History

Route 66 through Edwardsville – whether it stirs memories of good food, good times, or good cars – was a hot spot on the Mother Road. Let's go back in time and motor up Mooney Hill on the north side of Edwardsville for a trip on Route 66. Heading south from Hamel, traffic was heavy with tourists, locals, trucks, and farm vehicles. Gebhart's Alibi Restaurant and Tavern was the first of a line-up through town of cafes, restaurants, and roadside services, with the Little White Kitchen and Halley's Cash Market just ahead. There's the Jackson Service Station and Jacober's Market, and then there's the Site Station on the right. Better slow down for the sharp turn up ahead. Unsuspecting tourists who aren't familiar with this stretch often end up in the alley when they can't make the turn. Now there's Cathcart's on the left, with the Hi-Way Tavern just across the street on our right. About the same time George Cathcart added a bar to his restaurant, Frank Catalano added food service to his Hi-Way Tavern. Just past Cathcart's, that's Goddard's Tourist Home and Cabins.

This is the Texaco station on the corner of Vandalia and Buchanan Streets, and the Standard Oil station is just ahead on your right. In this area, Edwardsville historic landmarks abound. There's St. Boniface Church on your right across from Texaco, built in 1869 on land that once boasted the home of Governor Ninian Edwards. On the left is the Edwardsville Carnegie Library, begun with a check from Andrew Carnegie solicited by Mayor Charles Boeschenstein. Out in front is the Madison County Centennial monument, commissioned in 1912 and made of Georgia marble. Across the street is Narodni Sin, the Czech National Hall.

We've arrived at the intersection of Route 66 and Main Street, and around us we see the Deep Rock service station, Ballweg Drugs, the Bohm Building, Solter & Kriege Hardware, and the Rainbow Inn. If traffic isn't too heavy and you can take a peek down Main Street to your right, you'll see the Madison County Courthouse flanked by the Edwardsville National Bank and the Bank of Edwardsville, the city's two “skyscrapers.”

Look, there's the “Gentle Giant,” Robert Wadlow, posing with Harry Butler in front of Butler Chevrolet. And there's Quade's 66 Service and then Albert Bothman and Sons Ford dealership. Want to stop at A&W Root Beer for a frosty mug and a sandwich? 

Now that we're fortified for the rest of our trip, let's continue to this sharp left turn just ahead. On the corner is the West End service station, where we can fill up with Mobil gas. Ahead of us is the Hadley House, which was built as a wedding gift, but now serves as the Edwardsville School District offices. This is a great corner for watching Edwardsville's parades, and the teens love to hang out at the West End station since the high school is just down the hill on the right.  Look at those students hanging out the windows of the school, watching traffic and playing games! 

Now here's Frank and Mildred Hesler's Standard Oil service station and cafe. They're standing out in front today – let's wave back to them. As we leave Edwardsville, we're passing Orval and Virginia Legate's motel, with motel units and a trailer park. Construction has begun back in there on the new university – Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Workers from there stay at Legate's. Also on the curve, there's the Hilltop House restaurant. Mmmm – fried chicken, steak, spaghetti, and Maria Moss' homemade pie. Also along here is the Home Nursery, built by Ernest Tosovsky Sr., and the Sunset Hills Country Club, established in 1922.

From here we head west through Mitchell to the Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi River. What's that you say – you want to stay in Edwardsville for more Route 66 fun?

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