Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Abandoned Route 66 in McCook, IL

Image: Google Maps at 55th and Joliet Rd in McCook, IL

While much of the former US 66 is driveable, there are some parts are not. One of the first such roadblocks for would be travelers heading from Chicago to Los Angeles via the Mother Road, now known as Joliet Rd, comes just outside of Chicago in McCook, IL, where the former Route is closed between 55th St and East Ave. 

In 1998, cracks began developing in the roadway, and rapidly grew into pavement buckling. IDOT was forced to close the road, making traffic have to detour onto arterial streets. On either side of the roadbed, Vulcan Materials Company owned the land and was mining it hundreds of feet deep, causing the land under the road to give way. 

Image: Rich Dinkela

The cost of rebuilding the road to a safe condition would have cost $45 million and may not have been enough to solve the problem for good. IDOT instead chose to upgrade 55th St and East Ave and have traffic permanently use those roads to traverse through the detour, leaving this section of the Mother Road gone forever.

Today the road is still there, although Mother Nature is quickly taking it back, and the mine is still fully operational on both sides. Vulcan paid a $12 Million settlement after a 12 year legal battle, but did not admit fault in the road's closure.

At least on one occasion, the road has been used for filming, as it was in a short scene in the movie Source Code.

Image: The Movie District

While the road today is now owned by Vulcan and off-limits, that hasn't stopped Rich Dinkela from taking a drone to assess the closure for himself, as you can see below.


  1. They paid a settlement instead.

  2. Back in the 70s as part of a tour across the country, I bicycled Route 66 from Chicago to Oklahoma City. I drive through Dwight, Illinois every summer, and part of the original 66 with grass growing through it is still there.