Next stop for The Spirit is in Morris, Ill.

July 29, 2020

Chuck Robinson


OOIDA’s tour trailer starts August in Morris, Ill.

OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker, is scheduled to be at the Morris, Ill., TA Travel Center on July 30 through Aug. 2. It is at the junction of I-80 and Route 47, Exit 112B from the interstate.

The Morris TA has 292 parking spots for semitrailers. The full-service restaurant there is temporarily closed. The Charley’s Philly Steaks fast-food eatery is open.

A Costco distribution center is across the street from the Morris TA.

Morris and the canal

Morris is about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.

The town is named after a commissioner of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Morris was incorporated in 1850, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Illinois & Michigan Canal connected the Chicago River at Bridgeport, Ill., near Chicago with the Illinois River at LaSalle, Ill., according to the same source. It traversed 96 miles. It was the first complete water route connecting the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

Canal construction began in 1836 and finished in 1848, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The canal was 60 feet wide and 6 feet deep, and it had 15 locks. Mules hauled towboats through the canal. Towns were positioned according to how far the mules could haul a boat. Much of the construction of the canal was done by Irish immigrants who had worked on the Erie Canal in New York. The canal was closed to navigation in 1933.

Here is a map of the canal.

Illinois has four state parks along the canal.

There were many canals dug in the Northeast U.S. in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The Geography of Transport Systems says by the late 1800s most canals had lost their commercial utility and were abandoned.

Thanks for the Beer Nuts!

The previous stop for The Spirit was at Bloomington, Ill., the hometown of snack maker Beer Nuts. That fact was mentioned in the announcement for that stop, and while Jon Osburn, skipper of The Spirit, was in town someone from the Beer Nuts factory stopped by with some samples for Jon.

Beer Nuts, gifts of the company to Jon Osburn, skipper of The Spirit

Other than that in Bloomington, Jon said one thing that seems to be getting to drivers are the closed restaurants. He has seen some drivers have melt downs about it, he said. Others would just like a meal that isn’t fast-food eaten in their truck cab.

Stop by when you see OOIDA’s tour trailer

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Jon Osburn, its skipper. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Free face masks are available at The Spirit. You also can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon.

The next scheduled stop for The Spirit after Morris is in North Chicago. Here is the schedule.


Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.