116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
One of the most iconic Lincoln Highway landmarks in Iowa and dozens of acres of prime farmland would be spared under an interchange construction design proposed last week.
But there's a twist.
For one thing, the Highway 30 entrance to the historic Youngville Cafe would disappear, replaced by a gravel access road leading to Highway 218. Highway 30 was the original Lincoln Highway, which provided the cafe all of its business.
The Youngville Cafe was built by Joe Young in 1931, three years after the Lincoln Highway was paved, to provide food and fuel to motorists along the first transcontinental highway in the United States. The distinctive white stucco building, with its steeply pitched roof, was a welcome landmark to travelers for more than a half century. It closed several decades later, when completion of the east-west Interstate 80 to the south caused traffic to shift to the faster four-lane route, and caused business to dry up.
The Iowa Department of Transportation is planning to expand Highway 30 to four lanes across the remaining 14-mile stretch that isn't already four lanes in Benton County, and the Youngville Cafe is in the way.
The cafe is protected from federally funded construction projects by its designation on the National Register of Historic Places. DOT transportation planner Cathy Cutler said that even though the new interchange alternative spares the cafe, the DOT will have to ask the State Office of Historic Preservation to research the new plan.
“We have to make sure changing the access doesn't affect the historic value of the Youngville Cafe,” Cutler said.
A local farmer who owns the property donated it to a historic preservation group, more than $100,000 was raised to restore it as a cafe and museum, and it reopened in 2002.
Most leaders of the Youngville Highway History Association were in a meeting to discuss the group's upcoming Apple Festival last week when DOT officials were explaining the new interchange at a meeting in Blairstown.
One leader who did attend said he's not concerned that the new interchange would separate the cafe from the highway.
“The driveway will probably be safer than coming in off Highway 30,” said Rod Kubicheck of Blairstown. He noted that vehicles might be hesitant to slow down and turn into the cafe directly off Highway 30 with its heavy truck traffic.
The DOT will hold another public meeting early next summer.