The fabled highway, U.S. Route 66, which stretched from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, revolutionized transportation and the relationship Americans had with their cars. Several segments of the original highway can still be found in Illinois. One such section of original pavement was sampled by the Illinois Department of Transportation in Macoupin County, where the old road intersects a new high-speed rail crossing. The pavement core can inform materials engineers about the historic concrete used in its construction and its present condition. It can also help guide preservation and restoration efforts of remaining segments of the historic roadway.
When American forces joined World War I, Kent Hagler of Springfield, Illinois, was desperate to join the military, but a childhood injury prevented him from serving. Undeterred, he joined the American Field Service in France as a volunteer ambulance driver on July 17, 1917. He wore this helmet throughout his time in France.
In 1851, Nikolas Daniel Walter packed all his worldly belongings into this trunk and left Germany with his wife and three small children to settle in Pope County, Illinois.
This iron moldboard plow was brought to LaSalle County from Connecticut by the Smith family in 1834. It was used to break the prairie on the Smith’s farm, twelve miles north of Ottawa.
As European and Native American cultures mingled, new technologies blended with tradition to create new uses for everyday objects. The brass tomahawk pipe became a popular accessory, as it was useful in the field as a tool or as a weapon of war. During ceremonies, it was used as a pipe to smoke with friends or to cement agreements. Tobacco would be added to the metal bowl (opposite the blade) and smoked through the hardwood handle. Many similar tomahawks were manufactured by Europeans, cast of metals like brass or hammered out of old rifle barrels.
A harbinger of a changing world. French explorers and voyageurs arrive in the late 17th century. Their presence will transform Native American life and foretell of even more profound change to come. The forces of colonization nearly extinguish Native American life in Illinois.