Travel the Lincoln Highway

Travel the Lincoln Highway

By Debra Karplus

The Lincoln Highway ( was America's first transcontinental road for cars. Its construction began in 1913, ultimately connecting New York to San Francisco.

Imagine yourself riding in a vintage 1940s Desoto along a two-lane highway and even some unpaved gravel and dirt roads along Iowa's lush green, rolling hills.

The stretch across Iowa parallels U.S. 30 and will give you a sense of nostalgia as you pass old diners, abandoned gas stations and even several Sinclair service stations that are still up and running.

If you have the time, drive on the approximate 330 miles of the Lincoln Highway across Iowa to relive America's highway past.

You can comfortably drive across the state in about three days to stop to see some of the many interesting sites along the way.

There are about 5 miles between each of the towns along the way.

Begin your journey in Clinton, Iowa, which is just on the other side of the Mississippi River, just north of Moline.

If you miss Urbana's old Huey's Store that was located at Vine and University, you definitely will want to saunter through Smith Brothers General Store in Clinton. They've been in that spot since the early 1930s.

Clinton also has Eagle Point City Park, a historic mansion and Victorian gardens and the Wild Rose Casino.

Be sure to stop in nearby DeWitt. The town has many quaint shops, entertainment and interesting eateries.

Don't miss Mount Vernon. They built a new high school and used the old one for Old School Shops. You'll find all sorts of antiques, crafts and homemade fudge at this old school. You can walk the campus of Cornell College there.

End your first day on Iowa's Lincoln Highway in Cedar Rapids, where there is a large Grant Wood collection at the Museum of Art and ample lodging options.

On your second day in Iowa, you can head south a bit off the Lincoln Highway if you want to visit the Amana Colonies, which have a long, rich history and historic old homes, many of which have been converted into shops and restaurants.

Tama is a town that was a Native American settlement of the Mesquakie tribe. They operate a casino in Tama also.

End the second day in Ames and meander around the Iowa State University campus. It's hilly, so wear good walking shoes. The Econolodge offers good rates for a night's stay, a generous free breakfast and an indoor swimming pool.

On your last day on Iowa's Lincoln Highway, you'll want to get to the Ogden Diner in time for lunch; be sure to order their chili.

Jefferson, Iowa, has the RVP-1875 ( historical Furniture Store and Working Museum. A real throwback to earlier times, they make custom furniture all with hand tools and no chemical adhesives. Watch them as they build or order something to be shipped home. It's a truly fascinating place.

Journey across Iowa on the Lincoln Highway for a memorable road trip.

Debra Karplus is an occupational therapist and freelance writer living in Champaign.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Travel

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acylum wrote on November 16, 2015 at 4:11 pm

If taking the suggestion to stay overnight in Ames, make sure you check out Hickory Park restaurant for dinner.  Great barbecue and sides, but make sure you save room for dessert.  There's a reason they flow hundreds of people through that place every evening.