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Oct 17

Discover the Lincoln Highway in Linn County

Posted on October 17, 2023 at 1:47 PM by Britt Nielsen

A group around the Lincoln Highway kiosk in Lisbon

According to the Lincoln Highway Association, the Lincoln Highway (named after President Lincoln) was the first transcontinental route. It stretches more than 3,000 miles from New York City to San Fransico and runs through the State of Iowa, including through Linn County. Nearly 85% of the original highway is still drivable in the state of Iowa. The entire length of Iowa’s Lincoln Highway was designated the first Iowa Heritage Byway under the Iowa’s Scenic and Heritage Byways program.

The Linn County Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), along with its community partners, maintains eight of the nine interpretive kiosks along the Lincoln Highway in Linn County. Installation of the kiosks started in 2006, as Cedar Rapids prepared to host the Lincoln Highway Conference. Today, the kiosks continue telling the stories of the highway that opened in 1913 and the people who made it legendary. Many stories are highlighted on the kiosks, including ones about the first motel to welcome African Americans, filling stations that did more than pump gas, and the Hotel Lincoln, where it only cost $1 per night to stay when it opened in 1915.

Lincoln Highway kiosk locations include: 

  • Lisbon
  • Mount Vernon
  • Abbe Creek School Museum
  • Thomas Park
  • Wanatee Park
  • Lincoln Heights Drive at Wilder Drive in Cedar Rapids
  • Clevland Park
  • Iowa State Patrol Headquarters in Cedar Rapids
  • Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station (this kiosk is owned and maintained by the City of Cedar Rapids Historical Preservation Commission)

Over the years, age and storms have damaged many of the kiosks beyond repair. After viewing a new interpretive kiosk design near the Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station, the Linn County HPC decided to adopt this design when replacing the aging kiosks at eight locations in the county. 

In 2021, the Linn County HPC replaced the kiosks located at Thomas Park in Marion and Cleveland Park in SW Cedar Rapids, as they were deemed most in need of replacement due to being irreparably damaged in the August 2020 derecho.

In 2023, the Linn County HPC replaced three additional signs located in Lisbon, Mount Vernon, and at the local Iowa State Patrol Headquarters. 

Plans for replacing the aging and the damaged kiosks at the Abbe Creek School Museum, Lincoln Heights Drive, and Wanatee Park locations are ongoing as funding becomes available. 

An official map of the Lincoln Highway can be found on the Linn County website