Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: October 1999 Volume 37 Number 4, Pages 137–140

Lost, Found and Saved in Paradise, PA

G. Edward Buck

Page 137

Brian Butko in 1996 wrote and described driving on the old Lincolnway in his book, "Pennsylvania Traveler's Guide- -The Lincoln Highway." Paraphrasing Brian Butko, "West of Kinzer as we descend a hill we pass by Basketville, one of many tourist gift shops found in the area today on the north side, while also taking note of the huge Denlinger Lumber Yard to the south in the village that is named Leaman Place. The road grade starts to rise as we approach the bridge crossing over the railroad tracks, and today, if you look quickly to your left, you will see one of the original Lincoln Highway markers with its embossed figure of Lincoln, still resting in its place behind the guardrail."

The traffic was very heavy this morning as I drove on the old Lincolnway toward Lancaster, PA and the Outlet Centers in hopes of finding a sale on golf shirts. As I descended the hill I could not help but notice the large orange highway signs and flags warning of construction, and advising drivers that the road was narrowing to only two lanes. I moved to my right as we passed Basketville and Denlinger's, and approached the iron framed bridge crossing the railroad tracks.

The Lincoln Highway marker was gone! I quickly pulled off the road and into the driveway of a closed garage.

Page 138

I got out of the car and walked back up to the bridge crossing to get a better view of the construction. As slow as I might be at times, I could see and understand that this was a major road construction project. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) was adding two additional lanes to the road and widening the bridge. I stood there almost in shock thinking that the highway marker was probably buried under forty feet of construction fill dirt.

On the crest of the hill I could see a work crew busy laying out the network of steel rods that would form the basis of the new bridge addition when they were linked together and the concrete was finally poured. I stood there waiting and watching the men work when I was finally noticed by a supervisor who walked over and spoke to me. "Yes sir, can I help you with anything?"

I was embarrassed, and not knowing exactly what I wanted to ask him, I quickly blurted out to the very young man. "Yes sir, I'm a member of the Lincoln Highway Association!" I was even more embarrassed since several of the crew stopped working and stood there looking and listening to my reply. But, always quick on my feet, I gave all of them my forty-five second speech on the history of the old Lincolnway and finally stopped to ask, "Do you remember seeing the highway marker when you were bulldozing the road grade for the bridge approach from the east?"

I was surprised by the Supervisor's response. "Sure! We dug it up and hauled it over to the construction job trailer. If you want to see it you'll have to go over there. Ask Dave at the trailer, he should know what they did with it."

I drove into the parking lot and parked in front of the PennDOT trailer.

"Dave, I was told that you have the old Lincoln Highway marker that they dug up over at the bridge." "Sure, you want to see it?" the young man replied as he led me into a small sectioned-off part of his office. There was the marker laying under a tilted desk top used by the job construction engineers. I had never seen a marker out of the ground before this day. The beam looked clean with no chips or marks and the embossed emblem of Lincoln showed little wear and no damage to its surface. The only sign of age was the slightly darker

Page 139

coloration of the base where it had rested underground since 1928. "It's heavy, but we can move it out from under there if you want a better look at it." I have to admit that I was really excited as I knelt there looking at it.

'We got the order to dig it up and save it even before we had started any of the grading work."

"Who gave you the order, Dave?"

"It came from the PennDOT offices," he said.

"Dave, what are the plans for it once the work is completed?"

"I don't know, Mr. Buck. All I know is that in two months the job will be finished and we have to be out of the rented trailer."

"Do any of the folks in Paradise know you have the marker?"

"You got me."

For the moment, I just stood there slightly stunned as I tried to figure out what, if anything, I should do. It would be a real shame if the marker after being saved ended up sitting in some PennDOT salvage yard.

"Dave, does the town of Paradise have a town hall or a municipal building somewhere around here?"

I was driving down a narrow country road that led me across some of the most beautiful farmland I have ever seen. This section noted for its Amish farms with their homes highlighted by dark green shades and the absence of lightning rods, spread across the valley before me, had always left me with feelings of awe. I was following Dave's directions to the township's municipal office building in hopes of informing someone of the whereabouts of the Lincoln marker.

Out in what seemed to me to be the middle of nowhere, I pulled into the parking lot of a small, nondescript, white-painted building. I could hear some voices as I entered the office that seemed to be coming from a room that had a sign above its door reading "Meeting Room."

Page 140

The door was slightly ajar, and I could see several rows of straight-backed chairs that lined the small room. I looked into the room and three people were apparently in the middle of a conversation that I was interrupting. The middle-aged lady sitting behind the desk saw me and asked if she could help me. I realized that I was barging into their conversation so I quickly apologized and told her that I would wait outside.

In a few minutes a gentleman exited the room so I knocked on the door and entered the meeting room. "I'm sorry I interrupted." Before I could say anything else the lady said, "Oh, that's okay, it happens all the time. How can I help you? "

I proceeded to tell her my name, and that I was there to tell someone about the Lincoln Highway marker, where the marker now was, etc. At that moment a man who was sitting at a computer on the side of the small office rose and walked over to me. "Good morning, sir. I'm the Town Manager of Paradise. Can I help you?" He was a big man with a bushy mustache and appeared to me to be 35 or 36 years old. "Did you have a question or an interest in the marker, sir?"

Well, I found the answer and the complete short story of the lost and found Lincoln Highway marker of Paradise with this young man. He told me he was very familiar with the history of the old Lincolnway, and the road marker that had rested behind the guardrail at the crest of the railroad bridge. I could rest assured, he told me, that once the construction grading and job was completed, the old marker was going back to its place on the highway.

So you see, it was this young man who had worked with the PennDOT people to make sure that the marker was recovered and placed in safe keeping until the construction was completed. The Lincoln Highway marker of Paradise will be relocated from its original eastern side of the bridge to a more protected and highly visible location on the west side of the bridge.

Well, I never made it to the Lancaster Outlets for my golf shirts, but it had been a pretty good day for me. Sometimes the good guys do win!


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