12 February 2018

Remembering the Lincoln Highway


Some years ago I did online research on the "Yellowstone Highway" because of a personal connection to it.  In that process I ran across numerous references to the "Lincoln Highway."  Today is February 12, and it's an appropriate occasion to blog the Lincoln info.  Wikipedia has a comprehensive page on the highway, but I'll start with excerpts from Atlas Obscura.
In 1919, [Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower] traveled with the military in a motor convoy across the country, from D.C. to San Francisco, in “the largest aggregation of motor vehicles ever started on a trip of such length,” the New York Times reported. This was one of the first major cross-country road trips, and it planted the idea in Eisenhower’s mind that the federal government could and should make improving U.S. highways a priority...

Once the convoy hit the West, the trucks started getting stuck in ditches, sand and mud, for hours at a time. By Utah, the conditions of the roads were so bad, it almost stopped the convoy altogether... In 1919, the military had just returned from the Great War in Europe, where War Department motor units had helped secure victory, and military leaders wanted to show their machines off. But any network of roads that these trucks might travel on was still, for the most part, imaginary...
The route the convoy would take was mostly along the Lincoln Highway, the first major transcontinental motor route. The more than 80 vehicles carried 24 officers and 258 enlisted men, and they left D.C. at 1 p.m., on July 7, 1919. It took the convoy the rest of the day to reach Frederick, Maryland, where Eisenhower joined the group. In seven and a half hours, they had traveled 46 miles... That pace—about 6 miles an hour—is what the convoy would average in its crawl across the country...

When it rained, the vehicles got stuck in soft spots on the roads, up to their hubs, and the men had to push them out... The day after that, it took seven hours to pull all the trucks through 200 yards of quicksand. This, though, was nothing compared to Utah...

But by the end of the trip, the official observer reported later, “the officers of the Convoy were thoroughly convinced that all transcontinental highways should be construed and maintained by the Federal Government.” As Eisenhower put it, “there was a great deal of sentiment for the improving of highways,” and on that point, “the trip was an undoubted success.”
Much more on the Lincoln Highway at its Wikipedia page.  Some readers of this blog will undoubtedly have segments of the Lincoln Highway in their hometowns and/or have seen relevant markers in their  travels.  I hope to get the Yellowstone Highway info assembled and blogged later this year.

The official map of the Lincoln Highway is at this page of the Lincoln Highway Association's website.

5 comments:

  1. My wife and I lived 50 yards from Rt.30 Lancaster Ave in Philly 30 years ago... 2 blocks from U.S Rt.1

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  2. It sure looks like Route 30 to me! It really brings back memories.

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  3. I guess that explains why the main street through Valparaiso Indiana is named "Lincolnway". It's my father's hometown. I lived at 607 Lincolnway for three of my four years attending VU.

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  4. In Ohio it is referred to as either State Route 30 or "Old Lincoln Highway." I live very close to this road and have used it many times. Another interesting bit of trivia is that F A (Frank) Seiberling, co-founder of the Goodyear Rubber Company and grandfather to longtime US Representative John Seiberling, was a big advocate for this highway, especially considering his interest in equipping automobiles with his company's tires!

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  5. I lived on Lincoln Highway growing up in North Versailles, PA and then again while in college at Iowa State University.

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