Highway history hanging in New Lenox
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org June 22, 2012 6:02PM
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:02AM
If every picture tells a story, then there are valuable history lessons to be learned in many towns along the historic 179-mile Lincoln Highway in Illinois.
Each town along the national scenic byway has a tale about the highway’s impact, and many are being depicted via public art provided by the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition.
The latest in a series of hand-painted, interpretive murals was installed this month in New Lenox on the northwest corner of Lincoln Highway and Cedar Road.
The mural, painted by Jay Allen, of ShawCraft Signs, was based on a photograph found in the archives of the New Lenox Area Historical Society, according to Diane Batson, a member of the society.
“It’s a very ironic photo,” she said. It shows an old trolley car going under the viaduct on Lincoln Highway, just east of the mural site, while an automobile passes it by going in the opposite direction.
“Even though they both are going down the road, in short time — by 1922 — the trolley was out of business,” Batson said.
Once Lincoln Highway was paved, automobiles became more popular, she said.
In creating these murals, the Lincoln Highway Coalition tries to find something unique about each site, Batson said.
“And this was certainly unique,” she said.
There are more than two dozen murals already along the highway, as the coalition continues to seek ways to recognize the significance of the highway and make the stories come alive, the coalition’s Sue Hronik said.
Upon completion, this will be one of the largest works of public art in the country.
Other murals in the area have been installed in Frankfort, University Park, Park Forest, Joliet and Crest Hill.
For more information on the Illinois Lincoln Highway, visit www.drivelincolnhighway.com.