The Lincoln Highway

At Lancaster, Pa., on US 30 we saw one of 3000 concrete Lincoln Highway markers which were placed in 12 states by Boy Scouts in 1928.

  In the 1890s, horseless carriages, began driving on rutted and poorly-maintained roads.  It was only in 1913 when the Lincoln Highway was built from New York to California that improved roads began to be built.

According to the AAA Tour Book 2010 Edition for New Jersey and Pennsylvania:

In 1910 there were more than 450,000 registered automobiles, yet the country still lacked a public road system. 

Organized movements for better roads brought issues to the attention of the federal government, which had not participated in major road construction since it funded the National Road project in 1806.

But one particular initiative captured the public’s support with a unique idea.  In 1913 Carl Fisher- the man who built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909- and automobile industry leaders chartered the Lincoln Highway Association for the purpose of defining a direct coast-to-coast automobile route.

The LHA’s first official act was to delineate a 3,389-mile, 12-state continuous route from New York to California- one that would be passable before the opening of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.  Although not perfect, the throughway was ready as promised, and a motion picture of America’s transcontinental highway was shown at the exposition…

Over time, the association improved surfaces by using better materials, shortened the driving distance with realignments and published guidebooks about the Lincoln Highway.  Automobile touring had never been so good.

Through example, the LHA educated the public as well as state and federal governments about the value of good roads for almost 15 years.  The 1919 moving of a military convoy over the “Lincolnway” foretold the utility of an integrated highway system for national defense and Interstate commerce. 

With the 1921 Federal Highway Act came the funds for states to construct and maintain connecting arteries.  Four years later the United States adopted a highway numbering system, and most of the Lincoln route became US 30, 40 and 50.

In my new book “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry”, I devote a chapter to Carl Graham Fisher (subtitled Mr. Miami Beach, Mr. Montauk and Much More).

About the author: Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC has just published “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.” It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters devoted to each of the following pioneers: John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey, Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe and Kemmons Wilson. It also has a foreword by Stephen Rushmore, preface, introduction, bibliography and index. Visit to order the book at a reduced price.

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