It Stretched Across 14 States And Was Nearly 6,000 Miles Long

October 31, 1913

The official dedication of the Lincoln Highway took place in the form of numerous ceremonies and other celebrations nationwide, notably in the hundreds of cities and towns along the approved route for the planned transcontinental thoroughfare for motor vehicles.

“Cities en Route From Coast to Coast Mark Opening of Great Rock Road,” proclaimed the headline of an Indianapolis Star article detailing commemorations for the widely anticipated long-distance highway for the “horseless carriage.”  The Indianapolis Star reported that “the West particularly was aglow with bonfires and red fire parades.”

Other festivities for the dedication across various state boundaries involved band concerts, fireworks, dances, and automobile convoys. The overall enthusiasm was tough to dispute. In Nebraska alone, for example, there were 300 miles (482.8 kilometers) of bonfires distributed along the proposed route for the Lincoln Highway in the state and specifically between Omaha and North Platte.

Carl G. Fisher, 1909

The celebratory mood for the nascent New York City-San Francisco road was likewise very much in evidence in the Indiana city of Fort Wayne, where Carl G. Fisher – the entrepreneur who first developed and pursued the idea of such a route – joined many of his fellow Hoosiers in making the commemorations there both bright and memorable.

“This Halloween was a big night in Fort Wayne and Allen County, for the Lincoln highway through this city and county was dedicated amid a blaze of red fire and bonfires and with the jarring noise of hundreds of car horns,” reported the Indianapolis Star. “Nothing like the event had ever before been seen here, and it will probably be a long day before there will be anything like it again.”

The Lincoln Highway went on to become the nation’s premier highway for several years. When factoring in all of its various realignments over the course of time, the pioneering coast-to-coast highway covered a grand total of 5,872 miles (9,450.1 kilometers). At one point or another, the Lincoln Highway passed through the following 14 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.

For more information on the Lincoln Highway, please check out https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/lincoln.cfm.

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