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Lincoln Highway


LINCOLN HIGHWAY. The idea of a coast-to-coast highway originated with Carl G. Fisher of Indianapolis in 1912, when the automobile was in comparative infancy and when there was no system of good roads covering even one state. In September 1912, Fisher laid the proposition before the leaders of the automobile industry, and, giving $1,000 himself, obtained pledges of more than $4 million for construction. To add a patriotic touch, he gave the name "Lincoln" to the proposed road in 1913, and the Lincoln Highway Association came into existence to further the project. States and individuals the country over made contributions, and cement manufacturers donated material for "demonstration miles." By an act of 1921, the federal government increased its aid to states in road building, which greatly helped this project. From Jersey City, the route chosen passed through Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Fort Wayne, Indiana; near Chicago; through Omaha, Nebraska, Cheyenne, Wyoming, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sacramento, California. It ended in San Francisco. The original course was 3,389 miles, later cut by more than 50 miles. Work began in October 1914 but proceeded slowly. When the association closed its offices on 31 December 1927, after $90 million in expenditures, travelers could use the road throughout its length, although there were still sections of gravel and some even of dirt, which were slowly improved thereafter. In 1925, the road became U.S. Highway 30. In 1992, Lincoln Highway enthusiasts reestablished the Lincoln Highway Association, which now strives to preserve the road and promote it as a tourist attraction and topic of historical inquiry.


Hokanson, Drake. The Lincoln Highway: Main Street across America. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999.

Lackey, Kris. RoadFrames: The American Highway Narrative. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Patton, Phil. Open Road: A Celebration of the American Highway. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.

Alvin F.Harlow/a. e.

See alsoFederal-Aid Highway Program ; Roads .

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