Historic Auto Trails


As with many road associations during the early 20th century, the Cedar Rapids-Urbana-Independence Short Line got its start in small town in Iowa, in this instance - Shellsburg. R.E. Harbert, an agent for the New York-based Home Insurance Company, began corresponding with the Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC) in late 1923 regarding the possibility of registering a route between Cedar Rapids and Independence.

Cedar Rapids-Urbana-Independence Shortline marker Within a day of completing the application, ISHC Auditor C.R. Jones remarked that the marker design illustrated on the registration application was inconsistent with the name of the route. It was critical that the name match the marker design for tourist purposes. If the name did not match, tourists would be unable to easily identify the route in their local road guides.

Within days, Jones wrote to ISHC Chief Engineer F.R. White recommending that the application be approved since “… (the) proposed marker, nor the proposed route of this trail will in any way interfere with other registered trails."1 Five days later, Harbert was informed that the route had been approved at an ISHC meeting three days earlier.

While some route registrations took months to process and approve, this route illustrates the efficiency at which the ISHC could act, when all of the required paperwork was in order. It took less than two weeks from the signing of the application to approval.

1 C.R. Jones to F.R. White, November 10, 1923, HA2.019. STHA, Iowa DOT.