Historical Society to experience Roger Aegerter’s adventure

All the way west on the Lincoln Highway

~by Chuck Offenburger for the Greene County Historical Society

Roger Aegerter

Roger Aegerter says in 39 years of living in Jefferson within a block of the Lincoln Highway, his curiosity about the historic transcontinental roadway finally caught up with him. And so last October, he took off from his home here and drove about 1,800 miles of the route – all the way to its terminus in Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

“I’d done some research and heard so many stories about the towns on it, the historic hotels and restaurants, and the monuments,” Aegerter said. “I decided I just had to go see them.”

He’ll share his observations and some photos in a program for the Greene County Historical Society on Friday, Aug. 4, at the First United Methodist Church in Grand Junction.

A lunch at 12 noon is $8 for Historical Society members and $10 for non-members. The members should RSVP to their community contacts by Wednesday, Aug. 2. Others can RSVP for lunch by calling vice-president Nancy Hanaman at 515-436-7684. The program at 1 pm at the church is free.

Aegerter, who is in his fifth year as executive director of the Historical Society, is usually helping organize the programs at the monthly meetings rather than presenting them. But his adventure last fall piqued the wanderlust of many who’ve heard about it.

He brings unusual perspective to discussions of the Lincoln Highway. A native of Rockwell City and a graduate of Iowa State University, he’s a former art teacher who is still a working artist today, with his painting and artistic woodworking. He is also a former school curriculum director, elementary principal and superintendent. And in the 1990s, he wrote a 230-page book “Golf Courses of Iowa,” which has been updated in second and third editions.

“Over the years, my wife Jan and I had driven most of the Lincoln Highway to the east of Jefferson,” Aegerter said. “When we’ve taken different trips to New York City and other places in the east, I’d guess we’ve probably covered 80 to 90 percent of it. But I’d never been on most of it in the west.”

He did the trip last fall quickly – in about 3-1/2 days.

“I had a list of places I really wanted to see along the route,” he said. “I’d get there, look them over, shoot some pictures and then be on my way. I probably didn’t spend more than 10 to 15 minutes at most of them, but I wanted to see as much as I could in the time I had.”

After completing his Lincoln Highway trip in San Francisco, Aegerter drove on north to Seattle, and there met his wife Jan, who’d flown out. Then they had a leisurely drive back to Jefferson, using a generally northerly route that took them to seven national parks. “Two or three of those parks, we couldn’t get beyond the front gate,” Roger said. “By mid to late October, some of them were already shut down because of heavy snows.”

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