Archive for December, 2007

LHHC grant for Roadside Giants school projects

December 21, 2007

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor has been awarded $49,340 to build giant roadside attractions along its 200 miles of the Lincoln Highway. The projects will be designed and built by vocational/technical school students in themes that honor the 250th anniversary of Pittsburgh and its region. This and another article in Pop City calls them “roadside giants,” and in fact, the LHHC’s Kristin Poerschke tells me they hope to give each of the vo-tech schools a copy of my and Sarah’s Roadside Giants and Roadside Attractions books as part of the grant to help them with their designs.

LHC map

The LHHC is one of 100 regional and grassroots organizations and artists who received a total of $1 million in grants to help celebrate the anniversary. LHHC director Olga Herbert says they are honored because only 12 were selected from the 230 regional applications.

LHHC will collaborate with four career and technical schools in Greensburg/Hempfield, Latrobe/Ligonier, Somerset, and Bedford/Everest as well as with four communities along the Lincoln Highway, giving studens a chance to be creative and contribute something permanent to the communities:

The project envisions the sculptures to include items like vintage motor vehicles, historical figures like George Washington, images from popular culture like Texaco gas attendants and diner waitresses, old fashioned bicycles and gasoline pumps. The project will call upon graphic arts students to design the super sized metal sculptures. Other students will weld the metal, and design and printmaking students will be in charge of the brochures. Not to be left idle, the culinary arts students will bake gigantic models of the sculptures.

LHHCThe LHHC, one of 12 such heritage areas in the state, promotes economic development through tourism along the historic route of the Lincoln Highway in Westmoreland, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, Franklin and Adams counties.

Fire at Mountain View Inn, Greenburg, PA

December 20, 2007

A fire broke out around noon today at the Mountain View Inn, a landmark along the Lincoln Highway 4 miles east of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The fire was near a central tower, which was damaged, but no one was injured and the inn was set to reopen later today. Brief reports were in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
PA_MtnViewInn

The hotel, opened in 1924 (as pictured above), sits between the Lincoln Highway and its bypass, US 30. The tower, now used for the logo of the inn, is a more recent addition.

Has the Western Terminus Marker been Found?

December 19, 2007

A couple interesting blog posts by John P. O’Grady recall how Lincoln Park, the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway, was once a graveyard. In fact, it still is! His first posting explains that the thousands who were buried in San Francisco’s City Cemetery were simply landscaped over a century ago so that a golf course could be built. (Yikes, don’t take any deep divots!) Over time, the rest of the area was cleared too. What happened to the thousands of wooden markers and granite monuments? They were tossed over the bluff known today as Lands Fill! (More disconcerting, the practice of discarding tombstones while leaving the bodies is apparently not at all uncommon.) The second posting explains that scavengers, under cover of night, search through the debris for treasures, and one of them, Dominic Camposanto, recently found a 1928 Lincoln Highway concrete post.

CA_LincolnPark
Above: The view from the Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here’s the story from O’Grady’s blog:

Just recently, after an unexpected heavy rain, he discovered an original Lincoln Highway marker sticking out of the woody hillside like a phallus busted off an old Greek statue. Dom had no idea how that marker wound up in so unlikely a spot, nor did he care. He seldom takes interest in any stories attached to the articles he’s trying to unload, unless it can help make a sale. Anyway, with a prize like a Lincoln Highway marker, he didn’t need any story—all those collectors out there already had one. What they desperately lacked—and he could now supply—is the marker to go with that story. Thus Dom found an eager buyer over at the local university, a famous professor of climatology with a passion for Lincoln Highway memorabilia. The climatologist is very pleased with his purchase and has set it up in his backyard in the neighborhood around Rossi Playground. Now here’s where he could have used another story, one that might have revealed a little something about the history of this particular marker and—more importantly—something about the land upon which his own house is built. [Apparently, another graveyard.]

CA_TermMarker

This could be any one of the 2,400 concrete posts placed along the Lincoln Highway in 1928, but don’t you think there’s a good chance that a LH post dumped over the hill from where the “Western Terminus” LH post once sat would be the same LH post??

Any California LH fans want to look up a climatologist living near Rossi Playground and ask to see the right side of his concrete post?

Sunset Motel cabins a challenge for Evanston, WY

December 18, 2007

One of the stops during the 2008 Lincoln Highway Association conference in Evanston, Wyoming, will be the remains of the Sunset Motel. The string of six rooms—three with built-in garages—are on Bear River Drive, the LH on the east end of town near WY-89. Built in 1932 in Mission or Spanish Colonial Revival style, this portion of the motel has been saved—the question now is what to do with it.

WY_Sunset1

I asked Jim Davis about the motor court. He’s Director of Administrative Services for Evanston and also on the Advisory Board for the Wyoming Main Street Program, on the Advisory Board for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a staff member for the Evanston Historic Preservation Commission, and a founding member and past chair of Tracks Across Wyoming.

The good news about the Sunset Cabins is that they are still standing. Bad news, we still haven’t figured a new use for them and they remain threatened. The Evanston Preservation Commission had them listed as locally significant; however this does nothing to protect them as Evanston does not have a demolition ordinance or any such preservation ordinance. The cabins remain with the ownership of the city and we are still trying to figure a way for us to find adaptive reuse in order to secure their future. A little over a year ago we placed a restored Lincoln Highway marker at the site in order to draw attention as to the significance of this site.

WY_Sunset2

One of the problems with any restoration effort is how to adapt and reuse. Jane Law, City of Evanston Urban Renewal Coordinator (and who kindly arranged for these photos), says, “We have heard artist studios, concessions, but nothing that gets everyone stirred up enough to get something done…. It would truly be a shame to ever lose them, they are quite unique and really pretty cute. The state is restoring some motor cabins in Ft. Bridger, so maybe we can get some more interest there for them to come a little further west.”

Another issue is having the resources for every worthy project:

At present we really have our hands full restoring, rehabilitating, and preserving our wonderful and unique roundhouse and railyards site…. We are also trying to rehabilitate a historic hotel in our historic downtown; that has been a very long process with years of delay. Our Renewal Agency just purchased what remains of our downtown theater. That will be quite a project in itself. There was a terrible fire there in May and the building is just a shell now, but not wanting a hole in the block or a mini parking lot, we stepped up and will try to make that a viable business for our downtown. So we have our hands full, BUT the Sunset Cabins are something our Historic Preservation Commission should address. I do think those coming next year [to the LHA conference] will like them and could play a big part in thinking of a reuse. [my emphasis]

Jane also sent a detailed and fascinating hisstorical survey of the site that I’ll review soon in a separate post.

Time lapse of new sports arena in Newark, NJ

December 17, 2007

The [Newark] Star-Ledger photographed construction of the new Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, over a period of three years and has posted a time-lapse online. The arena, opened in November, is steps away from the intersection of Broad and Market, a famed crossroads and traditionally one of the most congested intersections along the Lincoln Highway. The view is looking south, with Broad (the Lincoln Highway) to the right. The video is by Bumper DeJesus: click the image to open the Star Ledger page, where you can then click to start the video..

NJ_Prudential Center, Newark

The Prudential Center hosts the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall Men’s Basketball, New Jersey Ironmen indoor soccer team, concerts, and special events. It is bounded by Edison Place to the north, Lafayette Street to the south, Mulberry Street to the east and Broad Street and City Hall to the west. Total cost was $375 million for a capacity of approximately 18,000 depending on the event. Outside, a 4,800 sq. ft. LED television faces Newark’s Penn Station. It was built where the large parking lot is seen on the Google map below. The Lincoln follows the yellow trace along Broad and Market streets.

NJ_Newark Map

More on Russin's Abraham Lincoln monument

December 16, 2007

The photo below (courtesy Jim Kearns, Manager, University of Wyoming Media Relations) shows sculptor Robert Russin and assistants working on the bust of Abraham Lincoln that they built in 1959 to honor Lincoln’s 150th birthday. Its location in eastern Wyoming also marked the highest point on the Lincoln Highway: 8,835 feet.

WY_Russin

According to the Laramie Area Chamber and Albany County Tourism Board, Russin spent 11 months building the 4,500 lb. sculpture. The head’s 30 pieces were cast in Mexico City so that they could work in a constant favorable climate, then the bronze pieces were sent by rail back to Wyoming to be bolted together. The 13.5-foot-tall bust was then set atop a 35-foot-tall cut-granite base built by local crews. The inside is hollow to hold ladders and lightning rods. In 1969, the monument was moved (during a snowstorm!) about a half mile to a rest stop when I-80 opened between Cheyenne and Laramie. It’s now at the highest point along I-80: 8,640 feet.

WY_LincMon_I-80

The visitors center (above) has an informational panel about the monument and the Lincoln Highway. In 2001, the Henry B. Joy monument with four Lincoln Highway concrete posts was moved there from the Continental Divide interchange about a hundred miles to the west. Russin’s fascination with the president went beyond the monument: he named his second son Lincoln.

Wyoming Lincoln Monument Sculptor Dies at 93

December 15, 2007

The University of Wyoming reports that retired art professor Robert I. Russin has died at 93. His best-known sculpture, at least to Lincoln Highway fans, is the blocky bust of Lincoln atop Sherman Summit along the LH/I-80 in eastern Wyoming. It was created in 1959 to honor the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

WY_Lincoln monument

The monument originally sat along the Lincoln Highway. When I-80 was completed over the rise in 1969, the monument was moved almost a half-mile east to the Summit Rest Area at the Happy Jack Road interchange, exit 323. Russin used 10 tons of clay and 11 months to complete the 12.5-foot-tall bronze base and bust.

Details of Russin’s life and work can be found in an LA Times obituary story.

Vintage postcards from Idlewild Park, Ligonier PA

December 15, 2007

As reported here previously, Idlewild Park along the Lincoln Highway in Ligonier, Pennsylvaia, will be sold as part of Kennywood Entertainment to Parques Reunidos of Spain, the third-largest European operator of amusement parks. The company only entered the U.S. market two months ago by purchasing 33 water parks. A British private equity firm acquired the company in January 2007 for $1.22 billion—such corporate entanglements worry fans of Idlewild and the other old-fashioned parks currently owned by parent park and company Kennywood.

Here are some vintage postcards showing how Idlewild’s entrance changed over time (the first is from Cy Hosmer). The same round building can be seen in the first two views. This area still serves as an exit but the entrance was moved to the east years ago so that waiting cars would not back up onto the LH/US 30.

PA Idlewild 1 - Cy

PA Idlewild 2

PA Idlewild 3

Lincoln and Dixie Highways share ties in Illinois

December 14, 2007

Dixie H bannerIn our review of Traveling the … Historic Three by John and Lenore Weiss (which follows the Lincoln and Dixie Highways and Route 66), I mentioned Elaine E. Egdorf. Not only does she manage the Drivin’ the Dixie website, but as chairman of the Village of Homewood Heritage Committee, she got a Dixie Highway marker for Homewood, south of Chicago. The committee and the Homewood Historical Society (she was founding president) paid for the marker, which was dedicated in 2003 with a large ceremony. It was re-dedicated in 2005 as part of the kick-off for Illinois State Historical Society Markers week. The Dixie Highway communities also were recognized with a Superior Achievement Award from the ISHS for the unique way they pulled together towns, historical societies, and chambers of commerce to promote Illinois history.

The Dixie Highway was another idea of Lincoln Highway founder Carl Fisher. His north-south path was said to have been created so his wealthy auto-industry pals could more easily travel south to Fisher’s Miami Beach land developments. The Dixie was not as direct as the Lincoln, but rather a braid of roads from Sou. Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida. The route is now identified throughout Illinois (except Chicago) with red, white, and blue metal street signs, street pole banners, and state markers. One of at least six intersections of the Lincoln and Dixie Highways is at Chicago Heights: the roads run together for almost two miles there and their meeting is commemorated by the Arche Memorial Fountain.

IL_Dix_MkrReded05

Above: Redd Griffin, Oak Park; Elaine Egdorf, Homewood; Arthur Martin, Chicago, at the rededication in 2005. All are on the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society.

10 x 10 white square

Dixie H map

10 x 10 white square

This group’s Triangle Tour has actually evolved into Drivin’ the Dixie, a moving car show and tour from Blue Island to Momence. A passport listing events in towns along the route can be stamped at historic sites; each town donates two prizes, and for each stamp, participants get a free raffle ticket. Last year about 200 cars total participated, mostly vintage cars. It’s nice to see such support for a road that played such a big role in early auto history.

IL_Dixie car show

Illinois gets grant for Murals and Gazebos on LH

December 13, 2007

IL Post mural

The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition (ILHC) recently received $443,000 in federal grants for its National Scenic Byway program, a designation the Lincoln Highway through Illinois received in 2000. The funds will be used over the next 3 years to produce interpretive murals in 40 communities along the 179-mile route through the state. Each mural will interpret the history and heritage of the highway and its impact on the communities, and a companion brochure will summarize their locations and messages.

Diane Rossiter, Associate Director of ILHC, says, “We are excited to begin this new project! This money, plus the $40,000 we just received from the state and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism will make it all happen. Our hope is that visitors will be compelled to travel Illinois Lincoln Highway and discover all that it has to offer.”

IL Post mural close up

Three murals are already complete: Creston was unveiled in May 2006, DeKalb in October ’06, and Rochelle in May ’07 (see photo and closeup above, courtesy ILHC). Some of the communities slated to receive a mural are Ashton, Byron, Cortland, Dixon, Genoa, Oregon, Rock Falls, Sterling, and Sycamore, not all of which are directly along the LH, but are considered withing the “corridor.” That can generate broader interest and awareness but may lead to some confusion.

ILHC will start work on 20 interpretive gazebos in the Spring in such communities as DeKalb, Dixon, Oregon, and Rochelle. Rossiter says,

“Our intent is to place a historical mural in each community that lines the highway and those along the corridor also. The communities will be charged with finding a building location and researching possible story ideas. Each mural will be painted on substrate material and will be mounted to the side of the building. This works much better than painting on the building itself, because it can be taken down for upkeep or if the building needs repairs. When all are completed, a brochure will be created detailing each mural and its location along with the location of the interpretive gazebos. There are no gazebos completed as of yet, but our hope is to begin construction in the spring.”

Visit www.drivelincolnhighway.com or phone (815) 547-3854 for more information on the Lincoln Highway through Illinois.