Archive for the ‘road surface’ Category

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.”

LH_IA_Joy_UM1964_bb.jpg

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.”

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The Lincoln Highway in Basin and Range

August 14, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
I’ve been meaning for more than half a year to post about an impressive, engaging, and informative blog. Grover Cleveland, via his “Camera and Pencil in the Mountains,” has been regaling us with detailed trips along “The Lincoln Highway in Basin and Range, ” that is, across Utah and Nevada. sierratraveler.wordpress.com

The latest trips cover Fish Springs, the John Thomas Ranch, and what Grover calls Black Point, above, a few miles west of Fish Springs. I really appreciated the link to the 1859 report of Captain James Simpson, who explored the major wagon and Pony Express route throughout Nevada.

PA Roads: From the Lincoln to Eisenhower

February 27, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor will present “Pennsylvania’s Roads: From the Lincoln to Eisenhower” at 2 pm, March 11, at the Lincoln Highway Experience, 3435 Route 30 East, near Kingston Dam in Latrobe. Presenter Jeffrey Kitsko will explore the history of the Lincoln Highway, the PA Turnpike, and the Interstate Highway System as envisioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Jeff  will also discuss roadway construction from the time of the named auto routes and the importance of preserving the Lincoln Highway. He brings his expertise on the history of Pennsylvania’s roadways particularly as the webmaster of the award-winning site www.pahighways.com.

Advance reservations are required. Visit www.LHHC.org to make reservations through PayPal or call (724) 879-4241. A fee charged per person will include light refreshments.

Blogging the Lincoln Highway in NV and UT

November 17, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
I’ve been following a fantastic blog for a couple weeks. Grover Cleveland — his real name — writes “Camera and Pencil in the Mountains” that details his travels in the Sierra Nevada range. Last year he bought a 1919 Model T Ford roadster and converted it into a pickup truck. He’s hoping to follow a good portion for the Lincoln Highway centennial in 2013.

He told me, “I just completed a 1,500-mile trip in Nevada and western Utah. I covered as much of the 1913 alignment as could be found from Verdi, Nevada to Tooele, Utah.” He writes online that he wants to help fellow travelers: “To provide travel notes, recommendations, and some serious safety information. I got in trouble because I didn’t heed some professional advice — you shouldn’t have to.”

For this trip, he loaded his dog Beasley into a 1989 Tiger van: “A conversion on an Astrovan chassis, nicely equipped with kitchen, bathroom, a pop-top, and oodles of radio gear (I’m a ham radio operator – K7TP).”

Click the images here to see Grover’s large originals. Then follow his adventures at sierratraveler.wordpress.com/.

Order Lincoln Highway Companion from Amazon – click HERE

Calhoun Street route between NJ – PA turns 150

July 14, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
An important link in the Lincoln Highway is examined in an article in the PhillyBurbs.com that also includes this vintage photo (note the Lincoln Highway sign at left).


The first bridge across the Delaware River between Trenton NJ and Morrisville PA opened 150 years ago on July 1, 1861. When the wooden “City Bridge” burned, an iron bridge was built in 60 days by 83 workmen. It opened October 20, 1884, as the Calhoun Street Toll-Supported Bridge but was made toll-free on Nov. 14, 1928. It is now run by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which was formed in 1934 and operates seven toll bridges and 13 toll-supported bridges. A $7.2 million rehabilitation project in 2010 included improvements to the rails and sidewalks, new lighting, blast cleaning, and painting. A vintage iron marker noting the Lincoln Highway state border crossing remains on its downstream side near the Pennsylvania abutment.

Denny's Lincoln Highway adventures continue

July 5, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Make sure you keep following Denny Gibson’s blog after the first day he hits the Lincoln Highway (his Day 9). Click HERE to continue with Day 10. Highlights include encountering snow at Donner Summit (note the LH “Subway” beneath the railroad overpass just left of center) and an adventurous ride along the sometimes perilous Kings Canyon Road (on a tour led by Nevada LHA director Jim Bonar).
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Denny Gibson's new Lincoln Highway adventure

June 29, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
We’re once again lucky to have Denny Gibson traveling and documenting part of the Lincoln Highway, this time some of the roads to and from the 2011 LHA conference in Lake Tahoe. You can follow his adventures beginning at www.dennygibson.com/lhfest11/day09/index.htm when he visits bits of the Lincoln in Utah. He starts with the beautiful little Lambs Canyon bridge (below). Then it’s across the Utah desert (below #2) and into Nevada.

At the conference, participants rode the old road at Clarksville, Cal., in Model A Fords (below). We’ll save more for our next blog entry….

Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival in IA this week

May 16, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO


Plans are underway in Tama, Iowa, for the 32nd Annual Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival. It starts Friday, May 20, 2011 @ 10 am and runs through Saturday, May 21 @ 11 pm. The celebration honors the concrete bridge renowned for having “Lincoln Highway” sculpted into its side rails.

Friday opens with the carnival and food vendors to the Tama Civic Center area. The Tama Citizen of the Year award will be presented by the Tama Firefighters at 7 pm. Saturday May 21 will again feature carnival and food vendors. The day begins with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 9:30 am followed by the annual parade at 10 am. Free entertainment will run through out the day in front of the Tama Civic Center. Turtle Races will be held in front of the library from 1-4 pm. Preparations are underway, with the Chief of Police and Sergeant searching the area for turtles whose speed will qualify them as race material. Visit www.tamatoledo.com for a full schedule.

Lincoln/US 50 closing for repair at Echo Summit

May 12, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Starting May 11, Caltrans will close U.S. 50/Lincoln Highway at Echo Summit for approximately two weeks to replace a rock wall with a barrier that meets current safety standards while preserving the natural beauty. According to Way2Tahoe.com, traffic will be one-way on May 9–10 in preparation for the closure, and for approximately six weeks Monday through noon on Fridays following the full closure. (The highway will be open Memorial Day Weekend.) Highway 50 remains open to Placerville visitors and all other locations as far east as Sierra at Tahoe Resort. Click on the map to see it larger.

Extra Lane to aid turns at Lincoln Heights PA

March 21, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
A road project in western Pennsylvania will widen eastbound and westbound lanes along the Lincoln Highway/U.S. Route 30 to create a turning lane. The Tribune Review reports that “a 1-1/2-mile stretch in Hempfield to create a center turning lane is on schedule, with the opening of construction bids in November or December…. The project, which is estimated to cost between $7 million and $12 million, has been targeted since the early 1990s, but has funding available from state and federal sources to move forward.”

The project design covers an area near Walton Tea Room Road, just west of the Toll Route 66 interchange, through Lincoln Heights to the Route 30 intersection with Possum Hollow Road and West Penn Drive, near a West Penn Power building and Sacred Heart Cemetery.