Friday, November 8, 2019

Illinois' portion of the Cannon Ball Route.

The Cannon Ball Route was a historic motorcar trail that ran from Kansas City, Missouri east-northeast to Chicago, Illinois by way of Hannibal, Missouri and Quincy, Illinois. A branch of the route connected the Missouri section of the highway to Des Moines, Iowa by way of Leon, Iowa. The Chicago Auto Club marked the Illinois segment of the highway in 1913.
The Cannon Ball Wabash River one-lane bridge.
By 1915, the route was considered "one of the best-marked highways between Quincy and Chicago," and an extension from Quincy to the St. Louis – Kansas City highway at Monroe City was posted. The highway routing closely parallels the Hannibal-Quincy to Chicago branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

The route was included in the 1917 Map of Marked Routes provided by the Illinois State Highway Department, a precursor to the modern-day Illinois Department of Transportation. The route stayed west and north of the Illinois River, so this route never had to cross the limited number of Illinois River bridges in 1917.

The Missouri portion of the route ran from Kansas City to Quincy by way of Hannibal. The route also passed through La Belle, Edina, Kirksville, Milan, Harris, Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Richmond, Carrollton, Chillicothe, Trenton, and Princeton.

In 1917, the Illinois Section of the Cannon Ball Route was marked as running north from Quincy along modern-day Illinois Route 96 with the Rushville & Quincy Trail. It turned east at modern-day U.S. Route 24, before turning north at Camp Point. It eventually followed modern Illinois Route 61 to Bowen, where the route ran east. The route follows Illinois 61 to its terminus at U.S. Route 136 near Tennessee.
The Cannon Ball Wabash River one-lane bridge.
The route follows U.S. 136 east as the main road through Macomb to Bardolph, where the route diverts from U.S. 136, it turns north on modern-day Illinois Route 41. The Cannon Ball Route passes through Bushnell paralleling the CB&Q railroad north to Galesburg and ran largely on what is now U.S. 34 from Galesburg to Chicago, except for diversions to the city centers of Buda, Leland, and Bristol.

Near Yorkville, the route turns northeast onto Cannon Ball Trail to Bristol. The route then passed through downtown Montgomery and Aurora before running east-northeast to Naperville. Here, the Cannon Ball Route may have followed any of a number of streets before joining the Chicago-Kansas City-Gulf Highway in Maywood for the remainder of the journey into Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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