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Main Street Across America: The Lincoln Highway, the first to cross the country was dedicated a century ago

Updated on August 19, 2012

Stretching 3,389 miles long, from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Fracisco, the route for the Lincoln Highway was dedicated in 1913. The project was the dream of Indiana visionary Carl Fisher; the founder of the Indianapolis 500 auto race.

Fisher's idea was to create the first paved road across America. He antiipated the highway would cost $10 million to build and planned to solicit the automotive industry for the fund. One contributor was Henry Jo, president of Packard Motor Company. He donated $15,000 for the effort and came up with the name Lincoln Highway. He also was named president of the newy formed Lincoln Highway Association, which among other activities in 1928, had thosands of Boy Scouts place concrete markers with a smalbust of Lincoln along every mile of the road. The markers were inscribed: This highway dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. Before long it also became known as "Main Street Across America."

As president of the association, Joy held fast to his belief that the highway should follow the most direct route. Thus, many cities and towns that had hoped for inclusion wee disappointed. Among them were Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln's birthplace, and the president's namesake, Lincoln, Nebraska.

From its origin at Times Square in New York City, the Lincoln Highway traveled down 42nd street to a ferry used to cross the Hudson River into New Yersey. After winding through New Jersey. After winding through New Jersey, the route crosses the Delaware River into Pennsylvania where the highway goes through cities and towns, including Gettysburg and Pittsburgh before moving into Ohio. Traveling west, the highway moves through the cities of Canton, Wooster and Mansfield, then exists the state for Indiana and a path similar to today's US 30.

In Illinois the Lincoln Highway follows US 30, passing near Chicago and into Joliet to Aurora. It crosses the Mississippi into Iowa, where it also travels a similar route across the state as US 30. From Iowa, it moves into Nebraska and travels on some of the original bricks built in 1920. It enters Wyoming as Pine Bluffs. Much of the road in Wyoming is dirt and gravel and impassable in poor weather. In Utah, a good portion of the original highway is now on private property in locations like Salt Lake City. It then passes into Nevada, where some of the highway was never paved and the stretch from Ely to Reno has been dubbed "The loneliest road in America."

Originally, a northern and a southern route of the highway entered California and joined i Sacramento before heading into San Francisco and ending in front of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park.

Although the highway was never completely finished as Fisher would have liked, it was nevertheless a marvel. By the late 1940s though, interest in it was beginning to fade. Numbered highways crisscrossed the country and many of the new generation of motorists didn't even know it existed. However in 1992, the Lincoln Highway Association was revived with the goal of keeping the memory of the crosscountry road alive. Today, state associations also work to preserve the highway and encourage travelers to explore it for its historical significance.

A Video about The Lincoln Highway

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    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A very interesting hub and detailed information

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