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2 Jul 2024

The Lincoln Highway is your next great road trip

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July 2, 2024 Category: Travel Posted by:


You’ve probably heard of Route 66 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, but do you know anything about the historic Lincoln Highway? If you love the idea of a road trip but are less fond of hours on an interstate passing strip malls and rest stops that all look the same, the Lincoln Highway may be exactly the kind of journey you’ve always wanted.

The history of the Lincoln Highway

As the first transcontinental highway created in the United States, the Lincoln Highway cuts straight across the country for about 3,000 miles, starting in New York’s Times Square and ending in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park.

Its origins in 1912 dovetail with the development of the auto industry, as there really were no good quality roads to travel across the country at that time. The Lincoln Highway Association credits Carl Fisher — the force behind the creation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — with the idea for a “Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway,” which quickly caught the attention of entrepreneurs and leaders of the early auto industry.

Dedicated in 1913, the original Lincoln Highway spanned about 3,389 miles, traveling through 13 states. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, part of the Lincoln Highway in New Jersey incorporated a road originally built by Dutch Colonists around 1675. One section in Ohio followed the Ridge Road, an ancient Indian trail, and a western portion of the highway followed part of the famed Mormon Trail. In other words, to travel the Lincoln Highway means traveling back in time, to explore the history of the country in an exciting new way.

Over the years, portions of the road have been replaced by more modern highways, so large sections of the highway have merged with roads like U.S. 30 and Interstate 80. However, you can still find markers of the original Lincoln Highway across the country, and traveling this route offers you opportunities to visit small towns, historic sites, unique shops, and diners, off-the-beaten-path attractions — glimpses of the country the average interstate just doesn’t provide.

Planning your Lincoln Highway road trip

While the idea of a 3,000+ mile trek may not exactly get your motor running, you can pick the nearest part of the highway to you and plot out a shorter journey from there, keeping an eye out for places of interest.

Here’s just a sampling of highlights and quirky locales you can explore along the way:

  • New York: Stop to create a few historic selfies in Times Square!
  • New Jersey: Check out the wonders of Thomas Edison Center in Menlo Park.
  • Pennsylvania: Rent (or just gawk at) the one-of-a-kind Haines Shoe House in York or check the time at the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia.
  • Ohio: Indulge your sweet tooth along the Buckeye Candy Trail.
  • Indiana: Travel back in time to explore Honest Abe’s childhood at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City.
  • Illinois: Catch the breeze at the Dutch Windmill in Fulton.
  • Iowa: Learn about the early days of the state and the Lincoln Highway’s origins at the Ames History Museum.
  • Nebraska: Get off the highway for a natural excursion to discover the beautiful Sandhill Cranes in Kearney.
  • Wyoming: Check out the amazing Lincoln Head Monument in Laramie.
  • Utah: Tour the state’s rich history and culture at the family friendly This Is The Place Heritage Park.
  • Nevada: Explore the story of the automobile at the National Automobile Museum in Reno.
  • California: Take in the gorgeous scenery on the Sierra Nevada South Route (also called the Pioneer Route) along the last leg of the Lincoln Highway.

You can look forward to exploring many more quaint small towns, memorable monuments, and awe-inspiring scenery throughout the United States as you rediscover lost treasures from the past, rolling along the Lincoln Highway for your next great road trip.

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