Lincoln Highway, the Nation’s First Transcontinental Highway

This presentation looks at how the Lincoln Highway served as a model of the evolution of the highway system in America. It covers the evolution of travel from rural roads to improved federal highways in the early part of the twentieth century.

Early Lincoln Highway
Early Lincoln Highway

In 1912, Indianapolis industrialist Carl G. Fisher was the first individual to determine a feasible plan to finance America’s first transcontinental highway from New York, New York, to San Francisco, California. He found contributors motivated by the advantage of decent roads. They rightly believed that if roads were improved, people would travel more and product demand for automobiles would increase. Within 30 days, Fisher had $1 million in pledges and publicity nationwide. A few months later, Fisher received a letter from Henry B. Joy, Packard Motor Company president, suggesting that the road be named for Abraham Lincoln. On July 1, 1913, the Lincoln Highway Association was created, and the route was designed to run through or touch 13 states.

1915 Donner Lake
1915 Donner Lake

Other points included are Fisher’s original goal for private funding of highway improvements and the transition to early federal highway funding. For instance, Fisher’s original plan was to raise ten million dollars to finance basic road-building materials of the highway in time for the opening of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. Within two years, numerous states were soliciting for federal aid to assist with their highway improvements.

L.B. Miller 1926 Transcontinental Trip
L.B. Miller 1926 Transcontinental Trip

This presentation shows the Lincoln Highway’s role in the birth of the federal highway system.
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Lincoln Highway
9220 N. College Avenue
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Subject: Lincoln Highway
Fee: Honorarium and travel expenses

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