Lincoln Highway Association: 17th Annual Conference - South Bend, Indiana - June 15-20, 2009

A Glimpse at the 2009 LHA Conference

by Bill Arick
2009 Conference Co-Chair and Planning Team

As I sit in my Northern Indiana home on an early December morning, the snow covers the lawn, and there are light snowflakes in the air. With temperatures in the low teens, it’s hard to imagine a beautiful June day at the next LHA conference. Rest assured, your LHA conference planning team is busy preparing details that we hope ensure all attendees have an enjoyable and unique experience in June. Mark your calendars for June 15-20, and make plans to head to South Bend on the beautiful St. Joseph River. Our team is thrilled to be hosting this conference and hopes that you are already making plans to join us in the heart of South Bend. We will introduce you to sites and sounds that created the Lincoln Highway and that continue to sustain the story. The conference activities will highlight four anniversaries:

[Police booth in Goshen]
Police booth in Goshen
Courtesy of the Goshen Historical Society
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[Fisher Mausoleum]
Fisher Mausoleum
Courtesy of Jan Shupert-Arick
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[Carl Fisher]
Carl Fisher
Courtesy of the University of Michigan
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[James Allison]
James Allison
Courtesy of Rolls Royce North America
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[Carl Fisher's estate, now part of Marian College]
Carl Fisher's estate, now part of Marian College
Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society
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[A sign welcoming travelers to Dyer]
A sign welcoming travelers to Dyer
Courtesy of Russell Rein
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The Pre-Conference Tour on Monday, June 15 will include visits to Goshen and Elkhart. During this tour you will explore the restored downtown Main Street of Goshen, visit the Police Booth built as a WPA project to protect local citizens and Lincoln Highway travelers from Midwest gangsters, visit the Hattle Hotel that advertised in the LH Guide to early auto travelers, eat at the original Olympia Candy Shop and Diner on the LH, and visit the ‘Old Bag Factory’ adjacent to the historic Lincoln Highway metal truss bridge and shop at the unique artist shops (quilts, pottery, art galleries, antique shops, furniture makers, a candle shop and a sculptor’s studio) that now fill the historic factory building. Listen for the factory whistle that was once powered with steam, and take a tour of the historic factory believed to be haunted by former workers.

In Elkhart we will visit the Recreation Vehicle and Manufactured Housing National Museum and learn about the RV industry and auto camping history. The RV Founders Hall displays trailers, photos, and memorabilia reaching back to the 1920's and 1930's. The museum presents chronological and technological advancements in the industry from before World War I to the present. The Tin Can Tourists have been invited to display and open their vintage trailers for conference attendees.

The Holiday Inn in downtown South Bend will be the official conference hotel. The LHA conference registration, book room, and hospitality rooms will be located on the 6th floor in the ballroom area. The hotel offers three-star-quality accommodations, two restaurants, a cigar lounge, a large exercise room, an indoor pool, and more. Chase Bank is located on the main level adjacent to the hotel for your banking needs. There is an airport shuttle from the South Bend Regional Airport on Lincolnway West. When you book a room, let the hotel know if you will need the shuttle van service. A block of rooms is now reserved for the conference. The room rate is $95. To reserve a room, call 1-888-890-0242 and tell them you are with the LHA conference. All rooms have views of the city. There are options for different types of rooms including smoking and non-smoking floors and handicapped-accessible rooms. The hotel has a parking garage. If you are driving to the conference, consider becoming a priority club member that perk provides free parking in the parking garage during the conference. There is space behind the hotel for one or two motor vehicles. Call the hotel to ask for details. For more information about the hotel and the location, visit the Holiday Inn’s website at

The conference welcoming event will be held on Tuesday, June 16 at Century Center on the original Lincoln Highway route through South Bend just two blocks from the Holiday Inn. This event will feature the Alice Ramsey reenactment with a restored 1909 Maxwell, antique Studebaker autos as well as other vintage makes. There will be music and fine food and drinks. Plan to attend and bring your camera to capture the sites and sounds of the Lincoln Highway being brought back to life at a casual and entertaining event. Plan to meet your LH friends and make new ones. The setting for this event, lecture day, and the annual awards banquet will be along the beautiful St. Joseph River and its white water made by the historic electric dam right at the Century Center Complex. There is a small island connected to the center on the north side of the dam creating a beautiful conference back drop.

On Wednesday morning, June 17 we’ll board a charter bus southbound for Indianapolis along Carl Fisher’s other road, the Dixie Highway, to the Hoosier capital. We’ll explore the early auto industry and stop at sites relevant to the LHA including beautiful Crown Hill Cemetery (4th largest in U.S.), where we will visit the Fisher Mausoleum. We’ll tool through the auto corridor north of town and have lunch at the old German house known as the Athenaeum (now the Rathskeller), where Carl Fisher and James Allison held the first meeting to form the LHA in 1912. On the return trip we’ll visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Millionaire Row to view the estates of Carl Fisher and James Allison, which are now part of the Marian College campus.

On Thursday June 18 we’ll be back in South Bend for what is shaping up to be excellent Lincoln Highway program, including sessions at the Century Center, an authors’ and artists’ reception, and a relaxing day along the river and highway. A marked dedication will be held at the intersection of the Lincoln and Dixie Highways followed by an evening campus tour of the University of Notre Dame Campus (advertised in the 1924 LH Driving Guide). You will not want to miss any of these activities.

On Friday, June 19 the Transcontinental Motor Convoy vehicles will be with us for a motorcade through town complete with festivities and a ceremony at the Military Honor Park on Lincolnway West. The day will feature tours and LH presentations at the Studebaker National Museum and Center for History campus. Special exhibits at these facilities will include Studebaker vehicles, the Lincoln carriage that the Lincolns rode in to Ford’s Theatre on the night of the assassination, a Lincoln exhibit entitled Abraham Lincoln: The Man You Thought You Knew, and a Lincoln Highway exhibit entitled A Call to the Patriots: The Lincoln Memorial Highway.

Attendees and the general public will have opportunities to view the convoy moving through the city and will be able to take an up close look at some 85-100 units that will be stationed in several locations around the city following the motorcade.

Friday’s schedule will offer some free time to discover for yourself what South Bend and its twin city Mishawaka have to offer in other areas of interest. Visit the National Football Hall of Fame, the South Bend Chocolate Factory and Café, a variety of shopping experiences, walking and biking trails, and many cultural opportunities. In the evening we’ll head back to Century Center for our annual LHA Awards banquet.

We will end our Conference on Saturday, June 20 with a brunch and annual meeting at the Holiday Inn and then depart on the Post Conference Tour to the west half of Indiana through the LH towns of New Carlisle, La Porte, Westville, Valparaiso, Deep River, Schererville, and Dyer.

This year, the conference registration information will be mailed directly to members and posted on the LHA and Indiana LHA websites. Plan now to register early.

Just imagine for a moment that you are in South Bend in mid-June. The grass is green, the flowers are in bloom, and the temperatures range from mid-seventies to mid-eighties. We hope to see you (as the song says) Back Home Again In Indiana where the Lincoln Highway began for the 2009 LHA National Conference.