America’s first transcontinental highway passes through Canton on its way from New York City to San Francisco. It is the Lincoln Highway (Tuscarawas Street). Brian Cassler is preserving its history by recreating a portion of it for the Great Platte River Road Archway in Nebraska for his Eagle Scout Award.
Over the years, Boy Scouts have adopted fire hydrants, raised money for acid-rain prevention, built fences to protect animals, recorded books for the blind and written resource manuals for natural disasters in their quest to earn Eagle Scout awards.
Brian Cassler built a road. At least, he collected the means — cleaning and organizing more than 2,000 bricks from Canton — to build a road in Nebraska.
A member of Buckeye Council, Boy Scouts of America Troop 127 in Plain Township, Cassler partnered with the National Lincoln Highway Association to recreate a portion of the Lincoln Highway for an exhibit at the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney, Neb.
Late last month, he received his reward after meeting with the Eagle Board of Review, which accepted his project and promoted him to Eagle Scout.
The project began with an idea hatched three years ago.
“In 2007, when they (Canton) tore up Tusc (Tuscarawas Street), they found a couple thousand (original) bricks,” said the 14-year-old. “They gave them to the Eastern Lincoln Highway Association to do whatever they wanted to do with them.
“I found out about how the Great Platte River Road Archway wanted to recreate a portion of the Lincoln Highway, so I contacted them.”
It was a blessing for the archway.
“What he took on for his project was far beyond what would be required to become an Eagle Scout,” said Ronnie O’Brien, director of education and operations at the archway. “It took a lot of time and a lot of coordination on a national level to make this happen.
“We are recreating a piece of the Lincoln Highway for a centennial exhibit in 2013,” she said, noting that the bricks are in storage until the project is ready to go.
The Lincoln Highway is an important piece of history for the Cassler family.
“I’m very proud he picked a project so historic in nature,” said his dad, Jim Cassler, president of Klingstedt Brothers Co. in Canton and vice president of the Eastern Ohio Lincoln Highway Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association. “So many people will be able to enjoy this part of history for a very long time.”
Jeff Shankel, Cassler’s Scoutmaster, is happy the project will be around for a while.
“Not too many people become an Eagle Scout at 14,” said Shankel, noting most candidates are 18. “Brian is a determined young man. I knew he would do a big project.”
Cassler spent more than 200 hours cleaning, organizing and putting more than 2,000 bricks on pallets. He then arranged with trucker Tim Wunsch of Fort Morgan, Colo., also a member of the national Lincoln Highway Association, to deliver them to the archway in Kearney, Neb. Brian and his dad went, too.
Page 2 of 2 - The bricks will be used to create a 16-foot-wide display, the width of the original road.
The Lincoln Highway was built in 1913. It spans Times Square in New York City and Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
According to the Lincoln Highway Association in Franklin Grove, Ill., it was Carl Fisher’s idea to build the 3,400-mile, coast-to-coast highway using the shortest possible route. With help from fellow industrialists Frank Seiberling and Henry Joy, along with private and corporate donations, the first transcontinental highway was built. It was the first hard-surfaced road in the country.