Historic Route 45 by Chris Lovelady & Aaron Taylor

Before the interstate highways were built, the primary route from Chicago to Southern Illinois was US Route 45. US 45 is the longest US Highway in Illinois at 440 miles, stretching from Chicago to a bridge crossing into Padukah, KY. On a Friday and Sunday nights, traffic was bumper to bumper’ making the crossing of Route 45 almost impossible for local residents. Several service stations were located on Route 45, one of which belonged to Pat Murphy. Pat maintained a service station in town, eventually settling into the former carriage shop at the northwest corner of Route 45 and Jefferson Streets. Pat had attended the University of Illinois for two years before dropping out due to financial reasons. A true character, Pat was known as mechanical genius, able to repair anything with an engine.

In his younger days, Pat was once a ride along mechanic competing in the Indianapolis 500 race. Later Pat became a local celebrity for the help he gave Charles Lindbergh, the famed American aviator who made the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Lindbergh was a U.S. Mail pilot prior to this famed flight and during one of these mail flights incurred engine troubles requiring him to make an emergency landing outside Lovington, IL. No mechanics in the immediate Lovington area knew how to work on airplane engines, so Pat Murphy, only 20 miles away in Arcola was called to help. Pat would later recall in stories how he had cut a piece of wire from a farmer’s fence and fashioned it into a working part to fix Lindbergh’s engine. Pat got Lindbergh back on his journey with a warning to be and sure to properly repair the engine when he made it to St. Louis. In 1977, Pat was cited as a “town celebrity” by Charles Kuralt, a long-time CBS reporter, when he visited Arcola to do a feature for his On the Road segment featuring Bob Arrol’s Coffee Club. In 1986, the coffee club and Pat were included in Kuralt’s 1986 book titled On the Road with Charles Kuralt.”   

A pairing from Florida were charged with creating the Historic Route 45 mural. Chris Lovelady hails from Tallahassee, FL but runs his sign shop, Vital Signs, across the state line in Thomasville, Georgia. Chris has been a sign painter for 20 years after studying the craft at the Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design in Denver, Colorado. Chris became involved with the Walldogs after taking an interest in the Creative Signmakers of America organization.

Co-project leader Aaron Taylor resides with his family in Pensacola, FL. Aaron got his start in graphic design over 16 years ago, starting as a screen printer in a local t-shirt shop. In 2006, Aaron went off on his own and started A Router Works where in addition to traditional sign painting, Aaron specializes in producing dimensional signs through traditional carving methods as well as CNC machining.