fed the livestock to ensure their prime
condition. He made millions in a matter of decades.
A modern glimpse into the past
Dozens of noteworthy locations, attractions, and buildings along
the Lincoln Highway through Nebraska have survived the test of
time. Potter, in the western part of the state, is home to the Chestnut
Street Memory Station.A Conoco filling station during the Lincoln
Highway’s heyday, the Memory Station is now an antique shop.The
original owner’s grandson operates the shop today.
The historic Hendee Hotel, built in 1879 in the central
Nebraska town of Cozad, was first the boyhood home of American
artist Robert Henri, born Robert Henry Cozad. It stands today
recently renovated as the Robert Henri Museum.The Hendee
Hotel’s National Register of Historic Places nomination form credits
the Lincoln Highway for the building’s longevity: “…[It] managed to
survive the transition from train to automobile travel because the
Lincoln Highway went by it on Eighth Street.”
Eastern Nebraska Lincoln Highway travelers would have passed
through Schuyler and may have stopped at the Kopac Brothers
Garage.The 1916 Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln
Highway proclaimed the Kopac brothers’ shop to be the finest garage
between Omaha and Denver.Although this building now houses
Schuyler’s Department of Utilities, tourists still enjoy its century-old
character and history.These establishments are just a few of the many
historical sites to see along the highway today.
Remarkable events along Nebraska’s main street
On a beautiful day in July 1919, a parade of 71 military vehicles
thundered through Omaha on the Lincoln Highway.The crowd
gathered at at Ninth and Douglas streets roared with applause to
welcome the men, among them General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who
had recently returned from the GreatWar.This caravan did not set
out to stir up patriotism, though. Rather, the U.S.Army wanted to
see if the new transcontinental highway could withstand the weight
of military vehicles.
Erickson described the trip as rough, and the caravan broke
almost every bridge it encountered.The road’s weaknesses were
promptly improved and repaired. During his presidency three
decades later, Eisenhower instituted the bill that approved the
Interstate Highway System. His time in the transcontinental convoy,
along with experience with the GermanAutobahn during
WorldWar II, influenced him to establish the interstate highway
system that we know today.
In November 1926, the federal government implemented a
numbered system of highway naming.The Lincoln Highway was
designated U.S. Highway 30, but its legacy lived on. Official red,
white, and blue Lincoln Highway emblem signs endured along the
route. Most people continued to call Highway 30 “the Lincoln
Highway.” Many businesses along Highway 30 today proudly use
the name Lincoln Highway in their addresses.
Today, the Lincoln Highway’s 17-year presence in Omaha is
understated. In July 1930, Blair opened a new bridge across the
Missouri River — the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge.At the
time, the Lincoln Highway entered eastern Nebraska at the Douglas
Street Bridge in Omaha, approximately 30 miles south.Travel was
free over Blair’s bridge, but not Omaha’s. Blair envied the fame and
recognition that Omaha received as a result of the Lincoln Highway.
Believing it made sense for the Lincoln Highway to cross a bridge that
memorialized the same man, Blair officials and workers crept into
Omaha, stole all the city’s Lincoln
Highway signs and markers, and snuck back to Blair in the cover of
the night. Blair officials replanted the signs along a new route through
their town and across the newAbraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge.
Blair’s route was more direct, and the road never returned to
Omaha.After 1930, Omahans could only reminisce on the city’s days
with the great transcontinental highway.
A blast from the past:The Centennial Celebration
From June 30 to July 1, 2013, a Centennial Celebration
showcasing the Lincoln Highway’s profound effect on the country
will take place in Kearney, the middle of the great highway.This
central Nebraska town is exactly 1,733 miles from San Francisco
and 1,733 miles from Boston. Festivities include a Centennial
AutoTours antique car show. “It’s going to be a blast from the past!”
Erickson said.
People costumed as historical characters and prominent
speakers are also planned. Live music, great food, and shopping will
round out the celebration.
The Lincoln Highway has shaped Nebraska’s rich history and
settlement. It is the responsibility of the citizens of the Cornhusker
State to become educated and involved in the preservation movement
recognizing it. People are urged to clean up, repaint, or renovate the
historical buildings in cities along the Lincoln Highway.
In this centennial year, tell your friends about this amazing piece
of Nebraska history.Take a trip and see the sights. In the words of
Lincoln Highway advocate and historian Erickson, “Squint your eyes
and you will see the history right in front of you.”
2013 C
• 7
Browse every mile of the
Lincoln Highway through
New Interactive Map
powered by Google Maps.
Come join us!
The Lincoln Highway
Association is the only
national organization
dedicated to the 'Father Road,'
the Lincoln Highway!
Find out about exciting events
planned for the Lincoln Highway's
Centennial Celebration in 2013!
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