Day Six: Sioux City to Council Bluffs, Iowa

October 18, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

The Bevers family had a late start on Friday, October 18.  Lena’s daughter Florence explains in her travel log that they “were waiting for an answer to our telegram from Edgar.”1  Herbert and Lena’s son Edgar had enlisted in the military on July 21, 1918 and would be discharged on Oct. 25, 1919.2

The drive for this day was one of the longest they made during their 27-day trip.  Lena says they had fine roads all the way from Sioux City to Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Route 1021 of The Official Automobile Blue Book describes the condition of the road as: “Dirt practically all of the way.”3  By following this route the distance between the cities was calculated at 106 miles.4  The 1917 Blue Book included instructions on how to use the book most effectively5:

Our motel happened to be on Lakeport Avenue, so when we set out at 10:00 AM we just needed to make a couple turns to get on Old Lakeport Avenue (at mile 4.1 in Route 1021 above), which became Old Highway 75 (K45).  Fifteen minutes later we were in Salix, the first town that Lena mentions in her travel log and 15 minutes after that we were at the second town, Sloan.  Both of these towns are still small, as well as all of the towns we went through until we got to Missouri Valley.  

In Salix, this appeared to be an old building, but the brick face had been re-done and looked quite modern.
The center building is the Sloan Museum, which was closed when we passed by.
This building was in Whiting, another small town we traveled through.
At mile 37.1 in Route 1021 above, a “fair grounds” is mentioned. We found the Monona County Fairgrounds at the edge of Onawa.

As we were driving south on Highway K45, to our left we could see wooded hills a few miles away and to the right, Interstate 29 was nearly always in sight.  In Lena’s travel log, this was the first day that she mentioned the landscape they were traveling through: “Followed the Bluffs around for a long way.”6  At Mondamin we turned east for about five miles, then turned south and skirted the bluffs for the next thirty miles or so. 

The town of Missouri Valley was the largest town we went through today until we came to Council Bluffs.  In this town we began driving on the historic Lincoln Highway, which is another transcontinental highway.

Lincoln Highway sign in Missouri Valley, Iowa (Photograph by MRW October 18, 2019)
On this section of the Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes, the highway marked red with the number 105 is the King of Trails Highway. The highway marked green with the number 10 is Lincoln Highway.7

The first transcontinental highway across the United States was the Lincoln Highway, named after Abraham Lincoln.  The idea of creating this transcontinental was Carl Fisher’s, who had also built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.8  In 1912 Carl Fisher enlisted communities to build connecting roads from San Francisco to New York City.  The project would cost $10,000,000 and Fisher raised funds for the project by asking for donations from auto manufacturers and accessory companies.  In 1913 the Lincoln Highway Association was established; the public could be members of the organization by paying a $5.00 membership fee.  The Lincoln Highway was marked by painted signs, mainly on telephone posts: red, white and blue bands with a blue capital L.  For about 25 miles between Missouri Valley and Council Bluffs, the King of Trails Highway and the Lincoln Highway traveled the same roads.

(From The Official Automobile Blue Book9)

Today was a very breezy day, so after we checked into our motel at 1:30 PM, we stayed indoors, rather than go to the River Front.  We decided it was a good day to do our laundry at the laundromat across the street from the motel.  This evening, making sure our devices were all charged was a priority.  The Bluetooth was plugged into a bathroom socket, the camera battery charger was plugged into the entryway socket, a phone was plugged into the outlet near the bureau, and the I-pad and laptop were plugged into the wall outlet by the desk.

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  2. C. M. Bevers, personal communication with E. J. Jones (October 17, 2019).
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1077-78, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1013-14 & 1077-78.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 11.
  6. Lena Bevers, Our Trip to Texas (unpublished, 1919): 2A.
  7. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa showing principal automobile routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Iowa_Showing_Principal_Automobile_Routes.jpg.
  8. James Lin, A Brief History of the Lincoln Highway, https://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/history/.
  9. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1012.

Day Five: Beresford, S. D. to Sioux City, Iowa

October 17, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Fri. – Oct. 17.

Pa and Mr. McElhany went to Beresford to get Rob.  Got the car fixed and left there at 4 P. M.  Had dry roads all the way to Sioux City.  Got there at 7 P. M.  Stayed over night at the Hotel.  It was a fine day. – Lena Bevers

Yesterday I related that Rob (most likely a member of the traveling party) had gone to Beresford on Thursday to have an axle made.  On Friday, Pa (Herbert) and Mr. McElhany went to the town to pick up Rob and the axle that had been made in one day.  They were able to complete the repairs to Mr. McElhany’s car on that day also.  So, after a two-day delay, Herbert and Lena’s family get on the road in the late afternoon.  Upon leaving the Fleege farm, they drove about 40 miles to get to their destination, Sioux City.

From Beresford, my mother and I had about 50 miles to drive today, so we didn’t leave the motel until 10:30 AM and we made several stops along the way.  We headed down Highway 1C and came across a sign for a cemetery in Emmet.  This confirmed for us that we were passing the area where the Fleege farm was located.  Several miles down the road we took a short side trip in order to locate Spink, a town that is mentioned in the 1917 Blue Book on the route from Sioux Falls to Sioux City.  When we got to Elk Point, we decided to eat a picnic lunch at the city park and campground where there was an historical exhibit explaining an event that occurred when Lewis and Clark’s party camped at “Elk Sign” campsite.  And we also stopped at a place where the 1917 Blue Book states there was a racetrack along the route.

Route 919 from The Official Automobile Blue Book 19171
Emmet Township is the location of the Fleege farm, where the Bevers family stayed two nights. (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
Spink is a town on Route 919 of The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917.  (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
Elk Point is the location of the first democratic election to the west of the Mississippi River.  (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
One of the landmarks identified in the 1917 Blue Book Route 919 was a racetrack.  This is what we found at that point along our drive.  A local resident told us that there was a racetrack beyond this gate, and across the railroad tracks and the highway (to the right), there was another racetrack for cars, which at one time had been a racetrack for horses.  (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
 

According to the description of Sioux City in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, one hundred years ago, there was only one bridge crossing the Big Sioux River from South Dakota to Iowa.2  When we arrived at the river between South Dakota and Iowa, we found a bridge that looked brand new.  And not far from it was a bridge for the train tracks that we had been traveling beside since we left Elk Point.

(Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)

In 1917, upon entering Iowa, the speed law was “In a careful and prudent manner, not to exceed 25 miles an hour.”3  According to 1917 Blue Book, the city had a population of 47,000 to 48,000.4  Two years later, a map of Iowa highways reported the population at 61,774.5  It took them 3 hours to drive to Sioux City and when they got there they checked into a hotel.  This is the only day that Lena writes that they stayed in a hotel.  At the bottom of Route 919 in the 1917 Blue Book, there is the name and location of a hotel, Martin Hotel.  There is also an advertisement for the hotel under the description of Sioux City.6  It is unknown whether this hotel is where the Bevers family stayed, but it was in existence when they stayed in Sioux City.

“Originally six stories in height, the main body of the building rested on a two-story base, capped by an elaborate cornice featuring heavy dental molding and classically-inspired scrolled brackets. … When the Martin Hotel opened in November 1912, it was proclaimed as Sioux City’s largest, finest and most modern hotel.  A 7th floor was added in 1918, requiring the removal of the original cornice, which was replaced by a simpler design featuring dental molding. … It was eventually converted into apartments and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.”7

Martin Hotel, c. 1913 (Courtesy of the Sioux City Public Museum)
Former Martin Hotel (photographed by MRW October 17, 2019)
Looking east along 4th Street toward Pierce Street, c. 1913 (Courtesy of the Sioux City Public Museum)
Looking east along 4th Street toward Pierce Street (photographed by MRW October 17, 2019)

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 971-72, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  2. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1068.
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1234.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1068.
  5. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa showing principal automobile routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:1919_maps_of_Iowa#/media/File:Map_of_Iowa_Showing_Principal_Automobile_Routes_back.jpg.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1068.
  7. Sioux City Public Museum, Walking Tour of Fourth Street (Sioux City, Iowa: Sioux City Public Museum, 2014).