Lincoln Highway | 2016 - page 8

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Scores of communities sprang up across Nebraska as the
Union Pacific Railroad pressed westward from Omaha. Many
of the towns were waypoints the railroad established to load
new crews, top off water and fuel, and grease the locomotives’
bearings and axles. Some of these early railroad towns began
growing into something more as agriculture and commerce
took root.
The Union Pacific was scarcely 50 years old when officials
dedicated the Lincoln Highway in 1913 and the road ushered in
a new generation of economic activity — catering to the parade
of Lincoln Highway travelers.
The 3,400-mile Lincoln Highway connected main streets
in hundreds of towns and provided plenty of opportunities for
businesses to cater to travelers exploring the United States in
their automobiles.
Lodging, maintenance and repair, communication, and
medical attention all were necessities, and they were available
in most Nebraska communities that were along the Lincoln
Some businesses attempted to profit from the excitement by
naming their businesses after the highway.
Among those businesses were the Lincoln Highway Tire Co.,
Lincoln Highway Oil Co. and Lincoln Highway Cigars.
Travelers planning to follow the Lincoln Highway cross
country had an important source of information available to
The Lincoln Highway Association published “The Complete
Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway” and sold it to
travelers for 50 cents per copy.
Thumbing through the guide, travelers found assurance
that the Lincoln Highway they were about to travel would be
“of varying degrees of excellence,” and that a host of hotels,
campgrounds, restaurants, service stations and garages were
ready to cater to their needs.
Travelers with the official road guide in hand learned where
they might encounter a hot bath, which towns had electricity
and telephones or telegraphs, and where they could do their
Entering Nebraska from the east, travelers could overnight at
Omaha’s Henshaw Hotel at 15th and Farnam for just $1 and up
without bath, or $2 and up with bath.
Entering Nebraska from Wyoming, Kimball was the first
Lincoln Highway community where travelers found hotel
Travelers could stay for $1.50 to $2.50 per night at the
Whitman or Brown hotels. Kimball garages offered overnight
shelter for vehicles for 50 cents, wash for $1, oil for 75 cents and
gasoline for 18 cents. About 50 miles east of Kimball, Sidney
featured five hotels, an auto club, electric lights, a telephone
company and a newspaper.
The availability of skilled mechanics, spare parts stores and
repair shops was of utmost importance. The vehicles travelers
drove across the nation weren’t as reliable as modern cars and
trucks, and the Lincoln Highway could be punishing to the
vehicles that rolled over it.
Flat tires were a given. Many vehicles were equipped with
more than one spare. Travelers had their flat tires repaired
whenever they had the opportunity.
Although some replacement parts might be available, a major
repair such as a blown engine or broken axle could take several
days to repair. Often, travelers would telegraph their auto’s
manufacturer for replacement parts and then wait in the local
hotel or campground for the parts’ arrival via railroad.
The excitement of crossing the United States by car bred
new business models and caused some businesses to think
differently about the services they provided.
New Economy
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