A byway is a road that has been designated as having special archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic qualities. The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway is Iowa’s only “heritage” byway, recognizing its important history as a portion of the United States’ first coast-to-coast improved highway.
The route of the byway reflects several historic paths, or alignments, of the original Lincoln Highway. The main route covers approximately 385 miles from Clinton, on the Mississippi River, to Council Bluffs, on the Missouri River. Another 75 miles of “loops” (side trips off the main byway) take you on original stretches of the Lincoln Highway or to beautiful scenes of the Iowa landscape that look much as they did 100 years ago. At 460 total miles, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway is Iowa’s longest byway.
The Lincoln Highway spans Iowa from east to west and from river to river through 13 counties. In addition to Clinton and Council Bluffs, the byway travels through Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Ames, Boone, Jefferson, Carroll, Denison and numerous other communities. The byway is marked with Iowa Byways signs, historic Lincoln Highway markers, as well as telephone poles painted with the Lincoln Highway’s distinctive red, white and blue “L” logo.
The Iowa Lincoln Highway Association
The Iowa chapter of the national Lincoln Highway Association is a membership group dedicated to preserving, interpreting and expanding access to the Lincoln Highway and its associated sites. The ILHA meets quarterly and is very active in Lincoln Highway communities and statewide. The ILHA always welcomes new members. Click here for membership information. Joining the national Lincoln Highway Association includes membership to the Iowa chapter. Membership benefits include the national quarterly magazine The Lincoln Highway Forum, the quarterly Iowa newsletter, access to Lincoln Highway Association conferences and motor tours, as well as membership in a vibrant community of dedicated Lincoln Highway enthusiasts. Learn more about the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association at www.iowalincolnhighway.org or on their Facebook page.
Lincoln Highway-Related Sites
Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway on Facebook: Daily posts including motivational quotes, Lincoln Highway photography, history anecdotes, favorite byway locations and upcoming events. Share your Lincoln Highway adventure with others on Facebook!
Official Map of the Lincoln Highway: A detailed Google Map of the entire coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway map, including several original routes and thousands of points of interest across the country, including many in Iowa (be sure to click “points of interest” to view attractions).
National Lincoln Highway Association: The website of the national Lincoln Highway Association, which is made up of thousands of members from the 13 Lincoln Highway states and beyond.
Lincoln Highway News: An entertaining blog by Lincoln Highway historian and author Brian Butko, who covers the Lincoln Highway across the country.
Lincoln Highway Digital Image Collection: This University of Michigan Library digital collection contains the records of the original Lincoln Highway Association (1910-1927). It includes dozens of vintage Iowa images.