1915 Lincoln Highway Film Tour

On May, 15, 1915, Henry C. Ostermann, council-at-large for the Lincoln Highway Association with his wife in the official Stutz, led group of intrepid travelers on a Coast-to-Coast trip from the Atlantic Ocean shore in Coney Island, New York to the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Cars ready for the start in Coney Island
Cars ready for the start in Coney Island

The purpose of the trip was not only to show the practicability of an ocean-to-ocean trip by automobile with the new era of road improvement stimulated by the Lincoln Highway, but also to film civic and industrial life and points of scenic beauty along the route that could be used in making the various sections of the country better acquainted with each other. The film was later exhibited at the exposition, schools, clubs, and other organizations of civic nature in other parts of the country

Official cars on the 3,384 mile trip represented Studebaker, Stutz, Packard, and Wayne Pump Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana, R. E. Spencer and Leon Loeb served as official film operators for the association and traveled in the Stutz. E. A. Holden, Ostermann’s secretary, accompanied Studebaker Corporation’s officials R. C. Sackett and J. Meinzinger in securing important road data of interest to motorists. T. A. Stalker and C. K. Reiling drove the Packard, and Mr. and Mrs. O. P. Canaday rode the Wayne Pump Company car.

J. M. Studebaker at construction near South Bend
J. M. Studebaker at construction near South Bend

South Bend, Indiana, staged a transportation pageant to celebrate “Lincoln Highway Day” and its transportation heritage, all of it captured by Lincoln Highway film crew. Thousands lined both sides of streets crowding into front yards and overflowing onto front porches. J. M. Studebaker drove one of his first carriages that was continuously used for over 60 years. Abraham Lincoln’s carriage also built by Studebaker was displayed. Of the 300 feet of film allotted to filming in South Bend, 175 were necessary to capture the pageant.

The tourists were received at every stopping point with utmost cordiality and enthusiasm. Most of the cities were decorated in holiday bunting, with a suspension of business operations. Citizens turned out in large numbers hoping that they might appear in the film.

Dipping their wheels in the Pacific Ocean
Dipping their wheels in the Pacific Ocean

Upon arriving in San Francisco on August 25th, the official vehicles dipped their wheels in the Pacific Ocean and then proceeded on to the Panama Pacific International Exposition.

Unfortunately no copies of the official film exist today because of the explosive nature of the film stock. Thank goodness, E. A. Holden captured still photographs to document his scrapbook, which is the source of the photographs used here. What an interesting glimpse of travel 100 years ago.

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