by PR & Marketing Coordinator Mike Kellner and Development and Event Coordinator Lisa Cassady

The Prairie Rivers of Iowa Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway™ – A National Scenic Byway program recently facilitated the design and installation of two interpretive panels 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 safe, fun, educational and engaging activities while road tripping along the Byway.

Travelers driving through Belle Plaine can discover a treasured legacy that has stood for more than four generations. In celebration, the Preston’s Station Historic District and the Prairie Rivers of Iowa unveiled a new interpretive panel on May 1. Visitors viewing the panel will learn about the district’s history and see the faces behind its 100 plus year legacy.

“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.”

Preston's Station Historic District Interpretive Panel

Mary Helen Preston and her husband Garry Hevalow shown here with the new interpretive panel telling the story of Preston’s Station generational legacy.

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.

A second panel featuring the Missouri and Mississippi Divide near Arcadia, Iowa along the Byway. The site marks the point where the water flows either east to the Mississippi River or west to the Missouri River.  It was unveiled on June 10 during a ceremony featuring remarks form Arcadia’s Mayor John Kevin Lieschti. “The Great Divide Road Side Park symbolizes the importance transportation has played in shaping our small town and its unique geographic location,” said Mayor Lieschti. “Arcadia’s location along the Lincoln Highway has also played an important role in bringing travelers and people to our town.” The town will be celebrating its 150th Birthday on Labor Day Weekend with a parade on Saturday, September 4.

M & Divide Interpretive Panel Unveiling

M & M Divide interpretive panel marks the point where the water flows either east to the Mississippi River or west to the Missouri River.

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.

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