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11 July 2006: Coralville, IA to Chicago(land), IL

Back in black at my aunt and uncle's in Columbus, Ohio and a bit more well-rested, too. I've finished the alignments up through I-90 in Cleveland (including ALT US 6) and we'll be ready to attack the rest of Superior Avenue when I return there on the 13th. In the meantime, let's catch up while I have a couple lazy days to recuperate.

These pictures are from the 8th, and our odometer starting count was 96236.

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Picking up from IA 21, where we left off. Along the courses of US 151 and US 6 are the Amana Colonies (the same Amana you see on your appliances). Having already cost some time on detours, I'll let this one be, but the basic history involves seven villages settled by German Pietists (of the Community of True Inspiration) in 1855. Theirs was a particularly ascetic form of belief; although they had previously settled in New York, they emigrated west for a more isolated surrounding conducive to their lifestyle. As such, their communal mode of life persisted into the 1930s until a financial crisis forced them to spin their local businesses off from the church, from which the modern Amana industry derives. Their church and beliefs, however, continue to persist into the present day despite the intrusion of modern tourism. One of the seven, called Homestead, is directly on US 6 but is mostly a tourist trap now. South Amana is not far from the main road either.

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Into Iowa City and Coralville. Iowa City (62,220 [2000]) is the home of the University of Iowa and the old state capitol, shown here, which remains in the middle of the University campus. It was the state capitol until 1857, when Des Moines took the reins.

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Along the way we pass the Iowa and (here outside of Atalissa) Cedar Rivers; the Cedar flows to the Iowa, and the Iowa to the Mississippi. The river and the river valley are, of course, named for the local trees.

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US 6 takes one more hop onto I-80, which is annoyed enough to slough US 6 onto its spur I-280 into Davenport. Someone forgot to tell the local IDOT district office that US 6 is a US highway in *both* directions, though. I figure this is a good time to complain about how boring the Iowa state highway marker is as well.

Davenport, IA is named for George Davenport, nicknamed Colonel although he had no actual rank, who acted as a civilian supplier (as well as a local explorer and later community leader) for the local Fort Armstrong established in 1816 on Arsenal Island. The town sprang up in 1839 and was named for him; alas, the beloved Colonel was murdered by outlaws in 1845. Today, Davenport is part of the Quad Cities bordering this Mississippi River crossing as well as the seat of Scott county (named for Black Hawk War General Winfield Scott, who presided over the peace treaty; population 158,668 [2000]) with a population of 98,359 [2000].

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You've seen this one already; this is our entry into Moline, IL over the Mississippi River along I-74 and US 6 from Davenport and Bettendorf.

The Mississippi really is the "great river" (named for the Ojibwa word misiziibi "great river"); combined with the Missouri, they make up the largest river system in North America (approximately 3900 miles), longer than the Yangtze in China. Its drainage basin covers 41 percent of the lower 48 states with an area exceeded only by the basins of the Amazon and Congo Rivers; by Baton Rouge, its flow exceeds 450,000 cubic feet per second.

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The Mississippi, as seen from the river crossing.

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Illinois welcomes me.

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US 6 then jumps off I-74 and wends by itself through northern Illinois. For many miles, Illinois is still much the same terrain as Iowa and, for that matter, Nebraska: farmland, including this lighting study I took in a cornfield that came out better than I expected.

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Representative of the small cities and towns in this area is the (collective group of) Peru-LaSalle. Two separate cities that border each other, their major importance initially was the Illinois and Michigan Canal which connected the Illinois River with Lake Michigan in the 1830s. LaSalle was the first of these ports and for many years the primary one, to be eclipsed finally by Chicago to the north. Today they are mostly small industrial towns; Peru has 9,835 [2000] residents, and LaSalle 9,796 [2000]. This is downtown Peru.

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US 6 then leaves the countryside behind for Joliet and Chicagoland. Probably named as a corruption of French-Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet, who explored the area in 1673, it is the county seat of Will county with 106,221 [2000] residents. An industrial town, Joliet has hit hard times and is slowly grappling with revitalization in the wake of an unemployment rate during the 1980s that approached 25 percent. For its part, Will county is named for local businessman and politician Conrad Will and has a [2000] population of 502,266.

Incidentally, pronouncing the town as "jolly-ETTE" will incur you a $5 fine on the spot. It really is a civic statute.

This crossing here carries both US 6 and US 52 into town over the Des Plaines River, another tributary of the Illinois and ultimately the Mississippi (again). Interstate 80 has a longer and much higher river crossing nearby.

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The only US 66 signage I've seen so far along the road.

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Besides US 66, there are other roadgeek baiting things in Joliet, including the Lincoln Highway along which US 6 is briefly co-routed. I talk about the Lincoln Highway in US 395 Part 11.

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Into Chicago, my photography became a lot more limited -- as I intimated in the last entry, running around some of these areas with a camera would really be asking for it.

US 6 has never entered the Chicago city limits, ever, on any routing past or present. That said, this third-largest city in America was obviously a frequent destination of past US 6 travelers. Named for the Potawatomi term checagou for the skunk cabbage that grew wild in the local marshes, it was formally established in 1833 as a town and incorporated in 1837. Its present city population is 2,842,518 [2005]. Since we won't actually enter Chicago, that's as much as we'll say about it.

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US 6 then leaves town over I-80/I-94 to cross into Indiana.

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And as just a little bonus, the night view from my hosts' house in Ohio.

Tomorrow: Chicago(land) to Sandusky, OH!

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