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How It Started

News-Herald Guest View

July 20, 2018
By Anne Michael , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

In 1976, Bonnie Crawford and her son Brad were in a building in lowa City. They sat in a hallway of outside a room waiting to go in that room for her 10:30 appointment. Bonnie was already nervous, and her nervousness increased as she heard the remarks of people leaving that room. "What more do they want?" or "I can't believe our house wasn't accepted!" or "What did we do wrong?" or "I never dreamed we would be rejected."

Why did that make Bonnie nervous? It was because she was waiting to see if her application to place the Lincoln Highway Bridge on the National Register would be recommended. She had submitted papers that represented months of research - interviews, mailings, newspaper archives, the IDOT and whatever else she could find to complete the application. But from the remarks she was hearing, the chances did not look good for approval.

Bonnie was in Iowa City because her husband, Ray Crawford, Mayor of Tama at the time, wanted his town to have the credentials so Tama could have an official bi-centennial celebration. In order for towns and cities to have such a celebration, they had to show an important connection to the United States and its 100 year history. Bonnie wanted that official celebration, too, so she and a committee of citizens began the work.

The first step was to find something Tama had of national importance. They floated the idea of the old Tama Elementary building or the Tama Carnegie Library. However, it was Terry Wheeler who said that everyday when he went to the King Tower for coffee, he drove over the Lincoln Highway Bridge. And that settled it. It was a great idea, so the bridge became the center of the project.

When 10:30 arrived and Bonnie entered that room, the officials said they were impressed by her impeccable research and the completeness of the application. They WOULD recommend the Lincoln Highway Bridge, and they were sure that Washington DC would agree with their recommendation and place the bridge on the National Register.

So on July 4th, 1976, Tama held its official bi-centennial celebration and received the official bi-centennial flag. In The Tama News Herald, there is a picture of a group of very proud Tama citizens holding up that flag.

Thanks to the visionary spirit of Mayor Crawford and the work of Bonnie and a committee of devoted citizens the Lincoln Highway Bridge became a national monument.

Anne Michael is leading an effort to have the Lincoln Highway Bridge - King Tower Cage area declared a National Historical District and has been also been a leader in the effort to preserve the bridge.



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