A History of the Hiawatha Pioneer Trail. . .continued from page 1
Route markerThe original design for the trail’s marker consisted of a circular border bearing the words, "Hiawatha Heritage Trail" encircling an Indian head. The artwork was created by Evan Hart, then an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society.
When the four states agreed upon a historical trail, they substituted the word “Pioneer” for “Heritage” and commissioned a public relations firm from Moline, Illinois, to design a symbol, and a pioneer head was added to the center. The new design consisted of a chartreuse and brown overlay on a flat silver background.
Signs marking the routes were paid for and installed by the four states. In Iowa, the trail markers were produced on reflective sign sheeting and overlaid on sign blanks at the Iowa State Highway Commission’s sign shop in Ames. The Iowa route markers were installed in July 1964.
Official recordsOfficial state records regarding the Hiawatha-Pioneer Trail dating from 1963 through 1965 (Governor’s Conference documents) are contained in the papers of former Governor Harold Everett Hughes in the Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa. This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1975 by Governor Hughes.
Housed in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s library is a folder containing a copy of several promotional brochures, a Feb. 14, 1964, Des Moines Register article and July 1964 Hiway Highlights Iowa State Highway Commission employee newsletter article.
Three folders, dating from 1963-1966 and regarding the Hiawatha-Pioneer Trail, are also available from the Minnesota Historical Society. In addition, Minnesota State Statute, section 61.14, Subd. 12. and Subd. 12a., includes a complete route description of the Hiawatha Pioneer Trail and alternate route through that state.
Iowa route and attractionsThe route, looping through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois, was laid out to link as many historic and scenic areas as possible, and used existing highways.
In a Des Moines Register article dated Feb. 14, 1964, James G. Bennett of New York, travel coordinator for API, described the route as, ". . .a group of attractions to whet the appetite for travel." In the Register article, Bennett is also attributed with telling the governors and other state delegates that 25 additional tourists a day would be equivalent to an industry with a $100,000 annual payroll.
A 1967 promotional brochure published by the Iowa Development Commission, in partnership with the Illinois and Minnesota tourism divisions and Wisconsin’s Vacation and Travel Service, described the route in Iowa as follows:
"The Hiawatha-Pioneer Trail enters Iowa from the east just a few miles from the Hoover Memorial and exists from the state northwest of the area where the Grotto is located. In between lie such relics of Iowa’s Indian-Pioneer heritage as the Mesquakie Indian settlement at Tama and the pre-historic Indian mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument near Marquette, the site of the state’s last Indian Massacre at Spirit Lake, the only fort ever built by the U.S. Government to protect one tribe of Indians from another-at Fort Atkinson; the famed “Little Brown Church in the Vaile” at Nashua, the seven Amana Colonies northwest of Iowa City, which retain their Old World charm and many of the customs carried over from the days when the German sect pioneered its settlement in Iowa; and the scenic views along the Mississippi River which first drew the attention of the white man to Iowa’s productive soil."
When organized, each state was asked to identify 20 of its outstanding tourist attractions. The 1967 publication referenced above identified the 20 historic points of interest in Iowa. They included: Presidential Hoover Birthplace and Presidential Library; Amana Colonies; River Boat Museum at Keokuk; Mason House Museum and Ghost Town at Bentonsport; State Capitol, Historical Building, Art Center at Des Moines; Tama Indian Settlement and Pow Wow; Maquoketa Caves; Breath-taking scenery along the Mississippi River; Picturesque French Village of St. Donatus; Old Shot Tower and Cable Car at Dubuque; Effigy Mounds National Monument-Indian mound country; Norwegian Museum, Spook Cave at Decorah; Hand-carved mechanical clocks, Antonin Dvorak Memorial at Spillville; Historic Fort Atkinson; Little Brown Church in the Vale at Nashua; Clear Lake Resort Area; Old Fort Dodge restoration; Kalsow Prairie, untouched by the plow; Grotto of the Redemption at West Bend; and Spirit Lake Indian massacre and pioneer cabin. A July 1964 Iowa State Highway Commission map denotes the main route, west route and south route of the trail through Iowa, and 20 points of interest along the way.
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