Saturday, April 22nd, 2005 Membership Meeting, Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center, Northern Illinois University Campus, DeKalb, IL (See below for tentative plans)
June 13 – 17th, 2006 National LHA Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Web site: http://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/iowa/conf2006/conf1.html
2006 Village of Creston Sesquicentennial Celebration
April – Sept., Various Events, 2006 City of DeKalb Sesquicentennial Celebration, Web site: http://www.cityofdekalb.com/
Late August, 2006 Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival in Rochelle: http://www.lincolnhighwayheritagefestival.com/
As your state director, the idea has recently been floated to me from our national organization that Illinois should host the 2009 National Lincoln Highway Conference. It is probably getting around for time for Illinois to be the host again as the conference is an annual event that tries to rotate locations; east coast, Midwest and west coast, to show off the entire LH route. It has been several years since IL hosted the conference in Rochelle and after the Iowa conference this year it is going west again Colorado in 2007 and Wyoming in 2008. All that being said, hosting a national conference is a BIG DEAL and it will take dedicated and enthusiastic persons to begin today to pull it off by 2009. Normally the state director of each state heads up the conference planning committee but, to put it quite frankly, I am not able to commit myself to such a task for the next 3 years. So–after consulting with the Iowa folks, who are hosting this year, I am going to pass along a brief synopsis of what needs to be done to organize a successful conference and see if any of you folks would be willing to lead the charge.
First of all, we would need to organize a team of at least six dedicated and highly motivated individuals who are willing to spearhead this adventure. They will need to plan on spending several minutes to hours every day working on the conference. The big tasks they will need to consider are: budget, registration forms, buses, food, and scheduling. Along with the lead team we will need others to help with the following assignments: guide book creation and printing, book room manager, display room manager, transportation manager for RVs and airport transportation, hotel/housing manager, communications, local contacts manager, decorations manager, name tag design and printing, video or Power Point presentation for the 2006 or 2007 conference to promote coming to IL, grant and fund raising manager, t-shirt design and printing, promotions and souvenir design and creation, guest speaker manager, facilities manager, welcome and snack pack organizer, tour directors, webmaster to post conference details and updates, postal cancellation manager, and optional tour director.
2009 is just around the corner and if the ILLHA wants to pull this off, we need to know now if anyone is willing to accept this challenge. If it does sound like something you are interested in organizing, please let me, Laura Nekola or Wayne Silvius know as soon as possible and we can get all of the interested parties together. The national conferences are quite fun and very professionally organized events – if you have never been to one and are thinking about leading or helping in 2009 please seriously consider attending the Iowa conference June 13-16th of this year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s close by and Iowa has planned a wonderful event for all of us, I’m sure.
--Laura Nekola, Illinois State Director
The Illinois Chapter Web site received a recent and complete overhaul, courtesy of the efforts and generosity of professional designers Tara Dirst and Charles Larry! Take a look at the Land of Lincoln Highway Web site at: http://www.lhaillinois.rochelle.net/ Tara and Charles have years of experience on Web design and graphics design for various projects for the Northern Illinois University Library, especially the Illinois Historical Digitization Projects. Check out information on Abraham Lincoln, Illinois during the Civil War, Mark Twain, and many, many other topics at the Illinois Historical Digitization Projects Web site at: http://dig.lib.niu.edu/.
There is a listserv at: http://groups.google.com/group/ILHA A listserv is a way to send e-mail messages to everyone who joins it. If you have a topic or question that others in the Chapter might be interested in, please feel free to join! Follow the instructions at that Web site. If you have any difficulties, please contact me at: email@example.com.
There is also a new Blog at: http://lincolnhighwayil.blogspot.com/ What is a blog? A blog is like an online journal where people can write about themselves and their interests. Please check it out, introduce yourself, and share your stories!!
Traveling westerly from North Platte was fairly uneventful. At points the LH deviated from US 30 and we generally saw LH markers along these segments. The old route dipped southerly from US 30 to enter the town of Big Springs where, for a very brief time, there was a LH loop leading into Colorado and rejoining the main route in Cheyenne. This led to competing billboards in Big Springs, one pointing left to Colorado and the other urging motorists to turn right to stay on the LH. Back on US 30, the miles rolled by and soon we were at the abandoned State Line Station on the Wyoming border. Crossing into Pine Bluffs, US 30 joins I-80 to head to Cheyenne. But we peeled off and headed due west on what Franzwa believes is the 1922 alignment of the LH. It quickly turned from pavement to gravel. We passed the tiny village of Egbert and drove through the newly repaved main street of Burns. Even though we weren’t all that far from I-80, these towns seemed remote. It seemed like since the later US 30 (now I-80) alignment took the traffic away, time has stood still for these communities. It was an odd way to enter Wyoming. Soon, the old road merged back into US 30 and entered Cheyenne as Lincolnway. We stopped for lunch, continued westerly on Lincolnway and ultimately picked up I-80 to take us to Laramie. The old road could be seen at times, but largely lay underneath the modern interstate. We stopped at a rest area at the high point of the highway to see the relocated Henry Joy monument and then continued to Laramie and followed US 30 to Medicine Bow and on to Rawlins where we planned to spend the night. Arriving earlier than expected, we continued an additional 100 miles to Rock Springs as it was all I-80 driving at high speed.
It is in southwestern Wyoming that the LH finally deviates for once and for all from present day US 30. The US highway veers to the northwest to head for Portland and the Oregon coast. This was the LH segment I was most interested in as I didn’t really know how it was routed to ultimately connect to the US 50 and US 40 alignments that later succeeded it. Leaving Rock Springs, we stayed on I-80 to Green River, followed the LH through town and picked up WY 374, a very scenic route, which took us to Little America. Back on I-80, we exited with US 30 at Granger Junction and then peeled off US 30 about two miles later. This placed us back on the LH as it passed the original Little America site, long since abandoned and leveled, and traversed rough country dotted by some energy industry processing facilities. Of historic interest was a crossing of the Oregon Trail. This stretch was the most remote so far on the trip. There was no traffic and not much sign of life. It seemed a surprise when we finally hit pavement again, the now decommissioned US 30S that was once the southern leg of US 30 connecting Ogden, Utah to that transcontinental route. We passed through Lyman and historic Fort Bridger. After a very brief stretch of I-80, we exited to strike out cross country. Appearances are very deceiving. While we struck out at right angles to the interstate and seemed to travel further and further from it, the reality was different. The terrain hid I-80 from us, but it was really never that far off. It was here that the weather changed, the temperature dropped as we climbed and snow began to accumulate. It was about a 13 mile drive to reach the summit and breathe a sigh of relief. Heading downhill again, the snow disappeared as the weather cleared and the temperature began climbing again. Soon we arrived at a junction for I-80 and took the interstate on into Evanston, situated in the extreme southwestern corner of Wyoming.
The entry into Utah was inauspicious as we were on the north frontage road of I-80. As soon as we crossed the state line, we lost the pavement and rattled along on gravel for a few miles before mounting the interstate. The highway follows the extremely scenic Echo Canyon for several miles. Franzwa’s guidebook told us to leave I-80 at exit 180, but there was no such exit. We found one about two miles further and again followed a frontage road and came to Echo Forks at the mouth of Echo Canyon. As it was time for lunch, we drove ahead a quarter mile to the Echo Café, but found it closed. Just ahead was another café with a young, charming, blonde waitress. It turned out that her grandparents owned the café. We had a delightful meal, including huge homemade cinnamon buns, and talked at length with some workers seated at the next table. They were fascinated to hear of our LH adventure. They were also unanimous in saying it was fortunate that the Echo Café was closed as this was a much better alternative. After the repast, we backtracked half a mile, crossed under I-80 and headed to Coalville crossing Echo Dam. The view of the snow-capped Wasatch Front was spectacular. Back on I-80, we enjoyed the scenery but exited the interstate at Kimball’s Junction to take the scenic route to Parley’s Summit. This was also the exit for Park City and very heavily trafficked and developed. We could not find Kilby Road, described in Franzwa’s guide (I believe it as been renamed “Scenic Drive”), so ended up taking I-80 onward across Parley’s Summit and on into Salt Lake City. We did not find out until later that the interstate here had been subjected to snowy conditions and that a serious accident had occurred here probably at about the same time as we were battling the snow near Fort Bridger.
Once in Salt Lake, we were faced with a decision. I had originally planned to spend the night there, but it was really too early in the afternoon to stop. The original LH alignment to Ely via Fish Springs and the later Goodyear Cutoff routes are impossible to follow due to them now passing through the restricted Dugway Proving Ground. Franzwa offers an alternative by circling around to the south. But, that would have left us in a barren area late in the day with no viable accommodation facilities for the evening. Rather than stay in Salt Lake, we opted to head due west to Wendover following the 1927 LH route. After touring Salt Lake, we hopped on I-80 and took it directly to the Nevada state line, passing the Bonneville Salt Flats, and settled in at the Montego Bay Casino Resort in West Wendover for a relaxing evening and an inexpensive Prime Rib buffet supper. (Of course, the dollars fed into the slots didn’t make it that inexpensive an evening.)
Realizing that it was only about a two-hour drive from Wendover to Ely on US 93A/93 (the final link of the LH in 1930-31), I thought we should explore some of the earlier road. We drove down US 93A to the paved road leading to Ibapah, Utah. From there, we could connect with the 1913 route back across the state line and on to Ely. It was another lonely road with no traffic and no marker (or change of pavement) designating the state line. Arriving at Ibapah, we drove on and looked over the Ibapah Trading Post, once a well know LH oasis known as the Sheridan Hotel. The store was not open, so we didn’t linger. We left the paved road to head out on the LH alignment back to Nevada and immediately ran into high water crossing the road. Not wanting to take a chance on getting stuck in such a remote area, we instead backtracked and followed the road (running part of the way with an old Pony Express route) to Gold Hill, a now abandoned town, but once an important stop for travelers using the Goodyear Cutoff routing of the LH from Salt Lake City. It was a step back in time to visit this area and we were glad we took the time to do so.
Back to US 93A, it was an easy drive to Ely even with some running on gravel sections of the old LH. But, before pulling in to the Nevada Hotel, I stopped at a car wash to erase all traces of the accumulated dirt and mud from the five states traversed since leaving Illinois. When I met Gregory Franzwa later during the conference, I complimented him on his guidebooks, but then told him I wanted a rebate. He looked at me quizzically, but when I told him it was to pay for the car washes required to get through his routings, he just rolled his head back and laughed.
From Ely, we were continuing west to San Francisco. Unfortunately Franzwa’s California guidebook has not yet been published. Not to worry! When I accused Gregory of stranding me at the Nevada/California state line without a guidebook, he took me by the arm over to the California Chapter table where they had a series of maps delineating present day instructions for following both the original and the later 1928 routings across California. We were thus able to use Franzwa’s Nevada guidebook to get us to Reno and on to the state line, then backtrack to Reno where we took the road south to Carson City and then picked up the Pioneer Branch of the LH to go around Lake Tahoe and on to Sacramento. After spending a night in Sacramento, we followed the 1928 routing (basically the Victory Highway and historic US 40 alignment) the rest of the way, crossing over the Carquinez Bridge at Vallejo (also highlighted in recent Lincoln Highway Forums), stopping at Richmond Harbor to overlook the water with a lunch of cheese and sourdough bread washed down with Ranier Ale, before heading across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco and finding the LH marker in Lincoln Park officially noting the western terminus of this historic highway.
While Doc Corkings had received the concrete gratis, there was still the problem of gravel and labor to consider. He badgered the County Board into appropriating $3,000. Two thousand came form public subscription. Those donating $24 or more received a mahogany plaque.
Work commenced in Sept. 1914. This time was chosen as the horses were needed earlier for farm work. Crkings had obtained a steam operated concrete mixer and some engineering expertise form Springfield. The mixer had never been used for anything but sidewalks before.
By late October, the project had run out of funds. Originally scheduled for one mile, a wealthy farmer named Frederic Willrett living 1 1/10 miles west of the starting point by Malta’s Cemetary donated $1,000 on the condition the seedling mile ran the extra 1/10 mile to his driveway. Today the blue signs put out by the Dept. of Transportation mark this beginning and end of the Seedling Mile.
The last concrete was poured on Nov. 12, 1914. Much celebrating occurred. Whistlers were tied down in Malta and DeKalb and bells were rung. A plane scheduled to fly from Des Moines, IA to Malta for this big celebration failed to find Malta and landed in Indiana setting a new world record for distance flight in 1914.
The War which has now started in Europe put a greater demand for good rads. Everyone was wildly enthusiastic and the DeKalb Woman’s Club ordered a box car of shrubbery to beautify the Seedling Mile. For this occasion they rounded up nearly 100 volunteers and put on a large feast. Street dances were held on the highway at the west side.
In an interview with Beth Busby, now deceased, she described how anyone owning a car in northern Illinois tried to visit the Seedling Mile and try it out. She stated they would reach a top speed of 35 mph, but ran off at the end, burying the car in the mud to the frame, requiring a team of horses to extract them.
Another flaw occurred early also. This Seedling Mile was only 10 ft. wide. Two cars of high school children racing their parents’ cars locked hubs and over turned. Subsequently the Seedling Mile was widened by two feet on each side with brick.
In 1995 the Phi Theta Kappa organization at Kishwaukee College raised the funds for a large bronze plaque commemorating the Seedling Mile. This is now displayed at the entrance to their campus.
The fall meeting's program was a spectacular event, THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF THE 1920s & 1930s, thanks to the planning and hard work of board member Everett Kraft and his "old car buddies"!! Approximately 30 people attended, with members and guests driving 10 old time cars to the event, ranging from 1920 to 1957 with most of them in the 1930s.
The group met at the Midway Drive-In Theater in Prairieville, which is one of ten such theaters still operating in Illinois. The staff of the theater provided the group with items for lunch which they serve when the theater is showing movies. All those present had an opportunity to ride in one of the antique cars to the 1920 re-enactment/ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the paving completion of the LH between Dixon and Sterling. Wayne Silvius, chapter president and Laura Nekola, IL State Director, performed the ribbon cutting.
Everett Kraft explained the car games. The first one was a tube patching contest between Wayne and Esther Silvius (LHA) against Harold Vail, president of the auto club, and Merel Deets, IL LHA member. After much huffing and puffing with the hand pump, a draw was determined. The
IL State Director Laura Nekola and President Wayne Silvius cut the ribbon. Winners of the contestse holding laminated place mats made by a man from Franklin Grove. One place mat shows scenes along the LH in Illinois, another has vintage automobiles, and one has Ford vehicles.
They are available at HQ for $2.00.
next game was "Lost My Wheel" and lug nuts. A search turned up the tire and lug nuts, with the moral of the incident being....carry an extra set of lug nuts! The "Economy Run" involved shutting off the gas, and seeing how far they could go on only the gas in the carburetor, The winner was Harold Vail. Thanks to Merril and Donna Henrichs for monitoring this fun event! The "Slow Race" involved how far the cars could go idling, before they stalled. The winner was Harold Vail. Thanks to Jim and Pat Balcom for managing this suspense filled event! Jim was also the starter of all the races!
Any age car could participate in "Back Car into Garage". The driver of the auto was blindfolded and with the aid of a "helper" had to back the car between a lane of cone markers without hitting a cone. This turned out to be quite an amusing feat! All the participants received a prize. The next "Blind Man's Bluff" was much the same as the above, except, the driver had to drive between the lane of cones without hitting a cone...blind-folded and with no help!! This too, was a very entertaining event! The winner "Hub" Hubbel did this in a remarkable 54 inches! The Fan Belt Toss proved to be quite popular with many. A participant had four fan belts that were tossed over a four blade fan mounted on a post. This was a fun event with no specific winner! The youngest driver was Ben Kraft and the oldest, Wayne Silvius.
Farming Heritage Historian and LH member Duane Paulson gave an informative and interesting historical account of the 12 mile stretch of the LH by the theater and into Dixon. He highlighted his presentation by describing points of interest along the way: historical buildings, markers, silos and restored buildings.
NATIONAL LHA PRESENTATION: Ruth Frantz was unable to attend the 2005 LHA Conference in Ely, NV where she was to be presented with the organization's highest award for her outstanding service to the LHA as membership secretary for 10 years. National Secretary Sue Jacobson, accepted the award, with the intent she would present it to Ruth at a state meeting on behalf of the NLHA. Ruth was given the beautiful, engraved crystal vase much to her surprise and gratitude!!
COALITION REPORT: Ron Colson brought retractable banners which the Lincoln Highway Coalition group which he had shown previously. They are compact, roll-up displays that are easily transported and set up for use by schools, libraries, civic groups, etc. He also reported the group has a plan for a Gazebo for any interested community to erect and use for informational brochures and other pertinent historical/tourism literature. They can be constructed for $7000. Bonnie Heimbach, tourism official, has reported 7 communities are interested.
FUNDRAISERS: The Garage Sale at Franklin Grove's Festival netted $30.55. Wayne told the group any ideas for fund raisers would be greatly appreciated. A possible car tour with Lt. Governor will be discussed by board.
--Sue Jacobson, Secretary (excerpts from Minutes)
The Morleys of Dixon generously prepared lunch for Board Members and shared their rooms of interesting collections and memorabilia, relating interesting stories of various pieces and playing some of the old player pianos they have.
The treasurer's report by Carl Jacobson was as follows: $1363.42 income; $294.19 expenses; leaving a balance of $1069.23 in the checking account. The money market has $5153.69.
Esther Silvius gave the report for Lyn Asp about visitors to the Highway Headquarters as in the past few months as follows: one visitor from Quebec, Canada; two from Germany doing research on the highway; two from Japan working on "Scenic By-ways"; and 90 local school children (in groups) to learn about the highway.
On the possibility of Illinois being in charge of the 2009 LH Conference, Ron Coalson suggested that the Northern Il. Travel Coalition could be of help in planning various parts of the conference with suggestions of housing, eating places, and places of interest to visit for tours.
--Esther Silvius, Secretary Pro Tem (excerpts from Minutes)
The Illinois Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association met July 16, 2005 in the "Barn" at Chaplin Creek Pioneer Village (Franklin Grove, Il.).Ten members and one visitor were present. Each member and guest introduced themselves to help us recall names and faces. President Wayne reported on "Fund Raisers", especially the plans for the participation in the Franklin Grove Garage Sales being held August 6th at their summer festival. It was noted that the help of members would be most welcome.
A member from St. Charles reported about the Joliet Lincoln Highway Statue dedication and noting 45 people attended. Another dedication for the Lincoln Highway of significance was for the shelter at Phillips Park in Aurora, Il. Several Illinois chapter members attended this dedication ceremony of which Wayne Silvius gave a brief description.
Steve Bingham related that the Rochelle "Visitors Center" purchased four highway concrete markers which have been erected at the old Lincoln. Hwy. gas station.
Ivan Prall told the group about interesting incidents of the Lincoln Highway which he found in library research he has done. Merle Deets mentioned that he has seen a Lincoln Highway emblem on a post in an area that is not the authentic Lincoln Highway. He offered to check into this which was OK’'d by the members.
A picnic lunch of barbeque, additional food brought by members, and entertainment by a Bluegrass Group from Franklin Grove followed.
--Esther Silvius, Secretary Pro Tem (excerpts from Minutes)
More Pictures: More from pictures from Ivan Prall, Ruth’s Award, and the new Historical Marker at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Plainfield.
Puzzle: Yes, a puzzle!
Map for the Next Membership Meeting: The next membership meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 22nd at the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. This spectacular building just opened in late 2005, and it features a glass ceiling. You are welcome to drive your vintage cars! A nearby wooded area and one-room schoolhouse might make great backgrounds for pictures of your cars. The tentative schedule is:
12:00 p.m. Lunch at the nearby Baker’s Square
1:30 p.m. Presentation by Don Larson on the history of parks associated with the LH
3:00 p.m. Membership meeting followed by a drive on your own to the nearby Annie’s Woods Park, which was originally the “Free Auto Camp” advertised on p. 323 of the 1924 Road Guide.