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National Lincoln Highway Conference Explores Iowa’s Oldest Paved Roadway

GRAND JUNCTION, Iowa- The National Lincoln Highway Conference is being held this week in Iowa, headquartered in Denison. On Wednesday, two big tour buses came east to explore the Lincoln Highway into Jefferson, Ogden, Beaver, and Grand Junction.

The Lincoln Highway began in 1913 as the first paved road across the United States. The first section of road was paved in Greene County.

The group visited the Abraham Lincoln statue in Jefferson, the Mahanay Bell Tower, and other local sites. The tour followed the original Lincoln Highway through the town of Beaver, and also through Ogden.

“We want to show them what’s left here,” said Dean Parr, of Cedar Rapids, the Greene County native is chairing the National Lincoln Highway Conference. “There’s quite a bit of the original route that you can travel that hasn’t; been completely changed over to a four lane highway.”

It was in Ogden where the new Lincoln Highway Association was born 25 years ago. That sparked interest in other states from New York to California in saving and preserving the road, and buildings or attractions along the old highway.

“You gotta think about how all these people traveled the whole length of the Lincoln Highway to go all the way to Calif or all the way out east,” said Parr. “The roads they had to use are so much different than what we have now.”

The tour stopped at the Lincoln Highway Interpretive Park on the east edge of Grand Junction. A series of plaques and artwork helps tell the story of how the Lincoln Highway paving helped to bring Iowa out of the age of the mud road.

“Every little town had either campgrounds, or little cabins, motels al along the way, and garages,” said Parr. “If you look every town had some way to repair a car, because everybody’s car was breaking down.”

The group also stopped at the Lincoln Highway Museum in Grand Junction.

If you would like more information on the Conference or the Lincoln Highway in Iowa click here.