Archive for January, 2008

2008 LHA conference info online at two sites

January 31, 2008

Fans of historic roads will want to attend the 2008 Lincoln Highway Association conference in Evanston, Wyoming, this June. Conference coordinator Shelly Horne has begun posting info at about the area and what attendees will see. He will add more in the coming weeks.

Conference registration and art show information can be found at:


Here is the basic information:

Lincoln Highway Association 16th Annual Conference
“Rails, Trails, and Highway Tales”
Best Western Dunmar Inn, 1601 Harrison Drive, Evanston, WY

Tuesday, June 17 — Welcome Dinner buffet
Wednesday, June 18 — West Tour to Echo Canyon
Thursday, June 19 — Seminars; Awards Banquet
Friday, June 20 — East Tour to Ft. Bridger and Granger; BBQ dinner in tent
Saturday, June 21 — Mountain Man Breakfast at roundhouse, rides on UPRR turntable; annual business meeting

South Bend touts improvements to Lincoln Way

January 30, 2008

A press release from South Bend, Indiana, describes the city’s participation in Commercial Corridor Façade Improvement and Residential Enhancement matching grant programs, which aim to enhance neighborhoods and business districts through joint public and private investment. A portion of the Lincoln Highway there is benefitting from these efforts.


Gene’s Camera Store on Lincoln Way West is seen as a shining example of the commercial corridor improvements. From a press release:

Owned and operated by Mr. Jack St. Pierre since 1981, Gene’s Camera Store has recently undergone façade improvements with the help of a grant from the City’s Commercial Corridor Façade Improvement Matching Grant Program. Mr. St. Pierre made visual improvements to the west wall of his business and constructed a new parking lot in the vacant space next to the store. The parking lot, complete with lighting and landscaping, allows customers to park safely next to the store and enter through the new west door. The improvements were made possible by a City grant of $20,000, which Mr. St. Pierre matched with a private investment of $42,605.

The Lincoln Way West Steering Committee and its subcommittees (Land Use, Marketing and Safety) were formed in 1999 as part of Mayor Stephen J. Luecke’s Commercial Corridor Initiative; a Neighbors subcommittee was formed in 2003.

“In the last year, on Lincoln Way West alone, eight businesses were able to enhance the facades of their stores,” said Mayor Luecke. “Through the cooperation of local business leaders and the City of South Bend, over $140,000 was invested in this commercial corridor on which we stand. Helping these small businesses to revitalize the arteries of South Bend is imperative to the future success of our city.”

LH Around Chicago book due in March ’08

January 29, 2008

The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago by Cynthia L. Ogorek will be published this March 17 as part of Arcadia Books’ Images of America series. The 128-page paperback book will have more than 200 illustrations from Geneva, Illinois, south and eastward to just over the Indiana line at Schererville so that the famous Ideal Section could be included. Early history is augmented by preservation efforts of today.

Price is $19.95 or pre-order from Amazon for $13.59 by clicking here.


Snow closes I-80 in CA, but pretty along old LH

January 28, 2008

An AP story this morning reports that snow has forced the closure of I-80 between Sacramento and Reno, Nevada, where it is parallel to (and often intertwined with) the Lincoln Highway in eastern California. Eastbound I-80 was closed at Colfax (50 miles NE of Sacramento) and westbound traffic was being held at the Nevada state line. Meanwhile, floods, mudslides, and winds are battering southern California.

For a calmer take on winter weather, Paul Gilger, Chair of the Lincoln Highway Association National Mapping Committee, sent along these images from brothers Greg and Grant Gassman, members of the California chapter of the LHA. A few weeks ago, they took these photos of the original 1913 alignment through Kingvale up near Donner Pass. The first one is looking east on the 1913 alignment just before it rejoins the 1926 alignment on Donner Pass Road (which does get plowed):



The second photo is just taken a little to the west of the first photo. It’s also looking east on the 1913 alignment:


Updates to Libraries & Museums along the Lincoln

January 27, 2008

UT_Rio Grande DepotI’ve added more sites to the Lincoln Highway Libraries & Museums page; see the link to the right. There are many local and state libraries and museums along the route, such as the Utah Historical Society (click their photo to go to the web site). Since 1980, it has been located in Salt Lake City’s former Rio Grande railroad depot. (The LHA held a reception there during its 1998 conference.) The elaborate station was completed in 1910 at a cost of $750,000 and sold to the city in 1977 for $1, which says a lot about how transportation changed in the intervening 6 decades. The restored depot is 3 blocks south of South Temple St and 4-1/2 blocks west of Main St.

Restored Colo Motel Reopens in Iowa!

January 26, 2008

Closed for 12 years, the Colo Motel has reopened, giving Lincoln Highway tourists a new-style, old-fashioned lodging option in central Iowa. It is part of the Reed/Niland corner complex that includes a cafe and gas station, both also restored. The cafe is operating and is a must-stop itself; the 1920s gas station is for display only but is set to house a country-style store.


The motel’s six rooms rent for an affordable $49.99 per night or $175 for five consecutive nights. Scott Berka, Colo city clerk, says that other than “waiting for some of the furniture to arrive,” the rooms are complete with cable TV, wireless internet, central air, pillow-top mattresses, and room service from the café. The Colo is on the forefront of restoring mid-century motels for 2-lane tourists, and also gives locals a lodging option for out-of-town guests.

Above: Stuart Huse, one of the owners of Flat-Top Concrete & Construction, the prime contractor for the project, finishes the woodwork. Above photos courtesy Scott Berka.

The roadside one-stop opened about 1920 at the corner of Lincoln Highway and US 65, the old Jefferson Highway, but declined in recent decades as the old road was bypassed. The restoration is a project of Colo Development Group and the City of Colo; it has cost nearly $1 million including $663,000 in grant funding (from the Iowa DOT’s and Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Enhancement Funding) and about $270,000 in local donations.The one-stop

Niland’s outside new

An article in the Nevada [Iowa] Journal reported on the opening, and quoted Berka and Sandy Wilfong, manager of Niland’s Café and now the Colo Motel. She praised the retro-stryle rooms and appointments such as wrought iron headboards and curtain rods, and quilts on the beds. Come Spring, Wilfong hopes to have a farmers market at the corner on Saturdays.

The motel is at 18 Lincoln Highway in Colo. Reservations are taken through Nilands Cafe: (641) 377-3663. To learn more about the complex, go to the Colo Iowa web page and click Reed/Niland corner at the bottom of the left-hand column.

Cold weather hits LH from coast to coast

January 25, 2008

My web site has long had a Lincoln Highway weather map featuring conditions from 12 cities across the country. This morning, as I walked through 7° temperatures in PIttsburgh, I wondered about the rest of the country. As you can see, only San Franciscso can boast of warm temperatures (47°). The rest of the country is 25° or less, with 3 of the 12 cities below zero!


Wyoming DOT has a nice collection of web cams from I-80, which is often parallel to US 30/LH. The roads this morning look pretty clear in the east, but a few, like Evanston at 7 am (seen below), still look slippery:


"Motoring" explores Lincoln, other highways

January 24, 2008

Our friends John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle have a new book due out any day, Motoring: The Highway Experience in America. It focuses on recreational travel between 1900 and 1960 by examining various aspects of the built environment and how they’ve shape our view of the “open road.” The 288-page, 75-photo publication from University of Georgia Press follows in the steps of 5 similar collaborations from the authors.


Sculle Motoring Book

Those other books from Jakle and Sculle have likewise covered topics such as motels, fast food, and gas stations but individually. This book looks at those topics plus roadside tourist attractions, freeways and toll roads, truck stops, bus travel, and convenience stores. Sculle told me, “There are 12 chapters in all, several on the highway system’s formation but also chapters on trucking, auto dealerships & garages….” They’ve been working on this book for 3 years, though of course that’s on top of decades of related research.

Another friend and road scholar, Arthur Krim (author of Route 66: Iconography of the American Highway), describes it as “a bit of business history, a pinch of psychology, a dose of technology, and a full account of the architectural forms that created the current freeway suburbia.”

As for the Lincoln Highway, Sculle says it’s in there:

Nothing new factually but it’s placed into the context of the developing highway system when it was built. Then, in concluding remarks, it is referenced regarding the way some people like to relive the past by driving on the old, surviving parts of the Lincoln Highway.

It’s a book about the Road as Americans consume it. It has links to many things written before but less on the people who started and ran the businesses than how Americans thought of their experience, hence, the subtitle: The Highway Experience in America. The chapter on the Tourist’s Roadside helps put things in perspective.

Motoring retails for $34.95 or get it from Amazon for $23.07 by clicking here.

California LHA gives sign honoring Nut Tree

January 23, 2008

During the California Chapter LHA meeting on January 12 at the new Nut Tree complex on I-80 in Vacaville, Fentons Creamery restaurant was presented with a Historic Lincoln Highway sign by chapter president Norm Root. It will be displayed along with artifacts and photos from one of the best-known attractions in California, The Nut Tree.

Above: Jim Braden, general manager of Fentons Creamery, receives a complimentary Historic LH sign from LHA CA chapter president Norm Root. Photo by Gary Kinst

Fentons traces back to 1894, and has been serving the San Francisco Bay Area at 4226 Piedmont Avenue since 1961. This second location opened here in 2007; it resembles a 1940s ice cream parlor with marble counters and tables, retro booths, and Art Deco lighting.

The Nut Tree was founded in 1921 as a fruit stand under the shade of a walnut tree and grew into a complex of restaurants, gift shops, entertainments, a railroad, and even an airplane runway.


Since The Nut Tree closed in 1996, locals have missed it, so redevelopment plans include nods to the attraction. At the free Nut Tree Family Park, the original Nut Tree train winds through the landscape and past the Harvest Express roller coaster, the I-80 Traffic Jammers bumper cars, California Carousel, and other custom kid rides. Click on the map below to download a large PDF version.


The childhood home of The Nut Tree founder, Harbison House, built 1906-07, has been moved 1,000 feet south to the 3.7 acre family park behind the retail complex. It is being preserved by the Vacaville Museum and will include memorabilia showing the history of the Nut Tree and California. The development also includes lodging, resdiences, offices, and even the Nut Tree Bocce Grove, a two-acre park patterned after the grand public gardens of Europe containing 8 international regulation bocce courts. Visit the Vacaville CVB for more about the Nut Tree development.

Another LHA sign dedication is planned for sometime in the next month at the Summit Garage in Altamont.

Art, photo show to debut at LHA's 08 conference

January 22, 2008

The 2008 Lincoln Highway Association conference in Evanston, Wyoming, June 17-21, 2008, will feature a new attraction: the Lincoln Highway Art & Photo Show.

LHA 08 art logo

Coordinator Kell Brigan, who is also Secretary/Treasurer of LHA’s California Chapter, says “This exhibition is a chance for artists to share their work with conference-goers who also understand the highway’s appeal, and to meet other Lincoln Highway artists and photographers as well.” Below is a plein air watercolor by Brigan herself showing the Lincoln Highway at Adams & Porter roads in Dixon, California, and the town’s water tower.

CA_Dixon painting

Brigan recalls,

While I was working on the painting (about 10:00 AM on a Sunday in the parking lot of a shop that specializes in maintaining & repairing livestock trucks), a fellow came out of a nearby house (next to a great old building from the ’20s), and said, “OK, I give up. Why, of all things, are you painting the Dixon water tower?!” I explained about painting spots along the highway in California. Turns out his mom, who came by later with the family dog, had helped run one of the “Lincoln Highway Garages” on the same spot in the ’30s.

Visit for more information and an application, which is due by April 10, 2008. Note that this inaugural show is only an exhibition: no judging or prizes.