. We got great burgers, hand made and cooked to perfection!