Route 6 - The Longest Transcontinental Highway

Route 6 - The Longest Transcontinental Highway

FOR SEVERAL WEEKS now I've been walking along Iowa's Historic Route 6 that parallels Interstate 80, the Lincoln Highway. Route 6 was originally known as the Roosevelt Highway when it was designated a federal route in 1937 extending from Cape Cod to Long Beach. It stretched 3662 miles across the country and was the longest of the great transcontinental highways.

Old signs and service stations

Old signs and service stations

The Iowa segment became known as the "River to River Road" and was built in a day across the state in 1910, resulting from a massive coordinated effort when people in townships along the way improved and signed the road. Later, Iowans painted the utility poles white to further identify it as the "White Pole Road".

President Hoover's Birthsite, Gravesite, and Childhood community

President Hoover's Birthsite, Gravesite, and Childhood community

Besides cornfields and small communities, during this part of my journey I passed by the birthplace of President Herbert Hoover in little town of West Branch, Iowa. It was impressive to see the simple cottage and community our 31st President experienced as a child.

American Gothic by Artist Grant Woods

American Gothic by Artist Grant Woods

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Another exhibit of the Midwestern character style and classical rural setting could be found in the studio of American artist Grant Woods who grew up here. And not far from Iowa City is the town of Eldon where Woods painted his iconic "American Gothic" rendering of a man and woman posed in front of a prairie farm home. Are they man and wife? Father and daughter? Neighbors? And what about their expressions? And that unusual attic window with laced curtains? A simple scene that quickly becomes mysterious and complex! Perhaps this is a window of truth about those who settled here... If you ever travel through Iowa, you can visit the home and countryside that inspired his works and decide for yourself.

Iowa seems to have captured the true spirit of the Midwest, America's Heartland, and I'm expecting to find a different "scene" when I cross the Mississippi River in a few days. We'll soon see...

Week 24,  1974 Miles,  Weather 91F⛅️

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe