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Input sought on preserving Lincoln Highway

by Todd Von Kampen, World-Herald Staff Writer
Published Sunday February 23, 2003

If you’re a Lincoln Highway fan, the National Park Service wants to know what you think about four of their initial ideas for preserving the remnants and memories of America’s first transcontinental highway.

Midlands enthusiasts of the 90-year-old highway are invited to share their thoughts at public meetings March 4 in Sidney, Neb., March 10 in Fremont, Neb., and March 11 in Jefferson, Iowa, according to the Park Service’s Omaha regional office.
Fourteen meetings are set between Feb. 27 and March 25 across the Lincoln Highway’s 3,300-mile course as part of a study that Congress ordered in 2000, said Park Service planner Ruth Heikkinen of Omaha.

The highway, which debuted in 1913, crossed parts of 14 states from New York City to San Francisco. Much of it followed present-day U.S. Highway 30, as it did in Nebraska and Iowa.

In the Omaha area, the Lincoln Highway followed Farnam and Dodge Streets. It then angled northwest toward Elkhorn, where a 21/2-mile, brick-paved stretch of the highway remains intact. The highway later was relocated through Blair, Neb.

The 2000 act requires the Park Service to evaluate the highway’s significance and ways to preserve remaining portions and interpret them for tourists.

Initial options to be reviewed at the public meetings include:

  • Set up a grant program to help local groups preserve Lincoln Highway segments.
  • Develop a series of Lincoln Highway interpretive centers, mark major locations with plaques and mark the route with signs.
  • The Park Service would coordinate the effort.
  • Designate a “Lincoln Highway National Heritage Area,” targeting certain stretches of the highway for preservation.
  • Designate the “Lincoln Highway National Historic Highway,” which would set up engineering standards for local and state roads departments to maintain remnants of the road.

Comments on the ideas will be taken via fax and the Internet as well as at the public meetings, Heikkinen said. Park Service officials plan to use them along with other findings from their study to revise the ideas.

Fax comments to the attention of Ruth Heikkinen, National Park Service, (402) 221-3465. E-mail Ruth_Heikkinen@nps.gov.

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Blair Historic Preservation Alliance | P.O. Box 94 | Blair, Nebraska 68008 | contact@blairhistory.com