We have a vision.
Actually, since the byway first took its baby steps back in the 90's as the 87 mile long "Platte River Scenic Byway" encompassing Lincoln and Dawson counties, we've had a mission.
However, now it's written down. It's our marching orders.
Unofficially, it is to be the transportation route of choice for travelers across Nebraska. And it's to be the best... the best byway in Nebraska, and the best section of Lincoln Highway across America. How's that for setting the bar high?
First, let me tell you about our meeting space in Columbus. It was on the third floor of the beautiful Evans House. Dr. Evens came to Columbus in the late 1800's on his way to a lucrative practice in Colorado. However, there was a smallpox epidemic and the town begged him to stay. After he imprisoned the priest who was spreading the disease by going from victim to victim, he nursed the town back to health, met the love of his life and settled down to stay.
It made a very appropriate place to meet, as the original alignment of the Lincoln Highway in 1913 passed nearby.
The mission of the Byway is to educate, promote and preserve the scenic and historic Lincoln Highway through Nebraska.
The Lincoln Highway Nebraska Scenic and Historic Byway’s vision is to inspire travelers and communities along the corridor to find value in the byway.Short, sweet and simple, huh? But they are more powerful than they seem at first glance.
Wouldn't things get better for everyone involved?
A little further down the road is the excellently interpreted historical site of the Gardiner Station and Bridge.
It obviously was the site of one of Nebraska's one-room schools and an important bridge along the Lincoln Highway. The Byway could help in encouraging the responsible parties to make the site even more appealing by adding gravel and adjusting the placement of some official signage that mars the "viewshed" for photography.
We might also be able to help by traveling the Lincoln Highway route with a classic car collection (I'll go! I'll go!) and creating a photo library of sites like this for use in promoting the route, the sites, the small towns along the way and the state of Nebraska.
Interpreting the important historical sites along the trail is obviously of utmost importance, and the Nebraska State Historical Society has done a fantastic job. This site near Central City is a great example.
The markers are well placed and interesting, there is a great pull-out and picnic area to give weary travelers an opportunity to get off of the road... that is, if you weren't rear-ended because the signpost along the highway telling of the marker was RIGHT THERE - at the entrance, and unless you were driving 45mph in your Model T, you may have rolled your modern SUV trying to make the turn at 60.
For the most part, the Lincoln Highway through the eastern and central regions of Nebraska (I'm sure the western region is fine too - we're just currently traveling the eastern & central regions) is in very good shape - the towns are quaint, a little dilapidated, but not too run down, the right-of-way well maintained and clean. Every once in awhile, though, there is the evidence of the changing times shown by buildings that won't be with us too much longer.
And now we get to the Seedling Mile - this again is the one in Grand Island. Without these seedling miles, the road probably wouldn't have been completed - they inspired investment and were vital in getting local support for a transcontinental highway - a model of how to generate excitement to get a project completed, I might add.
This iconic Lincoln Highway amenity has been loving restored by the SAME FAMILY (now on the 5th generation) that has owned it since the 1920's. Oh, the stories they can tell! Plus they serve delicious Italian food and are wonderfully warm and welcoming. Make it a point to stop if you're traveling the highway.
Like this photograph taken at Central City, Nebraska on October 8, 1913 - where the official proclamation creating the Lincoln Highway and declaring the route was signed.
And a collection of historic signs like this one that was placed by the Automobile Club of Southern California in 1915, marking the route from coast to coast.
By this time it's nearing the end of a long day, and a storm front is moving through. We managed to reach our hotel in Gothenburg (the excellent Comfort Inn) before any real weather hit.