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It’s hard to believe this, but I’ve now been on the road touring and performing along the Lincoln Highway for three months. I’ve got three more months to go still, and it’s times like these when you need to regroup and recharge. This is where the historic Reed/Niland Corner comes into play.
I’m a firm believer that history is alive all around us, and appears in so many different ways, not just in books. At this part of the route in Colo, Iowa it’s so alive you really feel it. Built at the intersection of the Lincoln and Jefferson Highways (more on the Jefferson Highway shortly), this corner of the world saw a heavy amount of traffic. So much so, that back in the early 1920’s, Charlie Reed built a gas station. The Reed and Niland families quickly built a lunch stand which turned into a café later, and then also turned a makeshift campground into more permanent lodging for travelers. This area became one of the first if not the first place where you could get everything in “one stop”. It also quickly became one of the first places along the route that was open 24 hours as well!
As noted in my previous post, the Lincoln paved the way for other auto trails to be created throughout the country. The Jefferson Highway was the 14th route to be created after the Lincoln Highway, was the first North-South Transcontinental Route, and was named after founding father Thomas Jefferson. It was built in 1915 and runs from Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana (it contains states which were involved in the Louisiana Purchase). To quote a Colo local, “It’s the only place where Lincoln and Jefferson actually do meet!” It is also called the “Palm to Pine Highway” to note the change in the trees along the route.
I still have several states to go on this tour, but I do have to say this part of the highway holds a special place in my heart. It truly feels like a home away from home, and I can’t say that about your average hotel and/or restaurant chain. You can’t get gas here anymore, but you can still stay in the restored Colo Motel and eat at Niland’s Café. If you can swing it in your travels, you should try to stay here at least one night so you can experience what this place is like, eat a meal, walk the grounds, and see all of the interpretive plaques and exhibits so you can learn about this place fully. You won’t regret it.
I again will put up some photos of this place, but know that the photos don’t do justice to how beautifully restored this area is.
For a more in-depth video of this historic corner, check out this great video on YouTube:
I’ll be hitting the road tomorrow so there will be a couple days where I won’t be writing much, so have a great first weekend of summer everyone and I’ll talk to you soon!