Historic highway marker in midtown Omaha is stolen

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 5:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Thieves have targeted a piece of the nation’s history that has been here for nearly 100 years.

“I can’t figure out the turquoise, the pumpkins, and tying it in with the Lincoln Highway,” said Nils Erickson of Omaha.

Over the weekend, Nils noticed an obvious difference to his property on 44th and Dodge. Graffiti is on the side of his historic mill that says, “You’ll never steal our pumpkins.”

“It really makes no sense,” said Erickson.

The same phrase is painted on a nearby billboard.

“The cops phoned in the pumpkin phrase and no one has ever used that in any graffiti before,” said Erickson.

But then, Nils got to thinking that it was probably a ruse. A distraction from what really was done.

“The marker is right up the hill,” said Erickson.

He thinks the thieves were really after a four-foot concrete marker that was that nation’s premier highway back in the day. The Lincoln Highway was one of the first roads connecting the east coast to the west coast.

“When the Lincoln Highway was dissolving, one of the last acts, 4,000 directional markers were put in. Anytime it would twist or turn, they’d put in a sign for which way to go. It looks like they drove into traffic, and they would have been in the street in the opposite direction. Probably in a pickup with a chain around it, they’re meant to last 100 years,” said Erickson.

Boy Scouts put in the markers in 1928. Each one weighed over 200 lbs.

Bronze medallions set into the concrete with arrows show which way the Old Lincoln Highway goes. Over the years, the Lincoln Highway Association has noted vandals have targeted the markers across the county, and in some cases, stolen them.

“The Lincoln marker has value. The signs have value. They knew what to do with it. If they have a private buyer, they can get good money for it,” said Erickson.

For Nils, he hopes the stolen marker resurfaces.

“My slogan is that’s ‘why we can’t have nice things.’ You’re trying to promote history. If you don’t promote it, you’re destined to repeat it. History is all we have to teach the next generation,” said Erickson.

Omaha Police are actively investigating this weekend’s crime.

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