Lincoln Highway, day 7. Almost there…

Posted: June 29, 2013 in Diamond T truck, Hot Rod, Tin Can Tourists, travel, Vintage trailers, Vintage trucks
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Image 18We’re relaxing just west of Blair, NB at the Armstrong Co. Fairgrounds.  It was another day long thrash to drive about 150 miles, but perhaps starting the days travels at a winery was part of the problem…

Image 16We left Boone and the fairgrounds next to the railroad switching yard (Fun fact.  Did you know railroad yards have their own smell?  It’s creosote and hot brake linings.) and backtracked about 10 miles east to the town of Madrid (that’s MADrid, for you non-Iowa natives) and paid a visit to Snus Winery.  Yes, Snus, rhymes with Zeus, winery.  It was a fun way to start the day, we sample some very good Iowa wines, VERY good Pinot Noir, and came home with a couple of bottles.  Sharp eyed readers will note that I am holding the bottle in my right hand, but we weighed it and it’s less than two pounds.  Dr’s orders!

Image 17After that we drove west on Highway 210 a short distance to the High Trestle Bridge trailhead, and walked about a mile to the bridge.  This is a train trestle, built in the 70’s and abandoned in the 90’s, tracks taken up, leaving just the giant piers.  It was then sold or given to Rails to Trails” group, and a beautiful concrete roadway was built over the Missouri river, about a mile.  Image 19Steel arches over the bridge represent area coal mine shafts.  They are sometimes illuminated at night, which looks spectacular.  Concrete arches decorated with dark stones in veins representing the layers of soft coal in the area stand at each end of the roughly 1/2 mile long-span.  It was beautiful looking out over the mighty river, swollen and muddy, racing under the bridge.  A very fun diversion, and a great way to spend an hour or so.

Image 13From there we continued on down the Lincoln Highway to the little farm town of Jefferson IA.  It’s the prototypical midwestern late 1900’s town, laid out in neat squares, with beautiful brick storefronts.  It’s also the county seat, and has a typical county courthouse building in the main square.

Image 12In front of the courthouse is a bronze of Abe Lincoln, seen at left.  Just to the west of that, in stark contrast to the 1900’s look and feel of the rest of town, is a 14 story tall bell tower, very 60’s modern.  We rode the elevator to the top observation deck, and the view of the (very flat) surrounding country side was beautiful.  The docent told us we could see beyond the county in all directions, and pointed out the massive concrete grain silos in every surrounding county’s large towns.  The thought occurred to me that they could have saved the money and just put bells on a grain silo, but that would sort of take the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?

We did look down at the street and see our Diamond T and Spartan at the curb from Image 11a very different perspective.  I noticed that the roof needs polishing…  Can you spot it in the picture at left?  A stop at the dairy bar right across the street from the truck and trailer netted me a delicious root beer float, and Kim a strawberry malt.  We left recharged, and headed back out for the rest of the days travels

Another fun fact.  In the afternoon on the prairie, the giant wind machine cranks up, and gale force winds greeted us on the  highway as soon as we got away from the shelter of the towns trees.  Which explains why they planted trees in the towns and around homesteads.

It was so windy, and we drove straight into it for a ways back north to Rt. 30, that I was afraid it would blow the big plastic window out of the front of the Spartan.  Happily, it held against a 50 mph headwind at 55 mph, and we (mostly) stayed in our lane for the rest of the day.  For a few miles, on a couple of occasions, we were lucky to pace freight trains on tracks right along the route that blocked the wind for us, but mostly it was a tussle.  Once I got used to the way the truck handled, and realized how much (or little) I actually needed to steer to keep it on the road, it wasn’t too bad.  At least we didn’t get blown off the road, or into oncoming traffic.

We had wanted to visit the De Soto National Wildlife Refuge, the sight of a bizarre shipwreck recovery.  In the 1860’s a paddle wheel river boat rammed a snag in a river bend and immediately sank, taking with her all her cargo.  All the passengers and crew were saved, and most spent the nigh on shore, after the crew reportedly tore lumber from the ship and built shelters, also salvaging the ships cook stoves and provisions.  They had a tasty hot supper, I suppose.

The ships cargo, supplies bound for the west and gold rush, were largely lost, and the ship itself soon filled with mud and silt, and was simply left on the bottom of the 12-20 foot deep river.  The river then changed course, leaving the wreck, with it’s cargo (including over a thousand bottles of champagne!) became buried under 20 feet of earth, miles from the current river channel.  It was found in a cornfield in the late 60’s, forgotten for over 100 years.

There is a nice display of some of the recovered artifacts, although most had to be removed a couple of years ago when the river flooded visitor center.  We had to make a whirlwind visit as the museum was closing, but it was still VERY interesting.  A good stop.  Image 10

Tonight we will once again be lulled to sleep by train whistles and the rumble of the tracks, before we head out tomorrow for Kearny. We’ll be there over the fourth of July, so we’ll have a chance to see the sights (?) there at our leisure.

Stay tuned!


  1. MIKE HILL says:

    This is so cool.. I love your site. I have a1939 Plymouth PT81 and 1957 Silver Travel Eze. Plus today was cool. My mother was born in Kearne Keep up the neat updates. Mike and Kris Hill Nampa Idaho

    Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2013 04:09:13 +0000 To:

  2. Great posts Brian. I’m looking forward to the next ones.

  3. Kim says:

    Ummm….Washington Co. Fairgrounds. It’s hard to keep track of where you’ve landed for the night when you’re on the move. Looking forward to reaching Kearny today and staying put for a while!

  4. Trish Graves says:

    Really enjoy being along on your trip–something my wife and I would like to do someday. Way to cool with your great rig and Spartan, I’m jealous!! Good Job guys.

  5. flynbrian48 says:

    Thanks everyone. More coming as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, and the big 4th of July celebration here in Kearny!

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