A little bit of Lincoln Highway in the rain

Last Wednesday through Friday I was in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin to get together with cousins and to visit the graves of my parents and other relatives. While in that general area, I thought I'd like to drive some of the Illinois stretch of the Lincoln Highway. The one day of the three without rain was Wednesday, which was filled by my travel north and my visit to the cemetery. Thursday was devoted to getting together with cousins at various locations, and it rained most of the day. On Friday, the weather wasn't good either. A heavy rainstorm was approaching the Rockford area (where I stayed) from the west, so I headed east. From I-39, I took the Lincoln Highway/Route 38.

The first small town on my mini-adventure was Creston. Small, but interesting! The Village of Creston - population 600 - is a rural community with some active businesses in its tiny downtown. Grain trucks and farm equipment were on the move and the hair salon in a wonderful old building was open for business, as was the meat/catering operation across the street. In front of Headon's Meats and Catering is a white porcelain water fountain. A mural tells the water fountain story.

Mural in Creston, Illinois.
Here's the mural text:

Illinois was the only state to have Lincoln Highway drinking fountains.  They were donated by Carl Parker in memory of his mother, Amanda Sutherland Parker, who had grown up in the Garden Plain area of Whiteside County.  Originally, the fountains were to be placed every ten miles across Illinois.  This was not practical because of the water supply, so the fountains were donated to the towns and cities.  Seventeen fountains were donated, and the 1914 Progress Report states that nine of them were then being placed.

The fountains were donated free of charge, but the recipients had to meet certain criteria: 1) the name of the street that the Lincoln Highway traversed through town had to be changed to “Lincoln Way”; 2) that the entire route through town had to be marked with the painted LH signs; and 3) that the town had to agree to assume the expense of installing and maintaining the fountains.  The design of the fountain made it very useful in that it was a pedestal type with a drinking bubbler on the top and a spigot on the side for drawing off water in a pail.  Along the inside edge of the bowl were the words “In Memoriam” so that “all who stooped to drink would see it.”

Building, now a hair salon, with mural on the side.

Water fountain in front of Headon's Meats and Catering.

Creston Opera House.
The next town, heading east, was Malta. I did not stop due to the rain, but should mention that Malta was the site of the first "Seedling Mile" on the Lincoln Highway. Others followed. These mile-long sections of pavement were intended to inspire local governments to pave additional miles of the route.

DeKalb was next. I had not been to this bustling university town since my childhood. Then, I had accompanied my parents to the Wurlitzer (musical instrument) factory. I was about to give up on my adventure since I was tired of getting in and out of the car in the rain, but I did snap a couple shots of some great architectural samples of the downtown on my way through.
The art deco Fargo Theatre, built in DeKalb on Lincoln Highway about 1930.
Also on DeKalb's Lincoln Highway, this very interesting building is said to have once housed a barber shop and is also said to be the site of "DeKalb's first night club."

That day I drove such a tiny segment of the Lincoln Highway I considered not even sharing it. But think of it like I am - it's not an in-depth study or a leisurely trip across all of northern Illinois. It's just a preview, and I will be back again. After all, there's only 179 miles of it! 


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