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 “must see” for me and I recommend it for all ages.

The annual Lincoln Highway Association conference was held in Ann Arbor, MI this year. Participants could tour downtown Detroit, the Packard proving grounds, and the archives at the Bentley and Hatcher Libraries at the University of Michigan. Detroit is not on the Lincoln Highway, but has deep connections to the auto industry and to the men who organized the Lincoln Highway and its route.

Another event, although held in Ankeny, did bring a focus to the the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway when the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Rally had, among many rides, a featured ride to Marshalltown and then to Ames via the Byway. Prairie Rivers of Iowa set up a booth at the H.O.G. Rally and gave out information about the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway and the Byway program in Iowa. Motorcyclists are very interested in the 2-lane scenic views as their ride (journey) itself is often more important than the destination.

The most recent event I attended was the 101st Meskwaki PowWow held just outside of Tama. I enjoyed the music and dancing, native items for sale, and food vendors. I especially liked the Indian fry bread. Next time I’ll try it as an Indian Taco. Although they invited the spectators to come join in the last dance, I did not. I’ll do that next time as well! Pacing myself.

I am able to travel the state along the Byway and learn more about the communities and their history, strengths, challenges, and plans for the future. We continued the Corridor Management Plan community input meetings,having now held 15 of them across the state. By meeting many of the community leaders and members in each town, we have been able to gather insight into what the Lincoln Highway has done for their community and what it can do for them in the future.

Many communities and counties are working on future ideas as well such as the Story County Cornerstone to Capstone (C2C) project and the plans for the Nevada downtown streetscape. The Boone Historical Museums are partnering with the University of Iowa in developing their 4 museums. I have been working with residents and government officials concerning bridges in the city of Tama and in Linn County. A new Grant Wood mural has been painted on the side of a building in eastern Iowa. The overpass outside of Grand Junction will be replaced in the next few years. There are so many more projects and Ideas in different phases along the Lincoln Highway. It will be exciting to see them all come to fruition!

We are working on a baseline measurement of the economic impact of the Byway. If you are traveling the Lincoln Highway, please stop in one of these locations and fill out a survey about your trip: Sawmill Museum in Clinton, the Belle Plain Museum in Belle Plaine, Lincoln Cafe and Wine Bar in Mt Vernon, John Ernest Vineyard and Winery outside Tama, King Tower restaurant in Tama, Niland Cafe in Colo, Greene County Museum in Grand Junction, Mahanay Bell Tower in Jefferson, Cronk’s restaurant in Denison, the Harrison County Historical Village and Iowa Welcome Center in Missouri Valley, and the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs.

There will also be a survey for residents to fill out and we should be rolling that out this fall, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, let’s get traveling the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway!

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