He is known as… the Redbird Express

Greetings Fellow Travelers,

As you travel along the highway, you will meet characters who live alternative lifestyles from your own. A few years back, I had the great privilege of meeting a fellow traveler.  He does not follow my concrete path, but instead follows the road of rails. While he has a given name, Carl, he goes by his hobo name of the Redbird Express.

Best Redbird

The Redbird Express hails from Pennsylvania. Now Pennsylvania happens to be one of the thirteen states the Lincoln Highway travels through, so when I got to know the Redbird Express, he had found himself at a Lincoln Highway meeting in Jefferson, IA. The Redbird Express became intrigued by the Lincoln Highway Association and decided to become a member of our society. As a guest speaker at our meeting, Carl spoke of being crowned King of the Hobos at the Hobo Celebration in Brett, IA and spoke of his many adventures along the rails across the good ol’ USA.

The Redbird Express has also visited Boomtown, the coal mining hamlet I call home.  Upon his visit to my hamlet, I created this drawing of him, where he sits in a hobo camp along the tracks he traveled in the Midwest.

Although I have not seen the Redbird Express for some time, I heard the years have taken their toll and now, due to his health, he stays closer to his home.  I wish the Redbird Express all the best and that the rails come to meet him, just as the road comes to meet me.

From the Open Road,

Lincoln Highway Johnny


Torque Fest 2017

Greetings Fellow Travelers,

The open road has been a bumpy one of late, which delayed some of my travels.  But I have returned and would like to talk about an “Alternative Style” car show I visited over the last weekend.

Near the Mississippi River in the Eastern Iowa town of Dubuque, Torque Fest happens every year.  I have been attending this event every year since its inception, where it started in Farley, IA and moved around until it landed finally in Dubuque.  Torque Fest is a celebration of the early creation of the American Hot Rod and all the culture that comes with it. While traversing the grounds, Bettys are plenty with rock-a-billy setting the soundtrack to the day.  The word of event is No-Billet, meaning no fancy bells and whistles.

john wells touqe festMost of the proceeds of the event go to a medical fund called Helping Hannah, who is the daughter of the founder, Mr. John Wells.  Mr. Wells, the featured man in my drawing today, founded this fest.  When I first met him, he was a purveyor of classic car films, using those funds to help his daughter.  Now he has graduated to hosting Torque Fest once a year and Iron Invasion, a car show much the same as this event, in Woolstock, IL.

This show has a flavor for all tastes, with old time races ranging from automobiles to motorcycles to chain races, to a swap meet where you can find treasures from a bygone era.  Every year in the early days of May, Torque Fest roars and rocks into Iowa, so if you should ever find yourself on the ol’ Mississippi during that time of the year, stop by and find out what this celebration of the past can give to you.

So thank you, Mr. John Wells for another successful celebration.  The cars and the Bettys were a sight for sore eyes, with the weather and the soundtrack setting the atmosphere needed to celebrate the contraptions inspired by the past.

From the Open Road,

Lincoln Highway Johnny

To learn more about Torque Fest, visit Vintage Torque Fest.