Posts Tagged ‘highways’

2008 LHA conference info online at two sites

January 31, 2008

Fans of historic roads will want to attend the 2008 Lincoln Highway Association conference in Evanston, Wyoming, this June. Conference coordinator Shelly Horne has begun posting info at about the area and what attendees will see. He will add more in the coming weeks.

Conference registration and art show information can be found at:


Here is the basic information:

Lincoln Highway Association 16th Annual Conference
“Rails, Trails, and Highway Tales”
Best Western Dunmar Inn, 1601 Harrison Drive, Evanston, WY

Tuesday, June 17 — Welcome Dinner buffet
Wednesday, June 18 — West Tour to Echo Canyon
Thursday, June 19 — Seminars; Awards Banquet
Friday, June 20 — East Tour to Ft. Bridger and Granger; BBQ dinner in tent
Saturday, June 21 — Mountain Man Breakfast at roundhouse, rides on UPRR turntable; annual business meeting

Snow closes I-80 in CA, but pretty along old LH

January 28, 2008

An AP story this morning reports that snow has forced the closure of I-80 between Sacramento and Reno, Nevada, where it is parallel to (and often intertwined with) the Lincoln Highway in eastern California. Eastbound I-80 was closed at Colfax (50 miles NE of Sacramento) and westbound traffic was being held at the Nevada state line. Meanwhile, floods, mudslides, and winds are battering southern California.

For a calmer take on winter weather, Paul Gilger, Chair of the Lincoln Highway Association National Mapping Committee, sent along these images from brothers Greg and Grant Gassman, members of the California chapter of the LHA. A few weeks ago, they took these photos of the original 1913 alignment through Kingvale up near Donner Pass. The first one is looking east on the 1913 alignment just before it rejoins the 1926 alignment on Donner Pass Road (which does get plowed):



The second photo is just taken a little to the west of the first photo. It’s also looking east on the 1913 alignment:


81st Anniversary of Federal Highway Numbering

January 2, 2008

“Windy City Road Warrior” Dave Clark (author of Exploring Route 66 in Chicagoland and Route 66 in Chicago) posted an interesting story about the 81st anniversary of the federal highway numbering system. Although the highway plan was finalized in November 1926, the public announcement was delayed until January 1, 1927. Clark references a Chicago Tribune article from January 2, “U.S. Marks Ten Main Roads With Route Numbers” that explains the system that has been used ever since for federal highways: east-west route have even numbers, north-south have odd, with lowest numbers in the north and east. The 10 main transcontinental route numbers ended in 0, and the main N-S route numbers ended in 1 or 5. A tentative plan had been submitted to the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) in November 1925, followed by a year of wrangling and revisions. Standardized signage was also adopted.

All this was in response to the growing tangle of named highways and their informal, inconsistent markings. It did not release funds for the highways; the focus was on standardized naming and marking, The only nod to financing upgrades was to “unimproved sections of which will be given priority in improvement,” if and when any were made.

US map
Above: A Gulf map of PA, late 1920s, shows the LH numbered as both US 30 and PA 1. The state numbers were discarded after just a few years. Seen here is from roughly Breezewood to Lancaster.

A map of the plan approved in November 1926 can be seen here. And more about the federal numbering system can be found in “From Names to Numbers: The Origins of the U.S. Numbered Highway System,” a thorough recounting by Richard F. Weingroff, Information Liaison Specialist, Federal Highway Administration.

Though named trails were not banned or eliminated, none of the multi-state ones got a single number, but rather were broken into several numbers. Named highway orgnizations could see that the plan would render their roads obsolete; the LHA grudgingly accepted the plan but asked for consideration of being designated route number 30. It got it for much of the way, originally from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City. Still, as Weingroff writes, LHA president Henry Joy

was so bitter that he wanted to send, but did not, a note to President Coolidge, his Cabinet, and all Members of Congress:

“The Lincoln Highway, a memorial to the martyred Lincoln, now known by the grace of God and the authority of the Government of the United States as Federal Route 1, Federal Route 30, Federal Route 30N, Federal Route 30S, Federal Route 530, Federal Route 40 and Federal Route 50”

The New York Times expressed similar sentiments: “The traveler may shed tears as he drives the Lincoln Highway or dream dreams as he speeds over the Jefferson Highway, but how can he get a ‘kick’ out of 46, 55 or 33 or 21?” Little did they know…!

Lincoln and Dixie Highways share ties in Illinois

December 14, 2007

Dixie H bannerIn our review of Traveling the … Historic Three by John and Lenore Weiss (which follows the Lincoln and Dixie Highways and Route 66), I mentioned Elaine E. Egdorf. Not only does she manage the Drivin’ the Dixie website, but as chairman of the Village of Homewood Heritage Committee, she got a Dixie Highway marker for Homewood, south of Chicago. The committee and the Homewood Historical Society (she was founding president) paid for the marker, which was dedicated in 2003 with a large ceremony. It was re-dedicated in 2005 as part of the kick-off for Illinois State Historical Society Markers week. The Dixie Highway communities also were recognized with a Superior Achievement Award from the ISHS for the unique way they pulled together towns, historical societies, and chambers of commerce to promote Illinois history.

The Dixie Highway was another idea of Lincoln Highway founder Carl Fisher. His north-south path was said to have been created so his wealthy auto-industry pals could more easily travel south to Fisher’s Miami Beach land developments. The Dixie was not as direct as the Lincoln, but rather a braid of roads from Sou. Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida. The route is now identified throughout Illinois (except Chicago) with red, white, and blue metal street signs, street pole banners, and state markers. One of at least six intersections of the Lincoln and Dixie Highways is at Chicago Heights: the roads run together for almost two miles there and their meeting is commemorated by the Arche Memorial Fountain.


Above: Redd Griffin, Oak Park; Elaine Egdorf, Homewood; Arthur Martin, Chicago, at the rededication in 2005. All are on the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society.

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Dixie H map

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This group’s Triangle Tour has actually evolved into Drivin’ the Dixie, a moving car show and tour from Blue Island to Momence. A passport listing events in towns along the route can be stamped at historic sites; each town donates two prizes, and for each stamp, participants get a free raffle ticket. Last year about 200 cars total participated, mostly vintage cars. It’s nice to see such support for a road that played such a big role in early auto history.

IL_Dixie car show

Illinois gets grant for Murals and Gazebos on LH

December 13, 2007

IL Post mural

The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition (ILHC) recently received $443,000 in federal grants for its National Scenic Byway program, a designation the Lincoln Highway through Illinois received in 2000. The funds will be used over the next 3 years to produce interpretive murals in 40 communities along the 179-mile route through the state. Each mural will interpret the history and heritage of the highway and its impact on the communities, and a companion brochure will summarize their locations and messages.

Diane Rossiter, Associate Director of ILHC, says, “We are excited to begin this new project! This money, plus the $40,000 we just received from the state and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism will make it all happen. Our hope is that visitors will be compelled to travel Illinois Lincoln Highway and discover all that it has to offer.”

IL Post mural close up

Three murals are already complete: Creston was unveiled in May 2006, DeKalb in October ’06, and Rochelle in May ’07 (see photo and closeup above, courtesy ILHC). Some of the communities slated to receive a mural are Ashton, Byron, Cortland, Dixon, Genoa, Oregon, Rock Falls, Sterling, and Sycamore, not all of which are directly along the LH, but are considered withing the “corridor.” That can generate broader interest and awareness but may lead to some confusion.

ILHC will start work on 20 interpretive gazebos in the Spring in such communities as DeKalb, Dixon, Oregon, and Rochelle. Rossiter says,

“Our intent is to place a historical mural in each community that lines the highway and those along the corridor also. The communities will be charged with finding a building location and researching possible story ideas. Each mural will be painted on substrate material and will be mounted to the side of the building. This works much better than painting on the building itself, because it can be taken down for upkeep or if the building needs repairs. When all are completed, a brochure will be created detailing each mural and its location along with the location of the interpretive gazebos. There are no gazebos completed as of yet, but our hope is to begin construction in the spring.”

Visit or phone (815) 547-3854 for more information on the Lincoln Highway through Illinois.

Lodging restoration update – Colo Motel, Iowa

December 5, 2007

Colo sign 2Colo, Iowa, city clerk Scott Berka told me today that construction is progressing well at the Colo Motel, part of a wonderful “one-stop” restoration project in central Iowa. Painting is done and carpenters will start trimming next week, but furniture was just ordered today so it looks like it will be the first of the year before the motel reopens. Sounds like it will be ready in time for Springtime road trips!

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14,400 slides part of Cushman Photo Collection

November 30, 2007

The Charles Weever Cushman Collection at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, consists of ten cubic feet of materials, including 2,200 b/w negatives and prints. Just three of those cubic feet are slides, but what a collection — more than 14,400 color Kodachrome slides shot from 1938 to 1969. Cushman’s photos have been digitized through Indiana University’s Digital Library Program and the Indiana University Archives and are now online.

Cushman and his LZ
Cushman and his trusty 1940 Lincoln Zephyr at San Francisco, 1958, at 202,000 miles by then.

An amateur photographer, most of Cushman’s images are scenic, many are from such countries as from Lebanon, Germany, Austria, England, and Mexico. There are few roadside or industrial sites, but roads and cars do make it into many of the slides. Here are some from along the Lincoln Highway or close to it—click the links to see larger views.

The old Lincoln Highway snakes under the railroad at Donner Summit, CA, 1958.

Along Lake Tahoe at Tunnel Rock, NV, 1953.

An antique car climbing Spooner Summit, NV, 1958.

Check out Green River, Wyoming, in 1958, or another view in 1963 showing the Husky Truck Stop Cafe.
WY_GrRiv 58

WY_GrRiv 63

A clear day in Salt Lake City, 1958, looking north on State Street toward the capitol.

There’s lots else to see plus essays about Cushman and his collection. Photos reprinted here with the kind permission of Indiana University, Office of University Archives & Records Management, with special thanks to Curator Bradley D. Cook.

Weiss Duo Cover Triangle of Historic Highways

November 27, 2007

John and Lenore Weiss are well-known to Route 66 fans for the work they’ve done to help preserve, promote, and document that road, especially in Illinois. Lincoln Highway fans are starting to hear about them too, most noticeably leading the acquisition from IDOT of a 1928 concrete LH post, then John served as Master of Ceremonies at its dedication on Veterans Day 2006 at the Joliet Historical Museum. Their newest project merges 66, the LH, and even the Dixie Highway.

Weiss Book

Traveling the … Historic Three is a 74-page spiral-bound guide to traveling those three highways in a 110-mile, triangle-shaped route south of Chicago. John and Lenore freely give credit to the conceptual idea of combining these three roads into one road trip to Elaine Egdorf who administers Drivin’ the Dixie, a web site devoted to that road. The booklet has an intro, then tabs divide each section, and there’s a page of related organizations at the end. Narration is casual in the way a good friend would lead you on a tour, with instructions for when to turn, what to see, where to park, and recommended places to eat and visit. Lincoln Highway fans will be pleased to discover much that they may not have noticed until slowed down to a tour on the local level.

Lenore told me a little bit about their work:

The unique aspect of the triangular tour is that you can start at any of three locations and end up exactly where you started! With any road trips, folks travel say 100 miles, then they must return. This results in an extra 100 miles.

In this area, the Lincoln Highway and especially the Dixie Highway communities and businesses are not very accustomed to tourism. This is an interesting aspect when compared to those on Route 66. On the Lincoln, the town of Frankfort wants to get involved. On the Dixie, the town of Homewood is equally as excited.

Since we already had the Route 66 portion, and have lived on that particular section of the Lincoln Highway for 30 years, only the Dixie needed some real investigation. And that, too, was a rewarding experience.

And she notes that every time they drive it, as recently as last week, they keep discovering new things.

Above: John and Lenore Weiss with Route 66 tattoo man Jim Bush in the souvenir-filled gift shop at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, a must-stop for road fans.

Highlights at the intersections include the Art Institute of Chicago at Jackson Avenue and Columbus Drive in Chicago, where 66 and the Dixie launch; the Joliet Area Historical Museum where 66 and the LH meet, at Cass and Ottawa streets in Joliet; and the Arche Memorial Fountain where the LH and Dixie meet, built 1916 as part of a rest park for travelers of the two roads in Chicago Heights. As you can see, the three roads offer lots to see for fans of old roads. This and other books by the Weisses are available at gift shops such as the Joliet Museum or through the couple’s web site. An autographed copy of Traveling the … Historic Three is $9.95 + $4.60 postage and handling.

Gas pump at corner of Lincoln Highway and Rt 66

November 21, 2007

Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News has an interesting story about the “Joliet Kicks on 66” campaign. That Illinois city is promoting sites along the famous Chicago-to-LA road as explained in a news story. The Kicks web site offers lots of places and things to see, including 5 good-looking, very detailed replica gas pumps. Here’s a snap of the page showing the pump at the intersection of 66 and the Lincoln Highway:

IL Joliet pump
Road buffs know there’s another crossing of the two historic highways. To the west, a later alignment of 66 ran through Plainfield where 66 actually shares the road with the LH. Banners there celebrate the pairing.

Lincoln Highway fans also know that the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in Pennsylvania established a fantastic Pump Parade a few years ago. Along the 200-mile corridor from Irwin to Gettysburg are 22 fiberglass replica 1940s pumps, though differing from these in that they were decorated by artists. Here’s one at Schatzer’s Market, a fruit and produce stand west of Chambersburg:

PA Shatzer’s

Click the Lincoln Highway Map

November 7, 2007

For those not familiar with the route of the Lincoln Highway, I now have a map available based on the one in my Greetings book. Click the thumbnail below or the really tiny one to the right and you’ll get a US map up to 19 inches wide, just like this one:

Butko Greetings LH map - Med

The first generation represents the “Proclamation Route” of 1913. Towns like Trenton, NJ; Marion, OH; and Ogden, UT were quickly removed (though Ogden would later be put back on).

You’ll also see the Colorado Loop, which the LHA soon regretted but nonetheless approved of for two years. Note also that there were two ways around Lake Tahoe in eastern California. West of Sacramento, the 1928 rerouting is being debated of late as to whether the change was officially endorsed by the LHA board. It’s included because that’s where the LHA’s concrete posts went in 1928.

The first tally of the Lincoln Highway’s length was 3,389 miles (including Camden and Marion but not Ogden), though it would always be in flux due to bypasses and realignments. More than a decade later, the now more-famous US Route 66 would run 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles (though it likewise would vary in length).