Four Eagle Scouts were part of the Centennial ceremony of the Lincoln Highway in Mansfield. Bernard R. Queneau, the senior Boy Scout at the event, and Brian Cassler the youngest, have histories with the Lincoln Highway. Their stories are unique and cross generations.
“It got me all pepped up, I’ll tell you, my adrenaline is here,” said Queneau. On Park Avenue West, he first undraped the red, white and blue marker signifying the Lincoln Highway. He then unveiled a plaque on the wall of the Point of Grace Church. The plaque shows a scaled image of the Lincoln Highway, from Manhattan all the way to San Francisco for a total of almost 3400 miles.
Queneau, who is now 101 years old, made the highway trip as a Boy Scout with his troop many years ago. Along the way, the troop demonstrated their survival skills. Queneau could strike fire in eleven seconds, using flint and steel and the right kind of kindling.
“It was a lot of work,” he stated, “Six times a day, covering 200 miles a day along the Lincoln Highway.” Queneau went on to say that his “Scout leader” was a very smart man. As the trip progressed and the Scouts became weary, Queneau’s fire striking time got longer. “So he told us, we could get some boys to replace you,” and Queneau laughed, “and I got right back to striking quick again.”
Queaneau and his wife, Esther met in Mansfield because of the Lincoln Highway. “I was president of the organization at the time, and we needed a speaker,” she said. “I had wanted to find out if there were any of those Boy Scouts out there who made the trip, and that’s how I met the man.”
The couple met five years after their first introduction for a bus trip in 2002 in Sacramento. “He was so witty, and intelligent, we fell in love,” she added. Their story was shared in a documentary on PBS called “A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway.”
Four Eagle Scouts for the ceremony in Mansfield. The Centennial ceremony at the Point of Grace included the youngest of the four Eagle, Scouts Brian Cassel from Canton. His Eagle Scout project was four years in the making and included repurposing bricks from a dissembled bridge in Canton.
Cassler cleaned the dissembled bridge, brick by brick. His efforts are now a part of history. “We have a friend in Colorado who had the means to transport those bricks, and through that connection, I became a part of the Lincoln Highway Memorial,” said Cassler. A museum is planned for the meeting point of the East and West tours for the highway’s 100th anniversary. And in Kearney Nebraska, those bricks from Canton have been laid as a historic brick road, leading up to the Great Platte River Arch Museum grounds.
Cassler has been an Eagle Scout since 2010, and the project has gone beyond normal expectations. “I’ve finally gotten past that feeling of recreating history,” Cassler stated. “I’ve received many awards from the Eagle Scouts, and it’ll just be nice to see the project finished.” Cassler and his father, as part of this project and the East tour, will be meeting the West tour there at the Great Platte River Arch Museum sometime next week.