Rediscovering the Lincoln Highway

Lincoln Highway – The Nation’s first coast to coast highway.
The first visible remnant of the former Lincoln Highway in Indiana jogs off course of U.S. 30, a few yards from the Ohio state line. It’s one of those “blink and you miss it” intersections a two lane, asphalt relic easily bypassed by motorists looking for the fastest route to nearby Fort Wayne. The highway was noted to display such cultural icons as Burma Shave and Mail Pouch tobacco signs, diners and drive-in restaurants and tourist cabins.

Llincoln Highway Strip Map

This 1924 Lincoln Highway strip map shows the route through Indiana. It was prepared by the Matthews – Northrup Works, a once-prominent firm in Buffalo, N.Y.
Although this road map blip may look insignificant today, it has served with distinction in automotive annals. It is part of the transcontinental highway that has been credited with providing the impetus to the affordable American dream of traveling from somewhere to someplace and back again by automobile. In 1913 The Lincoln Highway became the first coast to coast highway. It joined New York City to San Francisco and other cities and towns along its 12 state, 3,389 mile route, capturing the American imagination along the way.

If you want to retrace the original route of the Lincoln Highway from Ligonier to the Ohio state line follow these directions. From U.S. 33 turn east on Lincoln Way West into Ligonier to Cavin Street which turns into Lincoln Way South. Proceed south to U.S. 33. left on U.S. 33 through Wolf Lake, and Churubusco. Continue on U.S. 33 as it becomes Goshen Avenue to Harrison. Right on Harrison to Jefferson Boulevard. Left on Jefferson (one way east bound) and it merges into Maumee Avenue. Note: The original route was on Washington Street which is one block north and is one way west bound. Maumee merges into U.S. 30 East then proceeds to Howe Road (an unmarked two lane road). Turn east on Howe Road and go through the towns of Zulu and Townley. Continue on this road past the Hoosier Homestead Farm. Just past the farm, the original two lane road ends at the new route of U.S. 30. Go east a few yards to the Ohio state line.

In Ligonier the first evidence of auto history you’ll notice is what remains of the Meir Carriage & Buggy Company which produced automobiles from 1903 to 1910. The factory building exists on the northwest corner of Lincoln Way West and Cavin Street (which turns into Lincoln Way South). Five blocks south of the factory, be sure to stop at the Solomon Meir house at 508 S. Cavin Street, which is now a bed and breakfast. He was the proprietor of the Meir Carriage & Buggy Company. Three blocks south of the house is the Indiana Historical Radio Museum at 800 Lincoln Way South.

While you are in Fort Wayne be sure to visit the “Coast to Coast on the Lincoln Highway” exhibit at The Lincoln Museum at 200 E. Berry Street. Also visit Cindy’s Diner and The Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum at 226 W. Washington Street (both of these are on the original Lincoln Highway route).

I recommend four Lincoln Highway books.

The Lincoln Highway: Main Street across America, by Drake Hokanson, ISBN 0877456763

Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road, by Brian Butko, ISBN 081170128X

A Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway Fifth Edition, republished by The Patrice Press ISBN 1880397390

American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age, Pete Davies ISBN 0805072977.

Back to: Backroads – A trip back in time traveling Indiana’s highways and byways.


Leave a Reply