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Spend a Little Time Learning About Linn County History This Weekend

The Lincoln Highway has a very long history throughout the country, Iowa, and right here at home.  And in Linn County, nine different Lincoln Highway Interpretive Centers tell us the highway’s many stories.  Stop by on a driving tour and you’ll see photos and learn about the first motel in Iowa to welcome African Americans; filling stations where attendants not only pumped gas, but repaired tires, too, and the Hotel Lincoln, where $1 would pay for one night when it opened in 1915.

The last of the nine kiosks opened recently at the new Central Fire Station in Cedar Rapids:

Central Fire Station
Provided by Linn County

Lincoln Highway enthusiasts worked under the sponsorship of the Linn County Historic Preservation Commission to create the kiosks that tell the highway’s stories involving Linn County and Cedar Rapids, one of the largest cities the highway ran through at its origin.

The centers are located in Lisbon, Mount Vernon and Marion, at Abbe Creek School Museum on Mount Vernon Road, Squaw Creek Park and four sites in Cedar Rapids.

Marked with the red, white and blue Lincoln Highway logo and topped by a red “roof,” they relay the history behind the first paved transcontinental road in the United States.

Lincoln Heights
Lincoln Heights at Wilder Park SE/Provided by Linn County

Originally opened in 1913, The Lincoln Highway eventually took five routes through Cedar Rapids. Those routes — originally on First Avenue coming from Marion — are noted at the Central Fire Station, 713 First Ave. SE, along with images of the city’s “Automobile Row” and a postcard from the Hotel Lincoln.

The remaining pieces of the highway’s history are slipping away, which attests to the importance of recording and sharing the history, said Van Becker of Cedar Rapids, a director with the national Lincoln Highway Association and past president of the Iowa chapter.

Becker said one of his favorites is the kiosk at the Iowa State Patrol headquarters along 16th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids, which relays information about the first auto accident and other historical pieces related to highway safety.  The opening of the highway changed the way cities developed, where people lived and worked, and how they travel to this day, he said.

“This is the result of a whole century of the use of the automobile,” Henry said. “You couldn’t do it without the highways and the Lincoln Highway led the way.”

Lincoln Highway Interpretive Centers are located at the following sites:

· History Center in Lisbon (102 E Main Street)

· Lincoln Way Park in Mount Vernon

· Thomas Park in Marion

· Abbe Creek School Museum on Mount Vernon Road (just northwest of Mount Vernon)

· Squaw Creek Park on the road to the park lodge

· Lincoln Heights at Wilder Drive SE in Cedar Rapids

· Haskell Park at Maple Drive and Johnson Avenue NW in Cedar Rapids

· Iowa State Patrol headquarters at 5400 16th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids

· Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station, 713 First Ave. SE (located on the 2nd Avenue side of the fire station)

Haskell Park
Haskell Park in Northwest Cedar Rapids/Provided by Linn County

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