Tag: illinois

Quirky Roadside Attractions from Illinois

Quirky Roadside Attractions from Illinois

This morning when I saw the Daily Page prompt: What’s the quirkiest thing about you? I had to smirk. Personally, I don’t think I’m exceptionally quirky but then, who does? It’s other people who find your you-ness quirky and comment on it.  I don’t think I dare ask my husband what he thinks it is.

But since we’re on the subject, I will go ahead and share some actual quirky roadside stuff that I saw in Illinois.

Pink elephant towing a trailer? Sure, why not?

pink elephant antique mall

Boyfriend might want to think about a spray tan. Just sayin’…

Doesn’t he look like he might bust out signing into that ice cream one? “I love you, baby and if it’s quite all right I need you, baby… thank you, thank you, very much! Thanks for having me on the Merv Griffin Show!”

beach dude pink elephant antique mall

Big John. Not big Johnson. Two very different things. Although he looks pretty freakin’ chipper and has a strategically placed apron so maybe he’s got a secret we don’t know about.

It might be best to just move along here…

big john metropolis illnois

“Hi, Billy Mays, here. Do you like Muffler Men and motorcycles?”

harley davidson shrimpy muffler man

muffler man boot

The awesome green futuro house. I saw one of these on Milton, Delaware a few years back. I think they’re so great looking. They have that “this is what the future will look like in the year 2000,” flying car, spandex space-suit clothing vibe. Can you imagine living in one?

futuro house in Illinois at pinkelephant

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A Twistee Treat ice cream cone-shaped building. There was a time when I just wanted to see one. Now I’ve got two under my belt after seeing this one in Illinois.

twistee treat ice cream building in illinois

Maybe when I’ve finally had enough of corporate America I’ll get myself a big ice cream cone and start slingin’ sprinkles. What can I getcha, honey?

One of the downsides to traveling alone is that often there is no one around to take your picture through one of these face-hole cutout things. I might’ve looked like a real motorcyclist. Oh, what could have been.

The well-groomed, much loved Lauterback muffler man of Springfield, Illinois:

lauterbach mufflerman

Vigilantly surveying his domain with beady eyes.

lauterback mufflerman



In the Shadow of the World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle

In the Shadow of the World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle

When I pulled into the parking lot below the world’s largest ketchup bottle there was a man talking on his cellphone. I snapped a few photos and scribbled some notes on the hotel pad I keep in my tankbag.

worlds largest ketchup bottle

During the few minutes I was there fussing around, the man finished up his call and began walking towards me. With a toothy grin, he said a quick hello and asked if I’d like him to take a picture of me with the ketchup bottle. He said he gets that request a lot. The big ketchup bottle is a big draw to the town of Collinsville, Illinois.

worlds largest ketchup bottle

The man also asked where I was from and if I was doing “the Route 66 thing.” Apparently he’s lived in Collinsville his whole life, there in the shadow of the big ketchup bottle and seemed pretty content with that.

  • The World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle
    Just how big is the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle?
    It’s 170 ft tall. That’s a 70 ft tall riveted steel bottle on top of 100 ft tall steel legs. The diameter at the base of the bottle is 25 ft and the diameter of the cap is 8 ft. It has a capacity of 100,000 gallons.

I first learned of the big ketchup bottle in a documentary on PBS called “A Program About Big Things and Unusual Roadside Stuff.” The video is available on YouTube (with terrible misspellings in the subtitles) 😀 :

Oh. Hello, Mr. Water Tower – Nice to See You!

Oh. Hello, Mr. Water Tower – Nice to See You!

Do you live in the type of place that could have a smiley face water tower? I don’t. But I wish I did. This tower was along my route from Metropolis to Springfield, Ill. in the town of Makanda.

That bulbous knob with a smirk surveying the land has to do something for morale. Don’t you think? Seeing it for the first time, I found it was impossible not to smile back. He’s a seriously cheerful looking mo-fo.

Little did I know, (until 5-seconds ago when I tried to figure out just where it was that I saw this water tower) there is a listing of known towns with grinning water towers. I feel like this is very important information!



The Decaying Standard Oil Station of Vienna, Illinois

The Decaying Standard Oil Station of Vienna, Illinois

Meeting a beautiful ghost while road tripping

While riding from Metropolis towards Springfield, Illinois, I passed through the town of Vienna. It was a place I’d never heard of before. As I slowed my motorcycle and approached the stop sign at IL-146, to my right was the most beautiful ghost. A Standard Oil station.

Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station

Seeing the station, I immediately wished I could have experienced it in its heyday. Thoughts of sharing pleasantries while a coveralled gentleman washed my windshield and filled my tank danced through my imagination.

How could something so lovely fall into such a state of disrepair? The building belongs to someone. Why won’t they save this gorgeous baby? A case of monies best spent elsewhere, I’m sure. Simply trying to survive will always trump everything else.

Practicality aside, I wish that a preservation group would take this beautiful skeleton and return it to its original splendor. To the untrained eye, the building looks salvageable. So many of the lovely elements are just dying to be refurbished. But, who knows? Maybe my wishes and reality are very far apart here.

But it’s nice to dream.

Can you imagine driving over the hose and hearing the *ding-ding* of the bell? I suppose anyone younger than me might not get that reference.

There is probably a generation or two of locals who have this station weaved throughout their day to day memories. People who worked there, filled up there, and now watch it crumble there. Such memories can be bittersweet

Vienna, Illinois’ Gorgeous Ghost

Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station
Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station - interior
Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station - facade

Yesterday, I learned a new word.

Anemoian. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.

Its definition came from the depressingly named, Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. But I happened to read it while perusing the much less heartachingly titled Route 66 News.

Some articles about the Vienna Standard Oil Station:

That OTHER Guy From Metropolis? Maybe You’ve Heard of Him?

That OTHER Guy From Metropolis? Maybe You’ve Heard of Him?

When I left Fredericksburg, Virginia my plan was very loose. I didn’t have a route but I did have a few points on the map that I wanted to see. One of them was Metropolis, Illinois – the Official Home of Superman.

Now I was never a huge Superman buff or anything but I was curious about what went on in that town. There’s only one way that I know of to satisfy curiosity… go see something for yourself.

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

There is a 15-foot Superman in the square:

superman statue in metropolis illinois

The Super Museum:

Superman’s phone booth:

Some Kryptonite found in Metropolis:

This is what the part of town by the Super Museum in bustling Metropolis looked like on a Tuesday morning in October:

While I was preparing to leave and head north, a man who I later learned was named John, parked in front of me and went into the bank. When he came back out, he struck up a conversation.

After 40 years of marriage, his wife divorced him. He returned to his hometown of Metropolis after 30 years of being away.

He told me that the Super Museum was once a drug store, about his kids and grandkids, his wish to just have a few acres and some horses.

Before he left he said that if I ever passed through town again, that I should look him up. But he never gave me any way to contact him. I guess if I do pass through again, I’ll just stand in the middle of town and shout “John!” and see what happens.

Even if you’re not a huge Superman fan, a pit stop to Metropolis to see all the super goings-on is fun. ::thumbs up::

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