Lincoln Highway | 2016 - page 7

N
EBRASKA
L
INCOLN
H
IGHWAY
~ H
ISTORIC
B
YWAY
• 7
Nebraska communities capitalized on the excitement to pave
their seedling miles.
Central Nebraska’s Hall and Buffalo counties were among
the nation’s leaders in the seedling mile initiative. Hall County
dedicated its seedling mile just east of Grand Island in 1915,
followed shortly by Buffalo County’s seedling mile west of
Kearney.
The Lincoln Highway was primitive compared to modern
standards. Kearney’s seedling mile, for example, was only wide
enough for two horse-drawn hay wagons to pass.
The highway was a threat to the early automobiles that crossed
it. Flat tires were a chronic problem, so motorists carried several
spares. Making more serious repairs, such as
replacing a broken axle, required
replacement parts to be ferried by
railroad from urban manufacturers
to service garages in Nebraska.
Travelers banked on the availability
of telephone and telegraph service
in case they had to order parts for
shipment to Nebraska.
Despite the many challenges,
construction continued and Lincoln
Highway enthusiasts could measure
their progress.
To drum up support for the Lincoln
Highway Association, Fisher and his
associates conducted a cross-country
trip in 1913 that took 34 days to complete.
Later, when the Lincoln Highway Association published
“The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway”
in 1915, the authors estimated travelers could cross the nation
from East Coast to West Coast in just 19 days — an average of
about 180 miles for every 10-hour day on the road.
The Lincoln Highway was a leader in the evolution of
highways that later saw the advent of the Dwight D. Eisenhower
System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
As a lieutenant colonel in 1919, Eisenhower crossed the nation
in a military convoy that followed the Lincoln Highway. In 1974,
Nebraska became the first state to complete its
segment of Interstate 80, which approximated
the route of the Lincoln Highway.
As an inspiration for more and better
roads and a national network of interstates,
the Lincoln Highway fulfilled one of the
goals of its creator. Carl Fisher envisioned
a road that would “stimulate as nothing else
could the building of enduring highways
everywhere that will not only be a credit
to the American people, but that will also
mean much to American agriculture and
American commerce.”
Fisher achieved his dream with the
Lincoln Highway.
Omaha Automobile Club, from left: J.H. Rehm,
Packard Motor Car Co.; D.E. Goodell, Iowa State
Consul; George F. Walz, Nebraska State Consul;
and S.E. Smyth, Secretary
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