The National Scenic Byway Foundation whose mission is to empower, strengthen and sustain byways has awarded the 2020 Organization Award for Interpretation to Prairie Rivers of Iowa and its Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway (LHHB) program. In the announcement, the foundation cited Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s use of interpretive panels across the state that enhance visitor experiences while traveling the byway.
“We’re honored to receive the award. This project started five years ago with two panels and now to date, we’ve created 20 panels throughout the communities of Westside, Jefferson, Scranton, Grand Junction, Ogden, Nevada, Montour and Tama. Our immediate goal is to install at least one interpretive panel in each of the 43 communities the Lincoln Highway connects with in Iowa,” says Prairie Rivers of Iowa LHHB Coordinator Janice Gammon.
One of the most recently installed panels honors the first Field Secretary of the Lincoln Highway Association Henry Ostermann who lost his life on the highway near Montour, Iowa in 1920. “The more I learned about Ostermann, the more I liked him. He was quite an individual,’’ says Gammon, “He worked at age six in New York City as a newsboy and then served three years in the U.S. Navy after joining at the age of 14. After the navy, he traveled around the country doing odd jobs including promotions for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”
“We are extremely proud of the work Jan does of behalf of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway and are thankful the National Byway Foundation is celebrating the results of her, time, efforts and expertise,” boasts Prairie Rivers Executive Director Penny Brown Huber. “We’ve had great design team members that have made significant contributions to our interpretive projects over the past several years,” Gammon says, highlighting the support the team has contributed to make the project a reality.
Organized in 1913, the Lincoln Highway was the first improved highway across the United States and in Iowa runs from Clinton to Council Bluffs. Along the route, travelers can enjoy rural landscapes and urban vitality. Original landmarks from the early days of the highway like old service stations and road signs can be seen along with cultural, historical and recreational attractions, wineries, breweries and eateries.