Lincoln Highway | 2016 - page 6

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EBRASKA
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INCOLN
H
IGHWAY
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H
ISTORIC
B
YWAY
In 1913, Nebraska was at the center of what would become
the United States’ premier roadway, the Lincoln Highway.
At the time it was conceived and built, the famous 3,400-
mile Lincoln Highway ignited excitement across the nation.
Americans were ready in 1913 to press hard on the accelerator
and bound from an age when railroads provided the primary
source of cross-country transportation to an era of freedom
in which four-wheel machines could carry them anywhere —
including the 498 bone-jarring miles across Nebraska on the
Lincoln Highway
In the early stages, it was a bumpy route that the Lincoln
Highway’s proponents and supporters followed, but their vision,
persistence and hard work paved the way for the modern system
of U.S. highways and interstates.
Headlight manufacturer Carl G. Fisher of Indianapolis, Ind., is
regarded as the creator of the Lincoln Highway. On July 1, 1913,
Fisher gathered a group of car industry leaders and automobile
enthusiasts to form the Lincoln Highway Association.
The goal was to build a highway that linked theAtlantic Ocean
to the Pacific, and to do it largely without government assistance.
Rather, Fisher and his associates secured pledges of $10 million,
including $1 million from auto manufacturers. Cement factories
also contributed tons and tons of their product for concrete.
Americans in hundreds of cities built bonfires and set off
fireworks the evening of Oct. 31, 1913, when the Lincoln
Highway Association dedicated the route for the famous
roadway. Residents danced in the streets to celebrate the news
that the highway would pass through their towns.
In Nebraska, the Lincoln Highway paralleled the Union Pacific
Railroad, which in parts of the state followed the Platte River and
sections of the Pony Express route and Mormon, California and
Oregon trails that carried U.S. settlers to the West.
Fisher thought the Lincoln Highway could be completed by
1915, but World War I slowed progress, and it was a number of
years later when the final sections were paved.
In 1924, the Lincoln Highway stretched almost 500 miles
across Nebraska. Most of the road — 329 miles — was graded
gravel. A little more than 80 miles was graded earth. The rest was
brick, concrete or asphalt.
Some of the first paved sections were the result of the Lincoln
Highway Association’s challenge to communities to build
“seedling miles.” These stretches of concrete or brick were
intended to spur more paving by showing motorists the
advantages over gravel or earth.
Under the slogan “Great oaks from little acorns will grow;
Long roads of concrete from ‘seedling miles’ will spring,”
The History of
Lincoln Highway
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