Monthly Archives: June 2013

Happy 100th birthday Lincoln Highway!

Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast highway in the U.S., turns 100 in 2013. The idea of a paved road running from New York to San Francisco was the brainchild of Carl G. Fisher, an Indiana man who is believed to have opened the first car dealership in America. Fisher’s interest in automobiles and also automobile safety made him recognize the need for a safe, hard-surface road across America. Most local roads in the early 1900s were usually made of dirt that turned into mud in bad weather making automobile travel for long distances fraught with difficulties. Other roads were covered with gravel, stone or brick that didn’t hold up over time either.

Fisher’s idea of creating a paved road to connect towns and cities across American gained the early support of several automobile industry leaders. Not everyone was in agreement, however, on how to fund this endeavor: the U.S. Congress didn’t want to pay for it and people like the influential Henry Ford believed it was the government’s responsibility and private industry shouldn’t have to foot the bill.

Eventually Fisher, with private support, was able to raise about $4 million towards the $10 million needed to build this coast-to-coast highway. In July 1913 it was decided this road would be called the “Lincoln Highway” after the 16th President of the U.S., and an association known as the Lincoln Highway Association was formed. The highway was mapped out by a group of “Trail-Blazers,” who on September 14, 1913, announced the official Lincoln Highway route.

While the announcement of the route for Lincoln Highway was met with considerable enthusiasm across the U.S., the highway was not completed as quickly as Fisher had hoped. For some years progress was uneven as some of it was paved while other parts of it remained unpaved dirt trails. Cities and towns along the Lincoln Highway did flourish, however, and many people called it the “Main Street Across America.” Finally by 1938 the highway’s original route was completely paved. By that time the state governments saw the value of paved highways, and new roads were being planned and built all over the country.

2013 Lincoln Highway 100th Anniversary Tour

To commemorate its centennial, a car tour of Lincoln Highway is planned to begin from both coasts on June 22, 2013. Known as the “East Coast tour” and the “West Coast Tour” two separate entourages of automobiles will leave New York City and San Francisco travelling along Lincoln Highway to meet eventually in Kearney, Nebraska on June 30, 2013 for the 100th birthday celebration.

Here are links to information about the centennial tour and map of the tours:

Lincoln Highway mural, DeKalb, IL (completed Oct 2006)