Sunday, June 25, 2017

(32) On the Banks of the Mighty Mississippi

View from our Campsite
Camping On The Banks of the Mississippi

We are camping tonight on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River. We are at a campground maintained Army Corps of Engineers the widest point of the Mississippi. I have only ever seen the Mississippi from the air, so this is quite a thrill for me. Tara and Dave, two campers we met as they were gathering wood for a fire told us that two or three weeks ago our campsite was underwater.
Camping neighbors Tara and Dave
They also told us that this is the widest point on the Mississippi. The threat of flooding is long since passed and we thought we had the perfect campsite, then the train went by. It is very close to the campsite and I'm hoping that it will be the last one tonight.

This campground is more like the ones that Linda and I remember. Most of the people we encountered are talkative like Tara and Dave. All of the people we've met on this trip in campgrounds have been friendly, but this campground is a bit more social. Many of the other campgrounds are filled with large trailers and RVs which are self-contained and featured such amenities as satellite TV. Rather than having a campfire the owners of those RVs retire to the interior and watch satellite television. It's a great way to see the country, and sometimes I have to admit to feeling a little bit of jealousy. But... I don't think it's for me.

We left Denison this morning before seven thirty. We had dinner on the road and arrived here to set up camp. It was a long and eventful day, but a pleasant one.

We didn't attend the Lincoln Highway Association's annual membership meeting this morning as we wanted to get on the road moving east. We said our goodbyes last night at the banquet in this morning as we left the motel. This is our second Lincoln Highway conference we are beginning to get to know some of the people. I can see why many say that these conferences are a bit like family reunions. We enjoyed our time at the conference very much. I think the lesson to take from this meeting is that the old highways connected people. And in the case of the Lincoln Highway Association and the Yellowstone Trail Association as well as some of the other named highway associations, they are still connecting people.

We're continuing to travel on Highway 30 and avoiding the interstate. I'm finding myself a little more relaxed traveling like this. It is certainly more enjoyable. Our first stop after leaving Denison for the towns of West side and Carroll.

Chicago and Northwestern Depot

We stopped at those towns even though I saw them on one of the bus tours. Unfortunately the bus didn't stop the beautiful Chicago and Northwestern train station. So on the way out of town, I made a point to stop and take a picture of it. The bus tours were great, but for someone like me that needs photographs to help remember places we weren't given a lot of opportunity to take pictures. Trying to take a picture from a moving bus is difficult at best.

Traveling along Highway 30 I was able to see even more clearly one of the things pointed out during the bus tour. That was the fact that the original alignment of the Lincoln Highway followed section lines. The original Lincoln Highway was laid out on either a north-south or an east west line. This allowed utilization of section lines and did not require the condemnation of land. Of course, the right-of-way provided in the section lines was not adequate for automobiles. This soon became clear as did the danger of having a 90° turn every mile or quarter-mile. The later alignments of the Lincoln Highway and Highway 30 used eminent domain to condemn land so that the highway could run diagonally across the sections.

Iowa Scenic Byway Marker
The state of Iowa has done a wonderful job of signing the Lincoln Highway By Way. Not only was Highway 30 marked as part of that Byway, but the old alignments which are usually gravel roads are also marked and signed. A driver can decide whether to follow the original alignments or the more modern alignment of Highway 30. Watching for the marked signs and using the map on my GPS gave me a very clear picture of how the old road would cross and re-cross Highway thirty. (Can you say distracted driver.)

Birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower

In Boone, Iowa we stopped to see the birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower. It was a modest home and was furnished in either the original furnishings or correct furnishings. The docent, Dorothy was very knowledgeable about the house, about Boone and about the Doud family. Dorothy knew many of Mamie's relatives and can recall seeing Mamie Eisenhower in town with her Secret Service protection. In the garage was an old Chrysler Windsor which the Eisenhower's had purchased for Mamie's uncle.
There was also a 1960s Plymouth which was Mamie's car and was later given to her grandson and his wife, David and Julie Eisenhower.

Boone was an important town for Mamie and for President Eisenhower. Eisenhower announced that he was a candidate for President from the park in Boone. Mamie came home to Boone many times. It was a delightful visit made all the better by the passion and professionalism of Dorothy who is a retired fifth grade teacher.

Dorothy our knowledgeable tour guide
Room where Mamie was born
Niland's Corner

Colo Motel at Niland's corner
Colo Motel today
From Boone we took old Highway thirty, the Lincoln Highway, to Niland's corner, where the Lincoln Highway intersects the Jefferson Highway. The Jefferson Highway, like the Lincoln crossed America but unlike the Lincoln it did so from north to south or as a people in New Orleans might say from south to north.

That highway started in New Orleans and ended in Winnipeg Canada. Niland's corner was historic and significant in it's nice to see it so well restored. Linda and I took ample time to walk around the buildings before entering the café.
Highway Pole markers
for Jefferson and
Lincoln Highways

Display in Niland's
The café is restored and at one end features historic displays. They also serve great food and provide super service. In Niland's we had lunch with Lyle Henry and Wayne Shannon of the Lincoln Highway Association. Between the business meeting not going as long as I thought it would and our side trips and sightseeing they were able to catch up to us.

Chewing the fat at Niland's 
Lyle and Wayne at Niland's
I enjoyed talking with them as they are both well versed in the history of the Lincoln Highway and other old highways. Lyle was one of the speakers at the conference, has written a book on the Jefferson Highway. I enjoyed talking with him as I did my conversations with Wayne.

From Colo we proceeded to Tama, Iowa. Tama also has some old Lincoln Highway sites.
Lincoln Highway Bridge at Tama
Chief among these is the Tama Bridge. It was built in 1925 by the city of Tama and is a source of pride to that community. It is the most well-recognized bridge on the entire Lincoln Highway. East of the bridge is a tower café and service station.
Builder's Plate for Tama Bridge

Tower Café in Tama

Our next stop was Belle Plaine, Iowa where we stopped to see the Preston service station and the Herring hotel.
Preston's Service Station

The Herring hotel was recognized as providing first class accommodations in a small town atmosphere. In its day it was called "The Swellest Little Hotel in Iowa."
Herring Hotel may yet see better days again

Among its guests were Mark Twain and President Theodore Roosevelt. Unfortunately, the Herring hotel has suffered a long period of neglect. However, it looks like things are due to turn around. Volunteer labor has worked to stabilize parts of the hotel and the owners are working to secure grants to restore the Herring to its 1922 condition and appearance. Yesterday we had a presentation on the efforts to preserve the Herring hotel.

We also stopped to see the tower café and service station as well as the Youngsville station.

Lincoln Café across from Herring Hotel

Rush Hour in Belle Plain


I went out to take pictures of the mighty Mississippi this evening. Some of them appear with this entry. When I returned to the tent trailer I was surprised to see that Linda had added twinkly lights to the ceiling.
Twinkly Lights

It looked nice, but I can see that she's just not going to get this "Glamping" idea out of her system.

Tomorrow we'll spend a little bit of time exploring Clinton Iowa and then we will cross the river into Illinois. I have to admit to some excited anticipation at the thought of driving across the mighty Mississippi.


  1. I stayed in Clinton in 1995. A lot of antique stores just north. North and across the river will also take you to the Palisades State Park (on the Mississippi) (Ill. 66) and Galena Illinois. I visited President Grant's home there. South will take you to the Rock Island Arsenal. Had a surprise there...They had a display about the Little Big Horn battle!

  2. Aunt Linda is good at pretty-ing things up. As kids, we were so impressed when she'd take the time to "gussy up" the plain vanilla ice-cream she served us with rainbow sprinkles.