The latest of the new generation Iowa rest stops is now open along Interstate 80 near Wilton in Cedar County. The six new rest areas are welcome centers that feature a theme that highlights historical features of the area. Ken Bucklin is with the Fairfield engineering firm French-Reneker Associates that helped develope the rest area designs for the D-O-T. He says Cedar County theme is railroads/underground railroad, as the county has a couple of railroads running through it along with many underground railroad stops that helped slaves to freedom. Bucklin says the building is style to look sort of like an old-time railroad depot, and Des Moines artist David Dahlquist incorporates the underground railroad theme in the interior.The quilts used as signals on the underground railroad are incorporated into the buildings tile and murals. Bucklin says the underground railroad connection is also evident outside the main building. He says the picnic shelters each are modeled after the various Cedar County stops on the underground railroad. Bucklin says the history portrayed at the rest stops has been researched, and gives people a lesson about Iowa. He says one of the first rest stops in the Sioux City area features a Lewis and Clark theme, and he says it’s even used by teachers from the area in teaching history. The rest stop is in Woodbury County, while the others are in Adair, Decatur, Johnson, Scott counties. The Cedar County rest area is the last of the new breed for now. Bucklin says the preliminary designs have been done for another rest stop near Ames that has a transportation theme. It’s been delayed by the tight state budget. Bucklin says it’s been a great to see each of the rest areas develop from design to finished project.He says it’s been interesting for him as he was involved in building the original rest areas when he was a young engineer. Bucklin says the Iowa rest stops have prompted calls from other states that’re interested in upgrading their facilities.
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