Chesterton Tribune

Historical Society hears the story of the Lincon Highway, US 30

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The Lincoln Highway which came through Porter County on its way west was the first named auto trail to be marked from coast-to-coast. It ran from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The official length of the original route was 3,389 miles.

Windy City Road Warrior Dave Clark began his Lincoln Highway program, co-sponsored by the Duneland Historical Society and the Westchester Township History Museum, with a photographic tour of the Lincoln Highway in 1925.

In 1925 the route took drivers through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and finally California. Pictures showed the automobiles and road conditions of the day including a car in Iowa stuck in mud up to its axles.

Changes in the route occurred over the years. There was a loop through Denver, Colorado which was removed in 1915 and a realignment in 1928 relocated the road through the northern tip of West Virginia.

Clark said the force behind marking a trail across the country was Carl Fisher who would go on to found the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the city of Miami Beach.

The road was dedicated on October 31, 1913 as the first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln. President Dwight Eisenhower was part of an Army Convoy which took two months to cross the country on the Lincoln Highway in 1919.

The U. S. Highway System began to number highways in 1926 and much of the Lincoln Highway became U.S. 30. Portions carried other numbers and parts of Interstate 80 now follow the Lincoln Highway route.

In each state the Lincoln Highway Association sponsored the creation of a “seedling mile” or “ideal section” of hard road to show what could be possible for the entire route. Jens Jensen was the landscape architect for the seedling roads. The seedling road in Indiana is between Dyer and Schererville and is still marked and in good condition.

Boy Scouts placed 2400 concrete Lincoln Highway markers along the route at 1:00 p.m. on September 1, 1928. Along the route besides the markers there are signs, statues, streets such as Lincolnway in Valparaiso, murals, businesses and other mementos of the Lincoln Highway.

Clark showed a map of how the highway was changed in Indiana. It originally went from Fort Wayne to Valparaiso by way of Elkhart, South Bend and LaPorte. Later it followed a route through Plymouth, approximately U. S. 30 today.

He told of a trip by etiquette writer Emily Post who wrote a series of articles about her 45-day drive along the highway. A mural at Rochelle, Illinois tells of her adventures.

The Lincoln Highway Association was established in 1913 to plan and promote the road and was active until 1928. It re-formed in 1992 and is now dedicated to preserving the road. LHA maintains a national tourist center in Franklin Grove, Illinois.

Dave Clark, who lives in Chicago, is the author of several books and an expert on Route 66.

The next meeting of the Duneland Historical Society will be November 18 when the speaker will be Janet Edwards, author of Diana of the Dunes, The True Story of Alice Gray.


Posted 10/26/2010