The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


October 11, 2013

The Lincoln Highway, part 1

It has been a century since the Lincoln Highway first began to be developed and the Fulton Historical Society is taking the lead in celebrating its 100-year anniversary.

The Lincoln Highway was a historic route to the West for many decades. When Iowa and other states first began their programs to “get out of the mud,” new developments in the use of cement were evolving, and the creation of the first transcontinental automobile highway was conceptualized. It was laid out to cross the north bridge, and one of the routes then came down Second Street and out Fifth Avenue South to several points. Over the years, at least four routes carried the road out to U.S. 30 and points beyond.

Some of its sturdy concrete pavement can still be seen out near the Miracle Mile — by the Little League field behind Farm and Fleet Store. Actually, the old roadbed still exists at several points along the 3,000-mile route. That cement was mixed with much aggregate and possessed a characteristic curbing, slanted for drainage, on both sides. (This curbing would later prove dangerous, as cars began moving faster and faster.)

In 1854, Henry Holland Harding and Sarah Buckmaster married in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Lyons, where Henry was a stone mason. He began a general contracting business and built many of the largest buildings in the city. When the Chicago Northwestern decided to forsake Lyons due to high land prices and start the separate city of Clinton, Mr. and Mrs. Harding moved there, too.

They built a brick house at 1006 N. Second St., which Sarah had wished to turn into a home for the aged after their five children were all grown.

Now, what is the connection of Henry Harding to the Lincoln Highway? Well, Mr. Harding may have been the “father of modern concrete”. As a young man, Henry had experimented with sand, gravel and cement until he’d developed good proportions. The product he would call “Freer Stone” was first created in 1875, as he poured his concrete into molds for hitching posts and other things. (Over 50 years later, several examples still existed in this area.)

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