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The Odd Couple: Historic Preservation and Transportation Enhancements


Photo of a family looking at an interpretive sign along a Civil War Trail  Photo of Civil War Trail markers and signs

Preserving historic battlefields through acquisition of scenic easements and scenic or historic sites;
Scenic or historic highway programs

Project Example: Virginia Civil War Trails - statewide
Federal TE Award: $2.2 million / Other Funds: $0.6 million / Total Project Cost: $2.8 million
Virginia's statewide Civil War site preservation initiative began in 1993 as a local effort to mark the route of General Robert E Lee's retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox. Today, there are five driving trails collectively known as Virginia Civil War Trails. TE awards have been used to help link and interpret 299 Civil War landmarks and historic buildings in 84 cities and counties throughout Virginia. TE funded components include historical markers, roadside pull-offs, the acquisition of historic Civil War sites, detailed brochures, maps, and radio transmissions describing local Civil War events. The Virginia Civil War Trails has become one of the nation's premier heritage tourism destinations, generating new economic activity in all regions of the state, particularly in rural areas. Eighty percent of the trails are located in rural areas, attracting tourists to previously unvisited locations. Over 80,000 people explore the Virginia Civil War Trails each year, equating to more than $5.2 million spent annually.

Serving visitors interested in history through scenic or historic highway programs (including visitor centers)

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Washburn, ND

Project Example: Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Washburn, ND
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, along US 83 in North Dakota, provides an overview of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, with special emphasis on their time spent at Fort Mandan during the winter of 1804-1805. Many native American artifacts are on display, including an authentic wood canoe carved from the trunk of a large cottonwood tree that demonstrates the winter preparations the Expedition made while at Fort Mandan. There are also exhibits on the history of steamboat travel and fur trade that took place around Fort Clark, a trading post built in the 1830s. A model of Fort Mandan, two miles from the Center, helps visitors imagine the winter Lewis and Clark spent in the area. The Fort Mandan Lewis and Clark Foundation, working through the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, financed much of the interpretive center and its exhibits with two TE awards. The first was used to construct the 5,500 square foot facility and the second provided funds to double its size, adding new exhibit space, an office area and a large meeting room. The Fort Mandan reconstruction was financed through other sources.
TE award: $2,000,000 Other funds: $500,000 Total cost: $2,500,000.

The National Oregon/California Trail Center, Montpelier, ID

The National Oregon/California Trail Center, Montpelier, ID
The TE funded Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier ID recognizes the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled west in search of a new life during the mid 1800s. The Center guides visitors through the trail's history with the help of costumed actors, exhibits, a theater, an art gallery, and gift store. The local Rails and Trails Museum is also housed at the Center. Schools from three states bring students to the center when studying the relationship of the Oregon/California Trail to their local history. The success of the trail center and its location to a current and historic transportation corridor encouraged the construction of a new hotel and the renaming of another hotel to the Clover Creek Inn.
TE award: $1,118,531 / Other funds: $1,299,896 / Total cost: $2,418,427

Using and reusing historic buildings through scenic or historic highway programs

Photo of a stone building
An old black and white photo of a stone building
Texaco Station (IN) - 1931
Photo of the Vista House
Photo of the Vista House in 1918
Vista House at Crown Point (OR) - 1918

Project Example: Texaco filling station on National Road Its life began in 1931 as a Texaco filling station along the National Road (US 40) in western Indiana near Terre Haute. Until 1999, when a small article in the local newspaper announced its demolition, it had survived--an early gas station from decades past. The Indiana National Road Association realized the building had important historic and cultural significance. The organization moved the building to the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, located down the road on US 40. The structure was placed in the same orientation it had on its original site and the exterior was restored to its original appearance as a 1931 filling station. The old gas station now serves as a concession stand and restroom facility for college athletic fields.

Project Example: Vista House at Crown Point - located at highest point... 733 ft... on Historic Columbia River Highway (All-American Road). Opened May 1918. Cost: $99,148.05 - over 8 times original estimate. Rufus Holman, Chair, Multnomah County Commissioners said spending this much money on a toilet facility "an outrage on the confidence of the public." Portland Oregonian editorial: "The most expensive comfort station in the world." Still used today as an interpretative center for the byway. Public-private partnership - mostly in spirit:
1) property deeded by two families to City of Portland in 1914 for park purposes
2) $3,812.35 (3.8 percent) raised by Vista House Association with balance by Multnomah County


Reviving the rail age through historic preservation: hotels related to railroads.

Photo of a group of women posing in front of the La Posada Hotel

Project Example: La Posada Hotel, Winslow, AZ
The Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company played a key role in developing the American southwest. The railroad encouraged travel while the Fred Harvey Company provided affordable quality meals and lodging along the route at the legendary Harvey Houses. La Posada, one of several Harvey Houses located along the Santa Re rail line, first opened its doors in 1930. It was designed by renowned architect Mary Colter to replicate a sprawling 1860s Spanish castle. Located between the Santa Fe Railroad and Route 66, La Posada was an oasis at the crossroads of rail and automobile travel. In 1957, after years of declining rail travel, the Santa Fe Railroad closed La Posada and transformed the building into offices. In the late 1980s they announced their intent to sell the property. The work of area preservationists to save La Posada and railroad jobs attracted national attention. In 1994, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed La Posada on its list of endangered historic buildings where it came to the attention of preservation-minded individuals. They used a combination of TE funds and other innovative financing to purchase the historic hotel and restore its public spaces to their original grandeur. The 1997 restoration and reopening of La Posada revived Winslow, serving as a catalyst for preservation and reinvestment in the community.
TE award: $1,000,000 / Other funds: $4,000,000 / Total cost: $5,000,000

Project Example: Morgan Square Historic Preservation, Greeneville, TN
Photo of the General Morgan Inn The East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad built a new depot in Greeneville TN in 1886. A local entrepreneur recognized the need for a hotel to serve the railroad travelers. The elegant Grand Central Hotel, built on the site of an old tavern in Greeneville's Morgan square, was the product of his efforts. Within a few years, three other railroad hotels sprang up in the square. Through the next century, the Grand Central Hotel thrived, hosting dignitaries, debutantes and festive occasions of all kinds. By the 1980s, however, declining railroad service and competition with strip malls had taken their toll on the downtown, and the Grand Central hotel shut its doors. A new organization, Main Street Greeneville, formed to bring the historic downtown back to life. Over a decade, they raised $15 million, including a $3 million TE award, a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority, low-interest loans from local banks and funds from the Town of Greeneville. The funds transformed Morgan Square into an attractive complex of hotels, shops and offices. The Grand Central Hotel, renamed the General Morgan Inn, serves as the centerpiece of the revitalized downtown. TE award: $3,000,000 / Other funds: $750,000 / Total cost: $3,750,000.

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Updated: 09/27/2013
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