Archive for November, 2007

LH Police Patch Collecting Causes Concern

November 22, 2007

Police patches are increasingly being collected by those interested in the imagery itself, causing concern that the patches will be used to impersonate an officer. Among the many collectable topics is the Lincoln Highway, particularly patches with a road-related graphic. The patch of the Tama, Iowa, police includes what is perhaps the most recognizable LH landmark, the town’s concrete bridge with the road’s name in its side rails. An article in the Marshalltown Times-Republican says eBay offers thousands of patches daily due to this cross-collectability: “Recently a pair of Tama Police Department patches which features the famed Lincoln Highway bridge along with an older department patch sold for just over $27 for the three. It’s likely both police patch and Lincoln Highway memorabilia collectors drove the price offering on the eBay site.” Most departments do not give patches to collectors, but instead destroy old or worn ones.

OH_Cairo patch

The police page for Cairo, Ohio makes clear in big red letters, “Cairo PD is not currently giving away or trading patches.” The patch shows the road and spells out “Lincoln Highway.” The page, which has a LH logo, also recounts the road’s history through town:

“In 1921 Lincoln Highway went through Cairo, which was known as West Cairo at the time, on the former Bucyrus Road. Lincoln Highway was eventually designated as U.S. 30. When U.S. 30 was expanded into a four lane, Cairo was bypassed approximately one half mile to the south. Although U.S. 30 has moved south, historic Lincoln Highway still runs through Cairo.”

Radio Host taking Lincoln Highway from IL to CA

November 21, 2007

CPR logo

Gianofer Fields of Chicago Public Radio is heading west, soon to pick up the Lincoln Highway. Her first stop was in Burlington, Iowa, checking out Snake Alley, aka the World’s Crookedest Street. As she says, “I haven’t even made it to the Lincoln Highway and I’m already having a great time. With about 2000 miles to go on this trip, I’d better pace myself.” Read the first day’s journal (Monday, Nov. 26) or listen to it at the Chicago Public Radio site.

Gas pump at corner of Lincoln Highway and Rt 66

November 21, 2007

Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News has an interesting story about the “Joliet Kicks on 66” campaign. That Illinois city is promoting sites along the famous Chicago-to-LA road as explained in a news story. The Kicks web site offers lots of places and things to see, including 5 good-looking, very detailed replica gas pumps. Here’s a snap of the page showing the pump at the intersection of 66 and the Lincoln Highway:

IL Joliet pump
Road buffs know there’s another crossing of the two historic highways. To the west, a later alignment of 66 ran through Plainfield where 66 actually shares the road with the LH. Banners there celebrate the pairing.

Lincoln Highway fans also know that the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in Pennsylvania established a fantastic Pump Parade a few years ago. Along the 200-mile corridor from Irwin to Gettysburg are 22 fiberglass replica 1940s pumps, though differing from these in that they were decorated by artists. Here’s one at Schatzer’s Market, a fruit and produce stand west of Chambersburg:

PA Shatzer’s

PA's Westmoreland County plots future of US 30

November 21, 2007

The two developments mentioned yesterday are just a small part of Route 30’s spiraling growth east of Pittsburgh. Concern for the corridor led the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County to host a 5-day design charrette atPA Growth logo the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg campus (its home base). The focus was the future of U.S. 30/the Lincoln Highway—how to specifically preserve the rural landscape, revitalize towns, and enjoy the benefits of growth while avoiding clogged roadways, vanishing open spaces, and soaring home prices.

A 4-year study started in 2005 covers 40 miles and 12 municipalities from Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs to the Laurel Highlands, known to Lincoln Highway travelers for the steep winding road on the west side of Laurel Mountain. A master plan being developed will present a prototype for safe, efficient, attractive, and connecting land use. The finished plan is expected in April 2008, followed by a year of implementation. According to Smart Growth, the project is unique in that a non-profit entity is taking a proactive, collaborative approach to help shape communities.

PA_Greensburg rural

Above: The Lincoln Highway east of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. With 4-lane US 30 to the right, and houses rising on farmland to the left, how long can this rural roadscape survive?

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette summarized the concepts developed by the group with help from a team of design professionals, engineers, architects, urban planners and landscape architects:

• Mixed use development with the highest density centered on Route 30.

• Public open spaces providing gathering places throughout the site.

• A gateway at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 981 serving as an “arrival point” to Latrobe and the Laurel Highlands.

• Retaining the Route 30 corridor as a regional connection with parallel roads providing local “circulation.”

• Greenways defining the development areas as well as connecting the rural context of the development.

Visit to see the plan, photos, and more information.

Also from that stretch of US 30/Lincoln Highway, here’s a view of the nice-looking building mentioned in yesterday’s post – the headquarters of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, courtesy of that group via Susan Schmucker, whose brother’s construction company (Dill Construction) built it in 1964. It’s faced in Delaware River sandstone and topped by a metal cupola that conceals the chimney. Cost, including fountain and parking lot, was $312,500 back then. The authority moved out the end of October and it’s set to be demolished. Susan says they outgrew the facility, and traffic had increased dramatically due to retail development, but they will miss it.


Roadhouse-turned-restaurant closes in W PA

November 20, 2007

Chesterfields Restaurant, a popular dining choice in North Huntingdon Twp., Pennsylvania, closed recently to make way for a Walgreens drug store and a Starbucks. The Lincoln Highway landmark just west of Irwin (now across from Norwin Shopping Center) opened as the El Dorado in 1934, then for years was the Ben Gross Supper Club, famed for its dinner theater. It had been Chesterfields since 1986, and was one of the last of the region’s legendary dinner spots. According to The Daily News [McKeesport, Oct. 23], with the current owner’s husband passed on and their two sons not interested in a labor-intensive business, they sold to Walnut Capital brokerage firm for $1.5 million. The restaurant was host to many local banquets, celebrations, and Rotary meetings, and until recently had 87 employees. Also likely to be demolished is the adjacent Kirk Haight Auto Sales, best known in years past for having a car atop a pole. See a short video of Chesterfields final day at WPXI.

PA_El Dorado
1934: Signs advertised spaghetti, steak, chicken, beer, and dancing to an orchestra.

2007: You can still see the roadhouse and to its left, a one-story building with gable windows.

According to a Tribune-Review article, the 3.6 acre plan needed a variance or it would not have been allowed under the shopping center code, so 58 parking spaces will serve where 87 would otherwise be required for that size development. Also, the township asked for an electronic community bulletin board along the Lincoln Highway across from the intersection with Lincoln Way (a road deceptively named in the 1920s to divert LH traffic through the Mon Valley). An Eckerd Pharmacy already sits across the road at that intersection.

According to Walnut Capital’s site, the developer also bought and is demolishing the 1964 Colonial Revival headquarters of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County on the Lincoln Highway to the east in Hempfield (west of Greensburg) for a Walgreens and other retail. (That 16.1 acre site went for $6 million.) In a nod to the road, it will be known as Lincoln Place. Click here for images of that development.

Diners just got Easier to Find Along the Lincoln

November 19, 2007

Two new online resources will ease your search for classic diners along the Lincoln Highway or anywhere.

OH_St Tr DinerAbove: Earle Hersman at the grill at Jacki and Earle’s Steel Trolley Diner in Lisbon, Ohio, a 1955 O’Mahony-brand diner. Traveling all day across Ohio, there is no bigger thrill than pulling into town, seeing the lights on 24 hours a day, and knowing you can get breakfast, dinner, dessert, or just some coffee for the miles ahead.

Since starting Roadside magazine in the early 1990s, Randy Garbin has published maps to locate and identify diners, those factory-made restaurants with a counter that so many of us love. Then he compiled the info into a bound volume organized by state. Now that amazing database is available on the web at no charge: Diner Finder Online. Visitors to will find the feature in the tabs to the right and need just do a simple free registration to gain access. Once there, you click on a US state, and go to a list alphabetized by name, with city identified and an occasional picture. (Once you’re registered, you can access the site directly at Fellow researchers and food lovers have already contributed dozens of updates and corrections, making it the premiere guide to some 1875 diners. The print version is still available too.

Randy told me, “You could say that this project started back in 1986 when I first became ‘diner-aware.’ I vowed then to find and eat in every diner in the country, and this is part of that effort. It remains a work in progress and I continue to receive dozens of updates and photos from readers every week.” Here’s an example of what happens when you click the entry for the Steel Trolley Diner, 140 E Lincoln Way, Lisbon, Ohio:

Anim Diner gif

Another new source for diner info is Larry Cultrera’s Diner Hotline blog, which I’m proud to say was inspired by my move to blogging. Larry has written the Diner Hotline column for the Society for Commercial Archeology’s magazine (which I design) since 1988. He took his first diner photo in November 1980, then the following July started a Diner Log. He’s up to 806 diners but seems to know every diner’s story and owners, past and present. Check it out at The heartbreaking image at his page top shows the former Rosedale Diner of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, which appeared in 1973 on Daryl Hall and John Oates’ album Abandoned Luncheonette.

Diner Hotline

Western Wyoming LH Corridor Threatened

November 18, 2007

Our friend RoadDog alerts us to a possible threat to the Lincoln Highway in western Wyoming. An article in the Casper Star-Tribune says there’s a good chance the undrivable Lincoln Highway remnant from Green River east to Rock Springs could be revamped into a connector road. Though the two cities are just 12 miles apart, I-80 is the only paved road connecting them, forcing commuters and other locals to compete with a rising tide of trucks brought on by the region’s oil and gas boom.

WY_Green River I-80

According to the article, “Two of the three proposed routes would begin at Green River’s east I-80 interchange and then follow the remnants of the old Lincoln Highway—which used to run between the two cities—north of I-80. A third route would start on the city’s south side and run south of the interstate, hooking up with U.S. Highway 191…. [U]nofficial cost projections to build an approximately 12-mile-long road have been estimated at about $2 million per mile, or around $24 million total. Officials expect the project to take a decade or longer to complete.”

Most dismaying for those concerned about preserving the LH’s roadscape, local leaders hope the new road will bring housing, business, and industry. Green River officials especially say the city has been hemmed in by Castle Rock and I-80 to the north, and steep undevelopable land to the south.

UPDATE 12/31/07: “Locals will help choose route” in the Caspar Star-Tribune.

Mystery Photo 1: Outhouse, Gas Pump, Tractor

November 17, 2007

Weekends seem like a good time to run shorter stories. First up is an interesting shot from John and Lenore Weiss of an outhouse and tractor – know where it’s at? We’ll start with a general clue that it’s a well-known LH stop in the Midwest. Please leave your guesses by clicking Comments below the picture.


Austin, Nevada's Lincoln Motel Gets Gussied Up

November 16, 2007

Next time you’re in Austin, Nevada, Jan Morrison will scoop you an ice cream cone or rent you a room for the night. The desserts come from her Main Street Shops, located in an 1881 merchantile, where she offers everything from Victoriana to local art to souvenirs from Nevada and the Lincoln Highway. It’s at her coffee shop there that you can get ice cream or fresh-baked biscotti.


Her rooms are at the c. 1950 Lincoln Motel, which has 17 units, three of them studios with kitchens. Just look for the reproduction LHA concrete post out front. Jan says it was put there last summer by the Nevada Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association, which has worked hard placing the posts and other signs along the route through Nevada.

Since she took over the motel about a year-and-a-half ago, Jan has been making improvements such as paving the entire parking lot, updating the plumbing and electrical, replacing carpet and painting nearly every room, and adding wi-fi. She encourages reservations (775) 964-2698 because “we and the other motels easily fill up by 8 pm. Sometimes touring groups reserve the entire motel. If you head west, Fallon (1.75 hrs) usually has rooms, but if you are heading east, Eureka fills up just as we do.” It’s also the only motel in Austin that accepts pets.

Of course, the history here stretches before car travel: “It is built on the site of the first silver mine in 1862, the year that the “Rush to the Reese River’ started. There were over 20,000 mining claims around Austin and its population went from a few miners to nearly 10,000 people just a few years after the silver discovery.” Here’s a photo or click here for an extra-large wide-angle view.


Jan has more info about her businesses and interests here but she is a big booster for the entire area: “We have hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails, beginning to expert. The bike trails include ‘one track’ and ‘two track’ routes and go through forest, meadows, desert, and some very challenging climbs and drops. Several of the trails start right in town at the park or the east end of town where a bike shop used to be. (Unfortunately, the business moved to a larger market area in Elko, so there is no place to rent bikes anymore.) We have free bike trail guides at most merchants and in the courthouse (not open on weekends). The Chamber of Commerce will mail them out in advance, call (775) 964-2200. We are also a central place for day trips to ghost towns, fishing, hot springs, hiking, and off-road exploring. We have 13 buildings and sites on the National Register and are working hard on restoring them.”

Shoe House Gets Save-A-Landmark Makeover

November 15, 2007

The famous Haines Shoe House in south-central Pennsylvania got a fresh look through the efforts of Hampton Hotels’ Save-A-Landmark program. Built in 1948, the 3-story stucco shoe and its fence were painted at no charge of materials or labor. Carleen and Ronald Farabaugh have owned the house since 2003, giving tours and selling ice cream, and occasionally staying overnight. Carleen told me there’s always work to be done but they are thrilled with what the company’s 15 volunteers accomplished: “The Shoe House was desperately in need of a facelift. Hampton’s generosity should help to preserve the Shoe House for years to come so everyone can enjoy it.” She adds that all revenue is put into its restoration.
Shoe House restoration

The house was built as a promotional gimmick for Mahlon Haines to advertise his chain of shoe stores—he’d loan the shoe (actually, a work boot) free to honeymooners and retirees who lived in a town that had a Haines Shoe Store. The house was set back a bit from the Lincoln Highway, but a Route 30 bypass now runs just outside its windows.

Chris Epting, author of numerous books on roadside landmarks, was there as spokesman for the Save-A-Landmark program doing TV and radio spots: “This was another wonderful opportunity to be a part of helping to restore a vital roadside landmark. This program continues to succeed on levels that are unprecedented for these kinds of efforts, and I’m very proud to be working with Hampton Inn as we move forward to the next landmark.” Also attending was Kyle Weaver of Stackpole Books, editor of my books and working with Epting on a forthcoming Stackpole title, The Birthplace Book. The photos seen here were graciously loaned by Kyle.

Hampton donated $20,000 in supplies for the Shoe redo, and organized a collecting effort for Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes shoes for people affected by natural disasters.

Shoe House shoe collection

Hampton Hotels’ Save-A-Landmark program has helped preserve more than 30 American architectural oddities since 2000. The Shoe has it’s own Hampton page, and an article about the event ran in the York Daily Record.