Standing Up for Illinois - Office of Lt Governor Pat Quinn

Dixie Highway Tour

The Dixie Highway is considered one of the most historic roads in the state. The original path, known as “Hubbard’s Trace and Vincennes Trail”, was traveled by migratory buffalo, French fur trappers and early settlers.

The Dixie Highway was created in 1915 to connect the midwest to the south. There were two mainlines that were built during this time: 1) Dixie Highway West – ran from Chicago, IL to Miami, FL 2) Dixie Highway East – ran from Sault Ste. Marie, MI to Miami, FL. At one point, the Dixie Highway stretched more than 6,000 total miles.

In Illinois, the Dixie Highway is also Route 1. The road starts in Chicago at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Boulevard. It heads south through the city and cuts through the Illinois Main Street communities of Blue Island, Momence, Hoopeston and Danville. The highway’s southern point in Illinois is Danville. To the east of Danville, the Dixie Highway becomes Hwy. 136 and extends into Indiana

Start your historic Dixie Highway tour in the Main Street town of Blue Island. One of the largest downtown business districts in south Cook County, Blue Island is home to 165 antique dealers. It was here Gurdon S. Hubbard, former fur trader, pioneer merchant and meat packer, transformed Blue Island from a “landscaped rocky highpoint” to a teeming business center.

Make sure you make a trip down Blue Island’s Old Western Avenue. Several antique stores, including Three Sisters Antique Mall (13042 S. Western Avenue) line the street. You may find old Dixie Highway artifacts such as milk and beer bottles left behind by early Dixie travelers.
When leaving Blue Island, travel south on Route 1 (Dixie Highway) to the Main Street town of Momence. Momence is located just to the northeast of Kankakee. In Momence, you’ll find three Dixie Highway historical sites. They are the Historical House Museum, Railroad Depot Museum and Conrad Park Pioneer Cabin.

The Momence Historical House Museum (117 N. Dixie) is an 1870’s home containing period furnishings and artifact displays. It is open in June, weekends only from 2pm-4pm. The Railroad Depot Museum (691 N. Dixie Hwy) contains photos and artifacts from Momence’s railroad history. It is open May through September from 9am-12pm. The Conrad Park Pioneer Cabin (On Mill Street Island Park) is a cabin built for Momence’s 150 th Anniversary and is representative of early settlement days. The cabin is open June – August, from 2pm-4pm on Sundays.

Hoopeston celebrates the Dixie Festival each year on Fathers Day weekend. Fifteen communities in the area join together with a vintage car tour.

Heading south of Hoopeston on the Dixie Highway, take time to visit the Main Street town of Danville. Gurdon S. Hubbard made Danville his official “commerce through barter” headquarters, despite using Chicago as his fur hub to the east.

Danville has many key attractions such as the Fithian Home – which is included on the National Register of Historic Places, Vermillion County Museum, Danville Symphony Orchestra, Kennekuk County Park and Kickapoo State Park. There are over 50 downtown specialty shops and restaurants to choose from. Last chance to get your hands on an Illinois Dixie Highway antique!


Dixie Highway podcast now online.


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Illinois Main Street Calendar

08/07/2008 7:00pm -8:00pm
Concerts in the Park - Lincoln Park, Downtown Vandalia
Lincoln Park, Downtown Vandalia
Vandalia Main Street's Summer Concert Series Band: TBA Genre: TBA
Vandalia Main Street, 618-283-8751,,
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08/07/2008 7:30 pm -approx 1 1/2 hrs
Concerts In The Park - Settlers Park
Settlers Park
Appearing Mr Myers - call for more info at Settlers Park info line @ 815-609-6124
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