The honor of America’s oldest truck stop – as well as one of the US state of Illinois’s most famous late night highway stops – goes to the Dixie Travel Plaza in McLean, IL.
What originally started as a small sandwich stand in a mechanic’s garage way back in 1928 expanded into a full-fledged restaurant called the Dixie Trucker’s Home a few years later. During the 1930s, Dixie Trucker’s Home quickly became popular among truckers driving down the Illinois stretch of Route 66. It also became America’s first 24-hour restaurant serving hot meals to the truckers throughout the day and night hours, setting the standard for truck stops across the country to follow suit and stay open for business 24 hours a day.
Dixie Trucker’s Home remained a mainstay of Route 66 for decades to come, serving truckers as well as “tourists” cruising down Route 66 during its heyday in the mid-20th century. Toward the close of the century, Dixie Trucker’s Home became part of a small local chain of truck stops which bore the McLean location’s namesake.
In 2003, Dixie Trucker’s Home became the Dixie Travel Plaza after the truck stop was sold to new owners. It changed ownership again in 2012.
To this day, Dixie Travel Plaza still serves a hot meal to anyone who comes in off the road at night!
- https://www.facebook.com/The-Dixie-Restaurant-158073454229427/ (Dixie Travel Plaza/The Dixie Restaurant’s Facebook page.)
- Dedek, Peter. Hip to the Trip : A Cultural History of Route 66. Albuquerque: UNM Press, 2007, pg. 36.