What is a Byway?

A byway is a road that has been designated as having special archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic qualities. The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway is Iowa’s only “heritage” byway, recognizing its important history as a portion of the United States’ first coast-to-coast improved highway.

The route of the byway reflects several historic paths, or alignments, of the original Lincoln Highway. The main route covers approximately 385 miles from Clinton, on the Mississippi River, to Council Bluffs, on the Missouri River. Another 75 miles of “loops” (side trips off the main byway) take you on original stretches of the Lincoln Highway or to beautiful scenes of the Iowa landscape that look much as they did 100 years ago. At 460 total miles, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway is Iowa’s longest byway.

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway spans Iowa from east to west and from river to river through 13 counties. In addition to Clinton and Council Bluffs, the byway travels through Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Ames, Boone, Jefferson, Carroll, Denison and numerous other communities. The byway is marked with Iowa Byways signs, historic Lincoln Highway markers, as well as telephone poles painted with the Lincoln Highway’s distinctive red, white and blue “L” logo.

Photos courtesy of Tom Apgar and Carl Wycoff

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“Iowa Byways” and the Iowa Byways design mark are registered trademarks. The word mark ‘Lincoln Highway’ is a registered trademark of the National Lincoln Highway Association.