"It's an area called the Iron Cross, and it hasn't changed much since the original Lincoln Highway was built," said Ames resident Jeff Benson, a member of the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association.
The Lincoln Highway's history is being celebrated this weekend with a three-day motor tour that started Friday morning in Clinton, came through Colo, Ames and Boone Saturday, and ends this afternoon at Missouri Valley.
"We've got a Model A Ford, a Model T Ford truck and a Cadillac hearse from the 1960s," LaFollette said. "The license number on the hearse is: 'DEAD W8.'"
Benson, his wife Margaret Elbert, and other members of the group had lunch Saturday at State Center, then toured historic Reed/Niland Corners in Colo before stopping in Ames for the night.
"We decided to call it Reed/Niland Corners to honor the people who started the businesses there," Colo City Clerk Scott Berka said.
In 2001, the city purchased an old "canopy" gas station and a vintage motel and café at the intersection of the old Lincoln Highway and U.S. Highway 65.
"It used to belong to John Niland, who still lives across the street from the café," Berka said.
"The original owners were John's parents and a man named Charlie Reed," he added. "Charlie ran the gas station, and John's parents had the café."
Now operated by Sandy Wilfong, the café had pie and coffee ready for the travelers when they stopped by Saturday afternoon.
Berka said the five-unit motel was restored and re-opened for business in January of this year.
The historic buildings at Colo are just some of the artifacts of Lincoln Highway history that live on in Mid-Iowa, Benson noted.
"There's another old canopy gas station near Scranton," he said. "Just east of Jefferson is the Eureka Bridge, which was built around 1910 and is on the National Register of Historic Places."
As it came through Ames, the highway went west to Sheldon Avenue, then jogged north to leave town via what is now known as Ontario Street, Benson added.
Two years ago, the Iowa Department of Transportation designated the entire Lincoln Highway as the state's first Heritage Byway.
"The designation qualifies it to be eligible to be a National Scenic Byway," Benson said.
Government funding is available to nationally designated byways. Benson said the Illinois chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association has received nearly $500,000 in federal funds for projects in that state.
Bob Zientara can be reached at 232-2161, Ext. 487, or firstname.lastname@example.org.