Not much of a door, but I’m guessing it was a welcome sight back in the 1930s.I spent a few days visiting my brother and my mom in Iowa over the past extended weekend. My brother gave me a short tour of the area around Ames. He included a visit to a restored historic site in Colo, Iowa, where he lived when he was in college at Iowa State University (ISU), and (I think) when he was first teaching in Ames. I would have fact-checked that, but it’s really not important to the story (he can correct it in a comment if he wants to).
As you can see from the photos in the gallery, these aren’t remarkable doors, but the buildings they provide access to are significant.
Back in the 1930s, the intersection where these buildings are located was one of the most important crossroads in the Midwest. It may have still been the intersection of the Lincoln Highway and the Jefferson Highway, or perhaps it was better known as the junction of US Rt-30 and US Rt-65. The Lincoln Highway was the first east-west highway across the United States and the Jefferson Highway was an important north-south crossing.
In the 1930s, gas stations, hotels and restaurants were few and far between. The intersection of these two famed roads included one of each. Gas, food and a place to sleep, if you needed one, were all available. If you want to know what it might be like to experience that kind of a wayside stop, you need to visit that intersection today.
The site includes a restored 1930s era gas station, which serves as a museum; a restored roadside motel and an operational classic diner. My brother stopped so I could snap a few photos (he’s aware of my door addiction). I started to wander around the site when I realized that the café was open. We decided to have breakfast before continuing the tour. Unfortunately, after we were done eating, the area was being drenched in the coldest rain I ever remember falling on me. We ran for the shelter and relative warmth of my brother’s van.
I’m going to give you a break today on the word-count. Most of what I have to share is included in the descriptions of the photos in the gallery and there are a lot of photos today. Please note: My editor doesn’t review the descriptions. Any errors in those are NOT her fault.
In addition to serving the needs of motorists, the station was also a bus stop for the Greyhound and Jefferson lines. Cross country by bus.
The museum didn’t appear to be open and the sun made it hard to get a picture without a reflection. I’m sure I have followers who could have given me some tips on taking a better photo, but it looked better on the LCD screen of my camera.
The Visible Gas Pump let you see how much gas you were getting and whether or not it contained any impurities. You pumped the amount you wanted to buy into the globe, and then gravity fed it into your car. these were one of the first pumps that could deliver gas from underground storage tanks.
The restoration job on this gas station is amazing. a lot of people and businesses donated to the project.
There were about a dozen of these plaques along a self-guided tour on the grounds.
You could never get mechanical repairs made here, but you could get tires and an oil change if you needed them.
The station was built by Charles Reed and it was in operation form the early 30s until 1967.
I am guessing that this was a very welcome sight to the travelers along the Lincoln Highway in the 40s.
This was a fun place to eat breakfast and the food was excellent.
I’m sure there was one for the Jefferson Highway, but that rain was cold.
The hotel rooms have been restored and you can rent them today.
That’s Alice Ramsey. The first woman to drive across America
In 1909, Alice Ramsey became the first woman to drive an automobile from coast to coast across America. She was 22.
You might have been driving one of those across the Lincoln Highway in 1940.
The cafe was also a nice little museum.
I was around when they started building the Interstate Highway System, but this was the predecessor to that network.
We had a very nice breakfast here.
As with every other Thursday since that First Door on March 26th, this post is part of the interesting and inspired series of Thursday Doors organized by Norm Frampton. You are encouraged to join us door nuts each week. To learn more, head on over to Norm’s blog.