Established in 1913, the Lincoln Highway became the first improved transcontinental highway. The famous highway began at Times Square in New York City and ended in San Francisco. The highway was created as a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln and connects 13 states.
The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway cuts directly through the center of Iowa and offers up amazing views of the Loess Hills overlooking the Missouri River, the level plains of central Iowa, and lastly, the steep bluffs of the Mississippi River. By 1931, the Highway was completely hard-surfaced across the state of Iowa.
Originally following the railroad, the byway goes right through several Pottawattamie County towns including Honey Creek, Crescent, and Council Bluffs. Along the byway, there are numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, UNforgettable historical sites, and countless scenic views to enjoy along the way.
In Honey Creek, you will want to stop at Hitchcock Nature Center. Not only does Hitchcock offer the most stunning views of the Loess Hills, but it also features an original “cut out” of the Lincoln Highway. The cut-out observation deck is located on the first level of the campground, near the shower house. While out at Hitchcock you won’t want to pass up the hiking, camping, and bird watching opportunities that are so unique to Western Iowa.
In Crescent, the byway passes directly through the downtown area. If you’re feeling hungry, you can stop to enjoy a home-style meal at Henry’s Diner. This local establishment has been around for over 35 years and is a must-visit for travelers on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway.
Continuing your journey, you will end up in Council Bluffs! Abraham Lincoln played a very important historical role in the area and there are several locations to visit in town that dive deeper into the impacts he has made.
The Union Pacific Railroad Museum was founded in 1921, following the discovery of multiple silver serving pieces from his rail car. Artifacts from his life are the main focus of The Lincoln Collection at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum.
Another museum worth checking out is the Historic General Dodge House. Abraham Lincoln sought counsel from General Grenville M. Dodge to determine the placement of the Transcontinental Railroad. After their meeting, it was decided that the eastern terminus for the First Transcontinental Railroad would be placed here in Council Bluffs. At the Historic General Dodge House, you can view the home of the “greatest railroad builder of all time”.
The next stop is the Lincoln Monument! Located just west of Fairview Cemetery, the monument offers UNbelievable views of Council Bluffs and was erected in 1911 to commemorate Lincoln’s visit with General Dodge. It is said that this is the exact spot that they looked over when determining the location for the eastern terminus for the First Transcontinental Railroad.
Lake Manawa State Park is another great location to check out in Council Bluffs. There is a beautiful 700-acre lake where you can fish, swim, hang out on the beach, or go boating. There is also a trail system that is ideal for walking, running, or biking. If you have children along with you, make sure to stop by Dream Playground to enjoy the largest ADA accessible playground in Iowa.
The Lincoln Highway is a very special and important piece of our local history. We hope that you enjoy your journey along the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway in Pottawattamie County! For more things to do in Pottawattamie County, visit WattaWayIA and UNleashCB. For a complete list of dining options along the byway, visit WattaWayIA and UNleashCB.