September 10 - 12, 2017:
There are so many great towns along the Michigan coast that I’m blowing right past, it kills me, but we have to pick up the pace. It’s a perfect weather day, we are currently having a very welcome streak of good weather. We are towing again as we are running all highway and it’s flat on routes 31 - 197- 80 - 7 - 6 to the Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Illinois. It’s a big travel day for us from Michigan to Indiana and into Illinois, it’s been a while since I’ve been in three states in one day. It wan’t exactly an easy ride as there was much road construction and really rough highways in parts of Indiana and Illinois.
The Hollywood Casino is the first non-Indian casino we have stayed at and their rates are comparable to a private campground. The campsites are nice with electric and water hookups with a dump station and shower room. They also allow you access to the free breakfast buffet at the hotel. The Casino itself has a plush Hollywood decor with two large gambling floors, a brew pub, a restaurant, a deli and an entertainment hall.
|At night it seems like Hollywood|
The first European to recognizie the value of the area was the cities namesake, Louis Joliet, who along with Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette and a group of Voyageurs were the first non natives to explore and map the Mississippi River in the 1670's.
|Louis Joliet statue in front of the Library|
The city of Joliet has many impressive old buildings and was a very prosperous city in the early 1900’s. It’s one of those cities that fell victim to urban decay after WWII and continues to struggle today, but there appears to be much new construction and promise for the downtown core.
The original Union Station was saved and has been restored, but is no longer used as a train station. A brew pub / restaurant is located in part of the building and the rest is rented for special events. A new train station is under construction that will be able to serve Amtrak, Metra Heritage Corridor and Metra Rock Island Corridor rail lines.
|The Rialto Theater is one of most beautiful theaters in the country|
|It just doesn't get much better than this|
|The Marx Brothers who started with a chicken farm nearby|
went on to comedy fame and played at the Rialto Theater
|The Post Office|
|I liked the ornate stone work and the faded flag|
|There are a series of these murals near Union Station|
|New sports stadium near Union Station|
|The Joliet High School is like a castle|
|Most of the railroad underpasses have these aging sports murals|
that hopefully will be redone in the future
|The Jacob Henry Mansion, Mr. Henry was a railroad magnate|
Original route 66 and the Lincoln Highway both come through downtown Joliet and actually cross each other. The Lincoln highway was the first transcontinental highway built in 1916. There are exhibits on both along with the history of Joliet at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. If you remember the classic Blues Brothers movie, there was a classic scene when Jake was released from Joliet Prison after which Jake and Elwood takeTh off for Chicago.
|Route 66 sign|
|One of many great lines from the movie|
|Intersection of Rout 66 and the Lincoln Highway|
|Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental road opened in 1916|
|Location of Bill Jacob's famous 1950's Chevy dealership on route 66|
|Old Joliet street view with street car|
|It all started with the hand dug Canal|
|Joliet was also the wallpaper capital of the country|
The “Illinois and Michigan Canal (I & M Canal) was built between 1836 and 1848, passing through Joliet and stretching for nearly 100 miles connecting the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan. The canal provided a shipping route that was a huge economic boom to the area. Shortly afterwards the railroads arrived which eventually diminished the importance of the canal. Portions of the canal remain today and are protected as the “Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor. Eventually the Des Plains River, also flowing through Joliet, was developed into the current water transportation link for boat traffic between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan.
Joliet Limestone was discovered during the digging of the I & M Canal and became highly valued as a building material. The mining of Limestone then became the first industry in Joliet. Following this many industries developed in Joliet, but most notable was Steel and Joliet became one of the largest Steel manufacturing centers in the country. This is when Joliet became known as the "City of Stone and Steel". Today, the Steel Mill is closed, but several major corporations are in the area, such as the world Headquarters of the Caterpillar Company.
|The I & M Canal|
|A tug pushing a barge down the Des Plains River|
|View down the river from a bridge|
|There are many of these steel lift bridges in the city|
We take the Metra Rock Island Train into Chicago to the La Salle Street Station. Metra has a fleet of Bi-level cars with a very awkward looking upper level design, but the crews probably love them as they don’t have to go up and down to collect tickets on the upper floor. As the floor is open in the center, they can reach up from below to get your ticket. It’s also weird being able to look down on people below like some kind of voyeur. It was a beautiful day to walk around Chicago and that is what we did, for about 8 miles. We didn’t go into any indoor attractions, it was too nice a day and after the train ride we were not interested in a guided tour.
|Beautiful Chicago River scene, so many tour boats|
|Unfortunately, the Kay Jewelers sign kind of trashes the buildings facade|
|The bright lights of the Palmer House|
|A massive ornate clock with Muddy Waters in the|
background, both are timeless
|The Chicago Theater is also timeless|
|The London House on the the historic site of Fort Dearborn|
|Beautiful lakefront park|
|Great wildflower and birds mural|
|I love these long street views|
We are now leaving the Great Lakes behind and heading towards Wisconsin.
The next stop is Madison, Wisconsin;Twinkles and Slick