1921 Tribune Tour
When Chicago’s first merchant ventured southward, losing sight of the friendly lake and equally friendly fort guarding its lower shore line, he found a well beaten path that led, straight as the crow flies, to the head waters of the Wabash river. He traveled the path many times, sometimes on foot, sometimes with pack animals, before Illinois pioneers came to know the road as “Hubbard’s Trail.”
Today more than 140 miles of the old Indian line of communication is paved with smooth concrete. Thousands of wheels whirl over it daily and few landmarks remain to tell the story of its younger and wilder days. People know it as the Dixie Highway third link in the state’s 850-mile chain of paved truck lines that now make up the practically completed federal aid division of the Illinois bond issue system. An ancient boulder with the name “Hubbard’s Trail” and the date of 100 years ago, stand at the roadside near Momence to mark the passing of the pioneer.
This link in the paved system is easy to find. You may reach it by going south in Michigan avenue to Garfield to Western avenue and left on Western, following it straight south over the ragged holes that form Chicago’s wheel tax division of the road, through the rough brick pavements of Blue Island, and onto smooth county concrete at Posen, Hazelcrest, and Homewood, where it becomes the Dixie Highway. From Homewood south through Chicago Heights, simply follow the pavement to Danville, or use it as the first journey to Kankakee, Champaign, and Indianapolis.
But three gaps remain in the hard surfacing now, and they are rapidly closing under the hands of highway contractors. The first is just south of Crete. When construction starts, detour from the barricade 1.2 miles west to Goodenow; turn south 1.5 miles, and east to the concrete. South of Momence, turn left at the end of the concrete to the first road, turn right to the first road north of St. Anne, and right again to the pavement. Bridge work entering Watseka is due for completion April 26. North of Danville construction work is going forward on a bridge, but the Vermillion County Auto club has clearly marked the short detour. All detours will be fair except in very wet weather.