Archive for December, 2008

Postcard: Greensburg motel on Lincoln Highway

December 15, 2008

Looking through my computer files today I found this postcard scan of Weaver’s Motel along the Lincoln Highway on the east side of Greensburg, Pa.

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When I began researching the highway in Pennsylvania two decades ago a few remnants of this motel remained. Judging by Google Street View, what looks like the main building of the tourist court still survives but that’s it.

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Lincoln Hwy map tweak at Grand Junction Iowa

December 12, 2008

Reviewing the Iowa chapter in my forthcoming Lincoln Highway Companion, I often compare my maps to extreme close-ups of the LHA’s excellent CD-based maps based on the DeLorme system. My book has a photo from just east of Grand Junction, Iowa, where 4 bridges cross Beaver Creek. However, I noticed the LHA maps only show 3 roads/bridges there, despite a notation of “4 Bridges.”

So I checked with Bob and Joyce Ausberger, who made the ultimate effort to save the original tiny concrete bridge there by purchasing it and the land around it! They confirmed that the original LH needs to be shown crossing it. “There is still the remains of the road grade. You need to be standing at the right location to see it. It was never more than a graded dirt road, but it’s there. Right now it is covered with brome grass so it probably wouldn’t show up on the DeLorme maps.”

You can see all 4 in the Google Maps aerial view — from top: original LH, railroad, old LH, and US 30. (And note how lucky we are – the aerial views go low-res just a few yards to the west!)

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On a sample of the DeLorme map, I’ve drawn in by hand a bright blue line where the original route should be, and a black circle where the bridge is. I’m guessing at where it joins the revised LH/222nd St on the west end but maybe readers can help confirm that.

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Lincoln Hwy author reads for WWII Radio Heroes

December 11, 2008

The author is me, and my part is probably less than a minute long, but if that justifies a Lincoln Highway connection to mention this book, that’s OK. World War II Radio Heroes is the fascinating story of dozens of 60-year-old letters discovered by author Lisa Spahr. They were sent to her family by total strangers to inform her great-grandmother that her son had been captured and was being held as a POW. How did they know?
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Lisa explains:

Short-wave radio had held all of the answers. POWs were allowed to state their names and hometowns on the radio, and sometimes relay a short message to their families. Scores of Americans, listening to the German propaganda from so far away, heard my grandfather’s information, and took it upon themselves to write to my great-grandmother. All of these dear people wanted to give my great-grandmother a measure of comfort to know her son was alive.

Lisa’s tale of trying to track down the letter writers is part of the journey, and after I began talking to her about it, she asked if I would read one of the letters for the audio version. We also thought my son Andrew would be perfect to read for Flavius Jankauskas, who is seen on the cover with his Howard 430 radio. He was 16 when he sent Lisa’s family a note and is one of those Lisa was able to locate.

A couple interesting notes: that’s Lisa’s grandparents also pictured on the cover — her grandfather did return safely. And although you might think that cell phones, e-mail, and texting would put a damper on ham radio, there are more than 600,000 operators in the U.S., up from just 51,000 at the dawn of WWII.

The audio book is professionally produced with 3 CDs and bonus tracks. The text is read by Lisa along with 30-some letter readers. The book is available on Amazon or from the author’s site for $15.95 or instantly downloadable as PDF for $19.95. The audio book in a limited run of 400 is $29.95 or can be paired with the book for $40.

Deco station a twin to Dunkle's Gulf in Bedford

December 10, 2008

Postcard expert Russell Rein picked up a 1930s postcard that shows a station near Asbury Park, New Jersey, that’s very similar to the well-known Dunkle’s Gulf along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Dunkle’s is a popular stop and an extremely rare survivor from that era — and they still pump gas!

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Though it’s known that others were made in this c. 1930 style, no others are known to have survived. By the look of the Google satellite view, the one in New Jersey is gone too.

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New site explores Indiana's Lincoln Highway

December 9, 2008

Dave Zollinger, aka Spiny Norman, has been expanding his Goshen Lincoln Highway blog so much that it’s already spawned a sequel at www.indianaslincolnhighway.blogspot.com called “Indiana’s Lincoln Highway.”

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It’s already got some great stories, like a visit to the well-known Magic Wand drive-in restaurant in Churubusco, and the start of a cross-state tour at the Ohio line.

Wind farm could impact Lincoln Highway in Wyo

December 8, 2008

The Rawlins Daily Times reported on a controversial wind farm planned near Hanna, a small town along the beautifully rural Medicine Bow loop of the Lincoln Highway in east-central, Wyoming. The story was then examined by CBS-4 in Denver:

The Medicine Bow Conservation District and the Hanna Historical Society asked Horizon Wind Energy not to harm natural or cultural resources when building its 154-turbine wind project.

Ken Besel, representing both the conservation district and the historical society, asked Horizon to avoid the historic Carbon Cemetery, sage grouse strutting grounds, archaeological sites, elk habitat and other places of significance in the proposed project area.

Nate Sandvig of Horizon said the project area is located between Hanna and Elk Mountain and south of U.S. Highway 30 in the Simpson Ridge area….

Hanna historian Nancy Anderson asked if Horizon would avoid the remaining traces of the original Lincoln Highway, which runs through the project area, usually near U.S. 30.

Sandvig wasn’t aware of the historic highway, but said he would find out more about it. He promised to avoid traces of the original Transcontinental Railroad built in the same general area as the highway.

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Newsreel: 1952 Donner Pass blizzard strands train

December 5, 2008

With Wintry weather hitting much of the country, here’s a newsreel from more than a half-century ago reminding us of the dangers atop infamous Donner Pass. The Lincoln Highway crossed the Sierra Nevadas here starting in 1913. The 222 passengers aboard the “City of San Francisco” were stranded for days in up to 20 feet of snow. This newsreel, with dramatic music and narration, details their rescue. The pass is of course named for a party of overland emigrants who were trapped by early snows.

Changes along the Lincoln Highway in Austin NV

December 4, 2008

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Jan Morrison writes from Austin, Nevada, that she closed her Main Street Shops that sold coffee, ice cream, and gifts, “another victim of the recession. Traffic on our stretch of US 50/the Lincoln Highway is down 40-50%. There is a possibility someone may lease it, but I won’t know until the spring.”

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There is at least some positive news:

At the corner of Main (US 50) and Virginia, across from the hardware store, a new town plaza will be built featuring a rest stop with public bathrooms, picnic tables, and a gathering space. It should be completed for summer.

Tours of St. Augustine Church can now be arranged. We prefer groups because there are only two of to give tours, and we have 3-4 jobs each.

There is a new RV park which accommodates the larger rigs with “pull-throughs.” It is the Pony Express RV Park.

There is a new stop at the east entrance of town, where the mountain bike place used to be, the Last Chance Saloon. They offer great pizzas and other dine-in or take-out food. Nice bar also, clean and well-kept. It is run by Bob and Donna Sossa, who have a huge home in the Valley shaped like a castle which is also a B & B.

In spite of the recession, we are all working hard on sprucing up the town, preserving the old buildings, and getting ready for better times!

Also check the Libraries & Museums link at right for the address of the Austin Museum. Jan says they have furnishings from one of the early ranches in the area and a room set up like an old ranch kitchen with a Hoosier, old stove, rockers, and tables.

Gettysburg and Lancaster tourism along US 30

December 3, 2008

Jennifer Vogelsong wrote an interesting piece for the York Daily Record/Sunday News about the search for authentic experiences in Gettysburg and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Much of the public face is found along the Lincoln Highway/US 30 but she finds that the best places are a block or two away or along the back roads. She was inspired by the December issue of National Geographic Traveler that ranked the two destinations among the most important historic places on Earth — and fourth worst when it comes to sustainable tourism, ie how authentically they preserve the past, manage tourism, and withstand development.

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At the Mennonite Information Center on US 30, director Jeff Landis advises “If you see a sign with the word “Amish” in it, it probably isn’t.” Still, at The Amish Experience, with billboard ads and an F/X Theater, “employee Ginny Reese said it’s pretty authentic, and an appealing option for visitors who don’t want to drive the back roads for the real thing: ‘They can’t find it or they don’t know where to go and what they’re looking for.'”

Read more of Jennifer’s travels around these two areas and York in her blog Explorer’s Backpack.

Goshen motel sign another Lincoln Highway loss

December 2, 2008

Fans of the Goshen Motor Lodge’s vintage sign knew it was a matter of time before the classic 1950s shape would be replaced, The once-exuberant sign along the Lincoln Highwy in northern Indiana declined in recent years, and friends on Flickr reported that new owners planned a purely plastic replacement. Sure enough, as seen below in a photo by Spiny Norman, plastic has replaced neon and vintage plastic atop the original poles.

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Unfortunately, buying a plastic sign seems easier and cheaper than maintaining an old one, and to many owners, new conveys better. True, some people might pass by a motel for having an old neon sign, but a well-maintained sign and place will build a good reputation. Below is the sign as I saw it last year.

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BTW, Spiny’s Goshen’s Lincoln Highway blog should be an inspiration to towns all along the LH as to how you can document and promote your section of the LH. You’ll find a link to his site added to the right.