Lincoln Highway Road Trip
To get fired up for a road trip on the Lincoln Highway, which runs from NYC’s Times Square to San Francisco, it helps to understand its origins. The road was born of one man’s vision during a time when America had few roads, the vast majority of which were dirt. When it rained, these roads turned to muck. To get anywhere, most people took trains. Here’s what happened next.
Lincoln Highway’s Origins
In 1912, Carl Fisher, the entrepreneur who had founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thought America needed a coast-to-coast highway. When the project appeared stalled, Henry Joy, the president of Packard Motor Car Co., suggested naming the road after Abraham Lincoln, a move that reignited support for the project. The 1913 dedication of the highway made it the first national memorial to Abraham Lincoln. It was built during an era of highways that had names only; the numbered system replaced this in 1926 and the Lincoln Highway, over the protests of its founders, was divided among numerous numbered routes. Originally running 3,389 miles, the route was shortened over the ensuing 9 years to 3,142 miles -- its length today. For a wealth of information on the highway and play-by-play driving instructions see the Lincoln Highway Association’s website.
OK, class dismissed! It’s time to get out there and drive this road.
Lincoln Highway: State by StateBrunswick, New Jersey
For a taste of history that pre-dates the Lincoln Highway, take a walking tour of the 15-block historic district of New Brunswick, NJ, where several mansions and churches date back to the 1700s.
Staying on theme, drop into Philadelphia (the highway approaches from the north) and visit the recently improved Liberty Bell Center, Valley Forge National Historic Park and, if you’ve got kids with you, Franklin Square one of 5 public parks planned by William Penn in his original Philly design.
In Pittsburgh, stretch your legs in 561-acre Frick Park before checking out the Andy Warhol Museum, both just off the Lincoln Highway.
In Ohio, look for the historic Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton, OH. Also, one Ohio’s 4 original Lincoln Highway markers is about 2.5 miles east of Bucyrus, OH, on County Highway 76 (the Old Lincoln Highway) at the northwest corner of the Stewart Cemetery. The stretch of road between the Ohio cities of Canton and Massillon hold numerous businesses named Lincoln, including the Lincoln Theater, which shows classic films. Also standing sentry here are the Lincoln Way Motors and the Motel Lincoln.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
The highway passes through Fort Wayne, IN, where you can see a replica of Lincoln’s Log Cabin in Foster Park, and take in a national production at the ornate Embassy Theater, built in 1928.
In Dixon, IL, stop by the Lincoln Monument and at a number of seriously old but well-preserved structures.
Nebraska offers a chance to drive on original Lincoln Highway bricks, laid down in 1920; follow highway signs 2.5 miles west of the village of Boy’s Town.