Archive for April, 2009

Fish Springs to offer trails class for its 50th

April 14, 2009

The Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, a wetland mecca along the Lincoln Highway in western Utah, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The refuge was established in 1959 by the Migratory Bird Commission and is managed as a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The celebration will take place May 9-10, 2009. Billed as a weekend of Wildlife, Wildlands, and History, participants will accompany instructors in the field for natural history classes in any of three sessions (two on Saturday, one Sunday). Topics will include land birds, aquatic birds, aquatic botany, area geology, refuge archeology, and most notably, a class titled Fish Springs the Crossroads which looks at the many important pioneer trails that passed through the refuge.

sebak_ut_bantaloABOVE: Refuge manager and LHA membership coordinator Jay Banta was photographed by PBS producer Rick Sebak as the crew filmed for last year’s Lincoln Highway program.

Refuge manager Jay Banta says that class will cover “the Jackass Mail, the Pony Express, the Central Overland Stage, the Transcontinental Telegraph, the Lincoln Highway, and maybe even a bit of the CCC history as they built most of the country roads in our part of the world.” Classes are limited to 20 students and require pre-registration, available online, by email, or by phone — see below.

Camping will be allowed on the refuge Friday May 8 and Saturday May 9. There will be a group potluck dinner on Saturday with a “Campfire” program by manager Banta and some surprise guests!

The refuge is 135 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Commuting time is approximately 3.5 hours from SLC, with half of that distance being gravel roads.

For more information check the Special Events at or e-mail or call the refuge from 7 am to 4:30 pm, M–F. (435) 831-5353 x2

Lincoln Highway Companion sample arrives

April 11, 2009

It’s always a surprise — and a relief — when a book you’ve been working on for years finally arrives in finished form. Today I was finally able to hold and look through a completed Lincoln Highway Companion, sent on ahead by the printer. Ahh, the smell of fresh ink and new paper!!

Like my last book, Roadside Attractions, this one incorporates written contributions from dozens of friends and fellow old road enthusiasts; it’s an honor to include their roadside recommendations.

No matter whether others like your book or not, you know every image, every fact, every comma had to be chosen, tracked down, and approved. It’s like your child — you love it no matter what. I filmed a little video preview of Lincoln Highway Companion for YouTube that you can play here too.

msnbc explores ups and downs in Elkhart

April 9, 2009

Attendees to this summer’s Lincoln Highway Association conference in South Bend, Indiana, won’t be very far from Elkhart, just to the east along the Lincoln Highway. Online news site msnbc has launched The Elkhart Project, a long-term interactive blog to provide perspective on the national recession. The site has a variety of features on the town that learned that “heavy dependence on a single industry – in this case RVs – is a double-edged sword: It provides a comfortable ride in the boom years but a rough journey when the good times stop rolling.”


Iowa Lincoln Highway Assn to meet Sat in Carroll

April 8, 2009

The Iowa Lincoln Highway Association will gather in Carroll this Saturday, April 11, for a business meeting, lunch, and short tour. Location is the Club House Bar & Grill, 529 N. Main St./US 30, aka the Lincoln Highway. Coffee and pastries will be available at 9 am. The meeting starts at 9:30; topics will include the next motor tour across the state and the LH Heritage Byway project. Lunch follows there, then the group will tour the Santa Maria Winery a block away in the former Wittrock Auto building. That’s the building below — it was still in operation when I visited in 2004, with Mike Wittrock at the 1931 double canopy station.


Not much else but LH Companion book news

April 7, 2009

butko_6304With Spring travel not yet here and snow surprising many of us, there’s not much news from the road, but my editor just sent some good news – a few honest-to-goodness samples of my Lincoln Highway Companion book have arrived! These go out to booksellers that want a look before ordering, and perhaps reviewers. I’m hoping to see one too — he says “Looks great!!!” but I’ll still be anxious till I see it myself. Here’s a photo from it of the Frazer Diner that Stackpole Books posted on Facebook. Click it to see it a bit larger.

What does this Lincoln Highway billboard say?

April 6, 2009

Over the weekend I added a wonderful image to my Ship Hotel book – a photo taken from the mountainside looking down on the Grand View Point Hotel, about 1930 just before it was remade into the Ship. In the distance, along the Lincoln Highway / US 30 is a billboard — this is about 17 miles east of Bedford, Pennsylvania. It’s pretty small in the photo but I was wondering what it said so I enlarged it – what do you think? I’ll post it regular and darkened.



Ohio touts its Lincoln Highway highlights

April 3, 2009

The Ohio Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor issued a press release geared to catch the attention of those planning springtime road trips. Titled Springin’ Along the “Lincoln,” it promotes cruising the Lincoln Highway in Ohio as a fun, close-to-home get-away. Below is a portion.


You may not find the world’s largest ball of twine but you will be able to do some serious antique shopping or visit a museum or two. Travel games can be created around identifying Highway period (1913-1928) buildings, historical monuments, spotting courthouses or locating old road alignments. And there is always plenty of home-style cooking and apple pie eating along the way….

During its 15 years, some “alignments” of the Lincoln Highway were changed to improve travel. Driving these older alignments today reveals charming small communities waiting to be explored. Today these areas may be unknown, but in the early days of the Lincoln Highway, everyone going east or west would pass through them. They were on the nation’s map and known by all who traveled the highway.

The ol’ Lincoln is out there, waiting to share its charm and history. for more information and maps, visit or phone 419-468-6773.

Free Illinois Lincoln Highway guide published

April 2, 2009

The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition has just published its 2009 Visitors Guide. The 44-page guide is filled with info on attractions, restaurants, and accommodations along the route and in adjacent towns. You can download a PDF or request one from the website or call toll-free (866) 455-4249.  Among their recent work, 17 Interpretive Gazebos will soon appear along the Illinois Lincoln Highway corridor, and 40 more murals will be installed.


Gregory Mathew Franzwa

April 1, 2009

From today’s Salt Lake Tribune:


Gregory Mathew Franzwa 1926 ~ 2009 Gregory Mathew Franzwa, 83, passed away from cancer at his home in Tooele, Utah, on March 29, 2009. He was born in Carroll, Iowa, on Feb. 27, 1926, to Fred W. and Mabel Henderson Franzwa. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his three children: Theodore C. Francois, Hemet, Calif; Christian N. Franzwa, Lynnwood, Wash; and Patrice A. Smith, Bailey, N.C. He also leaves two brothers, Sterling “Rusty,” Glidden, and Frederick A., Rochester, N.Y. His stepmother, Jane Franzwa, lives in Tucson, Arizona. He became a professional musician while a sophomore in Glidden High School, playing trumpet with local dance bands. He joined the U.S. Navy’s V-5 flight training program while awaiting graduation in May 1943, and was called to active duty on October 5, 1943. He was released to inactive duty in August 1946, as a Lt. (JG), in the United States Naval Reserve. Mr. Franzwa attended Iowa State College from September 1946 to May 1947; and the State University of Iowa from February 1948 until receiving a bachelor of journalism degree in August 1950. He moved to St. Louis, MO, in October 1950, and opened his firm, Gregory M. Franzwa Public Relations in 1955, a firm which remained in business until his move to Tucson, Ariz., in 1991. He founded the highly successful Tiger Rag Forever Jazz Band in the early 1960s, and the 1926 Jazz Band, an all-star group, also in St. Louis, in the late 1970s. He joined the Old Pueblo Jazz Band in Tucson and remained its leader until moving to Tooele, Utah in 2005. His first book, “The Old Cathedral”, was published by the St. Louis Archdiocese in 1965. His second, “The Story of Old Ste. Genevieve”, was the first to bear the imprimatur of his firm, The Patrice Press, in 1967. “The Oregon Trail Revisited”, first published in 1967, established Mr. Franzwa’s reputation as a premiere scholar of the history of the covered wagon emigration to the American West. The Patrice Press continued to publish Mr. Franzwa’s works, as well as that of many other scholars. In 1996 the author began his state-by-state series of hardcover books on the Lincoln Highway. The six states west of the Mississippi River are now in print with his 21st book, “The Lincoln Highway: Illinois”, in process. He was the principal founder of the Oregon-California Trails Association in 1982, a group dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of the historic road. 10 years later, in October 1992, he founded the current Lincoln Highway Association, with the same purpose. He married his soulmate, Kathleen A. Colyer on Dec. 23, 2000, after a storybook romance centered on the Oregon Trail. His remains were cremated and scattered over the Oregon Trail. At his request, there will be no services.