Archive for October, 2008

Jay Leno takes A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway

October 31, 2008

PBS producer Rick Sebak alerted me that Jay Leno mentioned his new program, A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway, on last night’s show. At 8:29 into the show, near the end of his monologue, Leno says “it was a pretty good show,” then tries to joke about the title having a questionable double meaning. The joke is pretty odd and falls flat, but any publicity is good publicity.

Click the screen image above to go to the full episode.

Top 10 must-see stops on a Lincoln Highway trip

October 31, 2008

What are the must-see places along the Lincoln Highway? It’s impossible to answer, as everyone has their favorite things. Some like natural scenery, or good eats, or wacky attractions, or shopping, or water towers. I veer towards vintage roadside attractions like the Shoe House, seen below being repainted.

Rick Sebak, producer of A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway, commented last time I brought this up, “Isn’t every stop different depending on weather, time of day, people you meet, your mood and the temperament of everybody else in the car?” Yep, that’s why the well-known attractions might not even be on your list of favorites.

Nonetheless, I charge ahead with my top 10 places from East-to-West that will make you feel like a Lincoln Highway regular:

1 Shoe House/Dunkle’s Gulf/Coffee Pot/Lincoln Motor Court, PA

2 Balyeat’s Restaurant, Van Wert OH

3 Ideal Section, IN-IL border

4 LHA Headquarters, Franklin Grove IL

5 LH concrete bridge, Tama IA (image above)

6 Scout’s Rest Ranch, N Platte NE

7 Virginian Hotel, Medicine Bow WY

8 Salt Lake Desert route, UT (image below)

9 Carroll Summit road, west of Austin NV

10 Donner Summit, west of Truckee CA

That’s 10 if you don’t mind my PA quad pick (and that’s leaving out the fabulous Poquessing Creek Bridge and Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum).

So what must-see sites did I leave out?? I already can think of more places that I can’t believe didn’t make the list. But the ones above would be a great start to a lifetime of Lincoln Highway touring.

Planning your Lincoln Highway road trip

October 30, 2008

The Lincoln Highway can be a great idea for a road trip: its length makes it close to much of the county, you can drive as little/much as you want, and even remote sections are never far from an Interstate for a quick return trip or a family who need modern amenities. I’ve never driven it non-stop from coast-to-coast but have driven most of it in every state. The adventures are still endless — as PBS producer Rick Sebak said on his road trip this summer, “We could do this for the rest of our lives!” That’s his picture of Green River, Wyoming.

Our kids have been along on most of the trips and will be with us again next summer as we head from Pittsburgh west to the Pacific Ocean. There was a time when 5 of us could fit on one bed — not by choice but when a motel’s double rooms were full! Now they’re nearing driving age, and though none are roadside devotees, they’re more excited about the trips than we are. The trick is to keep it fun for them too.

Along with old-fashioned car games, they bring along their favorite electronics. We mix in some familiar restaurants along with lots of cafes and diners (advertising draws them to fast food but they always remark how good diner food tastes). We ask them each to keep small trip diaries to help them (and us!) remember where they’ve been, stayed, and eaten. We visit bookstores and toy stores along with cool old attractions like Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, Nebraska. Next trip we may visit a skatepark and snowboarding hill. We also stay in a cool variety of rooms, from tourist cabins to chains (we like Quality Inn) to wacky places like the Wigwam Villages. We see a lot of the country and its people, who have been overwhelmingly friendly.

About that trip next summer — my Lincoln Highway Companion will be published in Spring 2009 and we’ll be using it ourselves to drive the road and do some signings. This book was meant to coincide with Sebak’s A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway but our schedules got out of sync. The publisher is finishing the design now but here’s the first peak at the cover. It will list many cool places to visit, eat, and sleep, but if you want info now, check my Greetings from the Lincoln Highway book, or the Lincoln Highway Association site, or old posts on this blog.

Reviews for tonight's Lincoln Highway program

October 29, 2008

Reviews have been coming in for the PBS program A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway.

South Bend Tribune

Central NJ newspapers group

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Toledo Blade, and The Truth Newspaper in Elkhart, IN, all used the Scripps story

So did Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, which missed a great opportunity to interview three leading LH historians in its area, two of them prominently featured in the program

Pittsburgh Tribune Review commented on the show and its music

Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal among others used the same text and made it tonight’s Must-See

Our friend Ron Warnick reviews it on his site, Route 66 News

Finally, USAToday compliments the show but it’s obvious the reviewer skipped the preview DVD when he writes, “Sebak sometimes allows his passion for roadside stands to overwhelm the road itself.” Once you’ve seen it, you too will wonder “what roadside stands??” and then guess that the reviewer made an assumption based on past shows.

The above images are from producer Rick Sebak. Learn more about the show here.

Outtakes & extras from Lincoln Highway program

October 28, 2008

Rick Sebak and his crew filmed dozens of hours but only had room for about 15 stories in A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway. Five stories that were finished but couldn’t fit in the hour-long program will be on the DVD as extras. And starting today — not only are they available online but so are 21 more outtakes from the show.

The five feature stories are on Woodine Iowa’s Brick Street Station, a bookstore in North Platte NE, a garage-turned-tavern in Lyman WY, a woman in Morrison IL with a yard full of lawn ornaments, and a farmer’s market in Belle Plaine IA.

The 21 outtakes cover a wide range of people and places, from Bernie Queneau recalling his Boy Scout life-saving demonstrations on the famed 1928 safety tour to Michael Wallis describing the genesis of Radiator Springs for the movie Cars and how it represents towns not only on Route 66 but along any old 2-lane. You’ll also see familiar faces from the LHA as well as folks from along the road who you’ll meet in the program.

PBS Lincoln Highway DVD available for pre-order

October 27, 2008

It won’t ship till after the show airs nationally, but A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway DVD is available for pre-order from PBS.

The DVD includes 5 extra segments as listed on the back cover below plus we’ll have more information about them later this week. Above is a screen shot from the end of the program; note the cover has changed slightly since the program was finished, as seen in these images provided by producer Rick Sebak.

South Bend’s Lincoln Highway & ’09 conference

October 24, 2008

A story in Thursday’s South Bend Tribune recalled the Lincoln Highway across Indiana and discussed plans for the 2009 LHA conference in South Bend next June.

On the evening of Oct. 31, 1913, some 3,000 people and 500 automobiles paraded from to Springbrook Park in South Bend.

There, in the park that later became Playland Park and is now property owned by Indiana University South Bend, a huge bonfire was set ablaze — the flames could be seen for 20 miles. It burned simultaneously in a line of bonfires across the country from New York to San Francisco.

For miles across Indiana, farmers lit Jack-0-Lanterns on fence posts. It wasn’t to drive witches out on Halloween.

Instead, the “monster parade,” according to The Tribune, celebrated the dedication of Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental highway.

The article included the above photo, provided by the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, which “shows a gas station believed to be at the northwest corner of Cedar and Lincoln Way in Mishawaka, illustrating how businesses catered to tourists along the Lincoln Highway between 1913 and 1928.”

The LHA conference is set for June 16-20, 2009, headquartered at Century Center, South Bend.

Lincoln Hwy's Williamson — new book on old dogs

October 23, 2008

Brand new from Simon & Schuster is Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs by photographer Michael S. WIlliamson, co-author of The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate (2007). The $19.95 hardcover runs 160 pages. Williamson’s photos are accompanied by Gene Weingarten’s writing. Michael told me, “We are having a big opening at the Smithsonian here in D.C. on Oct. 30th — just a day after the LH documentary telecast so it’ll be a good week to be an author! A couple of the doggies in the book live on the Lincoln Highway so I guess that makes the two projects a teeny bit connected.”

From the publisher:

If you’ve known a favorite old dog, you’ll find him or her on these pages. Your dog might go by a different name and have a different shape, but you’ll recognize him or her by the look in an eye or the contours of a life story. There is the dog who thinks he is a house cat; the herder, the fetcher, the punk and the peacock, the escape artist, the demolition artist, the patrician, the lovable lout, the amiable dope, the laughable clown, the schemer, the singer, the daredevil, the diplomat, the politician, the gourmand, and the thief.

The Smithsonian launch and lecture will be at the Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr SW, Oct. 30 at 7pm. Tickets are $25 or $15 for members; call (202) 633-3030.

Old Dogs is available in bookstores or on Amazon for $13.57.

Reviews starting for PBS Lincoln Highway show

October 22, 2008

Reviews are starting for Rick Sebak’s A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway, airing next week. I’ll tell you more about what’s in it in the coming days, but here’s a review from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Rob Owen that went out on the Scripps wire. An excerpt: “Fans of Sebak’s love letters to Americana won’t be disappointed as he visits both ends of the highway – at Times Square in New York City and next to a bus stop in San Francisco – and many locations in between…. Unlike past Sebak productions, ‘Lincoln Highway’ offers more of a historical focus with less emphasis on oddball Americans (or maybe Lincoln Highway enthusiasts just aren’t prone to saying wacky things).”

Huskies on Parade features Lincoln Highway dog

October 21, 2008

Our friend RoadDog wrote about a public art project celebrating the bond between Northern Illinois University and the DeKalb/Sycamore communities. More than 50 fiberglass painted Huskies were sponsored by individuals, businesses, and organizations. Each came as a pair: a 40-inch tall dog and a 20-inch pup.

On Thursday took a trip out to Dekalb and Sycamore and enjoyed looking for them. This was based on Chicago’s Cows on Parade. Really liked the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition’s “Lincoln on Lincoln” with the fiberglass Huskie sporting a Lincoln beard. Also liked “Paw McCartney” complete in Sgt. Pepper’s uniform and mustache.

Here’s an image of Lincoln at the state fair from the ILHC, and below is Paw from ILHC director Diane Rossiter says:

ILHC sponsored “Lincoln” and “Abe” as part of this project. Lincoln is 40″ tall and is standing proud on the corner of 1st Street and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. Abe is 20″ tall and is allowed to visit many places throughout Illinois. He has gone to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and was on exhibit in Freeport, Illinois for the celebration of the Lincoln/Douglas debates. Keep an eye out for Abe at future outings!

Huskies on Parade culminated during NIU’s Homecoming weekend when the dogs rode in the Homecoming Parade. The Huskie pups will be auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the February 14 Scholarship Fund. You can still check the Lincoln Highwy for Lincoln and 300 E. Harvestore Drive for Paw. For more info contact or (815) 753-0835.