First, the Lincoln Highway in Illinois crosses Carl Fisher’s other road, the Dixie Highway. Shortly after Fisher sparked the Lincoln Highway, he dreamed of bringing people from the cold Midwest winters to warm and sunny Florida. The consummate genius, Fisher, worked with other like-minded developers to establish a network of roads and by 1915, the Dixie Highway was ready as a system of routes to entice people from the north to invest in his burgeoning tropical paradise in the south, Miami, and escape the harsh winters. With the conference in Illinois in 2022, the Illinois Chapter invites anyone interested in driving Fisher’s Dixie Highway to arrive early enough to drive it on Saturday morning, June 18th. Following the Drivin’ the Dixie, pre-conference activities will include visiting a local museum and authentic Chicago-style pizza at the family-owned storied Aurelio’s Pizza. On Sunday, the pre-conference continues with a short drive south on Route 66 to the recently restored Launching Pad Restaurant, home of the Gemini Giant
Second, the timing of the LHA Conference is absolutely perfect for attendees to see the participants of the 2022 Great Race, a road rally of vintage cars traveling from Warwick, Rhode Island to Fargo, North Dakota. Participants in the road rally will have an overnight stop in nearby Plainfield.
On Monday, June 20, the regular LHA Conference begins. Our host hotel will be the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center. It is not far off the Lincoln Highway and it is close to I-80, for those who need to travel. Except for the bus tours, the activities will be in one location in the host hotel. The Board of Directors will meet Monday afternoon and our opening banquet will take place in the evening at the hotel. For the convenience and to help with the price breaks on the room rentals, all those who plan to come to the Conference are highly encouraged to stay at the host hotel.
The Clarion Hotel and Convention Center is offering one king bed (two guests) or two queen beds (four guests) for the discounted rate of $92.00 beginning Saturday, June 19 through Saturday, June 24 for anyone who wants to stay longer to visit Chicago or other places of interest such as the family-friendly Volo Auto Museum. For reservations, please visit:
or call: 815-768-1354. Be sure to ask for the Lincoln Highway Association block discounted rate. The hotel is at 411 S. Larkin Ave. Building A in Joliet, Illinois, 60436 and is near I-80. The hotel will honor the discounted rate for those who really wish to take in the sights by arriving earlier or later, too.
The opening banquet will be held on Monday, June 20th at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center. The next day, the East Bus Tour will feature a lunch stop and pipe organ concert at the gorgeous Rialto Square Theatre in the heart of Joliet, considered one of the ten most beautiful theaters in the United States and a photo stop at the Building the Lincoln Highway statue on the border of Joliet and Crest Hill.
The West Tour will include a stop at the Garfield Farm and Inn Museum, an 1840s era farm and stagecoach stop. For a major find in the middle of farm country, experience authentic Italian food in a stunning banquet hall featuring hand-painted décor for the Wednesday West Bus Tour. By popular request, there will be a tour of the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb on the West Tour. The Egyptian Theatre underwent a major restoration and expansion in recent years, and has air conditioning. We will also sample ice cream in an historic soda fountain in Rochelle. The West Tour will be a golden opportunity to visit the LHA Headquarters in the H.I. Lincoln Building in Franklin Grove to see the recent renovations.
The last full day of organized events will be the Speakers’ Day on Thursday, June 23, including the ever-popular postal cancellation. To give everyone a sense of the local history, native Joliet resident Dennis Doyle is tentatively scheduled to provide an overview of the history of Joliet, with an emphasis on the Lincoln Highway. He has a master’s degree in history from American University, a master’s degree in sociology from DePaul University, and a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology from Colorado State University. He is a professor in history and sociology at the Joliet Junior since 1999 and serves as the Director of New Faculty Training. His research interests include Civil War, Illinois, and urban-rural social history. He provided numerous presentations throughout the Midwest on the Civil War and on Illinois’ history. Additionally, he is the current President of the South Suburban Civil War Roundtable and Trustee of the Chicago Civil War Roundtable. Besides history, he is an expert football officiant, at both the high school and NCAA levels, including serving on the Illinois High School Football Advisory Committee. Following the history of Joliet will be Kay Shelton Kozak, who will trace the stagecoach routes in Illinois that led to points of interest decades later along the Lincoln Highway.
Additionally, James R. Wright, a lifelong resident of Homewood, Illinois, will give a history of the Dixie Highway in Illinois. He has had a keen interest in local history and the history of the Dixie Highway since attending grade school on the highway that serves as the “main” street in Homewood and countless other communities in Illinois. An insurance claims/risk manager by profession, Wright has been a member of the Homewood Historical Society for over thirty-five years, including serving as the society’s president. He has written extensively on the history of Homewood and authored Homewood Through the Years, a comprehensive history of the town, an Arcadia Publishing photo book, and a book on the history of the Homewood Fire Department. He also authored The Dixie Highway in Illinois, another Arcadia photo book.
In addition to Wright’s historical activities, he served twenty-two years on the Homewood Fire Department and also four years as an elected trustee on the Homewood Village Board, where he served as liaison to the Homewood Heritage Committee, charged with promoting the history of the Dixie Highway in the village.
Since 2002, Wright has participated with other historical societies, community groups and the A’s R Us Model A Ford club, of which he is a treasurer, in efforts to organize “Drivin’ the Dixie”, an annual moving car show and tour along the highway in Illinois. “Drivin’ the Dixie” has become a great success and has helped promote the rich history of the highway and the local communities it passes through.
Larry A. McClellan will present on named roads in Illinois. His tentative title is: “Getting Illinois Out of the Mud! The Emergence of Highways with Names.” He is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Community Studies at Governors State University. He authored Route 66, The Pontiac Trail and the Chicago to St. Louis Roads, plus two books on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, and various articles on historic highways. He was active in the early organizing of the Illinois Chapter of the LHA and has been a member of the Lincoln Highway Association since the beginning. During 2014-2015, he served as an Illinois Humanities Council “Roads Scholar,” giving state-wide presentations on historic highways. His tentative title is: “Getting Illinois Out of the Mud! The Emergence of Highways with Names.”
The activities on Speakers’ Day will conclude Thursday evening with the ever-popular Awards Banquet at the host hotel. We hope to see you soon, in person, in Joliet!
For anyone not in a hurry to go back home after the Conference, keep watching this space in late May for suggestions to explore Chicagoland on your own. There will also be a demonstration of digital Geocaching on the Lincoln Highway for those of you with smartphones Friday morning.