Posts Tagged ‘history’

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.”

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Utah’s Carl Fisher Monument

January 9, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

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The Carl Fisher Monument, dedicated in 2009, was spearheaded for 10 years by Rollin Southwell. It is on SR 199, mp 12, along Fisher Pass, which was part of a plan by the LHA to shorten its route across the Great Salt Lake Desert. Rollin passed away in 2013 but had sent me notes about the project:

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“Carl Fisher’s donation to the State of Utah was the first of a series from automobile manufacturers to improve the roads in Utah and Nevada. Tooele County has more miles of the Lincoln Highway than any other county along the route. It will now be home to the only monument to Fisher, creator of the Lincoln Highway. There are four major parts to the monument:
* The rock was one of the rocks moved in the Devil’s Gate Narrows to make the pass suitable for autos in the construction phase of the Fisher Pass.
* The monument itself tells the story of Carl Fisher’s money, the Lincoln Highway Association, and the State of Utah.
* The beacon represents the Lighthouse that was to be built on the north side of Granite Peak as a guide for tourists across the Great Salt Desert, and was to have used gas from Prest-O-Lite, a company once owned by Fisher.
* The concrete marker recalls the building of the final section, the end of the Goodyear cutoff, and Fisher Pass as part of the Lincoln Highway.”

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Lincoln Highway ~ A Re-Introduction

January 7, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

In the years since my LH books were published, interest in the famous cross-county road has blossomed thanks to the Internet, especially Facebook. But it seems that history of the road, so talked about a decade ago, has once again faded. Heck, the early years of the new Lincoln Highway Association, now itself a quarter-century old, is being forgotten too

Facebook became a better, faster way to share LH info and images, but maybe it’s time to return with some stories that need a bit more explaining. For example, one favorite abandoned stretch of LH hidden in the woods of central PA deserves more than just a photo and caption. This blog is the perfect place for sharing that story.

For now, let’s start with some basic LH history. Here’s the first page of Introduction to my book, Greetings from the Lincoln Highway. It’s gone out of print so hard copies can be hard to find, but we can share it here ~ enjoy.

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Nebraska’s 1733 Ranch in 1915

November 1, 2016

A century ago, Lincoln Highway tourists crossing Nebraska often stopped five miles west of Kearney for a photo at the 1733 Ranch. Its sign “1733 miles to Frisco, 1733 miles to Boston” was iconic … except that both mileages were wrong and the Lincoln Highway never went to Boston.

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The 1915 LHA guidebook lists Kearney as 1752 miles from San Francisco and 1632 miles from New York City. So why 1733, and how did Kearney come to promote itself as the “Midway City”?

History professor John T. Bauer wrote in the Summer 2015 issue of Nebraska History that the 1733 mileage is derived from the railroad route between the two, which the city embraced as early as 1890.

When the LHA movie caravan crossed the country in 1915 to produce a promotion film, hundreds of photos were taken by Edward Holden, secretary to LHA vice president and field secretary Henry C. Ostermann. The above photo then leads to an interesting question; the  1733 Ranch name has long been said to stem from new owners in 1917, but this 1915 photo indicates otherwise.

The modern LHA now sells a CD with 300 of Holden’s photos at the Lincoln Highway Trading Post.

The ranch itself is long gone—only the 1733 Estates remind us of that long-ago era.

LINCOLN HIGHWAY MAPS NOW FREE ONLINE !

June 27, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
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 www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/map 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.

Review of Shelton's Lincoln Highway Festival

August 11, 2010

The Grand Island Independent ran a nice follow-up to the Lincoln Highway Festival in Shelton, Nebraska, including a walk through of the LH Visitor’s Center there. Following are some parts of their story.

But now as the 80-year-old Nebraska president of the Lincoln Highway Association, Stubblefield is doing more than watching the highway and its traffic — he’s helping preserve the history of its creation.

He helped create the Lincoln Highway Visitor’s Center located at C Street and Highway 30 in Shelton and shares time staffing that center with other volunteers of the Shelton Historical Society. All are just a cell phone away to greet visitors and open the center’s doors at the back of the historic First State Bank building….

Once inside, it’s everything Lincoln Highway.

Pens, postcards, water, letter openers, ashtrays.

There’s Lincoln Highway cigars — just 9 cents in the day — and of course, there’s Burma Shave memorabilia.

“Do you know where Jerome’s Tepee was in Grand Island?” Stubblefield inquired as he pointed to an original black pennant professing the tepee in Grand Island to be in the “center of North America.”

It was right by the big Husker Harvest Days billboard located at Highway 30 and Husker Highway, Stubblefield said, on the north side of the road.

“It was what was called a tourist trap,” he chuckled.

One of the most stunning displays in the visitor’s center is a row of original metal Lincoln Highway mileage markers. They were purchased by the Automobile Club of Southern California and erected along the highway to give travelers an idea of distance to the next stops.

“Brule 1 mile, Big Spring 11 miles,” stated one sign. “Paxton 10 miles, North Platte 43 miles.”

Stubblefield and other members of the association (there are 100 in Nebraska and 1,100 nationwide) have purchased the signs at auctions, antique stores or wherever they are found.

Effie Gladding's Lincoln Highway book online

August 9, 2010

Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free electronic books, offers more than 33,000 free ebooks of previously published titles, all digitized with the help of thousands of volunteers. Now available is an early road book, Across the Continent by the Lincoln Highway by Effie Price Gladding. Other ebook sites have already taken the file and reposted it but without the images (or I assume permission), and PG warns that these are most likely spammers. You’ll find the safe original here: www.gutenberg.org/files/33320/33320-h/33320-h.htm

As I wrote in my Greetings from the Lincoln Highway book:

Effie Gladding had just returned from three years touring the world when she departed San Francisco on April 21, 1914. She and her husband Thomas first drove the El Camino Real 600 miles south before turning and meeting the Lincoln at Stockton. In a 262-page book she titled Across the Continent by the Lincoln Highway, she doesn’t reach the focus of her title till page 108, then detours off it for another 47 pages near the end, skipping most of Ohio and Pennsylvania. But it was the first full-size hardback to discuss transcontinental travel, as well as the first to mention the Lincoln Highway.

Click the link above or go to Project Gutenberg’s main page for the book for other ways to download the text and images.

Mister Ed's Elephant Museum destroyed by fire

July 6, 2010

Olga A. Herbert, Executive Director of Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, just alerted me that Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum in central Pennsylvania has been destroyed by fire. Owner Ed Gotwalt has spent decades amassing his collection of elephant-themed objects joined to a candy and gift store; he also serves on the Corridor board of directors. Olga said it “burned to the ground late last night, including every elephant. He plans to rebuild and be open by September 1.” Although the news is horrible, it’s equally astounding that he’s ready to rebuild and so quickly! The York Distpatch covers it here and the York Daily Record ran a story about Ed vowing to rebuild.

Mural for Army's Transcontinental Motor Convoy

April 7, 2010

Here’s a story from Sauk Valley Newspapers (Dixon-Sterling, IL), April 6, 2010:

DIXON – The City Council on Monday approved two lease agreements for painting a mural that will be at Galena and River roads. The mural, part of a series of Lincoln Highway Association projects, will re-create members of the first Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy lunching on the lawn of the Old Lee County Courthouse.

“That’s going to be a really nice mural,” Mayor Jim Burke said.
He appointed a three-person committee 6 months ago to work with the Lincoln Highway Association.

One lease agreement calls for the mural to be painted on the Pattie Hummel Photography and Dixon Tourism building at 106 W. River St. The other is for use of adjacent property on Galena Avenue during the mural’s painting.

“We want it up by the Fourth of July, and even June,” Burke said, adding that Lincoln Highway Association members will be in Dixon June 22-26 for their national conference.
In July 1919, the Army convoy made a historic cross-country trek from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. It stopped in Dixon for lunches made by residents, according to the Dixon Telegraph’s archives of July 22, 1919.

More on Lincoln Highway bricks that moved west

January 6, 2010

Updating yesterday’s story on Brian Cassler’s efforts to deliver bricks to Nebraska, dad Jim sent this photo and info on where they came from:

The bricks were uncovered in the summer of 2007 when Tuscarawas Street (the Lincoln Hwy through downtown Canton, Ohio) was unearthed as a part of a street renovation project. Former LHA president Bob Lichty asked the city to save them to be used for a future project. When the Archway requested bricks, we were able to fill their request.

The bricks will be used for a recreated stretch of the transcontinental road at the Great Platte River Road Archway that spans I-80 near Kearney in central Nebraska. Cleaning the bricks and arranging their transport was an Eagle Scout project for Brian Cassler. Jim operates the Lincoln Highway Trading Post.