Great Road Trips: The Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway was the first highway to cross the United States. Created in 1913, it started in Times Square, and ended in Lincoln Park, San Francisco, California.

Driving what used to be the Lincoln Highway gets you through the heart of America — perhaps even more so than the more famous Route 66.

President Lincoln did not forge funding and creation of the highway — rather the highway was America’s first national memorial to him.

The highway was built in a time that bicycles ruled the road; most people could not afford cars yet. Wagon Trails and farmer’s lanes were the most prevalent roads in the country, and they only connected local destinations. As automobiles became more popular, the automobile entrepreneurs drove the creation of cross-country highways.

Carl Graham Fisher drove the creation of the highway, aiming to get it build for the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco. He got the owners of Goodyear, Packard and other auto companies to fund the private highway — all except for Henry Ford — who felt the US Government should build it. They strung together a number of existing roads and initially named the highway The Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway. They later  renamed it the Lincoln Highway to gain wider acceptance and because Lincoln was one of Fisher’s heroes — and created the Lincoln Highway Association to continue funding and managing the highway. Ironically Ford contributed to the highway almost inadvertently — it was Ford’s Model T that got people moving across the Lincoln Highway.

Documentary on the Lincoln Highway

This is a wonderful documentary on the Lincoln Highway.

Many farmers & ranchers “detested autos, especially the initial wave of wealthy owners who obliviously ran over chickens & other farm animals; they often fought back by scattering tacks along the road.”

How to Drive the Lincoln Highway Today

To take it today, you would:

  1. Start in Times Square
  2. Take the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey
  3. Take Route 1/9 to Newark, NJ
  4. Take Route 27 from Newark to Princeton, NJ
  5. Take Route 206 from Princeton to Trenton, NJ
  6. Take Route 1 from Trenton to Philadelphia, PA
  7. Take Route 30 from Philly, across Pennsylvania, the northern tip of West Virginia, across Ohio and Indiana to Aurora, Illinois
  8. Take Route 31 from Aurora, Illinois to Geneva, Illinois
  9. Take Route 38 from Geneva to Dixon, Illinois
  10. Take Route 2 from Dixon to Sterling, Illinois
  11. Take Route 30 from Sterling, across Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska to Granger, Wyoming
  12. Take Interstate 80 from Granger, across Utah, to West Wendover, Nevada
  13. Take Route 93 from West Wendover to Ely, Nevada
  14. Take Route 50 from Ely to Route 50, 9 miles West of Fallon, Nevada — and stay on Route 50 through Carson City and Lake Tahoe, Nevada and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento California
  15. Take Route 40 from Sacramento to Berkeley, California
  16. Take University Avenue to Berkeley Pier
  17. Take Interstate 80 and cross the San Francisco Bay Bridge to San Francisco and Lincoln Park

That information is all from Wikipedia but you can easily ask Siri how to get there on your cell phone.

More Info & Post Your Stories

Today there is a Lincoln Highway Association — not sure of its relationship to the original Lincoln Highway Association mentioned at top of this article. There is of course a Wikipedia entry, and all sorts of websites that devote their content to the Lincoln Highway. If you have a story or stories on your adventures trying to traverse the modern-day version of this highway please post below.

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