Category Archives: Transportation

Louie Mitchell, pioneer aviator

Louis “Louie” Mitchell not only was one of America’s first air pilots; at 210 pounds, he also was the heaviest. Mitchell had no connection to Sangamon County in life, but his final resting place is in Oak Ridge Cemetery’s Abbey … Continue reading

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First parking meters (1941)

Confusion, reluctance and a little apprehension were Springfieldians’ responses to the city’s first parking meters. The Illinois State Journal described their debut in its Oct. 24, 1941, edition. Springfield entered a new era of streamlined parking control yesterday as nearly … Continue reading

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First traffic signals (1924)

Struggling with out-of-control auto traffic downtown, Springfield decided in 1924 to experiment with traffic signals. Officials chose the intersection of Sixth and Monroe streets for the city’s first set of stop-and-go lights. They started working Nov. 5, 1924. One set … Continue reading

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Springfield Auto Club ‘safety lanes’

Fifteen hundred motorists pulled their vehicles through the Springfield Automobile Club’s free “safety lane” on the south side of the downtown square in April 1930. Some did it twice. Safety lanes were a nationwide initiative of the American Automobile Association, … Continue reading

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First parking ramp (1963)

The space age hasn’t been kind to Springfield’s first parking ramp. The 450-car, $725,000 ramp opened to the public on March 17, 1963. The “gala open house” included free coffee, Coke or Bubble-Up and a Mel-O-Cream donut for every person … Continue reading

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Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Trail

Back when Illinois highways had names, not numbers, the Pike’s Peak Trail brought tourists, and their dollars, to central Illinois. The trail (full name “Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Trail,” often abbreviated PP-OO or PPOO) was cobbled together from bits … Continue reading

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Auburn Brick Road

An empty stretch of highway near Auburn might be Sangamon County’s most obscure historic site. The Auburn Brick Road, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, draws what few visitors it does because it was … Continue reading

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Chinkapin Bridge

The Chinkapin Bridge northwest of Springfield carried travelers across the Sangamon River to and from Cantrall and points north for 60 years or more. It was replaced by a new bridge, a short distance east on what is today Illinois … Continue reading

Posted in Local government, Transportation | 5 Comments

Bradfordton

Bradfordton owes its existence to a short-lived railroad and its name to a veteran of the War of 1812. Never an incorporated community, Bradfordton – on Illinois 97 (Jefferson Street extended) west of Springfield – originally was known as “Bradfordton … Continue reading

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Southwest Airport

Craig Isbell, who once told Charles Lindbergh he’d never make it across the Atlantic, helped bring Springfield into the age of air. Isbell and a partner, Gelder Lockwood, founded the Springfield Aviation Co., which operated Southwest Airport, on Chatham Road … Continue reading

Posted in Air travel, Airport, Business, Prominent figures, Transportation | 6 Comments