Posts Tagged ‘highways’

Iowa Gumbo Snared Lincoln Highway Travelers

January 16, 2018


Early motorists writing of cross-country journeys had little to say east of the Mississippi; once on Iowa’s dirt roads, they couldn’t stop. Iowa was notorious for “gumbo” mud, a result of the land between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers once having been submerged. Superb for crops, that same rich soil stymied cars when wet.

Making matters worse, Iowa’s roads were improved at the county level, where voters preferred minor overall improvements over diverting more funds to the Lincoln Highway. LHA president Henry Joy took the state legislature to task in a scathing article for Collier’s in 1916: “Not a wheel turns outside the paved streets of her cities during or for sometime after the frequent heavy rains…. Millions of dollars worth of wheeled vehicles become, for the time being, worthless.”


Henry Joy in gumbo near La Mouille, Iowa, June 1915. [UM 1964]

That article followed a 1915 trip that Joy made with LHA secretary Austin Bement and Packard mechanic Ernie Eisenhut in a new Packard 1-35 Twin Six, the first 12-cylinder production car. His photo album, with hundreds of snapshots from the muddy 2,885-mile journey, can be found at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Library. The captions themselves are often entertaining:

“Nearing Tama, Iowa, our rear wheels threw gumbo higher than the telephone poles.”

“The natives took reserved seats to watch us work their roads.”

“Three hours were spent in this mud hole near Tama.”

“Four hours were needed to dislodge us from the Lincoln Highway east of Marshaltown.”

“He pulled us out for $3.00 and a drink of whiskey.”

In By Motor to the Golden Gate (1916), future etiquette writer Emily Post wrote, “Illinois mud is slippery and slyly eager to push unstable tourists into the ditch, but in Iowa it lurks in unfathomable treachery, loath to let anything ever get out again that once ventures into it. Our progress through it became hideously like that of a fly crawling through yellow flypaper…. Our wheels, even with chains on, had no more hold than revolving cakes of soap might have on slanting wet marble.”

By 1920, with more than 430,000 registered vehicles, Iowa still had only 25 miles of paved roads outside of cities. The 1924 LHA guide warned, “It is folly to try to drive on Iowa dirt roads, during or immediately after a heavy rain.”

Dry spells brought horrible clouds of dust but it was the gumbo that was forever remembered. George Schuster said it best in his recollection of Ogden, Iowa, during the 1908 New York–to–Paris race: “It rained all day, the mud is nearly hub deep. We slid from one side of the road to the other. We covered more miles sidewise than ahead.”


June 27, 2012

The most revolutionary event for the Lincoln Highway since it was founded 99 years ago is now available — free, detailed, online maps of the Lincoln Highway!

The LHA Mapping Committee (myself and 2 dozen others) has worked for a decade to map all generations of the Lincoln Highway, from the obscure Proclamation Route to the equally-rare city feeders. Mapping software expert (and committee chair) Paul Gilger has done a stunning job, spending hundreds of hours to apply our info to DeLorme and now Google Maps. The maps are now available to the public for free. Click to see for yourself this stunning resource detailing exactly where the LH went from coast-to-coast. Here are some samples that you should be able to easily identify.

Late snow at Big Bend, California … well, in May

August 5, 2010

I get lots of emails and some slip by for months. Here’s an interesting one from May from Rick Etchells of Richmond, Texas:

My Friend Ken Rozek and I recently took a trip to follow the Lincoln Highway from San Francisco to Laramie, Wyoming. This was our third trip following the Lincoln Highway and we have now completed it all except for New Jersey and New York.

On all of these trips we used your great book Greetings From the Lincoln Highway and on this trip we also used your latest book The Lincoln Highway Companion. These made it much easier to find Lincoln Highway locations. We were able to duplicate the main photo that you have on the covers of both books.

A highlight of our trip in California was all of the snow we encountered at Big Bend Visitor Center in the Sierras. The section of Asphalt that you say is there was completely covered in snow. We had to walk over about 3 feet of snow just to get to the Lincoln Highway cement post!

Attached are a few photos of our visit at the Big Bend Visitor Center. Thanks so much for your very interesting blog and books about the Lincoln Highway.

Gas stations video can be watched online

February 27, 2009


It’s not Lincoln Highway-centric, but if you like old cars and gas stations you’ll want to watch for FREE the video that accompanies the book I mentioned previously, Fill ’er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Station. The half-hour-long show is on the Wisconsin Public Television web site in 8 segments or can be purchased as a DVD. It’s a fun and informative look at stations, and you don’t need to be from Wisconsin to appreciate the info, the places visited, and the cool films and photos. Click HERE to go to the page of segments plus some related clips such as a look at an 1878 experiment with steam-driven carriages that may have been the world’s first car race. Below is a scene from the video.


Cross-country runner hitting Lincoln in November

October 10, 2008

Denny Gibson wrote to say that Phil Rosenstein is running across the US on a path that will cover part of the Lincoln Highway. “He’s currently running eastbound on Route 66. His schedule is here but he’s well ahead of it and has just entered Missouri. Although he doesn’t mention it (and may not realize it) it looks like he’ll be following the LH from Indiana through Pennsylvania.”

Indeed, Phil told me, “Route 30 is the one part of my run that I’ve no pre-knowledge about. I don’t think I’ve ever been on it.” Of concern is whether the road has shoulders and reasonable speed limits.

On his website, Phil writes that he is “running the entire Route 66 from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL and then continuing on to Atlantic City, NJ to complete the transcontinental run. I will be alone and I am prepared to do it on my own every step of the way. But, this run will go much easier with a little help from a few people along the way.” Help could come in the form of lodging, publicity, and his ultimate goal, raising attention and money for The Mario Lemieux Foundation (

Here’s a photo Phil at the statue of Andy Payne in Foyil, Oklahoma.

Payne won the 1928 “Bunion Derby” transcontinental footrace along the newly created Route 66. He was born and raised in Foyil, which is on 66.

Here are Phil’s Lincoln Highway check points:

November 8, 2008
Plymouth IN
Columbia City IN

November 8, 2008
Fort Wayne IN

November 9, 2008
Van Wert OH
Upper Sandusky OH
Bucyrus OH

November 12, 2008
Mansfield OH
Massillon OH
Minerva OH

November 15, 2008
East Liverpool OH

November 16, 2008
Pittsburgh PA
Latrobe PA
Reels Corners PA
Breezewood PA
Gettysburg PA

November 22, 2008
York PA
Lancaster PA
Coatesville PA

Lincoln Highway slides onto US 30 in Greensburg

May 13, 2008

Heavy rain over the weekend likely caused a portion of the original Lincoln Highway west of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to fall onto US 30, closing both eastbound lanes of the 4-lane. A water line also broke but it was not clear what happened first. Here is a view of the LH before the landslide, which occurred to the left:

More that 30 truckloads of debris fell down onto US 30, and though that road is again open, the LH (aka old Route 30 and Tollgate Hill Road) will remain closed for a few weeks. Read the full report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by cliking the image below:

Or read about it and view a video on by clicking below:

Photos from the Route 30 movie shoot

April 15, 2008

John Putch sent along the web site for his next film, Route 30, which features this cool poster. A couple of the taglines are “Three Stories, One Highway” and “The Road of Dreams is a Two Lane Highway.” As John says, filming and the plot itself are centered around the Lincoln Highway, “the corridor of my childhood.” All images reproduced with permission.

Here are some shots from the production – click them to see larger images:

Above: Dana Delany plays Amish Martha, a depressed old maid who smokes, drinks, swears and longs to shave her legs again. She reportedly enjoyed Mister Ed’s Elephant museum. Who doesn’t??

Above: David DeLuise at Mister Ed’s.

Above: Mister Ed at his store with Curtis Armstrong as Ned.

Above: Production crew member Kate Murphy in Caledonia State Park.

Be sure to check out the movie podcasts by clicking the screen shot below. They’re informative, visually rich, and remind us that films don’t have to be elaborate productions. They’re pretty funny too!
Route 30 movie podcasts

Snow closes parts of Lincoln Hwy in Nebraska

April 11, 2008

Leigh Henline at Fort Cody Trading Post was telling me last night about the blizzard in North Platte, Nebraska, and that parts of US 30 had to be closed. According to the North Platte Bulletin, “Traveling was also not recommended on Interstate 80 or Highway 30 west of North Platte. Travelers have reported clear roads but limited visibility. As the temperatures drop, ice has formed in some areas making traveling dangerous.” Schools also were closed Thursday and Friday due to almost 6 inches of snow.

Learn lots more about it from a stormchaser, High Plains Drifter, whose blog has maps, charts, and photos. (For future reference, the 11 posts so far about this storm can be accessed at with the last number being changed up through 479.)

Apparently, warm temps kept it from getting worse, but a NWS blizzard warning is still in effect through Friday 7 pm. According to another Bulletin story, the storm is heading to Iowa with wind gusts up to 40 mph.

Mystery photos 4 & 5: NE and WY

February 29, 2008

Daily snow the past few weeks has us dreaming of sunny drives along the Lincoln Highway, so here are a couple summertime photos from western Nebraska and western Wyoming. Can you correctly identify either location?



To see them larger, click on each one for a connection to Flickr. Once there, click “All Sizes” above the each image to see them even larger.

LHA's spring 2008 state meetings set

February 23, 2008

Here are some upcoming Lincoln Highway Association chapter meetings.

LHA banner

Iowa will hold a membership meeting on Saturday, April 12, 2008, in Denison, Crawford, County.

California’s spring meeting also will be held April 12, in East Castro Valley/Hayward.

The Ohio Lincoln Highway League will hold 14th annual state meeting on Saturday, April 26, at the Elks Club in Galion. It will be hosted by the LHA Mid-Ohio Chapter. Tours of local attractions will follow.

LHA’s Indiana chapter will host a lunch meeting, to be joined by Illinois, May 10 in Schererville that will include a ceremony honoring Art Schweitzer, leading expert on the Ideal Section.

Follow the links for more information.