Route 66 is memorialized in our collective memory as the epitome of the 'open road.' The Mother Road stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles (Santa Monica, to be precise) and is the stuff of stories and songs. Much of the old road is preserved in spots allowed you to drive or, at least walk, parts of the road that may have been bypassed by more modern highways.

That's not the case in the Chicago suburb of McCook. The roadway there, known as Joliet Road, is completely closed and gated off. The highway splits a very large quarrying operation and the excavation has made the roadway too unstable to support traffic.

A Route 66 travelogue shares the tale of the closure:

In 1998 a one-mile section of the highway buckled and broke. This disrupted traffic so the road was closed and traffic re-routed along a detour (55th St. and East Ave.)

The quarry located on both sides of the highway operated by Vulcan Materials Co. (the second largest mining company and producer of aggregate in the world), had undermined the bedrock foundations of Route 66.

The road ended up located on a narrow strip of limestone, resembling a long ridge, with sheer drops on both sides into the depths of the quarries. Definitively closed as it was too dangerous, the Illinois DOT filed a suit against Vulcan that same year stating that Vulco had mined limestone too close to the highway, damaging it. The lawsuit waas settled by Vulcan by paying $40 million to the state of Illinois, though they didn't admit any liability.


Take a look at the roadway today.

An Abandoned Section of Route 66 Between Chicago and Joliet, Illinois

There's a few miles of old Route 66 that will never see a car again. It's too unstable due to nearby quarrying operations.

Road explorer Roamin' Rick paid a visit to this section of road. Check out his video - and this caution. Rick was approached by a McCook police officer letting him know that because the roadway is closed, not even pedestrian traffic is allowed.

Looking for more historic roads to explore? Check out these recommendations from across America:

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