Between 1923 and 1995, relatives Charlie Reed and the Niland families, operated one or more components of what was, for many years, a "one-stop" business. They provided gas, food and lodging to travelers along the Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30) and the Jefferson Highway (U.S. 65). Their business included a canopy-style, full service gas station, a cafe, tourist cabins, a restroom/shower building for cabin occupants, a motel, and an apartment building. All six major buildings remain structurally sound today.

The Reed/Niland Corner sits in a "Y" created by the routes of the original 1913 Transcontinental Highway, which stretched from New York City to San Francisco and the 1915 Jefferson Highway that ran from Winnipeg to New Orleans. These highways later became the numbered highways known as U.S. Highway 30 and U.S. Highway 65. The early highway features of the "Y" intersection and the grade separation of the Lincoln and Jefferson Highways provide even further value to this site. The Iowa Lincoln Highway Association (ILHA) identified the Reed/Niland Corner as one of seven key sites for presenting the history of the Lincoln Highway in Iowa. The Reed/Niland Corner was found to be the most intact and best preserved commercial "one-stop" site on the Lincoln Highway in Iowa and possibly even the entire United States.

In 1999, John Niland donated the buildings and land of the Reed/Niland "one-stop" Corner excluding the apartments to the City of Colo. A committee, now known as the Reed/Niland Corner Committee, was appointed to prepare a plan for the site. The site presented an extraordinary opportunity for a vivid demonstration of the important features of the commercial roadside in the early years of automobile travel. This information helped the committee understand that the project has more than just local significance. They decided the site should become an integral part of a larger interpretive program to present the complete story of the Lincoln Highway. The site creates for visitors a "sense" of how gas, food, and lodging were once provided to motorists on the early highways.

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