A drive through history

An opportunity to learn about historic U.S. Highway 20 will be presented Sunday, which will include how the road impacted the towns that it went through.

JayJay Goodvin, executive director of Iowa’s Historic U.S. Route 20, will be giving a presentation Sunday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village’s Opera House.

According to Kerrie Kuiper, executive director of the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau, Goodvin will be talking about what he and others are doing to keep the Historic 20 alive.

“He’ll be talking more about what the association is doing, the plans that they have in Iowa, and how that whole process is going to work,” Kuiper said. “As well as the promotional ideas they have on how to promote the historical Route 20.”

Goodvin said the history of Highway 20 is extensive, with the road going from Massachusetts to Oregon.

“Basically what the Historic Highway 20 Association is here to do is help promote communities on Historic 20 and encourage tourism and things like that,” Goodvin said. “We’re going to be talking about the history of the route and some special things we have planned moving forward.”

This will be the first time he has given this presentation in Fort Dodge.

He said Historic 20 has had a major impact on the towns along the route, especially in northwest Iowa.

“You can see kind of how the towns have their own identity,” he said. “And in some ways, we’ve also kind of lost our identity. I’m not saying Fort Dodge, but routes change.”

While the addition of four-lane Highway 20 has been beneficial, Goodvin said one negative about it is that not as many people travel the Historic 20 route anymore.

He wants to bring that back.

“We’re here kind of to capture that nostalgia and get people to start having an identity with that again,” he said. “There are still people who had an identity with it.”

He specifically mentioned Rockwell City, Lytton, Early and Webster City as being major parts of Historic 20.

“It went through, certainly, main streets,” Goodvin said. “Whether it be in a small town, micropolitan or metropolitan area. (Highway) 20 was like most highways, designed to go through the most towns possible.”

Historic Highway 20 has a slogan that says “Time to be 20 Again.”

One of the goals of the presentation is to encourage travel along the historic route.

“I think folks are looking for alternate ways to road trip nowadays,” he said. “People want an experience in everything.”

“We think that we can help supply an incredible road trip experience,” Goodvin added. “Not just here in Iowa, but all across the country.”

Kuiper agreed that Historic 20 is an important part of not just Iowa history, but the history of the nation as well.

She believes that both Historic 20 and the current four-lane highway can be beneficial to each other.

“By partnering Historic Highway 20 efforts and regular Highway 20 efforts, we can be a little bit of everything for everyone,” Kuiper said. “Those visitors that want to get more entrenched in the communities, want to see the attractions, unique diners and restaurants, they can follow the historic route, much like you would do with a historic Route 66 tour and utilize it that way.”

Sunday’s event is free and open to the public.