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I43 North Marker 31
N 42 43.138' W 88 28.164' Elkhorn
Elkhorn - Rest Stop 35

       
        The Elkhorn rest stop, and the accompanying East Troy rest stop, are unique in that they are completely isolated from the freeway. The road can not be seen from these rest stops, and mostly can't be heard.
        Both are set back into hillsides, behind generous plantings of trees. This is an area of rolling hills created by the area's well know glacial activity. The drive down I43, heading Northeast into Milwaukee from the Illinois border, is scenic; an area of scattered farms with the occasional town.
        The freeway here is mostly local traffic, with these rest stops being located between Milwaukee and Beloit/Rockford. The busier I90/I94, runs slightly east of here, and is the main Interstate of the area, carrying most of the Chicago traffic, and all traffic going east and west. So these are smaller and less often visited stops. They are very nearly local to Milwaukee now, with the Milwaukee urban sprawl coming to within twenty miles or so. Yet you still have that feeling of being out in the country.
         These are bunker style rest stops, with original construction in 1974, from poured concrete with few windows or other openings. In 1987 the building was expanded with the front lobby area being made from an enclosed shelter overhang. Bunker is a good description of the build of these pavilions. They are massive, constructed in a manner that can only be afforded by government or big business. If they are not demolished to make way for continuing urban sprawl, they could last hundreds of years.
        The facilities are somewhat basic, befitting a stop on a somewhat less trafficked highway, but the surroundings are beautiful. There are pull in/pull out stalls for 15 trucks in a separate truck parking area, and spaces for 47 cars in front of the main building. Within the structure are rest rooms, vending machines, a weather display, drinking fountains, a diaper change area, and a pay phone. Yes, an actual payphone. The whole area (including the payphone) is handicap accessible. It is also only 774 miles from Wall Drugs.  


Like all Wisconsin rest stops, parking is divided with separate areas for passengers cars and semi's. The division is in the photo to the left, and occurs right at the ramp. The truck parking is shown below while the (nearly empty) automobile parking is shown above. Trucks have large pull in/pull out spaces, while cars are provided with standard angle parking. A small strip of park separates the two areas, with a walkway between.

        Wisconsin rest stops all have a commemorative area, usually dealing with veterans and wars. In this case, a simple small plaque honors the sacrifice of Jerry Himebauch of the DPW, who died in a work zone accident. The memorial is mounted on a large stone in the midst of a wild garden in front of the main building.
        The photo below is a view towards the hillside from the front door of the main building. This view also shows truck and automobile parking, as well as the small native grass garden in front of the building. The area is peaceful, pleasant, and well maintained.




Above:
This is one of several recycling areas at the rest stop. This one is right outside the main door.

Left:
The walkway between the truck area and the main area. The two areas are separated by a green strip.

Below:
One of several picnic areas at the stop. With well manicured grass, concrete pads, and plenty of shade trees, these are great places to sit, relax, and enjoy a meal.


Above:
Looking past the pavilion towards the rest stop entrance. The well forested rolling hills of the area can be seen in the background.

Left:
The back of the bunker style building shows the satellite dish, service doors, and service area.

Below:
The attractive front of the expanded building, with its wild grass plantings, and walkways. Note the recycling area, and the various road oriented newsletters. These buildings are open 24 hours a day, but are unstaffed except for visits by the cleaning crew..


        Now here's something you don't see much of these days - a real payphone.  Even most public buildings and rest stops no longer have these, and it's a rare restaurant, bar, or store that has one. At one time these were common, but not any more.
        Where the original pay phones cost a nickel, it's fifty cents these days. In addition to being able to make voice calls, TTY is available on this phone, for those who can not hear or speak. It is also possible to make emergency calls or collect calls here without paying.
        In addition to the TTY of the phone, the entire place is handicap accessible, as are most public places these days. This is one of the little shelter style phone kiosks, and as such would usually have had a phone book on the shelf below the phone. Yet phone books are almost as rare as pay phones.

        The way this was originally built, in 1974, this lobby area was outside, with the restrooms inside. In 1987, the front area was roofed over, glassed in, and became a high ceilinged lobby. Entrances to men's and women's rest rooms are at opposite ends. Fans in the ceiling keep air circulated, and the air conditioning was a welcome cold on this very warm day.
        Vending machines sit at either end of the lobby area. The proceeds of these machines goes to the American Council of the Blind, who staffs the cleaning crews. A bulletin board and some general information displays are in the middle of the area. There is also a map dispenser and a suggestion box.
        At one time this place would have been full of racks containing various tourist brochures for local attractions. Today this seems mostly to be a function of the Internet, though there are a few welcome center rest stops at state borders that still dispense such things.
        These remain nice places to stop a while, relax, maybe use the rest room, pick up a map and a few snacks, and then be on your way.

Above:
A coffee machine, a pair of drinking fountains (called bubblers in local slang), and a video display showing the current weather and forecast.

Left:
The ladies rest room and a set of exit doors opening to the back of the building. The tile floors and concrete walls of the place make cleaning easy, and also make for a very long service life. This place will probably outlive the people who built it.
Left:
On the opposite end of the lobby are the doors to the men's room

Below:
Admit it - you wanted to know. This was the original purpose of highway rest stops - to give drivers and passengers on long road trips a place to use the bathroom. This was an alternative to just pulling over and heading out into the woods. The 1973 era construction is pretty obvious here, but these places were built to last.