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Geoff Ladd, Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County

Route 66 Museum Opens in Abandoned Roadside Diner

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Geoff Ladd, Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County

The Mill in Lincoln, Illinois, was one of the many roadside restaurants that nourished hungry travelers on Route 66 during its heyday. It opened in 1929, three years after the route was established. After years of serving greasy American fare in a kitschy Dutch setting, the spot officially closed in 1996. Now Smithsonian reports that it has reopened as a Route 66 Museum.

The project was spearheaded by the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, a local nonprofit dedicated to restoring attractions along the route. The group raised $90,000 to fix the dilapidated roof, windows, floor, and foundation of the windmill-shaped structure. According to the Save The Mill Indiegogo page, “The Mill is considered a prime example of early American roadside architecture and is one of the few buildings in the area still standing from that era.”

The Mill along Route 66 in Lincoln, Illinois.
Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County

Route 66 is no longer a single highway, but its impact remains an important part of Lincoln’s identity. The museum is a celebration of this: Inside, visitors can peruse artifacts highlighting the town’s former roadside attractions. One exhibit revives a defunct Lincoln gas station as a miniature robotic replica. An animatronic leg poking through the ceiling is left over from The Mill’s days in the 1980s, when it doubled as a restaurant and museum of oddities.

The Mill on 66 Museum opened to the public on April 29. The kitchen is no longer in service, so fans of the original menu will have to go elsewhere for their fried ham and peanut butter sandwiches.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Nalcrest, Florida: Where Postal Workers Go to Retire
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You could say that the Nalcrest community in central Florida delivers affordable retirement housing for seniors. And with amenities like a pool and tennis courts, you might even say it has the whole package [PDF]. Or you could just go with the pun that the community itself has landed on: “Nalcrest: A First Class Community.”

Nalcrest, you see, is a retirement community exclusive to members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC); the village has 500 ground-level apartments available for postal workers to enjoy after they’ve delivered their final Oriental Trading catalog. Garden-style units start at just $374 a month, including water, sewage, trash removal, basic cable, maintenance, and use of all of the recreational facilities.

The idea for an affordable, profession-specific retirement community came to NALC president William Doherty in the 1950s, when he toured Europe and saw similar setups organized by labor unions, religious groups, and fraternal organizations [PDF]. He proposed the idea for U.S. mail carriers as early as 1954, then pounced when Congress passed a law in 1959 that provided loans to build housing for seniors. Doherty was there to break ground on July 1, 1962; Nalcrest officially opened for business less than two years later on January 20, 1964. The dedication ceremony included a band of mail carrier musicians and a separate group called “The Singing Mailmen,” a group made up of—you guessed it—singing mailmen, as well as a female water skiing team that proudly flew pennants spelling out “Nalcrest.” After a stint as the ambassador to Jamaica, Doherty himself retired to Nalcrest, living there until his death in 1987.

Though residents may not be traipsing a daily mail route anymore, they still have plenty of options to stay active. Nalcrest has shuffleboard, horseshoes, bocce, miniature golf, tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, walking trails, and a softball diamond (home to the Nalcrest Eagles). It also boasts a travel club, a women’s association, and free art classes, among other activities. There’s one thing, however, it doesn’t have—dogs. With the exception of therapy dogs, Nalcrest has a no-canine rule in deference to retirees who were bitten in the line of duty and have an aversion to the animals.

If a dog-free community seems like paradise for postal workers, the other thing Nalcrest lacks cements its status as letter carrier nirvana: There are no mailboxes, because there is no home mail delivery. Each resident has to visit the Nalcrest post office to pick up any correspondence.

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New Website Helps You Track Down the U.S. Streets That Share Your Name
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Unless you're a president or some other historical figure, the streets that share your name likely aren't an homage to you. But there's no harm in pretending. A new website makes it easy to find your namesake road signs for just that purpose.

As Town & Country notes (via Cosmopolitan), anyone can type their first or last name into Crossing.us. Using data from Google Maps, it brings up a list of intersections featuring at least one mention of that name. Type in the name Eustace, and you'll get a list of nearly 90 intersections; search for Smith, and you'll get more than 24,000.

The search engine also works with two names at once. Users can enter their first and last name to see where in the country both parts come together. Intersections with the name Maria Garcia, for instance, pop up twice in the U.S., both times in Texas.

And, of course, the site can be used to find an intersection of your name and that of someone you know. That's what originally inspired Entrepreneur magazine editor-in-chief Jason Feifer to create the tool. After seeing a street that shared a name with his wife, Jennifer, he thought how neat it would be to find out it led to a street named Jason. He didn't see a way to search for such an intersection online, so he and his team of friends built a way to do so from scratch.

Crossing.us can help you pick out a creative proposal spot, or a stop on a road trip with your best friend. Or if you don't feel like traveling, you can use it to build an epic map of all the roads that share your name without leaving home.

[h/t Town & Country]

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