“River to River: Iowa’s Forgotten Highway 6” is a short, memorable movie about a long, forgotten highway. And oh, is it ever worth a little trip to see it.
This is one of the latest movies from award-earning Quad-City filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle, whose other films include “Villisca: Living with a Mystery” and “Letters Home to Hero Street.” The “River to River” documentary, which was about three years in the making, was inspired by the Historic Highway 6 research and photography of David W. Darby, executive director of the Iowa U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association. (Find out more at http://www.route6tour.com/Route6iowa.htm)
This is the tale of the two-lane road between Davenport and Council Bluffs on the nation’s longest highway that traverses more than 3,600 miles from Cape Cod to southern California. Interstate 80 is the top choice for most drivers now. Unlike the more modern Interstate 80, Highway 6 meanders through small towns with attractions that make it worthwhile to spend a little extra time.
Throughout its history, the highway has joined more than locations. You may be surprised at the famous and the infamous with connections to U. S. Route 6:
• The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library and final resting place of Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch.
• Outlaws Bonnie and Clyde and Jesse James had connections to U.S. Route 6.
• Mildred Wirt Benson, who wrote most of the “Nancy Drew” mysteries under the pen name of Carolyn Keene, grew up in Ladora. That’s also where we see the Ladora Bank Bistro, which offers a classy array of gourmet food on its menu.
The movie goes from east to west, and, not surprisingly, you’ll see the Quad-Cities almost right away. One of my favorites segments, and certainly the sweetest, is the beloved Wilton Candy Kitchen (proprietor George Nopolous, who is featured prominently with his wife Thelma, passed away not long ago).
The couple jokes and reminisces about the history of the spot, which includes President Dwight Eisenhower and actors Gregory Peck and Brooke Shields among its visitors.
As you cruise down the highway, you also will see other shops, gas stations and, most of all, more intriguing folks along the way. What a pleasant journey you have before you.