This is a past tour. For the current tour, please see the 2019 Military Convoy Centennial Tour.

Travelers on Century-old Highway will use 21st Century Technology to Find Their Way

Contact
John E. Peters
(352) 561-4604

February 13, 2013 — When the official Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) Centennial Auto Tour kicks off in June 2013, travelers will be using 21st-century technology to follow the 100-year-old route across the country.

Traveling throughout the United States by car today is relatively easy — just follow the U.S. or Interstate route numbers. But it hasn’t always been this simple. In the early 20th century, as Americans began traveling farther from home by automobile, the country needed roads linking cities and towns, instead of simply serving local traffic.

The Lincoln Highway was the creation of Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl Fisher, who, with help from industrialists Frank Seiberling (president of Goodyear) and Henry Joy (president of Packard Motor), envisioned an improved road stretching nearly 3400 miles from New York to San Francisco. Fisher created the Lincoln Highway Association in 1913 to both promote the road and fund the project.

Lincoln Highway organizers wanted a free road because most roads at that time were expensive toll roads, and the cars were better than the roads. The Lincoln Highway opened commerce and changed the way Americans shopped, traveled, and lived.

The LHA Mapping Committee has worked for a decade to map all generations of the Lincoln Highway, from the obscure Proclamation Route to the equally-rare city feeders. Paul Gilger, mapping software expert and committee chair, has done a brilliant job, spending hundreds of hours to apply route information to Google Maps. The maps are now available to the public for free. Go to www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/map to see this stunning resource detailing exactly where the Lincoln Highway went from coast-to-coast. The map for the 100th Anniversary Tour is at www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/tour/2013/map.

“We now have a place to send people to grasp the scope of this road,” Gilger said. “Now you can really see where the road goes and how significant the effort was.”

“Researching and mapping the Lincoln Highway was a labor of love, an all-volunteer effort by hundreds of people,” Gilger explained. “It was not a one-man show. The research alone took more than 20 years. Our Lincoln Highway Association members, truly historians, were looking to figure out where the road actually went.”

Many individuals had researched the route in specific states. The LHA had chapters that provided information for their state. While some state chapters had done a lot, others had done very little. The effort on national mapping began in 2002.

“We began mapping the California route with paper maps,” Gilger said. “By 2004 we started getting a handle on how complicated the Lincoln Highway was. During 2006–07, we started laying out computer maps.”

The committee used the newest Google technology: Google Earth and Google Maps, including Satellite View and Street View. The computer technology allowed them to complete the gargantuan task. The maps went online during the 2012 LHA Conference. Technology has made the Lincoln Highway available to everyone.

“This project will introduce people to the Lincoln Highway and the LHA,” Gilger explained. “It really pulls it all together. The greatest significance is it gives us something tangible to point to. The project can educate the public about the significance of the Lincoln Highway. It brings the Lincoln Highway into the fold of history.”

“This is a big deal,” Gilger declared. “I don’t know of anything as extensive as what we’ve done. The project will encourage tourism and tourism development, help people rediscover this country. It gets you off the interstates and onto the back roads.

The Lincoln Highway is the home of many significant historical sites, including Mamie Eisenhower’s birthplace, Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home, the Liberty Bell, Gettysburg, Edison’s lab at Menlo Park, Princeton University, the Studebaker and Auburn automobile plants, Buffalo Bill Cody’s ranch, Boys Town and the Dugway Proving Ground. The Lincoln Highway is of interest to all people who want to see and experience a different side of America.


More information
Map of the 2013 Lincoln Highway Tour
www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/tour/2013/map
Official Map of the Lincoln Highway
www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/map