Archive for August, 2008

Picking top 5 Lincoln Highway sites not so easy

August 29, 2008

In response to our story about PBS producer Rick Sebak filming at the Shoe House, good friend Jess asked what were the top 5 Lincoln Highway sites in PA mentioned by LHA director Mindy Crawford? Glad you asked!

1. Grandview Point, site of Ship Hotel, between Bedford and Ligonier
2. The Shoe House, York
3. Dunkle’s Gulf, Bedford
4. Lincoln Motor Court, Mann’s Choice
5. Poquessing Creek Bridge, near Langhorne
6. Dutch Haven, Lancaster

Yep, six! Mindy said couldn’t bear to leave out any of them.

If I had to cut one, it would be Grandview Point, even though I’m writing a book about it and the Ship Hotel there (due out Spring 2010). But if I could replace it, I’d go for Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum between Chambersburg and Gettysburg — Rick is not as enthusiastic about it, but for me it’s a rare throwback to  old-time museum and candy shops. And I’d plead to group two in Bedford and add the Coffee Pot to Dunkle’s since it’s just down West Pitt Street.

When Rick filmed me in Pittsburgh, he asked me about my top 5 around the city. Hmm, I think they were:
1. Lincoln bronze statue, Wilkinsburg
2. Peppi’s Diner, Wilkinsburg/Pittsburgh line
3. Gulf building, art deco skyscraper, downtown
4. Manchester Bridge abutment, North Side, next to Heinz Field
5. Yellow brick road, Glenfield

OK Jess, you have two weeks — can you see them all? Maybe we’d better just make a lunch run to Peppi’s!

How about the top 5 must-see LH sites in the US? Dunkle’s must be one, and maybe the nearby Lincoln Motor Court too. It’s tough but I can pick three more (two of them also very close to each other in the Midwest). Send your top 5 and we’ll gather them into a post next week.

Austin, Nevada, church restored, open for tours

August 28, 2008

Jan Morrison sent a story from Preservation magazine about the church she and others in tiny Austin, Nevada, have been restoring. Work so far has taken four years and $353,000 in state grants. The town of 300 was once a booming mining town but is now one of the few outposts in the state along the Lincoln Highway (aka US 50 or “the loneliest road in America”). It increasingly looks to tourism for economic revival.

“The goal,” resident Jan Morrison says of restoring St. Augustine’s church, in Austin, Nev., “is not to make it look brand new, but to look like it’s 140 years old.” To be exact, the long-vacant church, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, turns 142 this year. It sports a new steel roof and granite support wall that fend off further decay without altering its original Gothic Revival and Italianate design.

But while form remains, function will change. When Morrison bought the building in 2004 from the Reno Diocese for $26,000, she formed the nonprofit St. Augustine’s Cultural Center, envisioning a venue for hosting conferences, art performances, weddings, family reunions and other events….

Morrison isn’t the town’s only active preservationist and booster. Restorations are also planned for the local Masonic Hall and an engine house that once served the Nevada Central Railroad. The Austin Historical Society recently opened a new museum, and local merchants received a state grant to spruce up some of the main street storefronts with a historic town square look

Sylvan Corners gets a Lincoln Highway marker

August 27, 2008

Gary Kinst sent these photos of Auburn Boulevard in Sylvan Corners, California, showing a new Lincoln Highway commemorative sign. When the corner was redeveloped, a US 40 sign was incorporated into the architecture but nothing to reflect the LH, so efforts were taken to rectify that and a new LH sign is prominently displayed.

LH cartoon shows Pittsburgh-WV rerouting: why?

August 26, 2008

Fellow author and blogger Jason Togyer writes that while digging up material about his forthcoming book on the G.C. Murphy Company, he spotted this cartoon in the Friday, Oct. 17, 1930, Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph.

The reference here is to the rerouting of the Lincoln Highway through West Virginia, changing the route west of Pittsburgh, PA. The original routing along the Ohio River to East Liverpool, Ohio, had long been congested and waiting to be bypassed. But that’s the odd thing — the LH came through Pittsburgh in 1913. The LHA board of directors officially changed the route in December 1927 to what was named US 30 through Crafton, Clinton, and Imperial, into through Chester, WV, and across the Ohio River to East Liverpool). So why was a cartoonist welcoming the road to the city in 1930?

Great Race great-grandson gives great talk in IL

August 25, 2008

During the Geneva Concours d’Elegance car show this past weekend in Illinois, Jeff Mahr recalled the incredible story of his great-grandfather, George Schuster, winning driver of the 1908 New York to Paris Great Race. His presentation, “Bandits, Guns and Automobiles” recalls the saga as he heard it as a child combined with ongoing research. The race followed much of what became the Lincoln Highway in 1913 from northern Indiana to the Great Salt Lake. Jeff has a web site devoted to the race and his own work, with images such as the one below showing Jeff with the winning Thomas Flyer:

LHA director Kay Shelton attended the talk and sent back a glowing review:

Jeff Mahl got a standing ovation at the Geneva History Center on August 23. He described how he listened to his great-grandpa’s stories. When he was 14 and had to write a history assignment in school, that is when he realized how famous and important his great-grandpa was. Then he really paid attention to all of the stories, and thought they were better than anything on TV at the time. George Schuster lived until he was 99, he still shoveled snow at age 98, and still had a drivers’ license when he was 95.

Then, Mr. Mahl began his talk by putting on a driving jacket and sitting in a chair, and told the story in first person, like he was Schuster himself, with a PowerPoint. Schuster found out the day before the race that his boss wanted him to be in it and had very little preparation. E.R. Thomas chose him because he was a mechanic.

There will be a documentary out sometime in 2009 on the “Greatest Auto Race on Earth.” It will be released in Canada, Germany, France, and the U.S. He is a very nice man and if anyone gets a chance to have him as a speaker I highly recommend him. There was a $25 charge for the ticket — they brought him in conjunction with the very fancy annual auto show Geneva holds (Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, Astin Martins, etc.). He signed the 1966 book I found [see below] and told me that it was very rare. His picture is in it as a little boy. He also re-published The Great Automobile Race: New York to Paris (originally published by the Thomas Motor Company) in 1992 with his own introduction. There is no date on the original book but it has to be 1912 or earlier as that is when the Thomas Motor Co. went defunct

I also have the book – an incredible, enjoyable journey:

WY ranch may house turbines, garbage, golf

August 22, 2008

The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reports that a huge stretch of land west of Cheyenne that includes traces of the Lincoln Highway is being considered for a multitude of projects, from a wind farm to a landfill to a golf course.

The Belvoir Ranch has long included the paths of westward travel, from overland immigrants to fiber optic cable. Then in 2003, the City of Cheyenne bought the land which begins five miles west of town and stretches for 15 miles farther west, with I-80 as its northern boundary.

While some residents see the 18,000-acre purchase as a boondoggle, others see it as acquiring water rights and sites for a landfill, wind turbine farm and recreation. It is also a chance to preserve a microcosm of western cultural history.

Chuck Lanham of the Cheyenne Historic Preservation Board, the guide for a recent ranch tour, pointed out teepee rings at least 140 years old and other archeological features that have yet to be studied….

Ruts across the rolling, shortgrass prairie show the route of the Denver to Ft. Laramie stage line. Other ruts are thought to be Camp Carlin supply wagon tracks to frontier forts. There are vestiges, too, of the old Lincoln Highway, precursor to U.S. Highway 30 and Interstate 80….

Eventually, the early homesteads became part of the huge Warren Livestock Company holdings. F.E. Warren called the main ranch house his “cabin,” complete with tennis courts, pool and a professional horse racing track. Remains are barely visible today.

Because of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Atlas missiles were installed on what soon became known as the Belvoir Ranch. The above-ground launching facilities were deactivated in 1965, but the concrete structures can be seen south of I-80 at exit 348.

To learn more about the plans, including maps of the proposed developments or photos of the site (as reproduced here), visit or call (307) 637-6281.

Eastern Terminus Marker – with paper & tape

August 22, 2008

The Eastern Terminus of the Lincoln Highway has never been marked – it was always simply Times Square – but Jerry Peppers is determined to change that. Here he is taping a temporary paper sign to his favorite concrete post at Broadway and 42nd Street during filming for Rick Sebak’s upcoming special. Rick also sent an updated photo that shows him at the intersection, which you’ll find at the end of this post.

The Western Terminus in San Francisco has been marked in various ways over the decades. Today it has a reproduction of a 1928 concrete post – click here to see read about Denny Gibson’s visit a couple weeks ago.

PA road widening to affect LH & turnpike markers

August 21, 2008

LHA member Bill Spoon called to say the Lincoln Highway is being widened between Gettysburg and New Oxford, Pennsylvania. He worried about a couple markers by the roadside – one a LHA 1928 concrete post, and one a c. 1820 turnpike marker incised with mileages to Gettysburg, York, and Philadelphia.

LHA state director Mindy Crawford contacted the state; Steven A. Moore, Senior Project Manager
for PennDOT Engineering District 8-0, reported back that both are scheduled to be removed, stored, and replaced according to these specifications:

DESCRIPTION – This work is the removing and resetting of existing historic concrete markers.
CONSTRUCTION – Survey and record the existing marker location. Remove marker prior to the start of construction and store in a secure location. Reset marker near the original location as directed after adjacent construction is complete. Care should be taken to avoid damage to the existing markers during removal, storage, and resetting.

It’s good to see highway departments becoming aware of historic resources related to roads themselves.

11th LH Heritage Festival in Rochelle this wknd

August 20, 2008

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival has been held annually for the past 11 years in Rochelle, Illinois, on the second-to-last weekend in August. This year’s festival on August 22-24, 2008, focuses on technology, transportation, and tourism. It will again feature amusement rides, bingo at the VFW, and visits to the town’s Railroad Park along with daily activities such as:

Friday, August 22
“Little Miss Peanut” contest
Sting Rays 50s & 60s group

Saturday, August 23
Car, Motorcycle & Kids Model Car Show
Antique Tractor Show and Truck Display
Small Engine Display
Arts & Craft Show
Harbor Lights Doo Wop group
Blue Stone Blues/Southern rock group
Grand Avenue Rock group
Billy Childers Band Country group

Sunday, August 24
Lions Club “Pancakes in the Park”
Parade at 3 PM
United Methodist Women Old-Fashion Ice Cream Social
John Ellis Quartet Jazz group

For more information, contact festival organizers at or (815) 561-7044 or visit

PBS visits Mindy and the Shoe House (& NYC)

August 19, 2008

PBS producer Rick Sebak made his way to New York City last week to catch the eastern end of the Lincoln Highway. One of the stops on their way back to Pittsburgh was at the famous Haines Shoe House near York, Pa., where he met LHA board member and long-time roadside researcher Mindy Crawford, who sent these photos of her interview:

She also described the day:

Just got home from a great day with Rick, [and crewmembers] Bob and Glenn. We spent the morning at the Shoe House. I did an interview on my top 5 “must see places’ in Pennsylvania as well as some general comments about the Lincoln. Then they interviewed Carleen Farabaugh (below), the owner of the Shoe House. They got a great shot of her husband, Ron and her grandson, Austin mowing the lawn and watering flowers. Then Carleen and I did a brief “preservation segment” on the care and upkeep of the Shoe. Even my husband Rodney got involved by being a “tourist” during Carleen’s tour.

We took a break mid-day to have the most amazing Thai food. Everything was delicious but it was almost as much fun photographing everyone taking photographs of the food before we ate. When we left the crew, they were headed back to do a few more approach shots at the Shoe House.

A couple days before, Rick and crew filmed at the eastern terminus of the highway – but as the site is not marked as the start/end of the LH, they spent time with its leading champion, LHA board member Jerry Peppers, whose office overlooks Times Square. Here’s a shot from Rick of Jerry – click HERE to read all about their day in NYC.