l was riding alongside the track, close to the outer rail … Suddenly I heard the loud shriek of the whistle … I looked back and the train was not more than 10 yards away. I just had time to shoot down the embankment, which, luckily, was only about four feet high … If it had been a fast passenger train and got that close to me, it would have hit me before I got out of the way. This was worse than the mountains, for nothing that happened there came so near to causing heart failure.
Wyman’s tire tracks across Nebraska and Iowa run alongside the railroad and what is now the old Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30). The pace is slower and the scenery more immediate than it is from the interstate, but the small towns dotting the route have withered since their railroad-fueled heydays. Towns like Kimball that Wyman called “prosperous” are forgotten collections of vacant storefronts.
There is a rhythm to the Lincoln Highway as it crosses the Midwest—miles and miles of corn and then grain silos on the distant horizon marking a sleepy farm town. In a blink, the quiet town and the silos are shrinking in the mirrors, until all that remains is the corn, the railroad, and the Lincoln Highway.