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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24.    Geneva on the Fox River—One mile north of course. Two branches of the Chicago & North Western cross each other here at right angles.

84.    Dixon—Three miles north of course on Rock River.

96.    Twin Cities of Stirling and Rock Falls—One on each side of the Rock River.

130.    Mississippi River—The Mississippi River should be crossed about 6 miles below Clinton, Iowa, which is on the west bank of the Mississippi. Flying in the same direction, the Wapsipinacan [Wapsipinicon] River will show up soon after crossing the Mississippi. The Wapsipinacan empties into the Mississippi a few miles south of the course. Fly in the same general direction with this river in view for 24 miles. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific runs in the same general direction as this river and is never more than 3 miles from it until Dixon, Iowa, is reached.

154.    Dixon, Iowa—One mile north of the course and 1 mile west of the    Wapsipinacan River, which turns north at this point. Dixon lies between the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and the C. N. W. & St. P., which cross about 1 mile east of Dixon.

173.    Tipton, Iowa—Five miles north of the course. Soon after Tipton is reached, Cedar Rapids will be crossed. The Cedar River flows southeast at this point.

191.    Iowa City, Iowa—On the eastern bank of the Iowa River. The Chicago Rock Island & Pacific has four lines running out of Iowa City. The air-mail field is south of town and on the western bank of the river. The field is small and is longer east and west.

Reprinted by permission from Pilots' Directions: The Transcontinental Airway and Its History, edited by William M. Leary, University of Iowa Press, 1990.



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