Archive for December, 2008

Send a 200th birthday card to Abraham Lincoln

December 31, 2008

lincolnsittingLincoln Highway fans can help send birthday greetings in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birth 200 years ago. According to an AP article sent by Jan Shupert-Arick, the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is asking people to send cards to Lincoln for his 200th birthday on Feb. 12. The 16th president even has an official USPS address: Abraham Lincoln, Old State Capitol, 1 Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, Illinois, 62701-1512.

Commission chairwoman Marilyn Kushak says she hopes birthday greetings pour in from around the world to Lincoln’s hometown, where he moved after growing up in southern Indiana. She recommends that people make the cards by hand. The cards it receives may be used for displays or publicity.

Deal to incease rail traffic in Lincoln Hwy towns

December 30, 2008

Chicago Breaking News reports that Canadian National Railway has won federal approval to purchase a line that would loop freight trains around Chicago, a bypass that may cause massive traffic problems in some suburban communities, including many on the Lincoln Highway. CNR says the deal will boost the Chicago-area economy by $60 million a year, creating hundreds of jobs and easing train gridlock.


The project will shift freight traffic away from the city by looping it in a 198-mile arc through the suburbs by using the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway. CNR is set to pay $300 million to U.S. Steel for that railway, $100 million to upgrade the line, and another $60 million to help communities deal with the traffic impact. The transportation board will require CNR to pay most of the cost of constructing two highway-rail grade separation projects, tens of millions of dollars more than originally estimated. One overpass or underpass would be at Ogden Avenue (US 34) in Aurora and the other at Lincoln Highway (US 30) in Lynwood. CNR also reached agreements to minimize the impact in the Lincoln Highway towns of  Joliet and Chicago Heights in Illinois, and Dyer and Schererville in Indiana.

The map above, from the LHA’s Driving Maps CD, shows the route looping south of Chicago, from Dyer, Indiana, on the east end through Chicago Heights, Joliet, Plainfield, and Aurora.

2009 Iowa Lincoln Highway tour set for August

December 29, 2008

The 2nd Annual Iowa Lincoln Highway Motor Tour has been set for August 28-30, 2009. Featured stops along the west-to-east tour will include Desoto Bend, Carroll, Jefferson, Boone, Nevada, Marshalltown, Tama, Youngville, Cedar Rapids, Mechanicsville, Lowden, and Clinton.


ABOVE: George Preston’s station, Belle Plaine. Photo from the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association site, by Bryan Osberg, Urbandale, Iowa.

The tour is open to any make and model car, though a good many classics show up too. Registration is $20 per vehicle for Iowa LHA members or $30 per vehicle for non-members (includes a 1-year membership to the Iowa LHA) Click HERE for the registation form. For more information, contact Iowa LH Road Run coordinator Jeff LaFollette at

Christmas lights extravaganza in Marshalltown

December 24, 2008

This Christmas display, in Marshalltown, Iowa (along the Lincoln Highway) is built annually by Eric Rodemeyer at his home (611 South 7th Avenue) using 14,500 lights, controlled by 96 computer channels, 7 songs in a loop. He also builds a display on the courthouse grounds for the Noon Optimist Club that will play through December 31, 2007 from 5:30 pm – 9 pm Weekdays and till.10:30pm Fri-Sun.

The song is “Christmas Eve Sarajevo”by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The basis, especially after a one-minute intro, is the song “Carol of the Bells,” one of my favorite songs, though I prefer it with voices, like this one from an album called Christmas with Monique Danielle, used at a site south of the LH in Lindon, Utah.

Christmas with Buffallo Bill Cody in North Platte

December 23, 2008

The 1886 home of Col. and Mrs. Cody, a long-time Lincoln Highway stop in North Platte, Nebraska, is decorated for  an 1880s Christmas. Nightly events include period reenactors, caroling, roasting chestnuts, horse-drawn carriage rides, hot cider, holiday music, the armed services honor tree,  and Santa Claus. The 1887 horse barn, log cabin, and other outbuildings are decorated with exterior Christmas lights. The mansion has 18 lighted and decorated trees inside, while the barn has a large lighted and decorated tree, where visitors may make their own ornament to hang.

ne_christmascodysAt Buffalo Bill State Park / Scouts Rest Ranch, 2921 Scouts Rest Ranch Road. Tonight is the last evening so hit the road now! “Christmas at the Cody’s” runs from 5:30-8 p.m.

Turtle Town Indiana gets a Lincoln Highway sign

December 23, 2008

Jan Shupert-Arick sent a photo from Lincoln Highway members in Churubusco, Indiana, that shows one of their new Historic LH signs. This one is placed on an entrance sign to “Turtle Town.”


Why “Turtle Town”? The Chamber of Commerce has the story here.

More map mysteries – Lincoln Hwy curves in PA

December 19, 2008

Ken Ruffner wrote me with a question regarding an image in my book The Lincoln Highway: Pennsylvania Travelers Guide. It’s the historic photo on page 153 (1st ed., 1996) of the Horseshoe Curve above McConnellsburg, Pa.


I had said the view is looking west to McConnellsburg, with the new road on the right. Ken wrote, “but then the road on the right is lower than the one on the left when in fact it really is higher on the hill… this photo doesn’t register with me…. could you please help me out with this so I can let it go… a friend of mine and I left the area with more questions than we started out with.”


Above is an aerial view showing modern US 30 as a straight line and the old LH/US 30 curving up the mountainside. They still join at a prominent horseshoe curve but I wrote in my book that the photo was along the old curvy road, about where the “y” is in “Lincoln Way E.” I had discerned this by walking the old road, but after Ken inspired me to look at the aerial view, I realized the entire curve survives, though only partially driveable. The “lost” remnant is on the west/left side of Old 30/Lincoln Way E – it’s much more visible in the close-up below.


I see where Ken could be confused, but the new curve was broader and hence closer to the drop off. Look below at my proposed routings: red is the original (we’ll call it 1913 for LH reference), purple is the new (1924) curve. The original (red) road/curve that sat higher would have survived the 1924 reshaping, as seen in the historic photo, but was erased when the current road split the horseshoe about 1970.


The topo maps show the evolution, the first showing the original curve as a sharp turn, the second showing the broader 1930 revision.


The last mystery is the little road south of all this that likewise has a turnoff to the east. I marked it in blue. Is it an earlier alignment? A detour during construction in 1924? Or 1970? Or was there a house there at some point?

Note about exploring the 1924 alignment  — the road in my 1992 photo is blocked and walking it may be trespassing now, though perhaps it’s just blocked to stop traffic. When I walked it back then, it was beautiful and thrilling to be discovering an old alignment. What an eerie feeling to stand where thousands of cars once chugged up the mountain.

Fallon Nevada celebrates centennial today

December 18, 2008

Fallon, along the Lincolon Highway in western Nevada, is today celebrating its centennial of becoming an incorporated city. According to the Lahontan Valley News, there was no town at the turn of the century until rancher Mike Fallon sold his land to Warren Williams in 1903, who then began selling lots on what is now the west end of town. The eastern part was established on land owned by John Oats.


“Initially, Fallon was a mining town, and in 1919 the city experienced an oil boom. Growing alfalfa has been and is still one of the most stable income for local farmers. Currently, the valley’s 30,000 farming acres produces an average of 5 tons per acre — 70 percent is shipped out of state.” Mert Domonoske, past mayor of Fallon for 16 years, said when he moved to Fallon in 1948,  there were about 2,300 residents, and the only road leading out of town was a two-lane highway. Now “The Oasis of Nevada” has 8,000 citizens.

Smiley Kent moved to Fallon in 1950 after marrying Bob Kent in Elko. Her husband grew up in Fallon and has spent his entire life here. The couple first lived in a home in downtown Fallon, and Maine Street was the place in town where people shopped, Kent said there was not much traffic in the 1950s, and businesses were scattered throughout the city. What she first noticed about Fallon was its peacefulness and all the trees on Williams Avenue. She said Center Street also served as the Lincoln Highway and was the road on which people traveled when leaving town. She said the town always pulled together during tough times, and remembers Mom’s Place at Allen Road and Williams Avenue as the last business on the west side of town. “The town keeps going west,” she said. “The town has expanded so much.”

Events run this evening from 6-8 pm starting when the current mayor and council members arrive at Oats Park by horse-drawn Wells Fargo stagecoach. Festivities will include a bonfire, food, drinks, church bells ringing, musical performances, and singing “Happy Birthday” with a big birthday cake. Just bundle up – freezing temps are predicted all day and week.

Lost Landmarks along the Lincoln Highway in PA

December 17, 2008

I’m still reviewing my Lincoln Highway Companion book maps and so was using Google Maps to check out aerial views of the old stone bridge over Poquessing Creek. If you’re ever northeast of Philadelphia, you must go check it out – a turnpike-era bridge in the woods but within sound of wide boulevards and suburban sprawl.


I kept scrolling east towards the NJ border and recognized a couple places I’d been years ago – the US 1 North Drive-In Theater and the original railroad crossing at Fallsington, used by the Lincoln Hghway through 1920. In fact, the entire LH from the Philadelphia line (which the Poquessing Creek Bridge crosses) to Morrisville (at the NJ line) is filled with interesting reroutings, made all the more challenging to discern because so many of the changes were made so many years ago.


The long-closed drive-in amazingly survives but nature is overtaking it. The old crossing can be found by locating the two skinny roads leading to the tracks; I’ve marked the location of the bridge. Both are noted on the map below — click to enlarge it.


Book review: Lincoln Highway around Chicago

December 16, 2008

More than a half-year after moving and losing track of just about everything, I’m down to the last few boxes to open, and there in one of them was The Lincoln Highway around Chicago by Cynthia Ogorek. The 128-page book was published by Arcadia earlier this year — my review was to be a preview when I started this post in March! Since then many reviews have appeared favorably recapping the highlights. My best compliment about it is that it is unlike other LH books; it is not just a retelling of existing information, it is a grand amalgamation of numerous sources, some familiar to LH fans, others dug out from local archives. The introduction and captions bespeak of a solid familiarity with local history and geography. Although a few images from the LHA collection may be familiar to fans, nearly every page brings new and interesting vintage views.


Chapter 1 explores the original route and the people behind its improvement. Chapter 2 is all about the Ideal Section. Chapter 3 highlights roadside businesses, including some great gas station shots. Chapter 4 looks at the connection to the many electric interurban lines that served Chicago. (One of my favorite photos is found here — an aerial view of snowbound motorists astride the Park Forest neighborhood of Lincolnwoods, with an impending development across the road. It is also the source of the photo below that shows the Lincoln Theater in Chicago Heights, a 1960s shopping center in Matteson, and the fabulous Northgate Shopping Center Sign near Aurora — and I’m glad to report that Cynthia says this has been designated a local landmark.) Chapter 5 examines the inevitable bypasses. Chapter 6 reviews recent events, from restoration of the Ideal Section monument to Art Schweitzer’s efforts to document and salvage part part os that section; from Lincoln Highway Lady Lyn Protteau visiting the area to Mad Mac’s March across Illinois.


All of Arcadia Books leave me wanting more — more text, better quality on many photos, a break from the monotonous crammed design — but some authors rise above that to present well-researched, insightful books. This is one of them. $19.95 or $14.95 from Amazon.