The Lincoln Highway celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The Lincoln Highway Association held a centennial celebration in Kearney, NE on June 30-July 1. The 3,466-mile route was the first major road between Boston and San Francisco, and Kearney was at the halfway point between the cities. I missed the celebration and conference. The Official Lincoln Highway Centennial Tours headed for Kearney from each coast. Antique cars, Classics, muscle cars, ’50s cars, trucks, motorcycles, street rods, and modern cars participated. You can see some of those that had planned to be on the tour at http://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/tour/2013/cars
/. I saw the yellow 1930 Ford Model A on the road headed west from Kearney. Hopefully I’ll see a couple of others as I head west.
My first stop this morning was the post office in Elm Creek to mail Winnies oil sample to the lab. I went in and the place was empty. We packaged up the bottle and when I went to pay for it by swiping my credit card, the computer froze and we couldn’t tell if the charge went through. I’m not sure if it was my card causing the machine to tilt or a glitch in their computer. The clerk stood there watching the infernal hour glass spin. After about 10 minutes she brought in the reinforcements, the Postmaster. After fiddling a little, he decided to call the Help Desk. I asked if they were in the US. May not have been a PC question for the USPS, but you never know. Most of the Help Desks I’ve called over the years would better be called the No Help Desks, usually the best they can do is ask if you turned the computer on and off. After about a half-hour or so he finally made some progress and the printer printed a blank piece of paper. A few customers came in to pick up mail and I offered to buy everyone lunch if we were there for another 15 minutes. The PM with the help of the Help Desk was able to get everything up and running to the point where they asked me to swipe the credit card again. I reluctantly swiped it again hoping it didn’t tilt again. It worked and I was able to leave after about a 45 minute delay. It was all in all a good natured delay and everyone that I met was nice. The clerk had actually lived in New Egypt, New Jersey for a while as a young girl.
US 30 also has older routes associated with the parts of its path in Nebraska. I mentioned the Mormon Trail yesterday, but the California Trail and the Pony Express have been associated with this relatively flat route along the Platte River. After the California Trail was established, the first half of it followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail to Wyoming. In Wyoming, Idaho and Utah the California and Oregon Trail split into several different trails or cutoffs. The Mormon Trail turns south to Utah at Fort Bridger while the California Trail heads off to Idaho. The Lincoln Highway roughly follows the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City. When we were in Dodge City last year we went searching for the old remnant wagon ruts that supposedly still exist. We didn’t have much luck on the ground. You could see them in Google maps. I missed one of the locations near Sutherland, Nebraska today that supposedly still has ruts from the California and Mormon Trail visible as it was a couple of miles north of my route. Just as well, we really couldn’t see them in Kansas. I did stop in Sutherland to get a milk shake, black and white, at a little ice cream shop/café. It hit the spot. The building next door had a Burma Shave type sign posted with the pictures. Sutherland has also has at least 3 old gas stations they are restoring.
The next stop was Cozad, NE, the place where the 100th meridian passes through. The meridian 100° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole. It forms the eastern border of the Texas panhandle with Oklahoma. Historically the meridian has been taken as a rough boundary between the eastern and western United States. A sign across the highway in Cozad marks the place where the 100th meridian intersects with the routes of the Oregon Trail, Pony Express, transcontinental railroad, and the Lincoln Highway. There’s a 100th Meridian Museum in Cozad so I stopped to see what was in it. There was an old guy, older than me, as a greeter and a couple of rooms of displays. Lots of antique type things from the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as a display honoring local veterans. One of the most unique displays I’ve ever seen in one of these museums was a wall of American Flags in triangular display boxes. Each one represents the death of an American service man from WWI to Vietnam. They must have been donated by surviving family members.
I mentioned above that the Pony Express route ran along the Platte River where US 30 is today. The Nebraska stop is just to the east of Sidney, NB at Pole Creek. We pulled off at the Historical Marker near the location where the mud shack was built for some pictures and then headed to our final stop of the day at Cabelas RV Park. This Cabelas is the headquarter location for the chain. It’s the first time we stopped at one of their parks and it the opportunity arises again I’ll do it again. I was going to go into the store and shop, but by the time I finished dinner (Mexican), it was closed. Saved myself some money.
There’s a Pony Express monument in front of the store that commemorates all eight of the way stations from California to Missouri and the people involved in the short lived enterprise. It operated between 1860 and 1861 and was supplanted by the stage coach line, telegraph, and trans-continental railroad.
We didn’t get as far as I had expected today, but with all the sightseeing stops and the extra hour at the Elm Creek Post office I’m not surprised. It’s late so I’m done for tonight.