A Journey into a Bullet-Ridden Past

Greetings from the open road.  Today I bring to you a relic from the bygone days of the Lincoln Highway in Nevada.

Now you may be wondering, why did ol’ Johnny post some pictures of a piece of cement?  I asked myself what this was back when I found it in 1978, on a unique road trip from Eureka, CA to Green River, WY.  This trip was to reenact the route of the early day fur traders who took this route on horses, which my buddy Wayne and I did in 1978.  This journey took us three and a half weeks just going the one direction, with a little “help” from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management in Salt Lake City).

This relic was found in a low-lying area, in between Ely and Eureka, Nevada on Highway 50.  We were travelling on the north side of the current US 50, on what seemed to be an old trail or maybe a remnant of the old Lincoln Highway. We stopped for the night, made camp, and fed and watered the horses and mule. After the animals were taken care of, I journeyed out to look for dried sagebrush to make a fire for the night.

I came upon this relic on my search for fire fuel.  I showed it to my buddy, Wayne, and we were intrigued by the bullets, the lead that was seemingly shot into it.  The stone itself seemed to be a large piece of soapstone, which is not common in Nevada. I stashed the relic alongside our camp to come back and get it at a later time.

After the rendezvous in Green River, Wyoming was over, and we sold away our transportation, I returned to my hiding spot and retrieved the relic.  Now, my mission was to find out what secrets this stone held.  I talked to several old timers in that area, from Ely and Eureka, to see if they had any input to what I had in my hand.

The only story I could get was… During the early days of travel, there was a lack of one distinct thing: firewood.  If the trail needed to be marked, journeymen would use stone structures to warn people of washouts and other road hazards.  If they were to use wooden road marks, travelers would cut them apart and use them for firewood, as that is what they needed, thus endangering fellow travelers along the way.  The old timers believed that this apparent piece of a road marker was most likely broken off from a taller structure.  One old timer told me he faintly remembered stones like this lining washes next to the road.

I asked about the bullets, which seem to be .32-.36 caliber lead, and learned it may have been a few different things, from seedy characters who passed by over the years or maybe a cowboy, practicing his target shooting.  Whatever the story of the bullets really is, it truly is a neat piece of Lincoln Highway history.

From the Road,

Lincoln Highway Johnny

Boone County Historical Center

collapse 2

Hello fellow travellers,

A couple days ago, on May 29th, a small tragedy occurred.  The fascade of the Boone County Historical Center collapsed, as was predicted by contractors for some time before.  The building was built in 1907 and was scheduled for masonry work mid-June, but apparently the rough Iowa winter was a bit too much for the 109 year old building.

Collapse 1

Thankfully no one was injured in the collapse, but one of our beloved relics was a casualty.  Sitting in front of the Center was an original Lincoln Highway marker, as you can see in the photo above.  The front right corner has been chipped off among the other destruction.

This particular marker was found by a good ol’ friend of the road, Ty Cassetti, just north of Boone.  Just like most of the relics, it was a buried treasure, lost in the past.  Once rescued, it was donated to the Boone County Historical Society to mark the Lincoln Highway’s heritage, as it runs through Boone.

Now, the Executive Director of the Historical Society has confirmed that the marker will be repaired along with the building, but it does leave us to question a few things. How do we protect our relics from the wear-and-tear that come with the territory in this here great nation of ours?  How do we get young people nowadays to sit up and pay attention to what’s going on around them?  All I know for sure is that we have to keep on going down this wide road.

From the Road,

Lincoln Highway Johnny

If you are interested in donating toward the rebuild of the Boone County Historical Center, please visit Boone History Center Urgent Relief.

Iowa Lincoln Highway Artist In Residence

Greetings fellow travelers.  You have all seen my Hot Rod Art style, but I wanted to give you a taste of something a little different.  As the Artist-in-Residence for the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association, I have the pleasure of creating drawings of historical sites along the landscape of the Iowa Lincoln Highway.  Most all of these drawings are taken from the early days of the Lincoln Highway.

Now think back with me to what folks experienced driving back around 1913.  These folks drove the Model-T Ford, a novelty to the common man, as was the new idea of a road trip.  The road trip caught on as a new pass-time across the nation as more people left their homes to experience new sights.  Unfortunately, the road system was not ready for this new trend and was better for the horse and buggy, not the automobile.  Long distance automobile travel was something new, as before, most had been done on the railroad lines.

Youngville Station

Youngville Station was a one-stop. A one-stop was a combination diner, hotel, and gas station all in one. The original site of the Youngville Station sits several miles west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Youngville offered tourist cabins for rest at $1 per night and a cafe for eating, if you could afford a home cooked meal. If not, the cabins also provided a campsite for your dining needs. It also offered a mechanic on duty and two, state-of-the-art, visible gas pumps.

Places like Youngville usually grew up around the crossroads, spread just far enough apart so that they would bring commerce to each station and not compete with one another.

Today this site is a restored interpretive site for the Lincoln Highway in Iowa.  If you happen by Cedar Rapids, continue on and take in the wonderful history of the Youngville Station and maybe taste a little of the life folks lived many years ago.

Vote for the B.E.E.R party today!

vildaWith it being the season of blowhards and wannabes contending to change America, here is the real candidate for the job!  Les Vilda, a historical educator from Wilber, Nebraska, is the candidate for the B.E.E.R, Biologically Engineered Experimental Reindeer…or whatever, party. If he is elected, he will rid this country of its worst enemy, skunked beer.

If any of you have the opportunity, check him out on YouTube or at his website, Have Donkey, Will Travel

You go, Les!  (a.k.a. Dr. Rabbi).

From the Road,

Lincoln Highway Johnny

Hot Rod Art

Greetings from your Vagabond Road Artist, Lincoln Highway Johnny.  I figured it was about time to join the technological world and get my art out of the house and onto the road.

As I said in my “About,” my style was inspired by the original Big Daddy Ed Roth, which is what you will see on here. Here is one of my first drawings in his style.

The Step-Down Hudson, from 1948-1954, had a unique design which made it easier in turns, as it had center-line steering, which was a state-of-the-art design for that time.  It’s powerhouse was a 308, Twin-H Power, Flathead 6 engine. On the dirt tracks of America, the only other car that even had a chance to keep up was the Oldsmobile 88.  The Hudson brand won many a race on the early dirt tracks, and this drawing is dedicated to that wonderful machine.

hudsons racer

I hope you enjoy and come on back for more.

From the Road,

Lincoln Highway Johnny