Tourists driving through Belle Plaine along the Iowa Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway™ – A National Scenic Byway can discover a treasured legacy that has stood for more than four generations. In celebration, the Preston’s Station Historic District will unveil a new interpretive panel at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 1. Visitors viewing the panel will learn about its history and see the faces behind its 100 plus year legacy.
The Ames, Iowa-based not-for-profit Prairie Rivers of Iowa Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway program facilitated the interpretive panel’s design and construction as part of a ten-panel project using grant funding from the Union Pacific Railroad Community Ties Giving Program and Humanities of Iowa along with a cash match courtesy of The Burke Heritage Foundation. The panels offer travelers and their families a safe, fun, educational and engaging activity.
“We are honored to be one the sites to have been selected to install an interpretive panel,” says Preston’s Station Historic District owner Mary Helen Preston, “This panel showcases four generations of Prestons that began in 1913 when my great grandfather followed the Union Pacific to Belle Plaine for work and while watching the Lincoln Highway be rerouted through the town.”
From great grandfather to grandfather, to father, to daughter Mary Preston and her husband Garry, the family has remained Preston Station’s caretakers preserving the property and telling the story of how important the railroad and the Lincoln Highway have been to Belle Plaine.
Located at 402 13th Street in Belle Plaine, Preston’s Station was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in September 2020. It comprises an old gas station, a garage and motel. Visitors can appreciate what travel was like during the past along the Lincoln Highway while experiencing vintage gas pumps, signage and memorabilia.
The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway – A National Scenic Byway in Iowa is managed by Prairie Rivers of Iowa in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Transportation. Prairie Rivers’ mission is to preserve its history and tell the hundreds of stories from along its 470 miles running east to west, river to river through 43 communities in 13 counties in the state. Learn more at prrcd.org/lincoln-highway-heritage-byway.