Pioneers of Transcontinental Travel

When one is doing research of pioneers of transcontinental travel and the Lincoln Highway, the two names that pop up immediately are Carl Fisher and Henry B. Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Company.  Carl Fisher, owner of the Prest-O-Lite (headlight) Company, supplied almost all of the headlights to the Detroit car manufacturers. He had already developed the Indianapolis 500 race and thought a "Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway" would be a good way for people to have a place to drive their cars. Plus it would help car sales! He enlisted the help of auto makers and Henry B. Joy became a very strong supporter as well as the first president of the newly formed Lincoln Highway Association. They renamed the route as the Lincoln Highway to pay tribute to President Abraham Lincoln because a memorial to him did not exist yet. But today's writing is about a lesser known pioneer for the Lincoln Highway, Henry C. Ostermann, the first Field...
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Historical Gas-Food-Lodging Stop at the Reed-Niland Corner

Historical Gas-Food-Lodging Stop at the Reed-Niland Corner

If you are looking for a unique, historical experience in middle America look no further than the Reed-Niland Corner in Colo, Iowa. This restored cafe, motel, and museum-like gas station location is a premiere stop on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. Whether it is the enticing good food, more-than-reasonable motel rates, or glow of the neon light in the Iowa landscape, this one-stop location has an appeal for the traveler like no other location in Iowa or even in the nation.                                               Photo credits: City of Colo It is literally in the middle of America. The Lincoln Highway was designated in 1913 and runs east and west at the north side of the town of Colo. It is now known as County Road E41. The Lincoln Highway begins in Times Square in New York and travels to San Francisco in California. The...
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Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Springs into 2018

Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Springs into 2018

It is finally March and with that comes the promise of Spring! The Byway is gearing up for a wonderful 2018. We are into grant writing season and as we wait for large state-wide projects to come to fruition, we are happy to tackle  smaller localized ones. One project just completed was for the community of Westside. The residents recently developed a park, the Eugene Kock Memorial Park, in honor of a local man who lost his life in Vietnam many years ago. The park has engraved paver bricks that can be purchased, seating for visitors, and a military sculpture placed in the center. The area is flanked by flags and soon will have an interpretive panel we created about the community placed there as well. We continue to work with the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) on other interpretive panels. Three smaller ones will be placed in the City of Jefferson's east entrance as part of their improvement project. The panels will...
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Thanksgiving Season On the Byway

Thanksgiving Season On the Byway

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am reflecting on the past 3 years I've worked at Prairie Rivers and with the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway (LHHB.) I am thankful for the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) and their vision to create and promote the road in 1913 and for the Iowa leaders who re-created theorganization in 1992,  to those Iowa LHA people who applied for the Iowa section to be part of the Iowa Scenic Byway program, to the Department of Transportation for including the Lincoln Highway in their Byway program and the support they continue to give to the Byways, and to the people in the communities along the route who work tirelessly to promote and support their neck-of-the-woods with their products, services, amenities, and attractions. A few weeks ago, I drove a part of the Byway and saw farmers out harvesting their crops. Dust was flying, wagons were being filled with crops, and slow-moving vehicles with equipment and wagons slowed...
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Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway News

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway has been selected to continue on to the second round of the ArtPlace America Grant! Out of 1,000 applications, 70 were selected for a site visit and asked to submit a final application. Our Byway was one of those selected. Quite an honor! The Byway's proposed project is to work with Preston's Historic District in Belle Plaine, Reed-Niland Corner in Colo, and Youngville in rural Benton County to restore their old gas stations; add art, interpretive signs, and oral histories; and re-purpose the stations by adding electric charging stations. Many partners have gathered to bring this project together and we can not wait to know if we receive these funds. We will continue fundraising efforts to add to the overall project that will be jump-started with the ArtPlace America grant. We also have a new Recreational and Camping Brochure available. It has been placed in some Iowa Welcome Centers and a few key Lincoln Highway locations,...
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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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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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Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Corridor Management Planning

This spring, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway’s Corridor Management Planning process moves forward into the Lincoln Highway’s many communities.  We are holding a series of public meetings to introduce the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway, and the concept of a Corridor Management Plan, to residents around the state. You may recall that a Corridor Management Plan (CMP) is a written document setting out a long-term plan for a byway and its important resources. The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway’s original CMP was created before the Lincoln Highway was designated as an Iowa Byway, so it no longer reflects needs of Lincoln Highway communities and residents. The new revision of the CMP will reflect the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway as an active and thriving part of Iowa’s past and present heritage. Upcoming public meetings are April 22 in Ames, April 23 in Toledo, April 25 in Marion, April 27 in Missouri Valley and Denison, April 28 in Carroll, and May 5 in Nevada.  Please visit...
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Traveling the Lincoln Highway Byway

I live just off the Lincoln Highway Byway and travel on it daily. But how well do I know this important piece of history? There was this new invention- the automobile- being produced and auto makers really wanted to sell their inventions. They needed roads for traveling and thought it would be pretty neat for cars to travel east and west across the entire nation. The Lincoln Highway began in 1913 as an assortment of existing wagon roads, turnpikes, and trails. The road started in Times Square in New York and ended in San Francisco, California. The Iowa portion was dictated in part by how to cross two rivers- the Missouri on the west and the Mighty Mississippi on the east. Good bridges were identified in Clinton and Council Bluffs and "good roads" were sought to connect these two points. This often proved to be a challenge, because much of Iowa was boggy, spongy soil and roads often turned to mud. Iowa...
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