Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’

Monument to a Forgotten Lincoln Highway Booster

October 3, 2018

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The Coan monument following its dedication in September 1925. [University of Michigan–Special Collections Library.]

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

On a busy corner west of Clinton, Iowa, you’ll find a Lincoln Highway monument, restored and well-kept after almost a century but mostly ignored by the passing traffic. The granite pillar honors Iowa State Consul and good roads pioneer William Folwell Coan, forgotten in LH lore but an important booster of the LH. It features original enameled LH emblems and had been wired for electricity so that “an electric dome will be placed at the apex of the shaft, illuminating the memorial for passing motorists at night.”

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The Coan monument is joined nearby by decorative Lincoln Highway lamppost bases dedicated by the city of Clinton, Iowa, in the 2000s.

The marker, dedicated with a small ceremony on August 5, 1925, was erected by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce at the southeast corner of Lincoln Way (also now US 30) and Mississippi River Scenic Highway (now US 67). Clinton County was rather progressive for its time; while half the U.S. states spent no finds at all on road improvement, Clinton was paving its roads with gravel.

Coan was inspired by an earlier local resident who had experimented with making concrete. In September 1913, Coan became one of the original 10 LHA consuls  — perhaps the only name familiar from that initial group is Gael Hoag for Nevada, later LHA Field Secretary and Managing Secretary.  In 1914, Coan was elected honorary vice-president of the LHA. Four years later, he passed away at age 57.

 

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Dedicating the Coan monument, 1925. [University of Michigan–Special Collections Library.]

At the afternoon dedication ceremony, the flags covering the memorial were drawn back by six-year old William Rendall, Coan’s grandson. Gael Hoag was among the speakers, remarking how Coan’s name was held in such high regard at the headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association.

The main oration was presented by local attorney and city solicitor Frank W. Ellis; it was reported the next day that he “paid high tribute to the man who probably more than any one other man in this vicinity, pursued an ideal of a great national highway.”  The monument, Ellis said, was a fitting reminder of the good which Coan had accomplished: “This monument teaches us a great lesson; that working for others is one of the highest attributes of humanity.”

Iowa Gumbo Snared Lincoln Highway Travelers

January 16, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

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.”

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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.”

Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale August 8-10

July 24, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The ninth annual Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale will be held August 8-10, 2013. The sale, started in Ohio in 2005, has expanded westward but the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway still leads the efforts; last year saw more than 1,200 sales from East Liverpool to the Indiana border according to Mike Hocker, executive director of Ohio’s byway.

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The Ohio Historic Byway publishes a Travelers Guide that includes a map showing the Lincoln’s route and its relationship to US 30. The guide can be found at many businesses along the corridor.

Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa will also have sales along the route. In fact, Council Bluffs in western Iowa will host its own Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale on Saturday, August 10, at 2400 N. Broadway (site of the former Pee-Wee Gardens on the LH) from 9 am to 2 pm. It will feature antique cars, model airplane demonstrations, and Lincoln Highway Association members discussing the highway’s history.

For Ohio, see http://www.historicbyway.com/buy-way-yard-sale/about-the-buy-way.
For Indiana, see http://indianalincolnhighway.org/?page_id=931 (still showing 2012)
For Illinois, see http://illinoislincolnhighwayassociation.org/?p=625.
For Iowa, see http://iowalincolnhighway.org/node/39.

Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival this weekend

May 17, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The 34th annual Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival in Tama, Iowa, starts Friday and features Merriam’s Midway Shows, bands, kids activities, and the Festival Parade on Saturday morning. The celebration is named for the 1915 concrete bridge built on East 5th Street that has been preserved and is still used.

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Read more in today’s Tama Toledo News for times and more details. (Sorry, my link posting is down):
http://www.tamatoledonews.com/page/content.detail/id/515014/34th-annual-Lincoln-Highway-Bridge-Festival-is-today–Saturday.html

Petroliana auction of Preston’s gas station in Iowa

July 11, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
An auction is set for Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 9 am for highway memorabilia from the famous gas station once run by George Preston in Belle Plaine, Iowa. Not to worry — the signs on the station and adjacent garage are not being sold.

The station moved to 1301 4th Ave (west end of Main Street, green line on map) in 1921 when the Lincoln Highway’s route was changed through Belle Plaine. George started working there in 1923 at age 13 and soon purchased the Standard Oil station for $100. It later became a Phillips 66 and remained operational until 1989. George and wife Blanche also operated a 3-room motel.

After his passing in 1993, the site was cared for by his eldest son Ronald with the same passion and intuition, and he continued collecting memorabilia until he passed away in 2011.

Ron’s daughter Mary Preston wrote to say, “We have no intention of selling the corner but in the same breath we must sell some of the ‘clutter’ on Preston’s Corner.” The family is working with the Lincoln Highway Association and Belle Plaine Historical Society to preserve The Corner for travelers to step back in time.

Objects for auction include gas pumps, toys, furniture, books, farm equipment, a 1927 Model T  … and lots of signs.

For additional information about the auction see www.billkron.com/duwa.12-0811.html

Two Lincoln Highway events this weekend

May 18, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Lincoln Highway fans in the midwest can visit two events this weekend tied to the highway. The 33rd Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival starts today and runs through tomorrow (May 18–19) in Tama, Iowa. Then drive 180 miles east and enjoy the Lincoln Highway Car Show in Franklin Grove, Illinois.

Tama is known for it’s concrete bridge with “Lincoln Highway” spelled out in its rails. Events kick off Friday night with an ice cream social and entertainment. Saturday gets underway with a Firefighters Breakfast at 7 am, a 5K Run at 8 am, and a parade Tama at 10 am. For the 59th consecutive year, Merriam’s Midway Carnival will set up around the Tama Civic Center.

Franklin Grove is home to the Lincoln Highway Association’s National Tourism & Visitor Information Headquarters. Registration starts at 10 am and continues through trophy presentations at 4 pm. The points-basis show is open to all cars, pick-up trucks, and motorcycles, with music by 3-D Sound. The Show will be on Elm and South streets.

Slideshow: antique cars on Iowa Lincoln Hwy tour

September 2, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
A new brief video by VintonToday features antique cars that participated in last weekend’s Lincoln Highway tour across Iowa, specifically at the restored Youngville Station between Cedar Rapids and Belle Plaine.

The accompanying music — unfortunately uncredited — is Buddy Nutt singing Goin all the Way On the Lincoln Highway, which he wrote for the PBS Lincoln Highway program produced by Rick Sebak.

 

 

4th Annual Iowa Lincoln Hwy tour this weekend

August 27, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Also this weekend is the fabulous cross-state Iowa Lincoln Highway Motor Tour sponsored by the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association. Here are pics from last summer: Youngville Cafe by Jeff & Tammy LaFollette, and the lunch stop at Woodbine by Osberg.

This year’s tour began in Council Bluffs and heads east, ending in Clinton County on Sunday, August 28. The historic route travels nearly 330 miles across Iowa through the communities of Council Bluffs, Denison, Carroll, Jefferson, Boone, Ames, Marshalltown, Tama, Cedar Rapids, and Clinton. More information can be found on the Iowa LHA website, or contact tour director Jeff LaFollette at (563) 349-3047.

Lincoln Highway Days in Iowa this weekend

August 26, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The 28th annual Lincoln Highway Days will be held in Nevada, Iowa, starting today, August 26–28, 2011. Each day will feature carnival rides and games, food, and much more.

Some excerpts from www.lincolnhighwaydays.com:

Friday, Aug. 26: Celebrate with fun on the Story County 4-H grounds. Lincoln Highway Days Rodeo. Teen and adult dances with live music and refreshments.

Saturday morning Aug. 27: One of the biggest parades in Story County. National Guard honors our Soldiers at War along the route of the Lincoln Highway. Klassy Kruisers antique cars. Antique Tractors. BBQ contest. Lincoln Highway Day’s Baby contest. More teen dancing.

Sunday Aug. 28: A grand day for walking through the Craft building and the Varied Industry building and the Flea Market.

The first Lincoln Highway Day was held October 1983, in conjunction with a celebration of the finished railroad overpass west of Nevada.


Ron Preston, son of famed gas station owner, dies

August 15, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
LHA headquarters in Franklin Grove, Illinois, received a call that Ron Preston passed away last week. He was the son of George Preston, whose sign-covered gas station in Belle Plaine, Iowa, is a shrine for Lincoln Highway fans. George bought the station in 1923 for $100 and became famous for his endless tales of LH lore, which I got to enjoy on a visit there in 1991. After George’s death in 1993, Ron cared for the it and adjacent garage full of petroliana. LHA’ers saw Ron at almost every annual conference.

Kass and Eric Mencher, who are documenting the Lincoln Highway and publishing their images in an e-book, captured the station and Ron last year. Visit their blog page below by clicking on the image.

George’s most famous moment came on March 21, 1990, when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The interview starts around 2:30.