Pontiac Oakland Museum, Pontiac Illinois: Auto Nostalgia along Route 66

Pontiac Oakland Museum, Pontiac Illinois: Auto Nostalgia along Route 66

What do you do with a collection of 20 restored Pontiacs and Oaklands and more memorabilia than you have room to store?  Open a museum, of course.  And what better place to open the Pontiac Museum than Pontiac, Illinois, a popular stop along the historic Route 66?  That’s exactly what Tim Dye did when he and his wife Penny pulled up roots from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and moved their collection to Illinois.

It was less than a year from the time that Tim Dye first visited Pontiac and mentioned an interest in opening a museum to the day that the museum opened in 2011.  Since then, more than 33,000 people, from all over the world, have visited the Pontiac Oakland Museum.

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Besides Dye’s personal collection, ten cars and other memorabilia have been donated to the museum. Cars are on loan to the museum, too, which means ever changing displays.

You’ll see the first model of Pontiac ever made, which was actually a buggy dating back to the 1890s, original right down to the upholstery.  The buggy is pulled by fully restored Old Jim, who stood at the Maple Brothers Harness & Horse Goods Store in nearby Fairbury from 1890 until 1950.


See old cars like the 1929 Oakland Roadster…


…or the 1934 coupe.


Some of the cars are set up in scenes, like the 1948 Pontiac convertible in a service garage, where 1,450 oil cans are also displayed, about half of Dye’s collection.  Even the garage door is authentic; it’s the door from a former Pontiac dealership.


You’ll see shiny big cars…


…flashy racing cars…

Pennzoil_Grand_Prix…and a 1931 Oakland Sport Coupe, the last year that model was made.


There is even a library with volumes upon volumes of manuals, magazines, maps and drawings.

libraryAdmission is free at the Pontiac Oakland Museum, located at 20 N Mill Street in Pontiac, Illinois.

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Livingston County War Museum on Route 66 Honors Veterans

Livingston County War Museum on Route 66 Honors Veterans

Most of the museums in Pontiac, Illinois, a Route 66 town, relate to Mother Road nostalgia, a fond memory of the past.  The Livingston County War Museum, though, stirs different emotions, a mix of patriotism, sadness, and awe, because this museum focuses on the people side of war.


You’ll see some war memorabilia, like this AT-4, produced near Wilmington, Illinois, another Route 66 town, in the early 1990s.

AT-4But most of the museum is made up of stories, stories from veterans from every branch of the armed services.  Mannequins throughout the museum wear uniforms donated by veterans or families of veterans.  Those who were killed in action are denoted with a gold star.


The veteran’s story is attached to the uniform, and sometimes other personal memorabilia is displayed, too, like this display about Bill Voorheis, who was shot by machine gun, and though severely wounded, lived through it because the bullet that would have killed him was deflected by a religious medal that he wore around his neck.  His daughter wears that medal around her neck today.

Bill_Voorheis_memorabiliaThe Livingston County War Museum was the idea of Del Estes (1917-2005), WWII veteran.  Most of the volunteers who staff the museum are volunteer veterans whose uniforms are displayed, like museum president Jack Murphy.


Ask volunteer Bill Hall to tell you the story of how a crab saved his life.


You can hear additional information about some of the displays through a self-guided cell phone tour.

The Livingston County War Museum is located at 321 N Main Street in Pontiac, Illinois, adjacent to the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum.  Admission is free; donations accepted.

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