Archive for October, 2007

Bear Drama at Donner Summit Bridge

October 31, 2007

LHA map committee chair Paul Gilger tells us that the big story along the Lincoln Highway in California last month was the rescue of a bear hanging from the Rainbow Bridge atop Donner Summit.

CA bear 1

According to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, the 250-pound bear climbed over the edge to avoid cars about 3 pm Saturday, Sept. 15, then got stuck and hung on overnight until being rescued around noon Sunday. Claw marks could be seen in the concrete railing where the bear tried to stop itself from falling.

CA bear 2

A passerby got a net from an Army surplus store and strung it beneath the span, then an animal control official shot it with a tranquilizer dart. A pole was used to push the bear off the girder, then about a dozen volunteers safely lowered the bear 80 feet to the rocky ground below as about 100 spectators cheered. Truckee Animal Control Officer Dan Olsen said the joint effort included help from his organization plus The BEAR League, Nevada County Animal Control, the California Highway Patrol, and rock and tree climbers.

CA bear 3
Photos courtesy Town of Truckee Animal Control, and special thanks to its Manager Dan Olsen.

Follow-up and more images HERE.

Oldest Operating Gas Station in the US?

October 30, 2007

I drove some of the Lincoln Highway’s Washington DC Feeder route on Monday. If you’ve read the LHA’s official history, you’ll know that after the route announcement in 1913, DC leaders tried to get the city on the LH, even having President Wilson plead their case, but were turned down. Impassioned LH researcher Craig Harmon kept digging to find that in 1915, LHA President Henry Joy changed his mind and put DC on the route – but only as a feeder, like at Chicago, with red-white-red signs.

The DC Feeder ran from Philadelphia south through Wilmington, DE; Baltimore, MD; DC; north to Rockville, MD; and on to Gettysburg, PA. The LHA never acknowledged it in its road guides or institutional history book.

Much of the feeder route south of Gettysburg is now US 15, or former US 15, such as through Emmitsburg, MD. South of there in Thurmont, I bought gas at the oldest station I’ve seen pumping in a long time, maybe ever. The c. 1920 station is at the corner of Emmitsburg Rd (MD 806/old LH Feeder/old US 15) and Church St. Anyone know of any older stations still operating?
Thurmont Gas Stn 1

Thurmont Gas Stn 2

Waffles in Chambersburg, Coffee in Gettysburg

October 29, 2007

Unlike most cities in PA, neither Chambersburg nor Gettysburg ever got a LH/US 30 bypass, so the route through the center of each town is often congested. You might hesitate to stop, but it’s not that hard to find a spot or get back into traffic. In Chambersburg, head a block south (109 S Main St) to grab breakfast or lunch at Molly’s. Its traditional name is the Molly Pitcher Waffle Shop, named for a Revolutionary War hero.

PA Molly 1

Theo Katsaounis cooks and sometimes delivers the food himself while Annamarie Erkson handles the work out front. They took over just eight months ago and bring some Greek flair to the menu. You’ll find traditional PA Dutch chicken with gravy over waffles, or try Anna’s Bananas Foster with a buttery rum sauce over caramelized bananas on a Belgian waffle. Omelettes are made open faced, that is, baked in a mini-casserole dish. OPEN Mon-Sat 8am-3pm.

PA Molly 2

About a block west of Gettysburg’s square is the Ragged Edge Coffeehouse (110 Chambersburg St). Open 7 years, it offers a range of coffee and teas, fruit smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries with some seating inside or on a patio.

Get PA coffeehouse 2

Get PA coffeehouse 3

It’s a fashionable hangout for the college crowd but draws a broad clientele. The coffee shop is next to what was built in 1916 as a lavish theater-turned-early auto garage named Eberhart’s then Epley’s, seen in vintage postcards. OPEN daily 6:30am-9pm.

Get PA coffeehouse 1

Road Trip to Gettysburg, PA

October 28, 2007

Lots of miles and lots of photos. Here are some highlights from the drive eastward.

A c. 1980 Honda Gold Wing waits beside a 1928 LHA concrete post in Everett, east of Bedford. If you’re traveling US 30, make sure you exit into the towns along the way.

PA Everett cycle 2

Carolyn Courts sign – love the wavy “air conditioned” lettering!

Carolyn Courts

Traveler’s Rest Motel and restaurant.

Trav Rest

Wiltshire Motel, Breezewood.

Wiltshire Motel

The LHA loved to photograph Sideling Hill looking west. Here it is while driving east.

Sideling Hill

One of the LH Heritage Corridor Pump Parade gas pumps at Oak Forest Restaurant.

Oak Forest Restaurant

Lincoln Lanes east of Chambersburg, with a pin on the roof and new murals.

Lincoln Lanes

LL mural

A Ford and boattail Buick Riviera for sale at Route 30 Motors, Fayetteville.

Ford & Riviera

Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum, the place for candy, peanuts, and offbeat souvenirs. We’ll save details for a future report.

Mr. Ed’s

Kearney’s Covered Wagon Being Restored

October 27, 2007

John & Lenore Weiss recently stopped at the Covered Wagon in central Nebraska and talked with a contractor who is bringing the building, wagon, and oxen back to life. The once-busy attraction four miles west of Kearney was near the famous (and long gone) 1733 Ranch, where signs indicated the halfway point between Boston and San Francisco, 1733 miles each way. They sent two pictures that show the work underway.
Weiss Cvd Wagon 1
“The contractor remembers all of it very well!” says Lenore. “The new owner does want a 2-story building, so he is doing a fine job and will be using log siding. The oxen and wagon will be completely restored, but the oxen will stay the same colors. Inside the wagon will be an office or two, and the top of the wagon will be new canvas as well.”
Weiss Cvd Wagon 2
This is excellent news for anyone who has watched the site decline over the past 15 years, knowing the all-too-familiar fate of vintage roadside attractions. The attraction was built in 1932 by a pair of missionaries and later was run by Mr. & Mrs Boyd McClare and later Nicholas and Rose Ponticello. Kearney Planning Commission minutes from 2002 appear to approve the project that has just gotten underway.

Below are two views from its heyday, when postcards advertised that tourists could relax “and obtain worthwhile souvenirs at reasonable prices.” One of the unforgettable draws was a taxidermied two-headed calf. The two gas pumps look pretty sharp too.
BB cvd wagon pc 1

B cvd wagon pc 2

John and Lenore Weiss are known to Route 66 and now LH fans for their research, tours, and publications, including one that will soon be reviewed here that covers both famed routes plus the Dixie Highway.

Hitting the Road to Central PA

October 26, 2007

I’m leaving early Saturday for 3 days on the LH to Gettysburg, PA. No, the 1960 Chevy is not my car, though it is for sale along the Lincoln just west of Minerva, OH. I did own a ’60 Pontiac and ’60 Buick years ago, but that was BK – Before Kids! – so we’ll be in our trusty blue minivan with big LH logo magnets on the side.

1960 Chevy, Minerva, OH

And … Colo Motel to Open Soon

October 25, 2007

Colo sign 2Just as exciting as Niland’s Cafe reopening is that the restoration of the adjacent Colo Motel is nearly complete. (That’s their sign at left.) Six units offering modern amenities in a classic décor will be available for daily rental starting December 1. The motel closed in 1995 but in recent years has been part of the one-stop’s restoration that includes a non-working gas station and operating cafe. Colo Development Group hopes to someday use the memorabilia-filled gas station as a gift shop.

Scott Berka sent the photo below of the site before restoration was started – the motel is in the middle. Click here for a much larger version.

Colo Motel small

New operator for Niland’s Café in Colo, IA

October 24, 2007

Niland’s Café, closed this summer, has reopened. The Nevada [IA] Journal reports that Sandy Wilfong has agreed to manage the property for the Colo Development Group. The food service veteran also owns Sandy’s Café in Des Moines. “‘It’s always been a dream of mine to have this style of restaurant,’ Wilfong said. ‘I signed a three-year lease, but I plan on staying here a long time.’”

Niland’s outside new

Colo city clerk Scott Berka tells me the cafe had to close from April through July while they looked for a new operator: “Cory and Tammy Strait were our original lessee’s for the cafe (they opened in December 2003). They had a three-year lease. In summer 2006 Tammy had some serious health problems and when the lease was up Cory decided to take a job that required less hours and provided benefits. We certainly appreciate the work they put forth in getting the cafe up and running.”

The one-stop, with adjacent gas station and motel, opened about 1920 at the corner of Lincoln Highway and US 65, the old Jefferson Highway. Historical displays line the walls, and a 1939 Cadillac bursts from a corner of the dining room. The car-themed menu has entrees like the Route 30 Pileup, a roast beef dinner, and fried bologna. Fridays feature all-you-can-eat fish with salad bar, fries, and cole slaw; Sundays are all-you-can-eat fried chicken.

Niland’s from station

The town and café hosted one of my most fun book signings ever in 2005, when hundreds of locals turned out, most of whom had helped restore the café and gas station, loaned artifacts and photos, or donated to the effort.

Here, Dan Halferty and Brad Snodgrass help me at the table, with Scott Berka in yellow directing the line.

Niland’s Booksigning
Here’s Scott at the counter:
Niland’s, Scott at counter
And Scott sent this picture of me signing a book for descendant John Niland with Jim Hartwig next in line.
Scott’s pic-John Niland
Stop in, even if just for a piece of pie and a big slice of fun. Cafe hours:
Tue–Thur: 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Fri–Sat: 6:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sun: 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays.

Ohio LH Bricks in the News

October 23, 2007

Two recent articles discuss the fate of bricks used to pave the LH in Ohio, a state famed for its brick roads and pillars along the Lincoln.

The first story details the efforts of the Great Platte River Road Archway that spans I-80 in Kearney, NE, to acquire bricks for a historical display. Hoping to get one from each state, they instead got an offer from Ohio of 2,000 bricks unearthed from Tuscarawas Street in Canton during a road project. The only obstacle is getting them there, but former LHA president–and Canton resident–Bob Lichty has volunteered to lead the effort. Arch officials now plan to recreate a 30-foot long, 16-foot wide highway outside leading to a Lincoln Highway interpretive area. The LH centennial conference of the LHA will be held at Kearney in 2013, with the arch as a focal point.

The other story may not have such a happy ending. The Canton Repository reports that a half-mile of red-brick Cindell Street is set to be paved over, primarily because a township trustee says it’s rough surface is hard on slowplows. Only 10-12 feet wide, it is estimated that preserving the brick surface might cost a half-million dollars, while paving with asphalt would run only $27,000. With so many speaking out for its preservation, a fellow trustee has been given a year to find funding to preserve at least a portion of the road. LHA member Jim Ross has a map showing the brick portions in this area.

Cindell Street, just east of East Canton. already has some patching as seen here:
Looking E on Cindell St, E of East Canton, OH

New LH signs for Goshen, IN

October 23, 2007

The Indiana chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association, with help from the Goshen, Indiana, street department, has erected 54 Lincoln Highway signs. Featuring the LH’s red, white, and blue logo, the signs were kept wrapped in black plastic until their unveiling Saturday, October 20. Festivities started south of town along US 33 at CR 40, then police escorted the group as it followed the route through Goshen.

LHA president Jan Shupert-Arick offered remarks and recounted how on June 22, 1915, US Vice-President Thomas Marshall had originally dedicated the road through town. The Goshen News also quoted LHA member Tom Riggs that he hopes a local business will support the replacement of the city’s welcome arch that once stood at N. Chicago Avenue and Beaver Lane.

Here, LHA executive director David Hay, LHA president Jan Shupert-Arick, and LHA vice-president Russell Rein stand next to the southernmost sign (photos courtesy Jerome Miller, Goshen):
Hay, Shupert-Arick, Rein at Goshen sign

LH supporters at the northern-most sign:

Crowd at northern Goshen sign