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Lincoln Highway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Lincoln Highway
Route information
Length3,389 mi (5,454 km)
Major junctions
West endLincoln Park in San Francisco, CA
East endTimes Square in New York, NY
StatesCalifornia, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York
Highway system
Auto trails
Lincoln Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Lincoln Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming

The Lincoln Highway was one of the earliest transcontinental highway routes for automobiles across the United States of America.[1] Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. In 1915, the "Colorado Loop" was removed, and in 1928, a realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. Thus, there are a total of 14 states, 128 counties, and more than 700 cities, towns and villages through which the highway passed at some time in its history.

The first officially recorded length of the entire Lincoln Highway in 1913 was 3,389 miles (5,454 km).[a] Over the years, the road was improved and numerous realignments were made,[3] and by 1924 the highway had been shortened to 3,142 miles (5,057 km). Counting the original route and all of the subsequent realignments, there have been a grand total of 5,872 miles (9,450 km).[4]

The Lincoln Highway was gradually replaced with numbered designations after the establishment of the U.S. Numbered Highway System in 1926, with most of the route becoming part of U.S. Route 30 from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. After the Interstate Highway System was formed in the 1950s, the former alignments of the Lincoln Highway were largely superseded by Interstate 80 as the primary coast-to-coast route from the New York City area to San Francisco.

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  • ✪ 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway
  • ✪ Lincoln Highway, York, Pa.
  • ✪ Illinois Adventure #1806 "Lincoln Highway Association Headquarters"


- [Announcer] Your support helps us bring you programs you love. Go to Wyoming PBS dot org.ú Click on support and become a sustaining member or an annual member. It's easy and secure. Thank you. (piano music) - [Narrator] Before the interstate highway system, before famed Route 66, before highways were even numbered, there was one road that captured the Public's attention. One road that led to new horizons. One road that changed America forever. Beginning in Times Square, New York City, and ending in San Francisco, it was America's first coast to coast automobile road, The Lincoln Highway. A little over a century ago there was no single auto road across America. There were wagon trails and ranch paths in the West, Turnpikes and farmers lanes in the East, but mostly these roads didn't lead anywhere. - The roads of the time what they were we just simple paths through the dirt and these were roads that ranchers and farmers would use to get to town to get back out. - [Narrator] At the turn of the century there weren't that many automobiles for which to build roads, but there were bicycles. - So, bicyclists actually are the ones that really started the good roads movement because the roads back then of course were dirt which turned to mud and then when the mud hardened you had hard ruts which is fine for horse and buggy, but certainly someone on a bicycle it doesn't work. When the automobile then became more prevalent the automobile entrepreneurs who had the financial wherewithal jumped on the bandwagon. And basically they became the fathers of the good roads movement at that point. - [Narrator] Among those early auto entrepreneurs was Carl G Fisher. Fisher was an Indiana businessman who formed the Prest-O-Lite company which manufactured acetylene headlights for early automobiles. He was also one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway home of the famed Indianapolis 500 race. - Carl Fischer was really a promoter, really a grand-stander in many ways. He was not a planner, but he had good ideas. - [Narrator] In 1912, Fisher conceived a hard-surfaced improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He called it the Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway. In September of that year Fisher met with the automobile industry leaders to pitch his idea and ask for donations to pay for the proposed road. Fisher felt it could be completed in time for the 1915 Exposition in San Francisco. "Let's build it.", he told the group before were too old to enjoy it. Within 30 minutes of his speech Frank Seiberling, President of Goodyear Tires was so inspired he pledged $300,000. Henry Joy president of the Packard Motor Company enthusiastically offered $150,000. - The intention was to connect the country from East Coast to West Coast. Commerce was a big piece of it, but also to encourage people to get out and travel, but they also were patriotic and believed it would benefit the country. - [Narrator] Within a few months Fisher had over 4 million dollars in pledges from auto manufacturers and auto-related businesses all except for one important holdout. Henry Ford was against private enterprise funding roads in America. He thought the government should be responsible. In time he would prove to be right. (piano music) The automobile had been around for a couple of decades before the Lincoln Highway, but they were expensive. - You'd see Maxwells and Premieres and the occasional Studebakers and other fine automobiles, expensive automobiles, that would cost two years wages for a working person at that time and these were playthings for the rich. - [Narrator] But in 1908 a vehicle appeared that shook up the nascent auto industry and set the stage for a revolution in personal transportation. That vehicle was the Ford Model T. The Model T was the first automobile mass-produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts and marketed to the middle class. It was a rugged and reliable little car that could easily be repaired by its owner. Standing on 30 inch tires it had good ground clearance, Bbt it's most important attribute was its price. Due to constantly improving mass production the price of a new model T dropped from $850 at its introduction to $260 by 1925. With costs coming down, Model T sales shot up. The 1 millionth Model T was produced in 1915. By 1921 5 million of them were on the road. And just three years later there were 10 million. At the end of its run in 1927, 15 million Model Ts had been manufactured. This singular vehicle propelled Henry Ford to National prominence and the Ford Motor Company to unimagined success. but more importantly it was the car they put America on the road. People could now journey at their own pace, on their own schedule to potentially any destination. The only problem was there still weren't many improved roads. After pledging his company's monetary support Henry Joy suggested a different name for Fisher's Coast to Coast Rock Highway. - "Let's call it the Lincoln Highway." He said that the Carl Fisher and Carl Fisher instantly knew that was the right name for it because Abraham Lincoln did link the country back together. - [Narrator] The Lincoln Highway Association was formed in Detroit on July 1st 1913. It was the first real attempt to develop, map, sign and promote a road across America. Henry Joy became the association's first President. Carl Fischer was named Vice President. Stringing together an assortment of existing roads the route of the Lincoln Highway was made public on September 14th 1913. It traversed more than 3300 miles, cutting across 12 States and four time zones. Bonfires and speeches, fireworks and parades occurred in hundreds of cities and towns along the Route upon its dedication, October 31st 1913, but now that the road was official reality set in. (car horn) After all the promotion, all the anticipation, and all the celebrations the Lincoln Highway was still just an assemblage of existing roads and trails. How difficult would a Coast to Coast Auto trip actually be. In July 2013 members of the new Lincoln Highway Association set out to discover the answer. - Cars of the tour are wonderful because we have 100 years of cars from 1913 clear up to present day cars and I love the diversity. - The Lincoln Highway was for everybody. You know when you get out, when you take the dirt roads you really see what it was like in 1913 to 1935, especially here I'm in a car that was around at that time. It's just really, really need to just go back in time and live the way they lived back then. ♪ Standing in the sagebrush battered by the wind ♪ Hey there it was I saw it ♪ Drive by that thing again ♪ There's a marker made of concrete ♪ From 80 years ago ♪ When this broken blacktop was country's only road ♪ From Coast to Coast ♪ Now the road who was the first ♪ To think of that ♪ Now the road long before Jack Pure-O was ♪ Down the road I'd rather come back ♪ We're looking for the Lincoln Highway ♪ Down the road (harmonica) - Highway 30 goes through a lot of small towns that don't see the kind of traffic that used to see. They are fabulous, quaint little towns with wonderful people and you would never get a chance to see them otherwise. - [Narrator] The 1916 Lincoln Highway Association Road guide had advice for those venturing out on the new highway. - [Narrator] For a real vacation nothing beats a camping trip. - [Narrator] The guide suggested bringing camping equipment, canned and dried food and an assortment of rugged clothing. - Equipment was essential. They had four or five spare tires, six if they could get them on their cars. They had tire chains. They used tire chains quite a bit. They had jacks and shovels, poles that they could stick under the bumper to lift up and get them out of a mud hole. They used flat lumber slabs to put under the tires. - [Narrator] Heeding the advice and warnings and purchasing the necessary provisions early auto enthusiasts packed up their vehicles and began to venture forth on the Lincoln Highway. The great American Road Trip was born. One such adventurer was Effie Price Gladding. In 1914 she and her husband set out from San Francisco and drove the new Lincoln Highway to New Jersey. Her ensuing book was the first of many to talk about the trans-continental route. - [Female Speaker] We resolved at the outset to take the days and the roads as they came, not looking for luxury and well satisfied with simplicity. It is surprising how one is fortified for the vicissitudes of the road by such a deliberate attitude of mind, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] Cheyenne, Wyoming was one of five state capitals through which the Lincoln Highway passed. At the request of the association Cheyenne 16th Street was renamed Lincoln Way, a moniker that still exists today. In Cheyenne many early travelers stayed at the Plains Hotel. Built in 1911 it was considered by locals to be the best lodging on the Lincoln Highway between Chicago and San Francisco. For those who couldn't afford a hotel a free Municipal Campground was located along the lake at the North end of town. In 1920 40,000 people camped there. Tourists from the East Coast crossing over the Laramie Mountains West of Cheyenne must have been bewildered by the dryness, the odd rock formations and the general lack of trees along the Route. This wasn't the Rocky Mountains they had envisioned, yet many were enthusiastic of the sites they encountered on this portion of the trip. One of the landmarks was the monument to Oakes and Oliver Ames, financiers and developers of the Union Pacific Railroad. - I'm here at the Ames Monument now and I can hardly wait to get out and see the view from up here. This is really an amazing structure. It's just way cool. I'm amazed that something like this is out in the middle of Wyoming. Awesome, I love it. - [Narrator] Over the years the Lincoln Highway was moved a number of times to provide motorists with a better alignment an improved road and a reduced distance. The original 1913 route traveled Southwest along Hermosa Road then to Tie Siding where it turned North and followed today's Highway 287 through Red Butte and on to Laramie, but by 1919 a new Lincoln Highway segment was opened. It continued due West from Ames Monument on to Sherman Hill Summit, highest point in the Lincoln at 8835 feet. In the 1920s a gas station and Road House known as The Summit Tavern was built on Sherman Summit. With improvements to the highway the Summit Tavern also improved over the years. Today there's a rest stop on the interstate not far from the original high point of the Lincoln Highway. Here modern travelers stop to see two memorials that stand high above the freeway. The bronze head of Lincoln was designed and created in 1958 by a University of Wyoming art Professor Robert Russin. Due to the extremes of Wyoming's temperatures he cast this sculpture in Mexico. It was shipped to Laramie in a truck to its original destination on Sherman Hill where it was dedicated. Russin and said that he wanted to show a contemplative Lincoln in the last years of his life. His great heart sorrowing over the rent of his Nation. Another Memorial at the Summit rest stop sits next to that of Lincoln. The Henry B Joy Monument honors the first President of the Lincoln Highway Association and the President of the Packard Motor Car Company. Joy was an avid Outdoorsman who drove cross-country multiple times testing the latest production Packards. He often encountered unfavorable conditions, but loved every minute away from the corporate boardroom. His memorial was moved to the rest area from a remote site near Creston, Wyoming, about a 100 miles to the West. - Where we're standing at right now is the site of the original Henry Joy Monument. The story goes that he was really enamored of the Wyoming sunset and decided that maybe he wanted to be buried here. In 1939 his wife placed monument here at this location and this monument remained here until it got moved to the Lincoln rest stop between Cheyenne and Laramie. - [Narrator] After cresting Sherman Summit The Lincoln Highway descended West through Telephone Canyon into Laramie. Wyoming road workers built The Lincoln Highway through this tight Canyon from 1919 to 1920. It was an amazing feat of engineering that shaved miles off the trip. - The whole idea of the Western, of the cowboy was really coming into its form in the early 20th century. People loved Western movies, so these travelers would get to Wyoming and they'd meet cowboys. They'd see people herding cattle. They would get to interact with these folks in the cafes, and saloons, and hotels, and towns along the Lincoln Highway. - [Effie] We came to Laramie reaching there on the eve of the 4th of July. Laramie boasts a good hotel which was crowded with people. Ranch men had brought their families for the festivities of the fourth. Tall Cowboys lounged about wearing their most ornamental tall boots, their best silk shirts, and brightest neck ties, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] Laramie was home to a true Wyoming, auto Pioneer Elmer Lovejoy. Always a tinkerer and inventor he had a garage on South Second Avenue where he built bicycles, but in 1898 he was hard at work on a new project. - What Elmer Lovejoy did in May of 1898 was to take some of his skills in repairing bicycles and some of those bicycles parts that de had in his shop and put it together with an internal combustion engine mounted on four wheels and drive around Laramie in May of 1898 in what was Wyoming's first car. - [Narrator] Soon Lovejoy, E.L. Emery and others in Wyoming began publishing travel guides for motorists. These guides often often had detailed turn-by-turn instructions, but failed to mention the pool road conditions. But rudimentary maps and misleading descriptions were the least of the problems encountered by early Lincoln Highway travelers. - The drive was pretty tough. It was unmarked and most places. It was dirt or mud or a little gravel now and then. There was really no paving to speak of outside of towns and cities. Even when the road was marked if it rained you might get into some pretty serious mud holes because it was just natural road there was no paving, no improvement, no embankment of any kind. - [Narrator] Some farmers and ranchers came to the aid of stuck motorists, often accepting no payment for their efforts. Others detested autos especially the initial wave of wealthy owners who obliviously ran over chickens and other farm animals. They often fought back by scattering tacks along the road. Some ranchers in Wyoming disliked automobiles so much they would sometimes threaten motorists with guns. Others sought revenge using less hostile tactics. - The guidebooks what's a helpful things like, "Turn right at the red barn." And then the farmer would paint the barn white and then you were lost, so these things take a while to iron out until things got better marked. - [Narrator] But eventually farmers and ranchers began to accept autos especially the Model T which could navigate rocky, muddy trails and could even be used as a power plant for ranch machinery. In Wyoming and other states fences surrounding farms and ranches often blocked the way. The early route of the Lincoln Highway between Laramie and Rawlins had no less than 18 gates through which motorist had to stop, open and close again. Alternative routes were often advertised. Bridges were another problem because at first there weren't too many of them. To cross a stream bed or dry ravine side banks were cut and large rocks moved before cars could push across. To avoid this effort some Travelers used railroad bridges. Sometimes consulting with railroad time schedules, sometimes not with all the dangers that implied. But in 1916 local communities were working hard to improve the highway that passed through their towns. Fix the bad places first was their Credo. They installed culverts. reinforced bridges, filled holes and smoothed out ruts. The Lincoln Highway Association encouraged and sponsored Civic groups and businesses along the route to get it marked. - In terms of signage The Lincoln Highway first tried to get local groups out to mark the highway in any way they could. There were red, white and blue pole painting with the L was one of the first ways, simple wooden signs that would say this way to Evanston, this way to, you know, this way to Wamsutter. - [Narrator] From Laramie to Medicine Bow this section of Lincoln Highway along US 30 has been called the best in Wyoming, but in 1912 and 1913 a furious battle raged over the route to The Lincoln Highway between Laramie and Rollins. - Really the big struggle with Medicine Bow versus Elk Mountain and we have a hotel in Medicine Bow, The Virginian and then we have the Elk Mountain Hotel, so there's a big battle. They both lobby The Lincoln Highway Association to make a case for why the highway should go to through their town. - [Narrator] August Rim was an entrepreneur, saloon owner, and first Mayor of Medicine Bow. His landmark, Virginia Hotel had electric lights, indoor plumbing and cost of whopping $65,000 to build. - The hotel was completed in 1911, had a grand opening, two months later the Union Pacific stopped stopping their trains in Medicine Bow. Rim was stuck with this huge white elephant which wasn't making any money at all without the train. He had heard that there was going to be a trans-continental highway across the United States. He was determined to make sure that the highway came through Medicine Bow in order to save his floundering business, The Virginian Hotel. - [Narrator] Meanwhile the town fathers of Elk Mountain bragged about it's fine hotel and the abundance of innumerable springs and streams of nice clear, cool, good water. That a route through their area was also 18 miles shorter, but August Rim was not to be denied. He got together with like-minded businessmen and formed of plan. - He decided that they had to take matters into their own hands. He called some of his cronies in one afternoon, in his bar in Medicine Bow and he said we're going to have to do this ourselves because we can't get a decision out of anybody else. The group sat down and they made about 60 of these facsimile Lincoln Highway signs and in one day they signed the entire route from Laramie to Rawlins with these facsimile signs. He then invited The Laramie Chamber of Commerce and the Rawlins Chamber of Commerce to drive the route to Medicine Bow. When they got to Medicine bow they were greeted by a cocktail party and a home ranch saloon and then a meal in The Virginian Hotel. After this is all done and they got back home they contacted the state engineer this gentleman, Mister Parshall and they said, "What's the problem the highway was already marked. "Its already located. "There's no use fighting over this anymore." So, (mumbles) agreed and that's how the highway got to Medicine Bow. It was strictly by the relentless effort of Rim and they take the bull by the horns attitude that he had the brought Lincoln Highway to Medicine Bow. - [Narrator] In the 1960s the table's turned on Medicine Bow. The new Interstate 80 traveled West past Elk Mountain and bypassed all the towns between Laramie and Rollins along the old Lincoln Highway. - Medicine Bow had 57 small businesses when I 80 open in 1970. We now have five. It killed Medicine Bow. It killed Rock River. It killed Vosler. I 80 was a disaster for our town and for the towns that existed along the original route. - [Narrator] By the 1920s the Lincoln Highway and auto touring had captured the imagination of the middle and working classes. People were being paid better wages. They had more leisure time due to a shortened work week and they were purchasing automobiles mostly the Model T. As a result many Americans begin taking longer auto trips. Packing up their autos with camping gear and luggage. Loading in their families, they followed their guidebooks and struck out for new horizons on The Lincoln Highway. ♪ Rolling down that Lincoln Highway ♪ The oldest road from shore to shore ♪ Built way back when ♪ By those hard working man ♪ They had a dream but the still wanted more ♪ Now old Abe Lincoln was a straight shooting man ♪ He shot a question to the soul of this land ♪ Shouldn't all men be free ♪ And except the different crowd ♪ Yes, he answers ringing clear and loud (horn honking) ♪ Rolling down that Lincoln Highway ♪ Rolling down that Lincoln Highway ♪ Rolling down that Lincoln Highway ♪ Rolling down that Lincoln Highway (horn beeps) - [Narrator] These new Travelers couldn't afford hotels and fine meals. They barely had enough for food and gas. They would simply pull over onto any open land and set up camp often without asking permission. These budget auto travelers were called tincan tourists not because of the Model T Tin Lizzy's they drove, but because of the food they ate out of tin cans. - [Effie] As we drive along we'd constantly see the remains of former camps by the roadside. Old tin tea kettles, pieces of worn-out camp stools piles of tin cans, these are mute and inglorious monuments to the bivouacs of other days. These immense plateau states are very dependent upon canned foods and all along tin cans marked the trail, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] But at one location in Wyoming tourist left more than their tin can refuse. - We're standing at an inscription site along a segment of The Lincoln Highway between Rock Springs and Rawlins. Just like the Overland Trail immigrants in the 1840s and 50s who stopped at Independence rock to sign their names, the travelers here on The Lincoln Highway also stopped here and scratched their names and initials into the rocks. - [Narrator] Camps sponsored by cities and towns began to grow because tourists were trashing farmer's fields and ranch lands with their litter. - If there didn't happen to be anybody in the community who was willing to provide the kinds of services that travelers may wish to avail themselves of to maybe stop and throw up a tent camp the Municipality would go ahead and do it because they recognized pretty early on that people who stopped at a free campground in close proximity of the town would spend some money in the local community. - [Narrator] Tourist traffic on The Lincoln Highway proved to be a financial bonanza for towns both large and small. Auto repair garages and restaurants, hotels and gas stations, tourist stops of all varieties reap the rewards of The Lincoln Highway. - People realize maybe a little shelter from the Wyoming wind would be nice and they built little cabins. Well and then pretty soon these cabins were kind of popular. Let's kind of put them all in a row and put them together and we'll call it the motel. That was really development of the first sort of roadside Motel. These elongated rows of rooms that early on often had a little garage between each cabin. These cottages were built in the early 1920s 26, 30. People started using them all the time for camping at night. They had showers, garages to park in, and all the facilities inside. They were great. They mushroomed all over town. - Part motel, part camping facility, travelers can get a good night's rest, take a shower and rustle up a meal all for a very affordable price. - We're at the Sunset Cabins in Evanston, Wyoming, one of the great culture resources in our community. It typifies what happened when The Lincoln Highway in it's heyday went right next door here. When the cabins were built in the 20s they were the first lodging cabins in Evanston. - Astonishingly the remains of the cabins are still standing, but are in dire need of repair and restoration. So, the cabins are there, campground over here. That's fantastic. - Some wise enough to build into their business the whole identity of gas, food, and lodging. You could you could buy gas. You could get a sandwich and you could rent a little tourist cabin. - [Narrator] One business in particular rose from the ranks of Mom-and-Pop establishments to become a major player in the travel service industry, Little America. Little America was founded in 1934 by Stephen Mack Covey. As a young sheep herder, the story goes, he once spent the night without shelter when a blizzard struck and temperatures plummeted to 40 below. After surviving this ordeal he was inspired to build an oasis for travelers he called Little America after Admiral Byrd's encampment in the Antarctic. The penguin became its logo. At first the business was a modest affair, located near Granger, Wyoming, with 12 cabins, two gas pumps and 24 seats in the cafe. It was a handy stop on the Lincoln for gas food and a good night's sleep. Soon a cocktail lounge called the Palm room was added. Later a hotel was built. In 1949 Little America moved to its present location at exit 68 along the proposed route for the I-80 Interstate. In 1952 Earl Holding, Covey's son-in-law began managing it. Later he purchased the business. By the 1960s it billed itself as the largest gas station in the world with 55 pumps. Today long after many Mom-and-Pop cabin courts have faded away, Little America is still a popular Lincoln Highway vestige along I-80. - [Effie] Rollins was our halting place for the night. It is a pleasant town with wide streets and plenty of sunshine. In Rollins as in most Western towns we stayed at a hotel managed on the European plan and ate our meals in a nearby restaurant. It is always a surprise to me to see the number of people in the restaurants and cafeterias of the West. Even in small towns these places are crowded, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] The hotel she was referring to was The Ferris Hotel, a downtown Rollins landmark since 1901. After falling into disrepair it was demolished in 1999, but the Ferris Mansion still stands in Rollins. Lincoln Highway travelers must have gawked at this elaborate Queen Anne style building. Today it's currently run as a B&B for modern highway travelers. Westward from Rollins the route of the Lincoln Highway crosses the Continental Divide and enters The Great Divide Basin. Here water flows neither East nor West, but simply evaporates into thin air. It is the beginning of the Red Desert at over 9,000 square miles, the largest un-fenced area in the continental United States. Some Lincoln Highway travelers loved the desert. - [Effie] The Wyoming desert has a sharper and more vivid coloring than that of Nevada. The table land is more rolling and the mountains are farther away. The smell of the sagebrush, pungent and aromatic is in my nostrils from day-to-day. I love it in it's cleanness and spiciness and she'll be sorry when we have left the desert behind, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] Others couldn't wait to cross it. One trailer called the Red Desert a place where even the prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, and coyotes had given up the country in disgust. The Lincoln Highway in this part of Wyoming, follow the old Union Pacific Rail bed or more precisely it was the abandoned rail bed. - So in 1913 when they established the first grade they simply put people going down these railroad grades and they were better than virtually any other thing in Wyoming because they were raised berms. You were up out of the mud. They were well drained. Moisture would drain off of them, so what they did was they just had to crop the top off of these grades, widen them, dump the dirt on the sides, and turn them into a rather narrow two-lane road. - [Narrator] With increased traffic after 1920 major changes were required in grade, alignment, and bridges. The Lincoln Highway Association helped the state complete 105 miles of graded gravel. - We're standing on a segment of the 1920s Lincoln Highway. This is the first purpose-built version of the Highway. It's a berm 24 foot wide, two lane, generally covered with crushed rock similar to the ballast that the Union Pacific Railroad used on its tracks. Occasionally covered with oil in places to stabilize the berm, but very rarely paved at least until the 1930s. This is the last version of the Lincoln Highway. we refer to it as the 1930s variant, although officially it is United States highway US 30. This version was built between the mid-1930s and the early 1940s. It is a very typical two-lane highway, 36 foot wide, paved with the traffic lines signs, everything that a modern highway would have. - [Narrator] Rock Springs has been a coal town since the days of the Transcontinental Railroad. It's also the home of a Lincoln Highway Landmark, The Rock Springs Coal Archway was a errected over The Lincoln Highway in 1928. As automobilist passed under it they had to watch their progress. The speed limit through Rock Springs was eight miles per hour, one of the lowest along the entire road, yet another source of potential income provided by the Lincoln Highway for cities and towns along its route. - [Effie] The Butte scenery both approaching and leaving Green River was very fine. The coloring was extremely rich, soft reds, yellows, browns and clay colors. There were long lines of round buttresses and great concavities of rock more like the famous Cos of Southern France than anything I have ever seen, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] In 1913 travelers on the Lincoln Highway cross the Green River over an Old Wagon Bridge. It was considered Wyoming's worst section of The Lincoln Highway. But in 1922 the state built a new highway bridge and shifted the route. What was once dreaded by Travelers now turned into a beautiful crossing. This second-generation highway past the foot of Tollgate Rock and along the base of the spectacular Green River Palisades. It then crossed the longest Lincoln Highway span in Wyoming, the 286 foot long Green River Bridge. Tourists driving to Yellowstone Park headed Northwest at Little America. Those staying on the Lincoln veered West, Southwest. On the way Lincoln Highway travelers marveled at the unusual rock formations of Church Butte. - [Effie] The Wyoming Butte are wonderfully carved by wind and sand and weather and many of them present a mysterious and imposing appearance. Often they are tablelands rising square and massive against the horizon like immense fortresses, Effie Price Gladding. - [Narrator] Further down the road they passed through (mumbles), originally a Mormon settlement founded in 1899. The town of Fort Bridger was originally a trading post built by famed trapper and mountain man, Jim Bridger. In 1843 it was a supply stop for travelers along the Oregon Trail and later the Overland Stage and Pony Express. Lincoln Highway Auto tourists also stopped here and stayed at the black and orange tourist cabins with attached garages. They've been recently restored by the state of Wyoming. This stretch of Lincoln Highway from Fort Bridger to Evanston even as late as 1919 was abysmal, but it had its scenic pleasures. - One of the famous landmarks that's just about 12 miles East of here is call Eagle Rock and it was a famous landmark on the road. If one is collecting Lincoln Highway trivia, memorabilia and you often come across a postcard with that image of the eagle on it. - [Narrator] After a long day's drive through Wyoming's arrid climate one of Evanston's roadside businesses road catered not only to the lodging needs of Lincoln Highway tourists, but to their thirst as well. - Pete's Rock and Rye Club which is just outside the city limits when Evanston was built probably in the 40s is a famous landmark in Evanston because it was the local watering hole. - Well it was a little roadhouse that was patronized by people in the 40s and 50s. My dad and his brother had milled some tourist cabins and I grew up in cabin number 6. Every morning I woke up with new neighbors and wonderful road stories and then years later the bulldozers buried our place to make a new highway and I relocated here to continue my romance with the road. Now I open on the weekends. (mumbles) ain't it tough. 12 hour week sitting over on that stool over there and shooting the breeze with my regulars, both of whom I love dearly. (laughs) - [Narrator] As the Lincoln Highway Association lobbied state and federal governments to support road construction, Washington begin to listen particularly the Department of Defense. 1919 Lincoln Highway Association Field Secretary, Harry Osterman persuaded the War Department to organize a motor convoy. It would navigate The Lincoln Highway from coast to coast. Comprised of nearly 300 soldiers and 80 vehicles, the convoy set out to demonstrate the practicality of cross-country motorized troop movement. A last-minute addition to that convoy was a young, Lieutenant Colonel whose experiences on this trip would years later ironically spell the end of the Lincoln Highway. His name was Dwight D Eisenhower. The trip required many repairs on military vehicles as well as rebuilding bridges that could not support the heavy loads. - [Male Speaker] Wyoming roads west of Cheyenne are poor dirt ones with weak culverts and bridges. In one day 14 of these were counted broken through by the train. The desert roads in the southwest portion of this state are very poor. Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower. The convoy finally made it to San Francisco after 62 arduous days. In the end this military exercise was successful in convincing the government that paved roads were essential to the country's National Defense. it was a PR triumph for Osterman. All the efforts of the Lincoln Highway Association we're now aimed at getting local, state, and federal governments involved in the business of road building The Federal Highway Act of 1921 provided matching funds to States for road construction to the tune of 75 million dollars. Roads in America began to rapidly improve. With better roads the idea of a long road trip by auto was now really catching on. Women in particular boldly embraced the idea of the American road trip. Some in an attempt to promote women's rights, others simply exercising their new found independence. - They could get in the automobile and drive to town and got to a social circle or perhaps even engage in businesses as many women begin to do. It was a great freeing thing for all segments of society, but particularly for women because they had a mobility that they had not had before. - Doctor Grace Raymond Hebard was a Wyoming historian in the early part of the 20th century and she owned a car and traveled around Wyoming looking for historic sites and also she became very much involved in the the historical marking work that was more less a hallmark of the Progressive Era of marking places of historical importance. Many times she would be out driving around looking at these historic sites and something would go wrong with her car and you would have to climb underneath and figure out how to fix one part or another. One aspect that was very important for Wyoming was the historical landmarks that she set up because they were all predicated on the fact automobiles could stop there and could read about the historical event that had occurred. - [Narrator] With the Highway Act of 1921 the involvement of the federal government marked the beginning of the end for the Lincoln Highway. Now that matching dollars were available to state, new roads with a variety of names popped up around the country. There were hundreds of named roads by that time. It was a confusing spaghetti bowl of roads in many places. You'd have six or eight named highways coming together at one place and you were trying to read the signs of all of them. It was a very poor Arrangement. It was very difficult for the motorist to get anywhere by following these signs. - [Narrator] Washington stepped in once again then proposed a numbering convention, all national highways would now be identified by a Federal Shield including the highway number. Route markers and signs for named highways were removed. The Lincoln Highway was designated as US Route 30 for much of it's length, but it also became US one, US 530, US 40 and US 50 in other areas. In the fall of 1926 the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Highway Association voted to cease operations at the end of 1927. They realized that their goal of an inter-continental network of highways was coming to fruition, but there was one final publicity attempt in September 1928. Thousands of Boy Scouts across the country placed cast concrete Lincoln Highway markers at sites along the Route. These red, white, and blue markers held a brass medallion of Lincoln's head and directional arrows to mark the way. In all, nearly 3000 of these now iconic posts. were positioned. By the 25th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway in 1938 nearly the entire route has been paved. On that anniversary NBC broadcast a radio program that featured interviews with former Lincoln Highway Association officials and a message from Carl Fischer. The Lincoln Highway Association has accomplished its primary purpose that of providing an object lesson to show the possibility in highway transportion. Now I believe the country is at the beginning of another new era in highway building that will create a system of roads far beyond the dreams of The Lincoln Highway founder, Carl G. Fisher. - [Narrator] Fisher died the following year. He had lost most of his fortune to the Wall Street crash of 1929. Henry Joy died on November 6, 1936. As a general route The Lincoln Highway in its new number persona was now being used more than ever, but it soon gave way to and even bigger idea. Dwight Eisenhower after his experiences with the Army convoy of 1919 and his admiration of the Autobahn during World War II had a vision for something similar in America, a nationwide network of limited access highways. When he became president in 1953, he held true to his dream signing the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1954 and 1956. Construction on the interstate highway system soon began. It took 30 years to fully complete. Now the Lincoln Highway was truly gone. In it's place in covering much of its course from New Jersey to California was I 80. Many portions of the Lincoln Highway lay vacant and in ruins today. Other sections are still used as local routes through many states. In Wyoming some areas of the old abandoned highway can be seen running alongside the current I-80. In the 1980s a new interest in the Lincoln Highway began to develop, much of it due to a book, a photographic essay by Drake Hokanson. - He talked about the emotion of the road, getting off the interstate, rediscovering America again and the fascination of this road and it kind of faded out of the public consciousness. And that book influenced a lot of people. We owe a lot to Drake Hokanson for writing that book. - I've long been very compelled by history by a sense of the hard work that people have done for many generations to create what we have today. How we travel, how we understand the land, how we know who we are, it's very powerful. - [Narrator] A new Lincoln Highway Association was formed in 1992 with the mission to identify, preserve, and improve access to the remaining portions of the Lincoln Highway and its associated historic sites. In the summer of 2013 270 members from around the world traveled by car from both Coasts to Kearney Nebraska, for a Centennial celebration, 100 years on the Lincoln Highway. - (mumbles) when the desert was inside the laptop on the keyboard. - He and I became known around town as the (mumbles). - Torbioern Lorensen, from Norway. (mumbles), Norway, North of the Arctic Circle. - [Male Speaker] It's cold up there. - No not so cold compared to (mumbles) cold. Yeah, I travel a lot in my old car, convertible, black Mustang. I've been traveling all over America, traveling and driving, feeling free when I'm driving alone. - You want to pass the freeway and going into (mumbles). - We are temporary custodians of these vehicles. In 20 or 30 or 40 years somebody else needs to be custodians so these cars don't wind up in museums. We want them on the road, on tours like this so people can see them, know what Packard is, know what Packard is all about and get interested in owning one of these Packards one day. That goal was accomplished today in one small way. - [Narrator] Today we zip across the country on divided, limited access interstates. Lincoln Highway for the most part has been eliminated. The routing of Interstate 80 has taken it's toll on once thriving towns including those in Wyoming. I 80 now bypasses such places as Vosler and Medicine Bow, (mumbles) and Fort Bridger. - Today, what's the goal? Get there as fast as we can. We don't stop in places like Rock River and Medicine Bow to get fuel. We pull off at the big truck stops. We top off our tanks. We get back on the Interstates and drive as fast as we can. - We've become such a fast society because so much of travel today is simply the destination. The act of the actual travel itself has gone by the wayside. The Lincoln Highway offers the opportunity, you don't have to have a destination. You can just get in the car and go as far as you want and sometimes it'd just take four hours, take four days, take four weeks. - Well, it's sad because too many people think that the only way to get some place is the fastest speed on the road. That's boring. Get on I 80 and you miss the fun of the old route of the Lincoln Highway and the Mom and Pop restaurant and the tourist's cabins. - There's a great opportunity for us out there today, to find these old pieces of The Lincoln Highway and just slow down. The term that gets used a lot is slow travel. How can I slow down and explore some of my own country in ways that are similar to the ways that the earlier automobile travelers did in the early part of the 20th Century. - [Effie] We have a new conception of our great country, her vastness, her varied scenery, her prosperity, her happiness, her boundless resources, her immense possibilities, her kindness and hopefulness. We are bound to her by by a 1000 new ties of acquaintance of association and of pride. Effie Price Gladding. (horn honking) - [Narrator] For those who truly want to experience America and relive what those early auto pioneers on the Lincoln Highway experienced, get off the Interstate and seek out those portions of the old road. Slow down and savor the joy of auto travel. Discover the fascinating history not only of the Lincoln Highway, but of America itself. Get away from the mundane and ordidnary and understand what those who pioneered the way knew. That getting there is half the fun. After 100 years on the Lincoln Highway, it's still the journey that counts. ♪ Down the road how far you going man ♪ We're looking for the Lincoln Highway ♪ Down the road (harmonica music)


1928–30 routing

Sign marking the Eastern Terminus of the Lincoln Highway at the intersection of 42nd Street and Broadway in Times Square, New York.
Sign marking the Eastern Terminus of the Lincoln Highway at the intersection of 42nd Street and Broadway in Times Square, New York.
The Western Terminus Marker of the Lincoln Highway in Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
The Western Terminus Marker of the Lincoln Highway in Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

Note: A fully interactive online map of the entire Lincoln Highway and all of its re-alignments, markers, monuments and points of interest can be viewed at the Lincoln Highway Association Official Map website.[5] Google Maps prominently labels the 1928–30 route.

Most of U.S. Route 30 from Philadelphia to western Wyoming, portions of Interstate 80 in the western United States, most of U.S. Route 50 in Nevada and California, and most of old decommissioned U.S. Route 40 in California are alignments of the Lincoln Highway. The final (1928–1930) alignment of the Lincoln Highway corresponds roughly to the following roads:


The Lincoln Highway was America's first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., by nine years. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way. The Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as "The Main Street Across America".[6]

The Lincoln Highway was inspired by the Good Roads Movement. In turn, the success of the Lincoln Highway and the resulting economic boost to the governments, businesses and citizens along its route inspired the creation of many other named long-distance roads (known as National Auto Trails), such as the Yellowstone Trail, National Old Trails Road, Dixie Highway, Jefferson Highway, Bankhead Highway, Jackson Highway, Meridian Highway and Victory Highway. Many of these named highways were supplanted by the United States Numbered Highways system of 1926. Most of the 1928 Lincoln Highway route became U.S. Route 30 (US 30), with portions becoming US 1 in the East and US 40, US 50 and US 93 in the West. Since 1928, many sections of US 30 have been re-aligned with new bypasses; therefore, today's US 30 aligns with less than 25% of the original 1913–28 Lincoln Highway routes.

Most significantly, the Lincoln Highway inspired the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, also known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (Public Law 84-627), which was championed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, influenced by his experiences as a young soldier crossing the country in the 1919 Army Convoy on the Lincoln Highway. Today, Interstate 80 (I-80) is the cross-country highway most closely aligned with the Lincoln Highway. In the West, particularly in Wyoming, Utah and California, sections of I-80 are paved directly over alignments of the Lincoln Highway.

The Lincoln Highway Association, originally established in 1913 to plan, promote, and sign the highway, was re-formed in 1992 and is now dedicated to promoting and preserving the road.

Concept and promotion

In 1912, railroads dominated interstate transportation in America, and roadways were primarily of local interest. Outside cities, "market roads" were sometimes maintained by counties or townships, but maintenance of rural roads fell to those who lived along them. Many states had constitutional prohibitions against funding "internal improvements" such as road projects, and federal highway programs were not to become effective until 1921.

At the time, the country had about 2.2 million miles (3.5×10^6 km) of rural roads, of which a mere 8.66% (190,476 miles or 306,541 kilometres) had "improved" surfaces: gravel, stone, sand-clay, brick, shells, oiled earth, etc. Interstate roads were considered a luxury, something only for wealthy travelers who could spend weeks riding around in their automobiles.

Support for a system of improved interstate highways had been growing. For example, in 1911, Champ Clark, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, wrote, "I believe the time has come for the general Government to actively and powerfully co-operate with the States in building a great system of public highways ... that would bring its benefits to every citizen in the country".[7] However, Congress as a whole was not yet ready to commit funding to such projects.

Carl G. Fisher was an early automobile entrepreneur who was the manufacturer of Prest-O-Lite carbide-gas headlights used on most early cars, and was also one of the principal investors who built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He believed that the popularity of automobiles was dependent on good roads. In 1912 he began promoting his dream of a transcontinental highway, and at a September 10 dinner meeting with industry friends in Indianapolis, he called for a coast-to-coast rock highway to be completed by May 1, 1915, in time for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.[8] He estimated the cost at about $10 million and told the group, "Let's build it before we're too old to enjoy it!"[1] Within a month Fisher's friends had pledged $1 million. Henry Ford, the biggest automaker of his day, refused to contribute because he believed the government should build America's roads. However, contributors included former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas A. Edison, both friends of Fisher, as well as then-current President Woodrow Wilson, the first U.S. President to make frequent use of an automobile for relaxation.

Fisher and his associates chose a name for the road, naming it after one of Fisher's heroes, Abraham Lincoln. At first they had to consider other names,[9] such as "The Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway" or "The Ocean-to-Ocean Highway," because the Lincoln Highway name had been reserved earlier by a group of Easterners who were seeking support to build their Lincoln Highway from Washington to Gettysburg on federal funds. When Congress turned down their proposed appropriation, the project collapsed, and Fisher's preferred name became readily available.

On July 1, 1913, the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) was established "to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges".[1] The first goal of the LHA was to build the rock highway from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The second goal was to promote the Lincoln Highway as an example to, in Fisher's words, "stimulate as nothing else could the building of enduring highways everywhere that will not only be a credit to the American people but that will also mean much to American agriculture and American commerce".[1] Henry Joy was named as the LHA president, so that although Carl Fisher remained a driving force in furthering the goals of the association, it would not appear as his one-man crusade.[9]

The first section of the Lincoln Highway to be completed and dedicated was the Essex and Hudson Lincoln Highway, running along the former Newark Plank Road from Newark, New Jersey, to Jersey City, New Jersey. It was dedicated on December 13, 1913[10] at the request of the Associated Automobile Clubs of New Jersey and the Newark Motor Club, and was named after the two counties it passed through.[11][12]

Lincoln statues

The Great Emancipator on display in Detroit, Michigan.
The Great Emancipator on display in Detroit, Michigan.

To bring attention to the highway, Fisher commissioned statues of Abraham Lincoln, titled The Great Emancipator, to be placed in key locations along the route of the highway. One of the statues was given to Joy in 1914.[13] Joy's statue was later presented to the Detroit Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. That statue is currently on display at D-bar-A Scout Ranch in Metamora, Michigan.[14] There is another statue of Lincoln in the main entrance of Lincoln Park (Jersey City).

Route selection and dedication

September 1920 photo near the intersection of Broad Street and Northeast Boulevard (now known as Roosevelt Boulevard) in Philadelphia
September 1920 photo near the intersection of Broad Street and Northeast Boulevard (now known as Roosevelt Boulevard) in Philadelphia
Essex and Hudson Lincoln Highway in Jersey City, New Jersey
Essex and Hudson Lincoln Highway in Jersey City, New Jersey

The LHA needed to determine the best and most direct route from New York City to San Francisco. East of the Mississippi River, route selection was eased by the relatively dense road network. To scout a western route, the LHA's "Trail-Blazer" tour set out from Indianapolis in 17 cars and two trucks on July 1, 1913, the same day LHA headquarters were established in Detroit. After 34 days of Iowa mud pits, sand drifts in Nevada and Utah, overheated radiators, flooded roads, cracked axles, and enthusiastic greetings in every town that thought it had a chance of being on the new highway, the tour arrived for a parade down San Francisco's Market Street before thousands of cheering residents.

The Trail-Blazers returned to Indianapolis by train, and a few weeks later on September 14, 1913, the route was announced. LHA leaders, particularly Packard president Henry Joy, wanted as straight a route as possible and the 3,389-mile (5,454 km) route announced did not necessarily follow the course of the Trail-Blazers. There were many disappointed town officials, particularly in Colorado and Kansas, who had greeted the Trail-Blazers and thought the tour's passage had meant their towns would be on the Highway.

Less than half the selected route was improved roadway. As segments were improved over time, the route length was reduced by about 250 miles (400 km). Several segments of the Lincoln Highway route followed historic roads:

The LHA dedicated the route on October 31, 1913. Bonfires, fireworks, concerts, parades, and street dances were held in hundreds of cities in the 13 states along the route. During a dedication ceremony in Iowa, State Engineer Thomas H. MacDonald said he felt it was "... the first outlet for the road building energies of this community".[1] He went on to advocate the creation of a system of transcontinental highways with radial routes. In 1919, MacDonald became Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR), a post he held until 1953, when he oversaw the early stages of the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.


"Lincoln Highway near Pennsylvania Tunnel" near Fallsington, Pennsylvania
"Lincoln Highway near Pennsylvania Tunnel" near Fallsington, Pennsylvania

In September 1912, in a letter to a friend, Fisher wrote that "... the highways of America are built chiefly of politics, whereas the proper material is crushed rock, or concrete".[1] The leaders of the LHA were masters of the public relations, and used publicity and propaganda as even more important materials.

In the early days of the effort, each contribution from a famous supporter was publicized. Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison, both friends of Fisher, sent checks. A friendly Member of the United States Congress arranged for a dedicated motor enthusiast, President Woodrow Wilson, to contribute $5 whereupon he was issued Highway Certificate #1. Copies of the certificate were promptly distributed to the press.

One of the best-known contributions came from a small group of Native Alaskan children in Anvik, Alaska. Their American teacher told them about Abraham Lincoln and the highway to be built in his honor, and they took up a collection and sent it to the LHA with the note, "Fourteen pennies from Anvik Esquimaux children for the Lincoln Highway".[1] The LHA distributed pictures of the coins and the accompanying letter, and both were widely reprinted.

One of Fisher's first acts after opening LHA headquarters was to hire F. T. Grenell, city editor of the Detroit Free Press, as a part-time publicity man. The Trail-Blazer tour included representatives of the Hearst newspaper syndicate, the Indianapolis Star and News, the Chicago Tribune, and telegraph companies to help transmit their dispatches.

In preparation for the October 31 dedication ceremonies, the LHA asked clergy across the United States to discuss Abraham Lincoln in their sermons on November 2, the Sunday nearest the dedication. The LHA then distributed copies of many of the sermons, such as one by Cardinal James Gibbons who, with the dedication fresh in mind, had written that "such a highway will be a most fitting and useful monument to the memory of Lincoln".[1]

One of the greater contributions to highway development was a well-publicized and promoted United States Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy in 1919. The convoy left the White House in Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1919, and met the Lincoln Highway route at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. After two months of travel, the convoy reached San Francisco on September 6, 1919. Though bridges failed, vehicles broke and were sometimes stuck in mud, the convoy was greeted in communities across the country. The LHA used the convoy's difficulties to show the need for better main highways, building popular support for both local and federal funding. The convoy led to the passage of many county bond issues supporting highway construction.

One of the participants in the convoy was Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it was so memorable that he devoted a chapter to it ("Through Darkest America With Truck and Tank") in his 1967 book At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends. That 1919 experience, and his exposure to the autobahn network in Germany in the 1940s, found expression in 1954 when he announced his "Grand Plan" for highways. The resulting Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 created the Highway Trust Fund that accelerated construction of the Interstate Highway System.

Fisher's idea that the auto industry and private contributions could pay for the highway was soon abandoned, and, while the LHA did help finance a few short sections of roadway, LHA founders' and members' contributions were used primarily for publicity and promotion to encourage travel on the Highway and to lobby officials at all levels to support its construction by governments.

Early travel

According to the Association's 1916 Official Road Guide a trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the Lincoln Highway was "something of a sporting proposition" and might take 20 to 30 days.[1] To make it in 30 days the motorist would need to average 18 miles (29 km) an hour for 6 hours per day, and driving was only done during daylight hours. The trip was thought to cost no more than $5 a day per person, including food, gas, oil, and even "five or six meals in hotels". Car repairs would, of course, increase the cost.

Since gasoline stations were still rare in many parts of the country, motorists were urged to top off their gasoline at every opportunity, even if they had done so recently. Motorists should wade through water before driving through to verify the depth. The list of recommended equipment included chains, a shovel, axe, jacks, tire casings and inner tubes, tools, and (of course) a pair of Lincoln Highway pennants. And, the guide offered this sage advice: "Don't wear new shoes".[1]

Firearms were not necessary, but west of Omaha full camping equipment was recommended, and the guide warned against drinking alkali water that could cause serious cramps. In certain areas, advice was offered on getting help, for example near Fish Springs, Utah, "If trouble is experienced, build a sagebrush fire. Mr. Thomas will come with a team. He can see you 20 miles off".[1] Later editions omitted Mr. Thomas, but westbound travelers were advised to stop at the Orr's Ranch for advice, and eastbound motorists were to check with Mr. K.C. Davis of Gold Hill, Nevada.

Seedling miles and the ideal section

1928 Lincoln Highway Marker at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
1928 Lincoln Highway Marker at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The Lincoln Highway Association did not have enough funds to sponsor large sections of the road, but from 1914 it did sponsor "seedling mile" projects. According to the 1924 LHA Guide the seedling miles were intended "to demonstrate the desirability of this permanent type of road construction" to rally public support for government-backed construction. The LHA convinced industry of their self-interest and was able to arrange donations of materials from the Portland Cement Association.[1]

The first seedling mile (1.6 km) was built in 1914 west of Malta, Illinois; but, after years of experience, the LHA organized a design plan for a road section that could handle traffic 20 years into the future. Seventeen highway experts met between December 1920 and February 1921, and specified:

  • a right-of-way 110 feet (34 m) in width
  • a concrete road bed 40 feet (12 m) wide and 10 inches (254 mm) thick to support loads of 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) per wheel
  • curves with a minimum radius of 1,000 feet (300 m), banked for 35 mph (56 km/h), with guard rails at embankments
  • no grade crossings or advertising signs
  • a footpath for pedestrians[1]

The most famous seedling mile built to these specifications was the 1.3-mile (2.1 km) "ideal section" between Dyer and Schererville in Lake County, Indiana. With federal, state, and county funds, and a $130,000 contribution by United States Rubber Company president and LHA founder C.B. Seger, the ideal section was built during 1922 and 1923. Magazines and newspapers called the ideal section a vision of the future, and highway officials from across the country visited and wrote technical papers that circulated both in the United States and overseas. The ideal section is still in use to this day, and has worn so well that a driver would not notice it unless the marker near the road brought it to their attention.[1]

United States Numbered Highways

Lincoln Highway marker in Carson City, Nevada
Lincoln Highway marker in Carson City, Nevada

By the mid-1920s there were about 250 national auto trails. Some were major routes, such as the Lincoln Highway, the Jefferson Highway, the National Old Trails Road, the Old Spanish Trail, and the Yellowstone Trail, but most were shorter. Some of the shorter routes were formed more to generate revenues for a trail association rather than for their value as a route between significant locations.

By 1925 governments had joined the roadbuilding movement, and began to assert control. Federal and state officials established the Joint Board on Interstate Highways, which proposed a numbered U.S. Highway System which would make the trail designations obsolete, though technically the Joint Board had no authority over highway names. Increasing government support for roadbuilding was making the old road associations less important, but the LHA still had significant influence. The Secretary of the Joint Board, BPR official E. W. James, went to Detroit to gain LHA support for the numbering scheme, knowing it would be hard for smaller road associations to object if the LHA publicly supported the new plan.

The LHA preferred numbering the existing named routes, but in the end the LHA was more interested in the larger plan for roadbuilding than they were in officially retaining the name. They knew the Lincoln Highway name was fixed in the mind of the public, and James promised them that, so far as possible, the Lincoln Highway would have the number 30 for its entire route. An editorial in the February 1926 issue of The Lincoln Forum reflected the outcome:

The Lincoln Highway Association would have liked to have seen the Lincoln Highway designated as a United States route entirely across the continent and designated by a single numeral throughout its length. But it realized that this was only a sentimental consideration. ... The Lincoln Way is too firmly established upon the map of the United States and in the minds and hearts of the people as a great, useful and everlasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln to warrant any skepticism as to the attitude of those States crossed by the route. Those universally familiar red, white and blue markers, in many states the first to be erected on any thru route, will never lose their significance or their place on America's first transcontinental road.

The states approved the new national numbering system in November 1926 and began putting up new signs. The Lincoln Highway was not alone in being split among several numbers, but the entire routing between Philadelphia and Granger, Wyoming, was assigned US 30 per the agreement. East of Philadelphia the Lincoln Highway was part of US 1, and west of Salt Lake City the route became US 40 across Donner Pass. Only the segment between Granger and Salt Lake City was not part of the new numbering plan; US 30 was assigned to a more northerly route toward Pocatello, Idaho. When US 50 was extended to California it followed the Lincoln Highway's alternate route south of Lake Tahoe.

The last major promotional activity of the LHA took place on September 1, 1928, when at 1:00 p.m. groups of Boy Scouts placed approximately 2,400 concrete markers at sites along the route to officially mark and dedicate it to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. Less commonly known is that 4,000 metal signs for urban areas were also erected then.[b] The markers were placed on the outer edge of the right of way at major and minor crossroads, and at reassuring intervals along uninterrupted segments. Each concrete post carried the Lincoln Highway insignia and directional arrow, as well as a bronze medallion with Lincoln's bust stating, "This Highway Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln".[1]

The Lincoln Highway was not yet the imagined "rock highway" from coast to coast when the LHA ceased operating, as there were many segments that had still not been paved. Some parts were because of reroutings, such as a dispute in the early 1920s with Utah officials that forced the LHA to change routes in western Utah and eastern Nevada. Construction was underway on the final unpaved 42-mile (68 km) segment by the 25th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway in 1938.

25th anniversary

On June 8, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938, which called for a BPR report on the feasibility of a system of transcontinental toll roads. The "Toll Roads and Free Roads" report was the first official step toward creation of the Interstate Highway System in the United States.

The 25th Anniversary of the Lincoln Highway was noted a month later in a July 3, 1938, nationwide radio broadcast on NBC Radio. The program featured interviews with a number of LHA officials, and a message from Carl Fisher read by an announcer in Detroit. Fisher's statement included:

The Lincoln Highway Association has accomplished its primary purpose, that of providing an object lesson to show the possibility in highway transportation and the importance of a unified, safe, and economical system of roads. ... Now I believe the country is at the beginning of another new era in highway building (that will) create a system of roads far beyond the dreams of the Lincoln Highway founders. I hope this anniversary observance makes millions of people realize how vital roads are to our national welfare, to economic programs, and to our national defense ...

Since 1940

Lincoln Highway Monument in Wyoming
Lincoln Highway Monument in Wyoming
Lincoln Highway bridge in Tama, Iowa
Lincoln Highway bridge in Tama, Iowa

Fisher died about a year after the 25th Anniversary in 1939, having lost most of his fortune as a result of the great hurricane that slammed Miami beach in 1928, followed by the Great Depression at the same time that he was pouring millions of dollars into his Montauk Long Island resort development.

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, authorizing the construction of the Interstate Highway System. The New York-to-San Francisco transcontinental route in the system, Interstate 80, would however largely follow a different path across the country than US 30. I-80 would also not be signed all the way to the New York City, instead terminating in Teaneck, New Jersey, west of the Hudson River just a few miles short of the George Washington Bridge.

In the many years since, the Lincoln Highway has remained a persistent memory:

Historic recognition

National Register of Historic Places-listed segments[16]
State Name Notes
Iowa Lincoln Highway Bridge (Tama, Iowa)
West Greene County Rural Segment, near Scranton, Iowa These segments in Greene County are described in a Multiple Property Submission.[17]
Raccoon River Rural Segment, near Jefferson, Iowa
Two highway markers in Jefferson, Iowa 42°0′56″N 94°21′59″W / 42.01556°N 94.36639°W / 42.01556; -94.36639
Buttrick's Creek Abandoned Segment 42°1′2″N 94°16′57″W / 42.01722°N 94.28250°W / 42.01722; -94.28250
Buttrick's Creek to Grand Junction
Grand Junction Segment, in Grand Junction, Iowa
West Beaver Creek Abandoned Segment 42°1′59″N 94°12′49″W / 42.03306°N 94.21361°W / 42.03306; -94.21361
Little Beaver Creek Bridge 42°2′57″N 94°10′37″W / 42.04917°N 94.17694°W / 42.04917; -94.17694
Nebraska A segment from Omaha to Elkhorn
A segment in Elkhorn 41°17′0″N 96°11′45″W / 41.28333°N 96.19583°W / 41.28333; -96.19583
Gardiner Station 41°21′40″N 97°33′30″W / 41.36111°N 97.55833°W / 41.36111; -97.55833
Duncan West 41°23′31″N 97°29′14″W / 41.39194°N 97.48722°W / 41.39194; -97.48722

Blair, Nebraska 41°32′44″N 96°8′4″W

Utah Lincoln Highway Bridge (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah) 40°10′58.43″N 112°55′26.68″W / 40.1828972°N 112.9240778°W / 40.1828972; -112.9240778

Revitalized Lincoln Highway Association

The Lincoln Highway Association was re-formed in 1992 with the mission, "... to identify, preserve, and improve access to the remaining portions of the Lincoln Highway and its associated historic sites".[1] The new LHA publishes a quarterly magazine, The Lincoln Highway Forum, and holds conferences each year in cities along the route. Its 1000 members are located across the U.S. and eight other countries. There are active state chapters in 12 Lincoln Highway states and a national tourist center in Franklin Grove, Illinois, in a historic building built by Harry Isaac Lincoln, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln. The LHA holds yearly national conferences and is governed by a board of directors with representatives from each Lincoln Highway state.[18]

21st century tours

In 2003, the Lincoln Highway Association sponsored the 90th Anniversary Tour of the entire road, from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The tour group, led by Bob Lichty and Rosemary Rubin of LHA and sponsored by Lincoln-Mercury division of the Ford Motor Company, set out from Times Square on August 17, 2003. Approximately 35 vintage and modern vehicles, including several new Lincoln Town Cars and Lincoln Navigators from Lincoln-Mercury, traveled about 225 miles (360 km) per day and attempted to cover as many of the original Lincoln Highway alignments as possible. The group was met by LHA chapters, car clubs, local tourism groups and community leaders throughout the route. Several Boy Scout troops along the way held ceremonies to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the nationwide LH route marker post erection of September 1, 1928. When the tour concluded at Lincoln Park, in front of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, another ceremony was held to honor both the 90th Anniversary of the road and the 75th anniversary of the post erections.

In 2013, the Lincoln Highway Association hosted a tour commemorating the highway's 100th anniversary.[19] Over 270 people traveling in 140 vehicles, from 28 states and from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Norway and Russia, participated in the two tours which started simultaneously the last week of June 2013 in New York City and San Francisco, and took one week to reach the midpoint of the Lincoln Highway in Kearney, Nebraska. The tour cars, both historical and modern, spanned 100 years, from 1913 to 2013, and included two of Henry B. Joy's original Lincoln Highway Packards, as well as a 1948 Tucker (car #8). On June 30, 2013, the Centennial Parade in downtown Kearney featuring the tour cars plus another 250 vehicles was attended by 12,500 people. The next day, on July 1, 2013, the Centennial Celebration Gala was hosted at the Great Platte River Road Archway Museum, where a proclamation from the United States Senate was presented to the Lincoln Highway Association.

An independent international motor tour also toured the highway from July 1–26. Seventy-one classic cars were shipped from Europe to the United States and driven the entire route before being shipped home.[20]

In 2015, the Lincoln Highway Association hosted a tour celebrating the 100th anniversary of the famed 1915 tour led by Henry B. Joy, president of the original Lincoln Highway Association, from Detroit to the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.[21] Joy was president of the Packard Motor Car Company. Both the Packard Club (Packard Automobile Classics) and the Packards International Motor Car Club participated in the planning of the tour.[22][23] The 2015 tour, with 103 people in 55 cars, took 12 days and traveled 2,836 miles (4,564 km) from the Packard Proving Grounds north of Detroit to the Lincoln Highway Western Terminus in Lincoln Park in San Francisco.


In 2012, the 25-member Lincoln Highway Association National Mapping Committee, chaired by Paul Gilger, completed the research and cartography of the entire Lincoln Highway and all its subsequent realignments (totaling 5,872 mi or 9,450 km), a project which took more than 20 years. The association's interactive map website ( includes map, terrain, satellite and street-level views of the entire Lincoln Highway and all of its re-alignments, markers, monuments and historic points of interest.

Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway.
Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway.

Roadside giants

During early Lincoln Highway days, business owners were intrigued with all the automobiles traveling the Lincoln Highway. In an effort to capture the business of these new motorists, some entrepreneurs created larger-than-life buildings in quirky shapes. Structures like Bedford's ​2 12-story coffee pot, or the Shoe House near York, Pennsylvania, are examples of the "Roadside Giants" of the Lincoln Highway.[24]

The oversized quarter at the entrance to Down River Golf Course
The oversized quarter at the entrance to Down River Golf Course

In 2008, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor secured funding from the Sprout Fund in Pittsburgh for a new kind of Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway. High school boys and girls enrolled in five different career and technology schools along the 200-mile (320 km) Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor were invited to create their own Giant that would be permanently installed along the old Lincoln. The project involved collaboration among the schools' graphic arts, welding, building trades, and culinary arts departments. A structural engineer was hired to provide professional guidance to the design and installation of the Giants.[24] They include:

  • A 12-foot-high (3.7 m) 1920s Packard Car and Driver
  • A 25-foot-high (7.6 m), 4,900-pound (2,200 kg) replica of a 1940s Bennett Gas Pump
  • The 1,800-pound (820 kg) "Bicycle Built for Two"
  • The oversized quarter, weighing almost a ton
  • A detailed 1921 Selden pick-up truck
  • The world's largest teapot, 12 feet (3.7 m) tall and 44 feet (13 m) wide


The carotid sheath, a layer of connective tissue, was called the "Lincoln Highway of the Neck" by Harris B. Mosher in his 1929 address to the American Academy of Otology, because of its role in the spread of infections.[25]



In 1914, Effie Gladding wrote Across the Continent by the Lincoln Highway about her travel adventures on the road with her husband Thomas. Subsequently, Gladding wrote the foreword to the Lincoln Highway Association's first road guide, directing it to women motorists. Her 1914 book was the first full-size hardback book to discuss transcontinental travel, as well as the first to mention the Lincoln Highway:

We were now to traverse the Lincoln Highway and were to be guided by the red, white, and blue marks: sometimes painted on telephone poles; sometimes put up by way of advertisement over garage doors or swinging on hotel signboards; sometimes painted on little stakes, like croquet goals, scattered along over the great spaces of the desert. We learned to love the red, white, and blue, and the familiar big L which told us that we were on the right road.[26]

In 1916, "Mistress of Etiquette" Emily Post was commissioned by Collier's magazine to cross the United States on the Lincoln Highway and write about it. Her son Edwin drove, and an unnamed family member joined them. Her story was published as a book, By Motor to the Golden Gate. Her fame came later in 1922, with the publication of her first etiquette book.

In 1919, author Beatrice Massey, who was a passenger as her husband drove, travelled across the country on the Lincoln Highway. When they reached Salt Lake City, Utah, instead of taking the rough and desolate Lincoln Highway around the south end of the Salt Lake Desert, they took the even more rough and more desolate "non-Lincoln" route around the north end of the Great Salt Lake. The arduousness of that section of the trip was instrumental in the Masseys deciding to ditch their road trip in Montello, Nevada (northeast of Wells, Nevada) where they paid $196.69 to ship their automobile and themselves by train the rest of the way to California. Nevertheless, an enthusiastic Beatrice Massey wrote in her 1919 travelogue It Might Have Been Worse:

You will get tired, and your bones will cry aloud for a rest cure; but I promise you one thing—you will never be bored! No two days were the same, no two views were similar, no two cups of coffee tasted alike ... My advice to timid motorists is, "Go".[27]

In 1927, humorist Frederic Van de Water wrote The Family Flivvers to Frisco, an autobiographical account of him and his wife, a young couple from New York City, piling their belongings and their six-year-old son into their Model T Ford and camping their way to San Francisco on the Lincoln Highway, traveling over 4,500 miles (7,200 km) through 12 states in 37 days. In his book, not much is made of the burden of traveling with a child who has a mind of his own. When they were forced by passing cars into a ditch near DeKalb, Illinois, Van de Water writes that his son ("a small irate figure in yellow oilskins"[citation needed]), "scrambled over the door and started to walk in the general direction of New York".[citation needed] The Van de Waters' travel expenses for their entire trip amounted to $247.83.[citation needed]

In 1951, Clinton Twiss authored the famous and funny memoir The Long, Long Trailer, about his adventures living in a trailer and traveling across America with his wife Merle. Many of their episodes occurred on the Lincoln Highway, including almost losing their brakes coming down off Donner Pass, barely squeezing across the narrow Lyons-Fulton Bridge over the Mississippi River, and getting stopped at the Holland Tunnel because trailers weren't allowed through. Twiss's book became the basis for the popular 1954 MGM film of the same name, directed by Vincente Minnelli, and starring Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Although no filming occurred on the Lincoln Highway, early in the movie, Desi, who finds Lucy's suggestion of living in a trailer ridiculous, jokes: "The Collinis at home! Please drop in for cocktails! You'll find us someplace along the Lincoln Highway!"[citation needed]

In April 1988, the University of Iowa Press published Lincoln Highway, the Main Street Across America, a text-and-photo essay and history by Drake Hokanson.[28] Hokanson had been intrigued by the mystery of this once-famous highway, and tried to explain the fascination with the route in an August 1985 article in Smithsonian magazine:

If it had been restlessness and desire for a better way across the continent that brought the Lincoln Highway into existence, it was curiosity that kept it alive—the notion that the point of traveling was not just to cover the distance but to savor the texture of life along the way. Maybe we've lost that, but the opportunity to rediscover it is still out there waiting for us anytime we feel like turning off an exit ramp.[29]

From 1995 through 2009, author and historian Gregory Franzwa (1926–2009) wrote a state-by-state series of books about the Lincoln Highway. Franzwa completed seven books: The Lincoln Highway: Iowa (1995), The Lincoln Highway: Nebraska (1996), The Lincoln Highway: Wyoming (1999), The Lincoln Highway: Utah (with Jesse G. Petersen, 2003), The Lincoln Highway: Nevada (with Jesse G. Petersen, 2004), The Lincoln Highway: California (2006), and The Lincoln Highway: Illinois (2009). The books were published by the Patrice Press. Each state book contains both detailed history and USGS level maps showing the various Lincoln Highway alignments. Franzwa served as the first president of the revitalized Lincoln Highway Association, in 1992.

In 2002, British author Pete Davies wrote American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age, about the 1919 Army Convoy on the Lincoln Highway. About the book, Publishers Weekly said:

In his newest book, Davies (Inside the Hurricane; The Devil's Flu) offers a play-by-play account of the 1919 cross-country military caravan that doubled as a campaign for the Lincoln Highway. The potential here is extraordinary. Using the progress of the caravan and the metaphor of paving toward the future versus stagnating in the mud, Davies touches on the industrial and social factors that developed the small and mid-sized towns that line the highways and byways of the nation.[citation needed]

In 2005, Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: America's First Coast-to-Coast Road, a comprehensive coffee table book by Brian Butko, became the first complete guide to the road, with maps, directions, photos, postcards, memorabilia, and histories of towns, people, and places. A mix of research and on-the-road fun, the book placed the LHA's early history in the context of roadbuilding, politics, and geography, explaining why the Lincoln followed the path it did across the US, including the oft-forgotten Colorado Loop through Denver. Butko's book also incorporated quotes from early motoring memoirs and postcard messages—sometimes funny, sometimes painfully descriptive of early motoring woes—hence the Greetings title. Butko had previously written an exhaustive guide to the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania in 1996, which was revised and republished in 2002 with different photos and postcard images.[30]

In July 2007, the W.W. Norton Company published The Lincoln Highway, Coast-to-Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate: The Great American Road Trip by Michael Wallis, best-selling author of Route 66, and voice in the movie Cars, and Michael Williamson, twice a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer with The Washington Post.[31]

Completed in 2009, Stackpole Books published Lincoln Highway Companion: A Guide to America's First Coast-to-Coast Road, authored by Brian Butko. This handy glove-compartment guide contains carefully charted maps, must-see attractions, and places to eat and sleep that are slices of pure Americana. The book covers the major thirteen states the Lincoln Highway passes through, from New York to San Francisco, as well as the little-known Colorado loop and the Washington DC feeder loop.


In 1914, the "Lincoln Highway March", a band score, was written by Lylord J. St. Claire.

In 1921, the popular two step march "Lincoln Highway" was composed by Harry J. Lincoln. The sheet music featuring an uncredited drawing of the road on the cover. Lincoln was also the publisher, and was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania very near to where the highway passed through the city.

In 1922, another march titled "Lincoln Highway" was composed by George B. Lutz, and published by Kramer's Music House of Allentown, Pennsylvania. A video of a player-piano version can be viewed on YouTube.

In 1928, the song "Golden Gate" (Dreyer, Meyer, Rose, & Jolson), sung by Al Jolson, included the refrain: "Oh, Golden Gate, I'm comin' to ya / Golden Gate, sing Hallelujah / I'll live in the sun, love in the moon / Where every month is June. / A little sun-kissed blonde is comin' my way / Just beyond the Lincoln Highway / I'm goin' strong now, it won't be long now / Open up that Golden Gate."[citation needed]

In 1937, composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E. Y. Harburg (composers of "Over the Rainbow" and many other hits) wrote the song "God's Country", for the 1937 musical Hooray for What! The song was subsequently used for the finale of the 1939 MGM musical Babes in Arms, starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. The song starts with the famous lyric: "Hey there, neighbor, goin' my way? / East or west on the Lincoln Highway? / Hey there Yankee, give out with a great big thank-ee; / You're in God's Country!"[citation needed]

In the 1940s, the Lincoln Highway radio show on NBC featured the theme song "When You Travel the Great Lincoln Highway". A rare surviving recording of the song can be found online.

Woody Guthrie's "the Asch Recordings" 1944 and 1945 included his song "Hard Traveling" with the line "I've been walking that Lincoln Highway / I thought you knowed".[citation needed]

In 1945, the title ballad (music by Earl Robinson, lyrics by Millard Lampell) from the 20th Century Fox World War II film A Walk In The Sun mentions the Lincoln Highway: "It's the same road they had / Coming out of Stalingrad, / It's that old Lincoln Highway back home, / It's wherever men fight to be free".[citation needed]

In 1974, the song "Old Thirty" was composed by Bill Fries (C.W. McCall) and Chip Davis for the album Wolf Creek Pass. An early verse contains the lyric: "She was known to all the truckers / As the Mighty Lincoln Highway / But to me She's still Old Thirty all the way".[citation needed]

In 1994, the song "Lincoln Highway Dub" is an all instrumental song created by the band Sublime in their album Robbin' the Hood. It features elements later used in the well-known song "Santeria", also by Sublime.

In 1996, Shadric Smith composed the country-western swing "Rollin' Down That Lincoln Highway" which was recorded in 2003 by Smith and Denny Osburn. In 2008, Smith revised some of the lyrics. The original 2003 recording of the song and the revised 2008 version can be found online. "Rollin' Down That Lincoln Highway" is one of two Lincoln Highway inspired songs that was featured in the 2014 documentary film 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway produced by Tom Manning for Wyoming PBS.

In 2004, Mark Rushton released the CD The Driver's Companion. The lead track is Rushton's composition "Theme from Lincoln Highway", an ambient electronic soundscape.

In 2006, Bruce Donnola composed "Lincoln Highway", a track on Donnola's album The Peaches of August, available on both iTunes and CD-Baby. A music video of the song appears on YouTube.

For the 2008 PBS documentary, A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway produced by Rick Sebak, Buddy McNutt composed the song "Goin' All the Way (on the Lincoln Highway)".

In 2010, singer-songwriter Chris Kennedy released the CD Postcards from Main Street, a collection of 11 odes to small towns, two-lane roads, and a simpler, slower life. His fourth track is "Looking for the Lincoln Highway". Kennedy is an associate professor of Communications at Western Wyoming Community College, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, a town along the Lincoln Highway. "Looking for the Lincoln Highway" is one of two Lincoln Highway inspired songs that was featured in the 2014 documentary film 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway produced by Tom Manning for Wyoming PBS.

In 2013, for the 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, Nils Anders Erickson composed the country song "Goin Down the Lincoln Highway: 100 Years in Three Minutes", featuring steel guitar and honky-tonk piano, with lyrics mentioning people "coming from Norway and the UK".[citation needed] The accompanying video, which can be viewed on YouTube, features over 300 images captured by Erickson of current and destroyed landmarks from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and three versions of the Historic Douglas St. Bridge. Erickson's intent is to create a version for every Lincoln Highway state.

In 2013, in celebration of the Lincoln Highway's Centennial, Nolan Stolz composed the symphony "Lincoln Highway Suite". The symphony has five movements: "From the Hudson", "Metals Heartland", "Prairie View", "Traversing the Mountains" and "Golden State Romp". The Dubuque Symphony premiered the composition June 2013.

Also in 2013, singer Cecelia Otto traveled the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco for her project American Songline,[32] in which she performed vintage songs in period attire in venues along the highway. In 2015, she published a book recounting her journey and released an album of songs from her concert program; the album also featured several original songs about the highway, including "It's a Long Way to California" and "Land of Lincoln".


On March 16, 1940, NBC Radio introduced a Saturday morning dramatic show called Lincoln Highway sponsored by Shinola Polish, which featured stories of life along the route.[33][34] The show's introduction contained an error in noting the Lincoln Highway was identical to US 30 and ended in Portland. Many of the era's stars including Ethel Barrymore, Joe E. Brown, Claude Rains, Sam Levene, Burgess Meredith, and Joan Bennett made appearances on the show, which had an audience of more than 8 million before it left the air in 1942. A rare surviving recording of the show's theme song, "When You Travel the Great Lincoln Highway", survives online.


On October 29, 2008, PBS premiered the documentary film, A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway, produced by Rick Sebak with WQED—TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[35] The Lincoln Highway Association awarded Sebak its first "Gregory M. Franzwa Award" at the 2009 LHA conference. The Franzwa Award is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the promotion of the Lincoln Highway, and is named in honor of Franzwa who was a founding member and the first president of the revitalized Lincoln Highway Association, in 1992.

The pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire, shown on HBO in the United States, beginning in September 2010, contains a scene showing Al Capone en route from New Jersey to Chicago. He passes a sign that says he is travelling on the Lincoln Highway and that Chicago is 200 miles (320 km) ahead (thus placing him in western Ohio). This episode is set in early 1920.

On March 9, 2014, Wyoming PBS premiered the Emmy Award-winning documentary film, 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway, produced by Tom Manning.[36] This hour-long documentary follows the route of the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming and explores many of the towns and landmarks along the way. Shot during its centennial year in 2013, the program features historians, authors, archeologists and Lincoln Highway enthusiasts explaining the history of the road and their fascination with its many permutations over the years. It also follows members of the official Lincoln Highway Association's Centennial Tour. Driving a collection of antique & modern automobiles spanning 100 years, they trace the original route of the Lincoln Highway across Wyoming.


In 1919, Fox Film Corporation produced and released the feature The Lincoln Highwayman, a black and white silent film starring William Russell, Lois Lee, Frank Brownlee, Jack Connolly, Edward Peil, Sr., Harry Spingler, and Edwin B. Tilton.[37] The film was written and directed by Emmett J. Flynn, from an adaptation by Jules Furthman based on a 1917 one-act melodrama by Paul Dickey and Rol Cooper Megrue.[38] The story is about a masked bandit (the "Lincoln Highwayman") who terrorizes motorists on the highway in California. His latest victims are a San Francisco banker and his family on their way to a party. While the masked highwayman holds them up at gun point and steals the women's jewels, the banker's daughter Marian (Lois Lee) finds herself strangely attracted to him. When the family finally arrives at the party, they tell the guests their tale. Steele, a secret service man (Edward Piel), takes an interest in their encounter and starts working on the case. Jimmy Clunder (William Russell), who arrives late is talking to Marian when a locket falls out of his pocket. Marian recognizes it, and Clunder claims that he found it on the Lincoln Highway. She begins to suspect that he is the Lincoln Highwayman, as does Steele, Clunder's rival for Marian's love.[39]

In 1924, the Ford Motor Company produced and released Fording the Lincoln Highway. The 30-minute silent film documented the 10-millionth Model T Ford and its promotional tour on the Lincoln Highway. The car came off the assembly line of Ford's Highland Park Assembly Plant on June 15, 1924, which was the 16th year of Model T production. The milestone flivver led parades through most of the towns and cities along the Lincoln Highway. It was driven by Ford racer Frank Kulick. Several million people are estimated to have seen the vehicle, which was greeted by governors and mayors at each stop along the route.[40]

In 2016 a documentary named 21 Days Under the Sky chronicled a journey of four friends on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, riding the Lincoln Highway from San Francisco to New York.[41]

See also


  1. ^ Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: America's First Coast-to-Coast Road lists mileages[2] based on LHA guidebooks and a 1913 Packard guide to the road, which gave the length as 3,388.6 miles (5,453.4 km) which is commonly rounded to 3,389 miles (5,454 km). The route, and its length, remained in constant flux in an effort to straighten the road; by 1924, it had been shortened to 3,142.6 miles (5,057.5 km). Interstate 80, the highway's modern replacement, stretches 2,900 miles (4,700 km).
  2. ^ Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: America's First Coast-to-Coast Road notes the exact number concrete markers, tallied by researcher Russell Rein from Gael Hoag's log, as 2,437 posts.[15]
  3. ^ Note: Many cities named streets after President Lincoln independently of the Lincoln Highway, so not every Lincoln Way is in fact the Lincoln Highway. Two examples in San Francisco are Lincoln Way along the south side of Golden Gate Park, and Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio, neither of which was ever the Lincoln Highway.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Weingroff, Richard F. (April 7, 2011). "The Lincoln Highway". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  2. ^ * Butko, Brian (2005). Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: America's First Coast-to-Coast Road (1st ed.). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8117-0128-0..
  3. ^ Davies, Pete (2002). American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 978-0805068832. See throughout, but especially index entry "Lincoln Highway route controversy".
  4. ^ Calculated by the Lincoln Highway Association National Mapping Committee chaired by Paul Gilger, 2007[full citation needed]
  5. ^ Lincoln Highway Association. Official Map of the Lincoln Highway (Map). Lincoln Highway Association.
  6. ^ "Lincoln Highway". Visit Kearney Nebraska. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  7. ^ "Lincoln Highway Entering Wedge". The New York Times. August 27, 1911. sec. III and IV, p. 8. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  8. ^ The Lincoln Highway: A Much-Loved Route, Coast to Coast. Rand McNally. 1999.[full citation needed]
  9. ^ a b McCarthy, Joe (June 1974). "The Lincoln Highway". American Heritage Magazine. 25 (4). Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "How 'Lincoln Way' Project Now Stands". The New York Times. April 5, 1914. sec. 9, p. 8. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  11. ^ "English Auto Club An Example Here". The New York Times. December 31, 1913. p. 12. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  12. ^ "Would Post Notice About Auto Fines". The New York Times. January 26, 1914. p. 8. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  13. ^ "Statue of Abraham Lincoln". Detroit: The History and Future of the Motor City. October 1, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  14. ^ "Lincoln Pilgrimage". Great Lakes Council, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  15. ^ Butko (2005), pp. 24–5.
  16. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  17. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form: The Lincoln Highway in Greene County, Iowa". July 15, 1992.
  18. ^ Lincoln Highway Association. "Lincoln Highway Association". Lincoln Highway Association. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  19. ^ Lincoln Highway Association. "2013 Lincoln Highway 100th Anniversary Tour". Lincoln Highway Association. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  20. ^ "LH2013 Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour". LH2013 Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  21. ^ Lincoln Highway Association. "2015 Lincoln Highway Henry B. Joy Tour". Lincoln Highway Association. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  22. ^ Packard Automobile Classics. "The Packard Club". Packard Automobile Classics. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  23. ^ Packards International Motor Car Club. "Packards International Motor Car Club". Packards International Motor Car Club. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  24. ^ a b Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. "Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway". Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  25. ^ Anithakumari, A. M. & Girish, Rai. B. (January–March 2006). "Carotid Space Infection: A Cast Report" (PDF). Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. Calcutta: B.K. Roy Chaudhuri. 58 (1): 95–7. doi:10.1007/BF02907756. ISSN 0973-7707. PMC 3450626. PMID 23120252. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  26. ^ Gladding, Effie Price (1915). Across the Continent by the Lincoln Highway. New York: Brentano's. p. 111.
  27. ^ Massey, Beatrice Larned (1920). It Might Have Been Worse: A Motor Trip from Coast to Coast. San Francisco: Harr Wagner Publishing Company. p. 143.
  28. ^ Hokanson, Drake (1999). Lincoln Highway, the Main Street Across America (10th anniversary ed.). Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 1-58729-113-4. OCLC 44962845.
  29. ^ Hokanson, Drake (August 1985). "To Cross America, Early Motorists Took a Long Detour". Smithsonian. 16 (5): 58–65.
  30. ^ * Butko, Brian (2002). Pennsylvania Traveler's Guide: The Lincoln Highway (2nd ed.). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-2497-2.[page needed]
  31. ^ Wallis, Michael & Williamson, Michael (2007). The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-05938-0. OCLC 83758808.
  32. ^ Brown, Rick (June 27, 2013). "Classically Trained Mezzo-Soprano to Perform Across the U.S." Kearney Hub. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  33. ^ "Lincoln Highway (review)". Weekly Variety. March 20, 1940. p. 32. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  34. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  35. ^ Sebak, Rick (October 29, 2008). A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway. Pittsburgh: WQED-TV.
  36. ^ Manning, Tom (2014). 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway. Riverton: Wyoming PBS.
  37. ^ "'The Lincoln Highwayman' (1919)". TCM Movie Database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  38. ^ "Dickey Writes Another: 'The Lincoln Highwayman' a Little Copy of 'Under Cover'". The New York Times. April 24, 1917. p. 9. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  39. ^ Garza, Janiss. "'Lincoln Highwayman' (1920)". All Movie Guide. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  40. ^ Lewis, David L.; McCarville, Mike & Sorensen, Lorin (1983). Ford, 1903 to 1984. New York: Beekman House. OCLC 10270117.[page needed]
  41. ^ "'21 Days Under the Sky' (2016)".

Further reading

  • Kutz, Kevin (2006). Kevin Kutz's Lincoln Highway: Paintings and Drawings. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3264-2.
  • Wallis, Michael & Williamson, Michael (2007). The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate (1st ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-05938-0.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 October 2019, at 14:47
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