Rising High Above the Lincoln Highway

One of the many wind turbines within view of the Lincoln Highway near Van Wert, Ohio (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

One of the many wind turbines within view of the Lincoln Highway near Van Wert, Ohio (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — How do you know you’ve reached the Indiana state line on the Lincoln Highway? Look to the right. If you stop seeing tall wind turbines, you’re in Indiana.

The area north of Van Wert, Ohio, is a hub for wind-energy production, which is quite evident as you’re driving west toward Fort Wayne. There are hundreds of wind turbines rising from the flat farmland. In 2011, there were about 210 wind turbines in the Van Wert area with hundreds more planned. (The Van Wert County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s promotional website says there are now about 400 turbines.)

Fort Wayne, Indiana’s second-largest city, was my final destination for this leg of my Lincoln Highway trek before temporarily leaving the route to visit my parents in Michigan.

But before that, there’s one landmark I wanted to visit downtown.

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The Lincoln Bank Tower is a local landmark in Fort Wayne, Ind. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

The Lincoln Tower, completed in 1930, was once the state’s tallest building at 22 stories. It’s a great Art Deco building with some impressive exterior architectural details. I didn’t get a chance to get inside, but it seems like it’s worth a return visit someday.

According to Tower Bank’s history of the building:

The original cost of the Lincoln Tower was $1,300,000 and building materials included hand-wrought bronze, Milford granite, Italian travertine marble, several rare types of green Vermont marble and Indiana limestone. The main lobby is 85 feet wide, 110 feet long and two stories high. Its murals symbolize various elements in nature, and the signs of the zodiac. The entryway features seven bronze panels depicting scenes from the life of Abraham Lincoln, and the soda fountain, which is still in use, is also original.

Heading west from Fort Wayne, the Lincoln Highway diverges into two primary routes. The modern-day U.S. 30 takes the highway on a faster, more direct route toward Chicago via Columbia City, Warsaw and Plymouth. But after my detour into Michigan, I’ll be rejoining the longer and more northerly original route through South Bend.

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