Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

Details on Lincoln Highway at inaugural parade

January 15, 2009

Following up on my post earlier this week, if you’re looking for the Lincoln Highway section of the Inaugural parade next week, Craig Harmon tells me they’ll be in the 3rd section – Navy about half way back.

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Lincoln Highway Museum director Harmon notes the event corresponds perfectly with the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, hence the theme of his contingent, “Lincoln is the Key – A New Birth of Freedom.” A Lincoln reencator will be atop his 1968 Maxim fire engine, holding a Liberty Key presented to the US by General Lafayette in 1825.

Commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Transcontinental Motor Convoy will be vehicles and the director from the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum of Asheville, NC, and sons of two men who were crucial in leading that convoy on motorcycles. Also along will be actor Mickey Rooney, who sang a Lincoln Highway-related song in his 1939 movie Babes In Arms (he’s been to every inauguration since 1933!!). Marching along will be 38 soldiers carrying state flags from 17 states crossed by the Lincoln Highway or an Offical Feeder. They will be dressed in authentic WWI uniforms rushed for the event by Wendy Partridge, a Hollywood costume designer from Calgary, Canada.

Lincoln Memorial: monument was almost a road

February 20, 2008

A detailed and engrossing story in The Washington Post recalls the tumultuous genesis of the Lincoln Memorial, including how the monument that we know was instead almost a road named for the President. It was referred to then as the Lincoln highway, the Lincoln Memorial Highway, or simply Lincoln Way – all years before the Lincoln Highway of this blog was proposed or its association incorporated in 1913. The article is titled, “The Lincoln Conspirator: Illinois Congressman Joe Cannon was determined to stop the Lincoln Memorial from rising on the Mall. He almost succeeded.”

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Above: An aerial view of the Lincoln Memorial, with Memorial Bridge under construction, c. 1930, courtesy LOC, Images of America: Lantern Slide Collection, from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Frances Loeb Library, Cambridge Mass.

A national monument to honor Lincoln in Washington, D.C., was proposed soon after his assassination, but the idea foundered until 1901 when the Senate Park Commission proposed the current monument as part of a plan to remake the Mall.

Here are excerpts that mention the idea of a highway:

What had most impressed [former congressman James] McCleary during his tour of Europe was the Appian Way, the ancient road in southern Italy built by Roman censor Appius Claudius. “Who has not heard of the Appian Way?” he wrote in the article. “What a fitting memorial to Lincoln would be a noble highway, a splendid boulevard, from the White House to Gettysburg.”

“The Lincoln Way” would include one roadway for automobiles and one for horse-drawn carriages and wagons; plus two electric railway tracks: one for express trains, the other for local trains. Stately rows of trees would border the highway. Down the middle would be a well-kept lawn 40 to 50 feet wide, with beautiful fountains and monuments at intervals along the way. Given “the possibilities of electrical illumination, the beauty of this boulevard when lit up at night may be left to the imagination,” McCleary wrote….

Rep. William Borland, the Missouri congressman who led the highway effort, predicted an easy win for the road. He believed cars would become more popular, though he didn’t drive one himself. Many congressmen found the prospect of obtaining federal dollars for road projects in their own districts tempting. Road supporters, backed by the auto industry, were well-organized. They flooded Congress with telegrams and petitions. Architect Glenn Brown’s campaign in favor of a Greek temple was no match. Everyone knew that a House victory for the Lincoln highway would create a stalemate and indefinitely postpone the creation of any memorial because the Senate wouldn’t agree to the road….

Highway advocates attacked the memorial plan as foreign and not representative of Lincoln, according to the Congressional Record. “There is nothing in this Greek temple . . . that even suggests . . . the character . . . of Abraham Lincoln,” said Rep. Isaac Sherwood of Ohio….

A highway is “nearer to expressing the epoch of American history than any other form of memorial,” said Borland, who emphasized that a road was unanimously endorsed by the Grand Army of the Republic, whose members were Union veterans. The Greek temple is the most hackneyed form of architecture known, he added…

Knowing that aesthetic arguments weren’t likely to sway members, [architect] Brown had prepared a cost estimate for the Lincoln highway, which Rep. Lynden Evans of Illinois used effectively during the debate. “It will cost at least $20 million to build a really distinctive road,” he said, and pointed out that it could be used only by those who could afford a car. “If a trolley line was placed upon it so that the plain people could use it, it would be valuable and useful . . . But it would not be a memorial of Abraham Lincoln.”

There were accusations at the time that road advocates tended to be those who would benefit from that project. Accordingly, one commenter to the article has written, “The ‘Road to Gettysburg’ sounded like the ‘Road to Nowhere’ considering Gettysburg was not a commercial center like, say Philadelphia or NYC. The practical value of a highway can’t have been a totally futuristic concept.” Of course, the Lincoln Highway proposed by Fisher would encounter some of the same arguments as the original Lincoln Way. Washington D.C. leaders would even advocate for Fisher’s coast-to-coast road to bend their way. Only after repeated pleas would the city get an official feeder – from Philadelphia through D.C. to Gettysburg, just as they had sought earlier.

LH Around Chicago book due in March ’08

January 29, 2008

The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago by Cynthia L. Ogorek will be published this March 17 as part of Arcadia Books’ Images of America series. The 128-page paperback book will have more than 200 illustrations from Geneva, Illinois, south and eastward to just over the Indiana line at Schererville so that the famous Ideal Section could be included. Early history is augmented by preservation efforts of today.

Price is $19.95 or pre-order from Amazon for $13.59 by clicking here.

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Donations needed for global Lincoln essay contest

January 14, 2008

I’ve been working with Lincoln Highway National Museum and Archives director Craig Harmon on a discovery of his: a newspaper in my hometown, the The Pittsburgh Press, held a massive annual contest from 1912-1930 for schoolchildren to write essays about president Lincoln. I’m writing a short piece about his research into the contest, and he continues to dig into the topic from his base in Washington DC.

AL medal 1928 AL medal 1930
1928 and 1930 medals from the The Pittsburgh Press contest.

All this talk got Craig thinking, and he’s come up with an even grander plan: a global Lincoln contest sponsored by LHNMA.

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Harmon and his vintage fire truck at I-80 exit 184 west of Rawlins, Wyoming, the original site of the Henry Joy memorial.

The contest began January 12 to coincide with the birthday of Carl Fisher, founder of the Lincoln Highway, and inquiries have already come from as far as Korea. There are 6 categories: K-6th grade; 7th-8th; 9th-12th; college students; ages 18 through 59; and ages 60+. Essays should be in English and be no more than 272 words, the number of words in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Entries must be in Word or WordPerfect and e-mailed. Prizes range from Savings Bonds to LHA-stye certificates. Harmon is also looking for donations of prizes or funding to make the event even grander — contact him at prize@lincoln-highway-museum.org if you would like to contribute.

Essay Release

Get complete rules on Harmon’s LHNMA website. Note that LHNMA is now exclusively an online collection of Lincoln info and ephemera.

More on Russin's Abraham Lincoln monument

December 16, 2007

The photo below (courtesy Jim Kearns, Manager, University of Wyoming Media Relations) shows sculptor Robert Russin and assistants working on the bust of Abraham Lincoln that they built in 1959 to honor Lincoln’s 150th birthday. Its location in eastern Wyoming also marked the highest point on the Lincoln Highway: 8,835 feet.

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According to the Laramie Area Chamber and Albany County Tourism Board, Russin spent 11 months building the 4,500 lb. sculpture. The head’s 30 pieces were cast in Mexico City so that they could work in a constant favorable climate, then the bronze pieces were sent by rail back to Wyoming to be bolted together. The 13.5-foot-tall bust was then set atop a 35-foot-tall cut-granite base built by local crews. The inside is hollow to hold ladders and lightning rods. In 1969, the monument was moved (during a snowstorm!) about a half mile to a rest stop when I-80 opened between Cheyenne and Laramie. It’s now at the highest point along I-80: 8,640 feet.

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The visitors center (above) has an informational panel about the monument and the Lincoln Highway. In 2001, the Henry B. Joy monument with four Lincoln Highway concrete posts was moved there from the Continental Divide interchange about a hundred miles to the west. Russin’s fascination with the president went beyond the monument: he named his second son Lincoln.

Wyoming Lincoln Monument Sculptor Dies at 93

December 15, 2007

The University of Wyoming reports that retired art professor Robert I. Russin has died at 93. His best-known sculpture, at least to Lincoln Highway fans, is the blocky bust of Lincoln atop Sherman Summit along the LH/I-80 in eastern Wyoming. It was created in 1959 to honor the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

WY_Lincoln monument

The monument originally sat along the Lincoln Highway. When I-80 was completed over the rise in 1969, the monument was moved almost a half-mile east to the Summit Rest Area at the Happy Jack Road interchange, exit 323. Russin used 10 tons of clay and 11 months to complete the 12.5-foot-tall bronze base and bust.

Details of Russin’s life and work can be found in an LA Times obituary story.

Iowa Lincoln Hwy Radio Tour Missed the Route!

December 8, 2007

IA_Youngville Stn
Above: Youngville Station, a beautiful restoration effort on the Lincoln Highway west of Cedar Rapids. When it’s open, visitors will find great pie and a historical display. The photos here show places NOT in the radio tour. Photo courtesy of G. Januska.

Gianofer Fields of Chicago Public Radio has completed her Lincoln Highway tour, but after 5 entries (plus a launch segment), she stopped along the Lincoln only 1 of those 6 days. As she admitted on the third day, ” I’m starting to rethink my whole Lincoln Highway plan. Maybe I should forget my linear route and think of the highway as a springboard.” Here are her topics:

Launch: Burlington’s Crookedest Street

1: Eldon’s American Gothic house

2: Missouri Valley’s Welcome Center and Museum of Religious Arts

3: Elkhorn’s Danish Windmill

4: Amana Colonies

5: Le Claire’s Buffalo Bill Museum

All very interesting, but only #2 is along the Lincoln Highway. What did she miss?

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Trying to think of a list as quickly as possible, I came up with:

• Smith Brothers General Store in Clinton
• Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and Grant Wood Studio
• Youngville Station (top photo)
• Lincoln Cafe and Preston’s station in Belle Plaine
• King Tower Cafe (above) and LH bridge in Tama
• Shady Oaks Tree House east of Marshalltown
• Niland’s Cafe in Colo
• Three concrete bridges on the old road near Grand Junction
• Lincoln statue and carillon tower in Jefferson
• Moss markers with Lincoln busts north of Scranton (below)
• Spanish-deco Park Motel in Dennison
• Woodbine’s brick streets and Brick Street Station
• Loess Hills winding road across from Omaha

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There’s lots more, from great old signs and garages to wonderful people in the diners and coffee shops along the way. What is your favorite?