Learning and Sharing About the Byway

The Corridor Management Plan is coming along nicely. From our community input meetings, reviewing city comprehensive plans, and discussions with officials in communities and counties along the Byway we certainly have an exhaustive amount of information and ideas to make a very detailed living document. I have kept my nose to the grindstone for a while now and did come up for air last week when I took a few days off. The second day back, I attended the Travel Federation of Iowa’s Legislative Showcase at the State Fairgrounds. This was the first event I attended last year when I began as the coordinator of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. I know SO much more about the Lincoln Highway and Byways in general than I did last year at this time. I was able to talk about the Lincoln Highway and the Iowa Byway program to the legislators as they passed by the Iowa Byways' booth and encouraged them to continue...
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Winter and the Byway

In my first year as the coordinator, I have enjoyed traveling on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway and seeing the seasons change. I remember how wonderful it was to see the green grass emerge and the trees starting to bud. Then later in summer, due to timely rains, the grass remained green and the crops were maturing. This fall, everything seemed to be a golden color as crops were harvested and tree leaves began change color and drop. Today the sun is out, but the wind is howling and tomorrow's forecast is for SNOW! We all knew it would happen sometime and I guess we should be happy we have avoided it so far. I know as an Iowan, snow is inevitable. This forecast has me thinking. Yesterday, I was asked to submit winter photos along the Byway for a marketing program. As I looked at the photos we have on file, I began to make peace with the approaching season. Winter...
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That Chautauqua Thing on October 3-4

For many older Iowans, Chautauqua is not a new word. But for non-natives, or if you are from a younger generation, you may have never heard of the word Chautauqua! In the late 1800's and early 1900's, each Chautauqua was a popular multi-county gathering, where folks would travel far and wide to attend the popular assembly. A Chautauqua brought education, culture, and entertainment for the whole community with speakers, teachers, musicians and entertainers. Legacy Learning Boone River Valley is putting a new spin on an old tradition with "That Chautauqua Thing" on October 3-4, 2015. It's about learning - a new skill, discovering a new hobby, the history of the region, or learning a heritage craft. This community-wide intergenerational learning weekend will feature events for the entire family with entertainment, tours, and both short and longer workshops. There's a range of prices - some are free! Individual workshops with their details and registration are on the website (see October 3-4 classes), so...
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Summertime on the Byway

Summer has been a busy time along the Byway! I did make it to the Mahanay Bell Tower Festival in Jefferson and rode the elevator 120 feet up to the observation deck of the 14-story Tower. What a view!! It gave me a whole new perspective of the countryside and it was great to see the Lincoln Highway as a ribbon running through it. I also enjoyed the beautiful Thomas Jefferson Gardens and RVP~1875, where they make furniture with only hand tools. Its like stepping back in time and they'll even show you what they are working on! Another great tour is the Sawmill Museum in Clinton in the Lyons District on the north side of the city. Lyons was the name of the town where the first bridge linked Illinois to Iowa on the Lincoln Highway. Lyons is now part of Clinton. The Sawmill Museum has great displays of the history of the lumber industry in Clinton. It was a...
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Festivals, Meskwaki, and more

Summer is here! Let the festivals begin. My first taste of a Lincoln Highway festival was at the Tama-Toledo Lincoln Highway Bridge Park Festival on May 15th. The park is really looking nice with the plantings and the City of Tama having repaved part of the driveway. The festival program included children singing, the Mayor of Tama and other dignitaries speaking, and Abe Lincoln reciting his Gettysburg Address. The highlight of the night was getting a photo op with Abe Lincoln! This past weekend I learned more about the history of the Meskwaki Nation at an event held in Ames in the North River Valley Park. The Meskwaki settled in Iowa around 1650 and their primary settlements were along the Mississippi River and rivers in Eastern Iowa, but the land they utilized ranged across the state. It was a hands-on event with a chance to grind corn and play with Native American toys and games. In the 1830's, under the Indian Removal...
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Getting to Know the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of getting to know the Byway. John Mazzello, the Corridor Management Plan project coordinator, and I have been traveling the across the state holding public meetings. The input from individuals and professionals has been stellar! It has been fun getting to know the communities and see what they have to offer to residents and Byway travelers. Where do I start with the scenery I have seen? The first day of traveling, everything looked all brown and yucky from winter's cold. Then a good rain happened in the night and the next day it seemed all the buds on trees and bushes had sprung to life. The grass started greening too. For so many past springs, I have worked in an office and not really been able to witness the "Spring has Sprung" phenomenon! I have seen many wetland restoration projects along the Byway. I especially like the one to the west of Tama near...
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Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway: Year in Review

Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway: Year in Review

By John Mazzello, Project Coordinator With 2014 nearly in the rear-view mirror and 2015 starting to appear in the headlights, now is a good time to take a look back at the Lincoln Highway’s 101st year in Iowa.  2014 saw a deepening of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway’s role in the state. We launched an exciting new project, the development of a new Corridor Management Plan for the byway, this year.  This plan is an important opportunity for the byway to reach out to residents, businesses, and travelers to create a strong strategy to support Iowa’s communities along the Lincoln Highway and preserve the important resources of the byway. Also in 2014, we moved forward with a unique project to identify locations along the byway with sustainable land management practices, thanks to a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.  This project will allow us to build interpretive signage to highlight these land practices, sharing with byway travelers who we know are...
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In Honor of National RC&D Week

Almost 50 years ago, Congress established a unique program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that empowered rural people to help themselves. The USDA focus was to assist local people by providing tools and technical support to stabilize and grow their own communities while simultaneously protecting and developing natural resources. The program is called the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) program. To carry out the RC&D concept, diverse groups of local volunteers (the RC&D Council) are brought together in a unique partnership to find solutions to their problems. Local people are best able to determine needs and create solutions for their communities. The focus on local direction and control has made RC&D one of the most successful rural development programs in the country. The week of September 21-27, 2014, has been designated as National RC&D Week. Prairie Rivers of Iowa RC&D Council was organized in 2001 as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Our mission is “To promote opportunity-based stewardship that will improve the...
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Giving Back – Brandrup’s Timber Part 3

  This story is in three parts. Make sure to keep an eye out for each piece to learn more about The Hamilton County Conservation Board is proud to proclaim its newest public wildlife management area that will be known as “Brandrup’s Timber”. Part 3 Pat and I could not have done this by ourselves.  It is also about partnerships, shared visions, and dedication of conservation minded organizations.  specifically, the Hamilton County Conservation Board, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Hamilton County Pheasants Forever, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Eagle Grove and Little Wall Lake Chapters of White Tails Unlimited, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Stamp Fund.  The opportunity to “Give Back” wouldn’t have happened without their help, support and shared visions for the future of everyone.” “Brandrup’s Timber” is 112 acres in size and is comprised of native timber, restored prairie grasses and wetland.  It is located 2 miles north of Webster City on White Fox Road and 1 mile west...
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License Plates: a brief overlook

License plates are something we all see every day.  It can define who we are by showing support for our favorite universities or used to pass the time on long road trips, counting as many different states we can find.  But how did these metal plates get started? The first required license plates in the United States were in New York in 1901.  However, these plates were not state issued, meaning they were created by the owner of the vehicle.  These first license plates often consisted of the owner’s initials, which could cause confusion amongst cars.  In 1904, Iowa entered the playing field and began requiring license plates of their own. These license plates were often fabricated on pieces of leather and consisted of a state issued number with and abbreviation of the state itself.  At first this system was effective, but as the number of cars grew these plates grew larger and larger to accommodate for the assigned number.  Standardization came...
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