Cruisers pit stop in WL

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Hundreds of classic cars lined up side-by-side Friday morning, Sept. 15, filling all of Third Street.

They made a half-hour pitstop in downtown West Liberty thanks to the River to River Retro Road Trip, making its way across Historic Highway 6.

“Prior to 1964, if you were driving across Iowa chances were you’re going to be on Highway 6 and stopping in cities like West Liberty,” said Dave Darby.

The Director of the Route 6 Association Iowa Division, Darby organized the first cruise seven years ago in tandem with the documentary River to River, Iowa’s Forgotten Highway.

Drivers start in Davenport and head west to Council Bluffs over the weekend along Highway 6. During the trip they support small towns along the way.

“This is America right here, this drive helps people become aware of what’s out here,” says Darby. “This is a relaxing and more interesting route than I-80.”

West Liberty was ready to greet the couple hundred classic cruisers midway through the first leg of their journey on Friday.

Third street was barricaded off, allowing the drivers to line up en masse downtown. It didn’t take long for a couple of the cars to fill the street with music.

Though they were only here for a short while, drivers were treated to snacks in Ron-De-Voo Park thanks to We Lead and free popcorn from the New Strand Theater.

Several community members came out to see the brief, somewhat impromptu, car show that parked itself right at their doorstep. It was kind of hard to miss.

Obviously the biggest part of the River to River Retro Road trip is to show off Iowa’s portion of Highway 6, which divides the state north and south.

Right now the entire highway is 3,652 miles long and runs from Provincetown Mass. to Long Beach, Calif.

From 1936 to 1964 it was the longest highway in the United States, until California renumbered its highways. That’s when US 20 took the top spot.

However, it winds through thousands of small American towns, a true testament to history. There are parts of the country you can only see when traveling Highway 6.

“Driving the interstate and driving a two-lane highway are two tremendously different experiences,” says Darby.

U.S. Route 6 is also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. However, in recent years interstates have become the main medium for long distance driving.

“When you drive the interstate you have an experience the mixes monotony and stress,” says Darby “It’s miles and miles of the same, interrupted by overpasses, semi-trucks and soulless green signs.”

“Driving on a two-lane highway is a completely different experience, it’s relaxing and it’s interesting,” he adds. “You’re connected to the communities.”

According to Darby many portions of Highway 6 have been moved out to I-80, including portions between Wilton to Davenport, Newton to Des Moines and Adele to Atlantic.

In fact, just last year a large portion by Council Bluffs has been “bypassed.” That’s what makes the River to River cruise important, it’s keeping Highway 6 alive.

“On the interstate you can get anywhere you want, but while you’re on it you’re nowhere,” says Darby passionately.

“Highway 6 commands you to pay attention to it. It’s like art. It’s like a dance. It’s fun. The hardest part for me is turning around to go home,” he says.

A majority of the drivers on the River to River Retro Road Trip are from Iowa, but the cruise also brings in participation from around the country.

They’ve had drivers from Canada, Illinois, Massachusetts, California and Missouri. Last year their were two foreign exchange students from Nepal.

As for West Liberty, the River to River Retro Cruise may have felt like a deja vu for many community members. That’s because it’s been a classic 2017.

Back on June 12 a good 3,000 to 4,000 classic cars trickled through the heart of the community, traveling from Newton to Davenport.

They were participating in the 23rd Annual Hot Rod Power Tour, a seven day, seven city journey, that began in Kansas City, Missouri and concluded in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Not even a week later the West Liberty Heritage Grounds, which includes the Train Depot, hosted the annual Ken Ruegsegger Father’s Day Car Show.

Back on Saturday, June 18, more than 70 classic cars were on display, as well as the ground’s various historical pieces.

This latest cruise via the River to River Road Trip only cements West Liberty as a great place for classic cars, community and a good time.

“The cruise gives participants a tour of Iowa in the way it was meant to be seen, because this is the road that, back-in-the-day, most people used to cross Iowa,” says Darby.

“I’m hoping our drivers enjoy this enough that they do their own little tours during the weekend and go to small towns like West Liberty,” he says.
More News
©2017 West Liberty Index | Web Development by Brian McMillin, LLC