Reflections of Hwy 169: The road giveth, and the road taketh away

Flaunting the law, bicyclists on U.S. Highway 169 made their way Tuesday until an Iowa DOT worker directed them to vacate the roadway. -Photo by Alma Blougher Swanson


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Something is just not right. The more I think about it, the one thing that has always been constant in my life is not there.

This year has been a year of loss for me, but this thing is really odd. There is no traffic going past my house. I live on U.S. Highway 169, and it has been completely closed, so there are no semis, no vehicles, nothing except the occasional road maintenance vehicle driving by.

Let me rephrase that. There are not vehicles legally traveling on the road. It seems to be a challenge with motorists to see if they can make it through the closed road. Today I actually saw two teams of RAGBRAI riders sneaking by, only to be ousted by the man in the big orange truck warning them to get out of the way as he laid on the horn.

U.S. Highway 169 was my escape as a child. It was my gateway to my grandparents home. I was a little girl and would sit out on the stoop to the porch and wave at the semi drivers to see if they would honk at me. They usually did.

When I would stay all night with grandma and grandpa, the traffic would keep me up all night it seemed. Living in their house now as an adult, the traffic actually gives me a calming effect. I can tell weather traveling conditions by how often the DOT truck goes past and by traffic volume and at what speed they are traveling.

Doing field and yard work next to the highway has always been a challenge. You feel as though you are on display. I will say one day last week I weeded one entire flower garden in my pjs. It was liberating.

The highway aided us in a long bus ride from People’s Township in Boone County to Perry Schools and a super journey the year I attended fifth grade in Dawson.

Even when I lived away from the area, it was U.S. Highway 169 that led the way home, something you take for granted until it all is gone.

Many may not remember that there was a gas station located eight miles south of Ogden on the west side of the road years ago. It was a convenient place for people to stop and get just enough gas to get to their next location. There was an elderly man who ran the station, and my mom’s cousin actually was there a lot because she dated him.

Read more in the Aug. 1 issue of The Ogden Reporter.