On March 16, 1940, NBC Radio introduced a Saturday morning dramatic show called Lincoln Highway sponsored by Shinola Polish, which featured stories of life along the route. The show’s introduction contained an error in noting the Lincoln Highway was identical to US 30 and ended in Portland. Many of the era’s stars, including Ethel Barrymore, Joe E. Brown, Claude Rains, Sam Levene, Burgess Meredith, and Joan Bennett, made appearances on the show, which had an audience of more than 8 million before it left the air in 1942. A rare surviving recording of the show’s theme song, “When You Travel the Great Lincoln Highway,” survives online.
After a couple of years on hiatus due to Covid, our annual LHA conference is back! The conference will start on Monday, June 20. The host hotel will be the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, just off the Lincoln Highway and close to Interstate 80. The nite of June 20 will kick off with an opening banquet followed by a bus tour the next day with a lunch stop and pipe organ concert at the gorgeous Rialto Square Theatre in the heart of Joliet, considered one of the ten most beautiful theaters in the United States and a photo stop at the Building the Lincoln Highway statue on the border of Joliet and Crest Hill.
Another tour will include a stop at the Garfield Farm and Inn Museum, an 1840s era farm, and a stagecoach stop. For a significant find in the middle of farm country, experience authentic Italian food in a stunning banquet hall featuring hand-painted décor for the Wednesday West Bus Tour. There will be a popular request tour of the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb on the West Tour. The Egyptian Theatre underwent a major restoration and expansion in recent years and has air conditioning. The West Tour will be a golden opportunity to visit the LHA Headquarters in the H.I. Lincoln Building in Franklin Grove to see the recent renovations.
The conference finishes on June 24 with Speakers Day, which will feature native Joliet resident Dennis Doyle speaking on the Lincoln Highway and James R. Wright, a lifelong resident of Homewood, Illinois, who will give a history of the Dixie Highway in Illinois. The activities on Speakers’ Day will conclude Thursday evening with the ever-popular Awards Banquet.
The above photo from our fall 2008 Forum shows the Terminus at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. We know this photo is from after 1928 as The Boy Scouts placed the concrete terminus post all across the county in 1928. In 1917 a flag pole was erected to the memory of Betsy Ross, creator of the flag of the United States. We can see the pole and base in the photo above. Attached are two bronze plaques on the side facing the Palace. On the side facing us, the bronze plaque read, “END OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY.” In the 1970s, someone removed the flagpole and concrete base and lost the components, until now!
Our attentive members, located in the eastern part of the country, noticed this item for sale and notified our California Chapter of the LHA of its existence. I had the great honor to retrieve the object and save it for the Lincoln Highway Association. Gaze upon the beauty below.
The object is bronze and has been bent slightly on the right side due to being torn off the concrete in the 1970s. There are some etched scratches on the top left from what we believe was a back-hoe pulling it off the base. The bronze has taken on an aged patina since being exposed to the damp San Francisco weather between 1917 and the 1970s. This history makes the object the longest lasting of all the various terminus signs or markers placed at this location.
The photo on the cover of The Forum is seen above with an arrow showing the location of the bronze “END OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY” plaque. The bushes behind the flagpole are hiding the fountain, which still stands today. The shrubs have long since been removed.
We took the bronze plaque over to the replica concrete Terminus post, installed in 2002 by the California Chapter of the Lincoln Highway. While all the markers and signs describe this spot as the “Terminus” of the Lincoln Highway, the plaque is the only one that says’s “END OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY.”
Automobile tourists visited the Mountain Inn thirty-five miles east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the Lincoln Highway c.1920s. Imagine hopping into your auto and heading out of town into the country, all on your schedule.
With the Lincoln Highway dedication on October 31, 1913, towns along the way had huge celebrations like this one in Ohio. Imagine the fun! “Onion eating contest,” “nail driving race, for ladies,” and “The biggest torchlight processions since the days of the Civil War.” At this date, some of the attendees might have very well been alive to see those Civil War processions.
In the early days of automobile travel, various auto associations signed sections of the highway so the new”autoists” could find their way. In the above photos, we see the California Auto Association putting up some of our signs, likely in the early c. 1920s.
Autos headed east on the Lincoln Highway at Donner Summit c. 1920s. Notice the railroad snow sheds and the subway at the left. The highway wasn’t plowed until the 1930s. Locals in Truckee would hand dig and apply soot (black stuff on snow ) to help early melting.
If Amor Towles’s new novel, “Lincoln Highway,” has fired up your wanderlust and you want to learn more about the old road, check out this link to the author’s web page. Full of fantastic photographs and history of the highway. Check out this map which is featured at the beginning of the book.