History of the Lincoln Highway
The Lincoln Highway was the first road for the automobile across the United States. Conceived and promoted by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. In 1915, the “Colorado Loop” was removed, and in 1928 realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. Thus, there are a total of 14 states, 128 counties, and over 700 cities, towns and villages through which the highway passed at some time in its history.
The first officially recorded length of the entire Lincoln Highway in 1913 was 3,389 miles. Over the years, the road was improved and numerous realignments were made, and by 1924 the highway had been shortened to 3,142 miles. Counting the original route and all of the subsequent realignments, there is a grand total of 5,869.
Conceived in 1912 and formally dedicated October 31, 1913. The Lincoln Highway was
America’s first national memorial President Abraham Lincoln. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way. The Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as “The Main Street Across America.”
The Lincoln Highway Association (LHA), originally established in 1913 to plan, promote, and sign the highway, was re-formed in 1992 and is now dedicated to promoting and preserving the road. In June 2012, the LHA unveiled a complete, definitive online map of the entire highway, from New York City to San Francisco, freely available on the Association’s Website (www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org).
Nebraska’s Lincoln Highway History
The last stretch of Lincoln Highway in the United States to be paved was in North Platte, NE in 1935. Before that, the route across the state was anything from paved streets in parts of Omaha to brick streets, gravel roads and dirt paths elsewhere. The best roads at the time made up the route, depending on the year and weather. Every community in its path benefited from the route, and tourist destinations sprung up across the state. From Kimball in the west to Omaha and Blair in the east, road travelers found unique attractions and accommodations. The Lincoln Highway era, 1913-1950’s, was the heyday of flurry and activity on the Lincoln Highway, (officially designated U.S. Highway 30 in 1928) before Interstate 80 took its place as the main thoroughfare through Nebraska in 1962.
As you travel on the Lincoln across Nebraska today, you are traveling one of nine state byways in Nebraska. Driving across Nebraska on this byway today is a reminder of what the road was like. The communities along the route are embracing their Lincoln Highway past, with renovations occurring each year. Many sites are right on Highway 30, and others are just a block or two away. Many yet-to-be restored locations also exist, adding interest to the journey. To explore more of the byway visit, http://www.lincolnhighwaynebraskabyway.com/
Kearney 2013 Host to the National Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration
On June 30 and July 1, 2013 Kearney hosted the National Centennial Celebration of the Lincoln Highway. Over 500 cars and 12,000 people attended the June 30th celebration downtown and on July 1, the crowd was over 500 at the Archway for the official birthday celebration! Click here for a copy of the tabloid handed out during the event.
Highlights from the Celebration can be seen below.