The Traveler - The Quarterly Newsletter of the California Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association
Volume 3, Number 1: Winter 2002

Model A Ford Club of America-Lincoln Highway Tour in California

By Norman Root
California Director, Lincoln Highway Association

[Photo of Model A's]
[Click to enlarge]

[Another photo of Model A's]
[Click to enlarge]

I arrive early at the foot of Norton Grade on the old Lincoln Highway on Saturday, September 15. Sure enough, there is a parking lot here not seen from the twisty approach road until I am upon it. This is a back road spot, visited by few, in the rural foothills above Colfax, California. Next to arrive is a television camera man looking for his boss television news reporter. We are reassured that we are at the right place when, at the appointed hour, Model A's begin rolling in. Clubs from both Auburn and Grass Valley are represented.

Mary Salazar, President of the California Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association, has muffins and drinks for all, as she passes out dash plaques and driving instructions to the drivers. There are other Model A clubs starting at other locations on the old Lincoln, and we will all converge at the Towe Museum of Automotive History in Sacramento for lunch.

The television crew, all assembled now with an entourage of 3 vehicles, takes off down the road to find a good photo-op site from which to tape the caravan as we tour down the road. Even though each driver has detailed written instructions, the Model A's seem to favor following my modern iron Lincoln Highway escort vehicle emblazoned with magnetic Lincoln Highway signs.

Deciduous trees, amongst the thinning pines at the elevation, are starting to turn golden at this time of year in the California Mother Lode country. The old Lincoln meanders down through the Sierra Nevada foothills passing through antiquated railroad underpasses and bucolic gold mining communities of former times. The main street in Auburn is brightly decorated with Lincoln Highway signs. None of this splendor can be seen nor enjoyed from the nearby freeway.

At Newcastle, we meet more Model A's and the Lincoln Highway Association officers who have sped past us on the freeway. At Sisley Road, in Penryn, our tires touch the still in use pavement used by Lincoln Highway travelers of yore.

To our surprise, we find the highway blocked off for the local pear festival in Loomis. Between this unplanned detour and the eagerness of local traffic officers to direct through traffic out of town quickly, the caravan gets split up, with some ending up on the freeway. However, since each driver has written instructions, most are able to eventually find the old Lincoln again, but not as a group anymore.

Dean Salazar, the tour planner, must have done a good job because south San Francisco Bay Area clubs who have traveled over Altamont Pass from Livermore, and the Modesto A's, who came north picking up the Lincoln in Stockton, and our disassembled group from the north all arrive at the Towe Museum within a few minutes of each other.

Eighty Model A'ers in about sixty cars line up their vehicles in the Towe parking lot before we go inside for a catered lunch. In addition to the back road country seen by some for the first time, and learning about the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Highway, a tour of the museum with its ample displays of vintage automobiles, full size automotive dioramas and other aspects of automotive history is a real treat, the highlight of an enjoyable day.