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 the Otter Creek Marsh and in the Iowa River Corridor Bird Conservation Area. This area is rich in Meskwaki Nation history and their love of this land. It has an interpretive site detailing the Meskwaki story. A mounted binocular allows you to see the birds and wildlife that inhabit the area up close without disturbing them.

Nearby in Toledo is a cow and calf sculpture high on a hillside that honors Norma “Duffy” Lyon, the lady who for years sculpted the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair. (Although Toledo is NOT on the Byway- it’s close enough and I just have loved the Butter Cow at the Iowa Sate Fair for years!)

The trip to Clinton was fun because we traveled across a bridge to Illinois and came back across it to see what people’s first impressions would be of Iowa. I liked that Clinton incorporated the “L” in the Lincoln Highway logo with the “L” in their town name. It is such a great river town and has a long lumber industry history. Many historic mansions are still intact from its heyday when Clinton had the most millionaires per capita due to the lumber industry.

In Western Iowa, we learned that Jesse James was rumored to have hid out in the hills recuperating after a shootout. Carroll County has a history of bootlegging operations tied to Al Capone. And Abraham Lincoln once owned land in Iowa. There are so many more stories that came to light during these meetings. I can’t wait for us to compile them and share them in a more formal way!

And every trip needs to include food. We ate at Sister’s Country Kitchen in Logan. My chef salad at lunch was so huge, that I had the rest for supper! I also had a sandwich at the Lincoln Cafe in Belle Plaine that was very tasty. Wished I’d taken a picture of it, but I guess that means I’ll have to go back!

This is just a sampling of our experiences and I can’t wait to add to them. Tourist season and festivals are right around the corner! Let’s go explore the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway!

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