Day Eight: Percival, Iowa to Atchison, Kansas

October 20, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Mon. – Oct. 20.

Stayed in Auburn till 12 A. M. while they fixed on the cars.  Ate dinner and then we pulled out.  Got into Horton about 6 P. M.  Had supper and stayed all night. – Lena Bevers

Lena writes in her travel log that the traveling party spent the morning of October 20 in Auburn, Nebraska because the men needed to fix their cars.  Florence adds that “they fixed the fan on our car and the frame on McElhaney’s car.”1  My mother and I didn’t head down the road right away either.  In the 2018 AAA TourBook Guide for Nebraska, my mother found the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.  This farm is operated by the Arbor Day Foundation, whose mission statement is: “We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”2  We spent the morning viewing some of their informative exhibits, walking one of their trails and experiencing a very unique attraction: Treetop Village.  If you are looking for evidence that you still have a kid in you, then try this out.

(Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

Lena stated that they headed down the road from Auburn at 12:00 PM after they ate dinner.  Today we started down the road from Nebraska City about 12:30 PM after sharing a caramel apple at the Arbor Day Farm.  U. S. Highway 75 roughly follows the King of Trails Highway until north of Dawson, Nebraska, then U. S. Highway 73 follows the King of Trails.  Florence recorded that they traveled through Howe, Stella, and Verdon in Nebraska, then Reserve and Hiawatha in Kansas.3  The two-car caravan ended their day in Horton, Kansas at about 6:00 PM.  In six hours, they had traveled about 63 miles, at not much more than 10 miles per hour.

Extract of Route 1041 from The Official Automobile Blue Book 19174

When my mother and I traveled down U. S. Highway 75, we went past and through several very small towns, for example Verdon has a population of 172.  We could not find a business district in Verdon nor did we find one in Reserve.  Auburn, the town where the Bevers family spent the previous night is small also, as well as Horton where they stopped on this day.  Hiawatha was the largest town we drove through.  It was very interesting to see the well-maintained historical buildings there.

Hetzel’s Block in Auburn, Nebraska, dated 1890 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
This building in Horton is dated 1915. The stone above the window says “Motor Inn.” (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Originally called the Hiawatha Memorial Auditorium, this 1920 building houses the Brown County Historical Society. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Brick paved streets encircle the Courthouse Square of Hiawatha. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Lawrence Building, Hiawatha, Kansas, dated 1896 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

In 1919, the speed laws in Kansas were: “‘Reasonable and proper.’ ‘A rate of speed in excess of 25 miles an hour shall be presumptive evidence of driving at a rate which is not careful and prudent in case of injury to the person or property of another.’  Twelve miles per hour in city limits; eight miles an hour at crossings, intersections, bridges, curves, descents, etc.  Six miles an hour at city intersections.”5  The 1920 edition of The Official Automobile Blue Book informed its readers that: “There is now a great interest in Kansas in the matter of good roads, and many miles of macadam, brick and concrete are being constructed under the supervision of the state highway commission.”6

When the Bevers family passed through Hiawatha, they crossed over another transcontinental highway. Below is a section of a Rand McNally map dated 1924, designating the King of Trails Highway with the number 27.7  (As I’ve mentioned before, this number corresponds to the map legend, it is not a highway number assigned by a governmental agency.)  At Hiawatha the King of Trails intersects with the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway (number 47 on the map.)  The Ocean-to-Ocean Highway connected New York City with Los Angeles.8

Section of Rand McNally Map of Nebraska & Kansas, 1924
Ocean to Ocean Highway, 1913 (Public Domain; Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration)

We didn’t stay in Horton as Lena’s family did because we weren’t able to locate online a motel in Horton, so instead we made a reservation in Atchison, Kansas.  Before leaving Horton for our motel, we stopped at Werner Wagon Works.  The proprietors restore and manufacture wagons in the style that were used in the eighteen hundreds.  They kindly gave us a tour of their workshop.  It was fascinating to see and imagine how our ancestors traveled before automobiles were invented.

An army escort wagon that will be restored by Werner Wagon Works. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
A restored wagon completed about 1991 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Some of the restoration work is completed with this band saw built in the early nineteen hundreds. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  2. Arbor Day Foundation, https://www.arborday.org/generalinfo/about.cfm.
  3. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas: 2.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1099-1100, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1234.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 859, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  7. Rand McNally and Company, Commercial Atlas of America, “Auto Trails Map, District No. 12, Southern Nebraska, Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Northeastern New Mexico, Northern Oklahoma” (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1924): 372-373, https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~201708~3000668:AutoTrails-Map,-Southern-Nebraska.
  8. Rick Martin, “The Highway,” Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway, http://www.ppoo.org/.

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