Favorite Rides & Destinations

Fall 2017

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Left: This is where old tractors go to donate parts to keep other tractors going, the mechanical equivalent of our own organ donation program. Below: The Sabula Rail Bridge crosses the Mississippi River between Sabula, Iowa, and Savanna, Illinois. The section with the operator shack swings 90 degrees to let barges and other river traffic pass through. www.FavoriteRidesAndDestinations.com | ridermagazine.com PAGE 83 FALL 2017 ISSUE 02 / VOL. 02 Now we were heading southwest into the Loess Hills, a beautiful 200-mile chain of hills on the east side of the Missouri River. I stopped at a state-run welcome center a few miles before the town of Missouri Valley, and the lady there almost convinced me that I should not miss the Loess Hills Scenic Byway. Her descriptions were very appealing, but I had places to be. As I went through Missouri Valley I saw a dozen sportbike riders having a soda at an outdoor café—I bet I knew where they were going. Missouri Valley has changed a bit since 1916. The population dropping from 4,000 to 3,000 left few stores catering to the locals' needs. Half a dozen gas stations and a couple of motels cater to the travelers, but that is about the extent of business. Interstate 29 now runs north-south along the west side, with the big city of Council Bluffs less than 20 miles to the south. At Missouri Valley, I deviated from the original 1916 Lincoln Highway, as I wanted to avoid crowded places like Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska, and instead turned west toward California Junction. Originally U.S. 30, as the Lincoln Highway was designated in 1925, the road went down to Council Bluffs where a bridge crossed the Missouri. However, when another bridge was built between California Junction and Blair, Nebraska, in 1929, the mapmakers in Washington changed the course of U.S. 30. The old bridge, called the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge, a suitable name for a bridge on the Lincoln Highway, was a steel truss with a grate surface, but that was torn down and replaced in 1991 with steel-stringer construction. The whole Missouri River valley is prone to flooding, and the last 10 miles to the river are dead straight, dead flat. The new bridge, with an asphalt surface preferred by motorcyclists, rises well above the river, although the road leading to it can get covered with water—as it did several times in 2011. The railroad parallels the car road, and the original train bridge, built in 1883, is still in use. The river was up, way up, much more than the Mississippi, and on the Nebraska side I saw crews working hard to build temporary embankments to protect a fuel depot on the river's edge. I was moving on, heading for higher, drier land. But I do have to get back to do the Loess Hills byway some day.

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