The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition (ILHC) recently received $443,000 in federal grants for its National Scenic Byway program, a designation the Lincoln Highway through Illinois received in 2000. The funds will be used over the next 3 years to produce interpretive murals in 40 communities along the 179-mile route through the state. Each mural will interpret the history and heritage of the highway and its impact on the communities, and a companion brochure will summarize their locations and messages.
Diane Rossiter, Associate Director of ILHC, says, “We are excited to begin this new project! This money, plus the $40,000 we just received from the state and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism will make it all happen. Our hope is that visitors will be compelled to travel Illinois Lincoln Highway and discover all that it has to offer.”
Three murals are already complete: Creston was unveiled in May 2006, DeKalb in October ’06, and Rochelle in May ’07 (see photo and closeup above, courtesy ILHC). Some of the communities slated to receive a mural are Ashton, Byron, Cortland, Dixon, Genoa, Oregon, Rock Falls, Sterling, and Sycamore, not all of which are directly along the LH, but are considered withing the “corridor.” That can generate broader interest and awareness but may lead to some confusion.
ILHC will start work on 20 interpretive gazebos in the Spring in such communities as DeKalb, Dixon, Oregon, and Rochelle. Rossiter says,
“Our intent is to place a historical mural in each community that lines the highway and those along the corridor also. The communities will be charged with finding a building location and researching possible story ideas. Each mural will be painted on substrate material and will be mounted to the side of the building. This works much better than painting on the building itself, because it can be taken down for upkeep or if the building needs repairs. When all are completed, a brochure will be created detailing each mural and its location along with the location of the interpretive gazebos. There are no gazebos completed as of yet, but our hope is to begin construction in the spring.”
Visit www.drivelincolnhighway.com or phone (815) 547-3854 for more information on the Lincoln Highway through Illinois.