Documenting the residences and businesses that once lined the Lincoln Highway through Ames
Just as the establishment of the city of Ames and its early growth was tied to the first transcontinental railroad, its further growth in the early 20th century was tied to its location on the first transcontinental motor vehicle route, the Lincoln Highway. Between 1913 and 1958 the Lincoln Highway was the most well known, cross-country auto route. It not only helped change the way Americans viewed auto travel but helped form our auto oriented culture. This ongoing project seeks to document the residences and businesses located on the Lincoln Highway in Ames at various times, but particularly between 1910 and 1960. Directors of the project are Margaret Elbert, a board member of the Ames Historical Society, and Jeff Benson, a city planner with the City of Ames Planning and Housing Department. Both researchers are active members of the Iowa Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association. The project has evolved into three components: a database, images, and your stories.
The Lincoln Highway in Ames Project grew out of the Elbert-Benson collection, begun in 1998, of old photographs and post card views of houses and businesses that once existed along Lincoln Highway. That collection soon was expanded to include a database organized by street address listing residences and businesses along the original route through Ames. More than 2200 entries are currently indexed. The segment between Duff Avenue and Grand Avenue is of special interest because of the tremendous change between 1910 and the 1950s from entirely homes to mostly businesses. During that time all but a few homes were demolished, burned or moved to different locations in or around Ames.
Many of the images of the Lincoln Highway Project are now online and can be experienced from the pages listed below or on a map of Ames (1.1mb) opening in a new browser window. The original database and images provided the inspiration for an exhibit presented in late 2003 by Margaret Elbert and Kathy Svec for the Ames Historical Society entitled Coming & Going: the Lincoln Highway in Ames. This research project, funded with a grant from the Ames Commission on the Arts, documented the highway's impacts on Ames. Many individuals and institutions contributed materials used in the well received exhibit and accompanying brochure.
In order to help enrich the Project, individuals are encouraged to contact the project directors with any additional information, changes or images they may wish to share. It is hoped that homes that were moved can be located and photographed. As more information is made available, the database can be expanded to include addresses along the Lincoln Highway route after it was changed in 1929 to extend directly west at the Sheldon Avenue intersection. Areas in the corridor one block north and south could be incorporated as well. Sources will be given appropriate credit. In the Your Stories component, residents are invited to share their anecdotes and recollections of Lincoln Highway through Ames.
Traveling the Lincoln Highway through Ames from east to west:
The pages above containing photos and accompanying information are also available in a large map format to help indicate their locations along the Lincoln Highway in Ames.