Day 2: May 1, 2010
Meeting and Dedication
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Some pretty heavy rain moved in overnight and was still falling, though more gently, as I headed for the meeting. The day's big event was to be the dedication of a new brick pillar and I stopped briefly at the site. I assumed that the tent was to hide the pillar until dedication time but I later found out it was also hiding the mason. He may very well have been inside finishing the mounting of the cap while I snapped my picture. Some intense work had been required to have the pillar ready for its coming out party.

A good sized and growing group was present when I arrived at the meeting. The group backing the new pillar and playing host for the meeting was the impressive Eagle Creek Historical Organization (ECHO). I say impressive because the group's territory is just the southern part of one county, Hancock, but the membership is fairly large (I believe I heard about 250 including people who live elsewhere and are basically newsletter recipients.) and active. Quite a few ECHO members were present. Many old photographs of the area were on display as was a short video. The video being shown was some three minutes culled from a home 8mm movie made around 1950 by the Schaeffer family. I enjoyed watching locals watch the movie and identifying people, places, and things from their past. The movie fortuitously surfaced just a few weeks ago. Leslie Hunsberger, who did the conversion, deserves big thanks.

Ohio Lincoln Highway League President Mike Buettner, with Secretary and wife Tammy Buettner at his side, presided over the business part of the meeting. It included reports from the state's three chapters and from the Ohio Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. That's OLHHC Director Mike Hocker in the fourth photo. The OLHHC is responsible for the annual Buy-Way Yard Sale which Mike says generates at least ten million dollars of motel, restaurant, and other business in Ohio not counting actual yard sale transactions.

After a great catered lunch (I was too busy enjoying the food to take pictures.) Don Steinman gave an entertaining talk on local history. A very busy twenty-four hour Marathon truck stop once sat at the intersection of US-30 & US-68 and "Billtown" was known to truckers from coast to coast. Following his planned presentation, Don acted as a sort of MC as a few other local residents shared memories. Eva, now 94, recalled starting to work at the Marathon restaurant just two days after graduation and told of a particularly demanding customer who rewarded her extra efforts with a nickel tip.

Then it was off to the pillar. The rain had moved on and the air was dry for the dedication. The new pillar stands where another stood from sometime in the 1920s until lost to road construction in the 1950s. Many folks remembered the pillar and knew they were building on the right spot but there was no hard evidence until that Schaeffer movie turned up with a few glimpses of it. Participating in the dedication were Gene Woods, Don Steinman, Mike Muettner, and Tom Kroske. Tom was the spark plug that drove the pillar project and has been a very busy fellow the last few weeks. He was a little disappointed that some dimensional changes during construction resulted in little cap piece overhang and said there are plans to replace it with one a bit larger. It looks pretty good to me but may look even better once the new cap is in place. A nice touch is that, rather than new bricks, the pillar is constructed of old bricks once part of an armory in Findlay.

Following the dedication, many headed out on a self guided "mini-tour". The first stop was at what was once the Hill Crest Farm Tourist Home. Chesney & Sarah Trackler built this five bedroom $1500 Sears house in 1914. The Lincoln Highway passed just under a mile to the south. In the mid-1930s, the Tracklers began renting out four of the bedrooms to travelers of which there were many. Don Steinman had read some of the locations appearing on a list of customers and it seems the whole world was represented.

During lunch, the seat across from me was occupied for awhile by a friendly gal who had grown up around Williamstown. We had a nice conversation during which I learned that she had spent several years working in Columbus, OH, and had often traveled to Atlanta, GA, to visit family. I did not learn that she was the granddaughter of Chesney & Sarah and the current owner of Hill Crest Farm. She never lived there but remembered helping with the tourist rooms. A most interesting lady. I had a little trouble getting Elaine and the stained glass window in the picture without messing things up with my own reflection. Cropping is a wonderful thing.

I also stopped at the Bon Aire Motel. This place opened around 1950 right on US-30. Apparently it was one reason for Hill Crest Farm getting out of the tourist business. The place has deteriorated badly in just the last few years as evidenced by this 2007 photo by roadie friend Gary Gilmore. According to Mike Buettner, the sign is now in the hands of a local sign collector so could reappear some day. I took the last two picture of the east side of the building after walking through the almost overgrown "tunnel" visible near the middle of the second photo.

The green Lincoln Highway sign is right in front of the Bon Aire. The picture of the Historic Byway sign was taken at the Hancock-Allen county line when it occurred to me that I may never have photographed the relatively new byway markers. The third picture is a drive by shot of the fairly new I-75 overpass near Beaverdam.

The first picture was taken from the viewpoint of a driver on the Dixie Highway entering Beaverdam from the north. The pillar is a replica placed in 1999 on the site of a 1928 marker that had gone missing; possibly on the bumper of a driver on the Dixie Highway. It is dedicated to Carl Fisher. The third picture is of the Dixie Highway heading south from the Lincoln Highway. Beaverdam may have been at a disadvantage in the "Crossroads of America" competition since the crossing was spread over two intersections but it distinguishes itself by having the Lincoln & Dixie run together for over a quarter mile. A half mile or so south of town, a road labeled Dixie takes off to the right and reconnects with a Dixie Highway badly severed by both US-30 and I-75. I headed down the old route to Lima.

I had expected the day to be filled with rain and be nothing but an expressway drive home. I'd made no plans. As I moved toward Lima, I remembered that Kewpee Hamburgers survived there. I had never eaten one so was happy when Garmin found this restaurant for me. When I got home, I learned that Lima has three Kewpees and the one I really wanted is the 1928 Kewpee Downtown. So I still have that on my list but I did get to try a Kewpee 'burger. It was good though I wasn't all that impressed. They're obviously doing something right since there was a never ending line at the counter all the time I was there. There were plenty of booths and tables but I enjoyed the window counter with a parking lot view.

It was now after 5:00 and, even though the rain had not yet appeared, I picked up I-75 and finished the trip with that expressway drive.

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