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Report of the Conference
by John Peters
ELY, NEVADA—The Lincoln Highway Association held its 13th national conference June 7–11 at the Bristlecone Convention Center in Ely, Nevada. The annual conference, held the second week in June in one of the states the Lincoln Highway passes through, provides an opportunity to conduct the association’s business and present educational and historical discussions for members. About 160 Lincoln Highway Association members from throughout the United States attended the conference, including one from Germany.
“We are pleased the 2005 event hosted the largest attendance in Lincoln Highway Association history even though it was held in a sparsely populated area,” said Rollin Southwell, conference chairman. Tom and Margaret Bath, of Ely, served as co-chairs.
Bob Lichty, of Canton, Ohio, assumed the duties of president of the Association. Jan Shupert-Arick, of Fort Wayne, Ind., was elected vice president/president-elect.
The 2005 conference celebrated the 75th anniversary of the completion of the final section of the Lincoln Highway connecting Wendover and Ely, just as Ely’s Lincoln Highway Days celebration did in June 1930. Over the years the Lincoln Highway followed several routes into Ely. As with many major projects, politics played a role. Interests in San Francisco and Salt Lake wanted a northern route from Wendover to Reno, while the Lincoln Highway Association preferred a southern route through Ely, Eureka and Fallon. Both routes would eventually be built.
The keynote event for Tuesday’s opening dinner was Doug Watson’s characterization of Will Rogers, who was invited to the 1930 celebration. Rogers accepted the invitation, but there is some question as to whether he actually made it to Ely. He entertained the audience with a rambling discussion of politics, current events and life in general as only Will Rogers could.
The Wednesday tour traveled 260 miles east from Ely to McGill, to Schellbourne, Gold Hill, Ibapah and back over Schellbourne Pass, a route the Lincoln Highway shared with the Pony Express. Even traveling in tour busses, attendees were able to experience the Lincoln Highway as it was prior to 1930. Highlight of the trip was a fabulous ranch lunch at a beautiful ranch in the Utah desert.
Thursday was devoted to presentations including the University of Nevada, Reno’s Exposition and Online Exhibit “Just Passin’ Through,” historical looks at the Victory Highway and Midland Trail through Nevada, Lincoln Highway beautification efforts, a review the 1930 Ely Lincoln Highway Days celebration in pictures, and the Bureau of Land Management’s preservation efforts for the Lincoln Highway today. Also on Thursday, a reproduction of a 1928 Lincoln Highway marker was placed in front of the White Pine Chamber of Commerce in Ely to mark the occasion.
Friday’s tour went west to Eureka with stops at Ruth, the Quadra copper mine and Hamilton, now a ghost town. In Eureka the group was treated to Native American dancing and an historical presentation on Eureka during lunch. Saturday provided an opportunity to tour the sites in Ely and McGill, and ride a steam locomotive train.
Next year’s conference will be held at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Photographs of the Tours
John Peters is a member of the Public Relations Committee of the Lincoln Highway Association.