"The Building of Route 66 and Lake Springfield"

In my teen years while helping my dad farm, we lived next to Route 66, or should I say Route 127, as it was known before its designation was changed. The highway came up through Sangamon County on the way to Springfield. In those days it took many more men to build the road. Some hauled the sand and gravel and cement to a large mixer sitting in the middle of the roadbed. Water had to be added and then mixed. When the highway was constructed along our farm, the road construction crew had a small railroad engine, which hauled in construction materials in hopper cars, which were parked on a narrow railroad track.

Route 66 was built around the East side of Glenarm and East of Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company. It continued north to join the stretch that had been built south of Springfield to one mile south of Ball Township School. It continued on to Cotton Hill and then to Springfield. This last stretch around Cotton Hill was flooded when Lake Springfield was built in 1935. Other stretches of highway became Route 66 all the way to Chicago.

In 1935, Lake Springfield was started. Trees and brush were piled up and burned. The watershed included Lick Creek on the northwest and Sugar Creek on the southwest. Several country roads were flooded making it difficult to get to some places in the area. The north end of old Route 66 around Cotton Hill was flooded. New roads were built to replace those that were closed due to flooding. Everyone thought it would take several years for the lake to fill up, but with the spring rains it didn't take long to have water spilling over the dam's spillway.

The level of the lake has varied over the years depending on the amount of rainfall and summer temperatures. The lake reached its lowest levels in 1954 when the summer temperatures exceeded 100 degrees for days and no rain fell. The crops suffered the worst season in years. We didn't raise much grain and farming was almost a complete failure that year.

David W. Dickey, Sr.