The North Bend Eagle


Lincoln Highway meeting near Ames
This 1911 photo, showing a Lincoln Highway promotional meeting near Ames, is one of the many pictures that will be on display as part of the Good Roads Special display at the North Bend Library.

Library to feature historic photos for Lincoln Highway centennial

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 5/29/13

A couple of friends and a whole lot of others are bringing a unique exhibit to the North Bend Library in time for the Lincoln Highway Centennial celebration.

Pat Beebe received a phone call from former neighbor Ginny Bacon about a scrapbook that had originally belonged to Bacon’s grandmother, Myrtle Rand. How Rand came to possess the book is unclear, but it is a treasure of the times.

The book is called “Good Road Special, Omaha to North Platte, June 1911.” It is a photographic essay of a trip businessman and politician Dan V. Stephens of Fremont took with photographer P.J. McAndrews of the Omaha World-Herald. Rand was 20 at the time and is in one of the photographs at a meeting in Ames.

The archives of the World-Herald had 132 references to the trip and told about each meeting as well as who attended.

Beebe was thrilled to accept the book on behalf of the North Bend Library Foundation. Bacon mailed it to her along with some more of her grandmother’s collections of pictures, postcards and letters.

When the book finally arrived, Beebe knew she had something special. She shared the find with Jeff Kappeler, curator of the May Museum in Fremont. The North Bend Library Foundation and the Dodge County Historical Society are partnering to put an exhibit in the North Bend Library.

Featured in the exhibit will be 24 of the 40 photos in the scrapbook, as well as excerpts from the World-Herald with tales of the trip. The original book will be at the library, but on display are 8-by-10, 11-by-14 or 16-by-20 copies of the photos in the book.

The exhibit will be at the local library June 1 to Sept. 1, and after that it will be up for loan to other libraries and communities.

“The organization of the Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration has seen the book,” Beebe said. “They said it is a real treasure.”

The purpose of the 1911 trip was to drum up interest in improving roads in Nebraska so that a transcontinental highway could be built. In those days, roads were usually dirt and were built and maintained by towns or counties. The Good Roads movement was a nationwide effort that resulted in the building of the Lincoln Highway (Hwy 30), in 1913.

The Omaha to North Platte 1911 trip of Stephens and McAndrews took the men three days going out and two days in return. The caravan had a truck with “Good Road Special” printed on the side. Advance notice was given to towns, and the men would stop so Stephens could speak to groups along the way, promoting the need for an improved highway system. Ames was the site of one such speaking engagement with about 25 people, including a young Myrtle Eason (later Rand) and her sister Alice gathered.

To mark the historic highway’s centennial, groups will leave New York and California and meet in Kearney July 1-4 for the official centennial celebration. The group from New York will be stopping in North Bend June 29 to see the local exhibit.

The North Bend Library Foundation and the Dodge County Historical Society are hosting a grand opening of the photo exhibit on Sunday, June 2, from 2 to 4 p.m. The public is invited to view the exhibit in the main room of the library at this time or any time the library is open.

“The exhibit is dedicated to Myrtle Rand,” Beebe said. “She was quite a visionary to preserve the history of our area. Without Myrtle, and her granddaughter Ginny, we wouldn’t have this.”

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