"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trips - The Lincoln Highway, Part One

Monday, April 22, 2013

Road Trips - The Lincoln Highway, Part One

Back in 1912, there were no transcontinental highways. In fact, there weren't a whole lot of roads navigable for the cars of the day and many that were actually went nowhere. Enter Carl Fisher, the founder of the Indianapolis Speedway and later the developer of Miami Beach. He had a dream of a highway that spanned the continent.

Fisher proposed to do the graveled road for ten million dollars, getting the public to donate $5 each and having communities along the way work on their section of the highway. It was tough going but some big names from companies like the Packard Automobile and Goodyear Tires joined in with funding and support. It was suggested to Fisher to name the highway after Abraham Lincoln. At that time the congress was considering 1.7 million dollars for a monument to Lincoln and the highway supporters thought it might sway congress to help fund their project.

On July 1, 1913, the highway was officially incorporated as the Lincoln Highway and the route was considered. The planners wanted to take the most direct route from Times Square in New York to San Francisco. As you can imagine, many communities and prominent attractions were bypassed creating quite a stir. In addition, a new material called concrete entered the picture and now there were proposals to test the product along the way as well.

Somewhere along the way between 1915 and 1925, the decision was made to begin numbering the sections of the highway. Eventually the Lincoln Highway that had stretched coast to coast, became numbered highways and the association that had first begun the project disbanded.

In 1928, bands of Boy Scouts placed markers with the head of Lincoln along what had originally been the Lincoln Highway so that its significance would not be lost. Even with the markers and a radio program devoted to the highway in the 1940s, its name faded into history. However in 1992, the Lincoln Highway Association was reactivated dedicating itself to the preservation of the highway.

But where is the highway today?

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