The Route: Cleveland to Iowa City

Pilots flying the mail cross-country in 1921 followed these directions to find landmarks along the way.

Aerial view of an airmail light beacon tower, somewhere along the New York to Chicago route, in the mid-1920s. (NASM (SI-78-12216))

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196.    Walcottville—At the intersection of the Wabash and Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroads.

220.    Goshen, Ind.—Three miles north of course. The Chicago & St. Louis Railroad is crossed at right angles 3 miles south and 1 mile east of Goshen.

243.    South Bend, Ind.—Seven miles north of course. The Chicago & St. Louis Railroad is crossed at right angles 7 miles south of South Bend.

265.    La Porte, Ind.—One mile north of course. The New York Central Railroad running east from La Porte parallels the course to the lower edge of Lake Michigan.

289.    Crisman, Ind.—Coaling station with large black coal chute north side of track; has also large race track with course 3 ½ miles north and 1 ½ miles east. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad crosses Wabash at Crisman. Leaving Crisman fly westerly, following shore of the lake, but keeping about 10 miles from waters edge to insure safe emergency landing.

314.    Lake Calumet—Largest and most westerly of three lakes. From northern extremity of Lake Calumet fly northwest on compass course of 315˚ Ashburn Field comes into view to the west and a large gas reservoir to the east. A large drainage canal will be seen ahead. To your left, where the Des Plaines River enters the drainage canal, the canal makes a 45˚ turn to the south. Follow the Des Plaines River for about 10 miles and you will see a large hospital and old race track. This is the speedway and adjoins the air-mail field on the west.

330.    Chicago air-mail field or Checkerboard field.—Three large air-mail hangars in southwest corner of field and private hangar in northeast corner. Four-way field, but best approach from the south. Telephone and high-tension wires to west and wires and trees to east of field. Land on large cinder runways. Sewage-disposal plant with excavations on west side of field. Landing area of this field large and ample. Telegraph and post-office address of this is Maywood, Ill. Field is 14 miles west of Chicago post office.

Chicago to Iowa City

0.    Maywood, Ill.—Checkerboard field. Fly directly west, picking up the third railroad to the north of the field. This is the Chicago & North Western. By keeping on the section lines and flying directly west this railroad can be kept in sight at all times until Iowa City is reached. It has white ballast and is doubled-tracked.

14.    Wheaton—Directly on course. Town rests in elongated U formed by Chicago & North Western Railroad. Water tower serves as a landmark.

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