100 Years on the Lincoln Highway

100 Years on the Lincoln Highway

– [Announcer] Your support
helps us bring you programs you love. Go to Wyoming PBS dot org.ú Click on support and
become a sustaining member or an annual member. It’s easy and secure. Thank you. (piano music) – [Narrator] Before the
interstate highway system, before famed Route 66, before highways
were even numbered, there was one road that captured the Public’s attention. One road that led
to new horizons. One road that changed
America forever. Beginning in Times
Square, New York City, and ending in San Francisco, it was America’s first coast to coast automobile road, The Lincoln Highway. A little over a century ago
there was no single auto road across America. There were wagon
trails and ranch paths in the West, Turnpikes and
farmers lanes in the East, but mostly these roads
didn’t lead anywhere. – The roads of
the time what they were we just simple
paths through the dirt and these were roads that
ranchers and farmers would use to get to town to get back out. – [Narrator] At the
turn of the century there weren’t that many
automobiles for which to build roads, but
there were bicycles. – So, bicyclists
actually are the ones that really started
the good roads movement because the roads back
then of course were dirt which turned to mud and
then when the mud hardened you had hard ruts which is
fine for horse and buggy, but certainly someone on
a bicycle it doesn’t work. When the automobile then
became more prevalent the automobile entrepreneurs
who had the financial wherewithal jumped
on the bandwagon. And basically they
became the fathers of the good roads
movement at that point. – [Narrator] Among those
early auto entrepreneurs was Carl G Fisher. Fisher was an Indiana
businessman who formed the Prest-O-Lite company which manufactured
acetylene headlights for early automobiles. He was also one of
the founders of the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway home of the famed Indianapolis 500 race. – Carl Fischer was
really a promoter, really a grand-stander
in many ways. He was not a planner,
but he had good ideas. – [Narrator] In 1912, Fisher
conceived a hard-surfaced improved highway
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He called it the
Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway. In September of that year
Fisher met with the automobile industry leaders to pitch his
idea and ask for donations to pay for the proposed road. Fisher felt it could be
completed in time for the 1915 Exposition
in San Francisco. “Let’s build it.”, he told the group before were
too old to enjoy it. Within 30 minutes of his
speech Frank Seiberling, President of Goodyear Tires was so inspired he pledged $300,000. Henry Joy president of the Packard Motor Company
offered $150,000. – The intention was
to connect the country from East Coast to West Coast. Commerce was a big
piece of it, but also to encourage people to
get out and travel, but they also were patriotic
and believed it would benefit the country. – [Narrator] Within
a few months Fisher had over 4 million dollars
in pledges from auto manufacturers and
auto-related businesses all except for one
important holdout. Henry Ford was against
private enterprise funding roads in America. He thought the government
should be responsible. In time he would
prove to be right. (piano music) The automobile had been
around for a couple of decades before the Lincoln Highway,
but they were expensive. – You’d see Maxwells
and Premieres and the occasional Studebakers and other fine automobiles,
expensive automobiles, that would cost two years
wages for a working person at that time and these were playthings for the rich. – [Narrator] But in
1908 a vehicle appeared that shook up the nascent
auto industry and set the stage for a revolution in
personal transportation. That vehicle was
the Ford Model T. The Model T was the first
automobile mass-produced on moving assembly lines with
completely interchangeable parts and marketed
to the middle class. It was a rugged and
reliable little car that could easily be
repaired by its owner. Standing on 30 inch tires it
had good ground clearance, Bbt it’s most important
attribute was its price. Due to constantly improving mass production the price of
a new model T dropped from $850 at its
introduction to $260 by 1925. With costs coming down,
Model T sales shot up. The 1 millionth Model
T was produced in 1915. By 1921 5 million of
them were on the road. And just three years later
there were 10 million. At the end of its run
in 1927, 15 million Model Ts had been manufactured. This singular vehicle
propelled Henry Ford to National prominence
and the Ford Motor Company to unimagined success.
but more importantly it was the car they put
America on the road. People could now journey
at their own pace, on their own schedule
to potentially any destination. The only problem was
there still weren’t many improved roads. After pledging his
company’s monetary support Henry Joy suggested a different
name for Fisher’s Coast to Coast Rock Highway. – “Let’s call it the
Lincoln Highway.” He said that the Carl Fisher and Carl Fisher instantly
knew that was the right name for it because Abraham
Lincoln did link the country back together. – [Narrator] The Lincoln
Highway Association was formed in Detroit on July 1st 1913. It was the first real
attempt to develop, map, sign and promote a
road across America. Henry Joy became
the association’s first President. Carl Fischer was
named Vice President. Stringing together an
assortment of existing roads the route of the Lincoln
Highway was made public on September 14th 1913. It traversed more than
3300 miles, cutting across 12 States
and four time zones. Bonfires and speeches,
fireworks and parades occurred in hundreds of cities
and towns along the Route upon its dedication,
October 31st 1913, but now that the road was
official reality set in. (car horn) After all the promotion,
all the anticipation, and all the celebrations
the Lincoln Highway was still just an
assemblage of existing roads and trails. How difficult would a
Coast to Coast Auto trip actually be. In July 2013 members
of the new Lincoln Highway Association set
out to discover the answer. – Cars of the tour are wonderful because we have
100 years of cars from 1913 clear up
to present day cars and I love the diversity. – The Lincoln Highway
was for everybody. You know when you get out,
when you take the dirt roads you really see what it
was like in 1913 to 1935, especially here I’m
in a car that was around at that time. It’s just really, really
need to just go back in time and live the way
they lived back then. ♪ Standing in the sagebrush
battered by the wind ♪ Hey there it was I saw it ♪ Drive by that thing again ♪ There’s a marker
made of concrete ♪ From 80 years ago ♪ When this broken blacktop
was country’s only road ♪ From Coast to Coast ♪ Now the road who was the first ♪ To think of that ♪ Now the road long
before Jack Pure-O was ♪ Down the road I’d
rather come back ♪ We’re looking for
the Lincoln Highway ♪ Down the road (harmonica) – Highway 30 goes through a lot of small towns that
don’t see the kind of traffic that used to see. They are fabulous,
quaint little towns with wonderful people
and you would never get a chance to see them otherwise. – [Narrator] The 1916
Lincoln Highway Association Road guide had advice
for those venturing out on the new highway. – [Narrator] For a real
vacation nothing beats a camping trip. – [Narrator] The guide suggested
bringing camping equipment, canned and dried food and an
assortment of rugged clothing. – Equipment was essential. They had four or
five spare tires, six if they could get
them on their cars. They had tire chains. They used tire
chains quite a bit. They had jacks and
shovels, poles that they could stick under the
bumper to lift up and get them out of a mud hole. They used flat lumber slabs
to put under the tires. – [Narrator] Heeding
the advice and warnings and purchasing the
necessary provisions early auto enthusiasts
packed up their vehicles and began to venture forth
on the Lincoln Highway. The great American
Road Trip was born. One such adventurer was
Effie Price Gladding. In 1914 she and
her husband set out from San Francisco and drove
the new Lincoln Highway to New Jersey. Her ensuing book was the
first of many to talk about the
trans-continental route. – [Female Speaker] We
resolved at the outset to take the days and
the roads as they came, not looking for luxury and
well satisfied with simplicity. It is surprising how one is
fortified for the vicissitudes of the road by such a
deliberate attitude of mind, Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] Cheyenne,
Wyoming was one of five state capitals through which
the Lincoln Highway passed. At the request of the
association Cheyenne 16th Street was renamed Lincoln Way, a
moniker that still exists today. In Cheyenne many early
travelers stayed at the Plains Hotel. Built in 1911 it was
considered by locals to be the best lodging
on the Lincoln Highway between Chicago
and San Francisco. For those who couldn’t
afford a hotel a free Municipal Campground was
located along the lake at the North end of town. In 1920 40,000
people camped there. Tourists from the East
Coast crossing over the Laramie Mountains West of
Cheyenne must have been bewildered by the dryness,
the odd rock formations and the general lack of
trees along the Route. This wasn’t the Rocky
Mountains they had envisioned, yet many were enthusiastic
of the sites they encountered on this portion of the trip. One of the landmarks
was the monument to Oakes and Oliver Ames,
financiers and developers of the Union Pacific Railroad. – I’m here at the
Ames Monument now and I can hardly wait to
get out and see the view from up here. This is really an
amazing structure. It’s just way cool. I’m amazed that something
like this is out in the middle of Wyoming. Awesome, I love it. – [Narrator] Over the
years the Lincoln Highway was moved a number of times to provide motorists with a
better alignment an improved road and a reduced distance. The original 1913 route
traveled Southwest along Hermosa Road then to
Tie Siding where it turned North and followed
today’s Highway 287 through Red Butte
and on to Laramie, but by 1919 a new Lincoln
Highway segment was opened. It continued due West
from Ames Monument on to Sherman Hill Summit,
highest point in the Lincoln at 8835 feet. In the 1920s a gas station
and Road House known as The Summit Tavern was
built on Sherman Summit. With improvements to the
highway the Summit Tavern also improved over the years. Today there’s a rest stop on
the interstate not far from the original high point of
the Lincoln Highway. Here modern travelers
stop to see two memorials that stand high
above the freeway. The bronze head of Lincoln
was designed and created in 1958 by a University
of Wyoming art Professor Robert Russin. Due to the extremes of
Wyoming’s temperatures he cast this sculpture in Mexico. It was shipped to Laramie in a truck to its original
destination on Sherman Hill where it was dedicated. Russin and said that he
wanted to show a contemplative Lincoln in the last
years of his life. His great heart sorrowing
over the rent of his Nation. Another Memorial at the Summit
rest stop sits next to that of Lincoln. The Henry B Joy Monument
honors the first President of the Lincoln
Highway Association and the President of the
Packard Motor Car Company. Joy was an avid Outdoorsman
who drove cross-country multiple times testing the
latest production Packards. He often encountered
unfavorable conditions, but loved every minute away
from the corporate boardroom. His memorial was moved
to the rest area from a remote site near
Creston, Wyoming, about a 100 miles to the West. – Where we’re standing
at right now is the site of the original
Henry Joy Monument. The story goes that
he was really enamored of the Wyoming sunset
and decided that maybe he wanted to be buried here. In 1939 his wife placed
monument here at this location and this monument remained
here until it got moved to the Lincoln rest
stop between Cheyenne and Laramie. – [Narrator] After
cresting Sherman Summit The Lincoln Highway descended
West through Telephone Canyon into Laramie. Wyoming road workers
built The Lincoln Highway through this tight
Canyon from 1919 to 1920. It was an amazing feat
of engineering that shaved miles off the trip. – The whole idea of the Western,
of the cowboy was really coming into its form in
the early 20th century. People loved Western movies, so these travelers
would get to Wyoming and they’d meet cowboys. They’d see people
herding cattle. They would get to
interact with these folks in the cafes, and
saloons, and hotels, and towns along the
Lincoln Highway. – [Effie] We came to
Laramie reaching there on the eve of the 4th of July. Laramie boasts a good
hotel which was crowded with people. Ranch men had brought
their families for the festivities
of the fourth. Tall Cowboys lounged about
wearing their most ornamental tall boots, their
best silk shirts, and brightest neck ties, Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] Laramie was
home to a true Wyoming, auto Pioneer Elmer Lovejoy. Always a tinkerer and
inventor he had a garage on South Second Avenue
where he built bicycles, but in 1898 he was hard
at work on a new project. – What Elmer Lovejoy did in May of 1898 was to
take some of his skills in repairing bicycles and
some of those bicycles parts that de had in his
shop and put it together with an internal combustion
engine mounted on four wheels and drive around
Laramie in May of 1898 in what was Wyoming’s first car. – [Narrator] Soon Lovejoy,
E.L. Emery and others in Wyoming began
publishing travel guides for motorists. These guides often often
had detailed turn-by-turn instructions, but failed
to mention the pool road conditions. But rudimentary maps and
misleading descriptions were the least of the
problems encountered by early Lincoln
Highway travelers. – The drive was pretty tough. It was unmarked and most places. It was dirt or mud or a
little gravel now and then. There was really no
paving to speak of outside of towns and cities. Even when the road
was marked if it rained you might get
into some pretty serious mud holes because it
was just natural road there was no paving,
no improvement, no embankment of any kind. – [Narrator] Some
farmers and ranchers came to the aid of stuck
motorists, often accepting no payment for their efforts. Others detested autos
especially the initial wave of wealthy owners who
obliviously ran over chickens and other farm animals. They often fought back
by scattering tacks along the road. Some ranchers in Wyoming
disliked automobiles so much they would sometimes
threaten motorists with guns. Others sought revenge
using less hostile tactics. – The guidebooks what’s
a helpful things like, “Turn right at the red barn.” And then the farmer would
paint the barn white and then you were lost, so these things take a
while to iron out until things got better marked. – [Narrator] But eventually
farmers and ranchers began to accept autos
especially the Model T which could navigate
rocky, muddy trails and could even be
used as a power plant for ranch machinery. In Wyoming and other
states fences surrounding farms and ranches
often blocked the way. The early route of
the Lincoln Highway between Laramie and
Rawlins had no less than 18 gates through
which motorist had to stop, open and close again. Alternative routes
were often advertised. Bridges were another
problem because at first there weren’t too many of them. To cross a stream bed
or dry ravine side banks were cut and large
rocks moved before cars could push across. To avoid this effort some
Travelers used railroad bridges. Sometimes consulting with
railroad time schedules, sometimes not with all
the dangers that implied. But in 1916 local
communities were working hard to improve the highway that
passed through their towns. Fix the bad places
first was their Credo. They installed culverts.
reinforced bridges, filled holes and
smoothed out ruts. The Lincoln Highway Association
encouraged and sponsored Civic groups and
businesses along the route to get it marked. – In terms of signage
The Lincoln Highway
first tried to get local groups out to mark the
highway in any way they could. There were red, white and
blue pole painting with the L was one of the first
ways, simple wooden signs that would say this way
to Evanston, this way to, you know, this way to Wamsutter. – [Narrator] From Laramie
to Medicine Bow this section of Lincoln Highway
along US 30 has been called the best in Wyoming,
but in 1912 and 1913 a furious battle raged over the route
to The Lincoln Highway between Laramie and Rollins. – Really the big struggle
with Medicine Bow versus Elk Mountain
and we have a hotel in Medicine Bow, The
Virginian and then we have the Elk Mountain
Hotel, so there’s a big battle. They both lobby The Lincoln
Highway Association to make a case for why the
highway should go to through their town. – [Narrator] August Rim was
an entrepreneur, saloon owner, and first Mayor of Medicine Bow. His landmark, Virginia
Hotel had electric lights, indoor plumbing and cost of
whopping $65,000 to build. – The hotel was completed in
1911, had a grand opening, two months later the
Union Pacific stopped stopping their trains
in Medicine Bow. Rim was stuck with this
huge white elephant which wasn’t making any money
at all without the train. He had heard that
there was going to be a trans-continental highway
across the United States. He was determined to make sure
that the highway came through Medicine Bow in order to save
his floundering business, The Virginian Hotel. – [Narrator] Meanwhile the
town fathers of Elk Mountain bragged about it’s fine
hotel and the abundance of innumerable springs
and streams of nice clear, cool, good water. That a route through
their area was also 18 miles shorter, but August
Rim was not to be denied. He got together with
like-minded businessmen and formed of plan. – He decided that they
had to take matters into their own hands. He called some of his
cronies in one afternoon, in his bar in Medicine Bow and he said we’re going to
have to do this ourselves because we can’t get a
decision out of anybody else. The group sat down and they
made about 60 of these facsimile Lincoln Highway signs and in
one day they signed the entire route from Laramie to Rawlins with these facsimile signs. He then invited The
Laramie Chamber of Commerce and the Rawlins Chamber
of Commerce to drive the route to Medicine Bow. When they got to Medicine
bow they were greeted by a cocktail party
and a home ranch saloon and then a meal in
The Virginian Hotel. After this is all done
and they got back home they contacted the state
engineer this gentleman, Mister Parshall and they said, “What’s the problem the
highway was already marked. “Its already located. “There’s no use fighting
over this anymore.” So, (mumbles) agreed and
that’s how the highway got to Medicine Bow. It was strictly by the
relentless effort of Rim and they take the bull
by the horns attitude that he had the
brought Lincoln Highway to Medicine Bow. – [Narrator] In the
1960s the table’s turned on Medicine Bow. The new Interstate 80 traveled
West past Elk Mountain and bypassed all the towns
between Laramie and Rollins along the old Lincoln Highway. – Medicine Bow had 57 small businesses when I 80 open in 1970. We now have five. It killed Medicine Bow. It killed Rock River. It killed Vosler. I 80 was a disaster for our town and for the towns that existed along the original route. – [Narrator] By the
1920s the Lincoln Highway and auto touring had
captured the imagination of the middle and
working classes. People were being
paid better wages. They had more
leisure time due to a shortened work week and
they were purchasing automobiles mostly the Model T. As a result many Americans
begin taking longer auto trips. Packing up their autos
with camping gear and luggage. Loading in their families,
they followed their guidebooks and struck
out for new horizons on The Lincoln Highway. ♪ Rolling down that
Lincoln Highway ♪ The oldest road
from shore to shore ♪ Built way back when ♪ By those hard working man ♪ They had a dream but
the still wanted more ♪ Now old Abe Lincoln was
a straight shooting man ♪ He shot a question to
the soul of this land ♪ Shouldn’t all men be free ♪ And except the different crowd ♪ Yes, he answers
ringing clear and loud (horn honking) ♪ Rolling down that
Lincoln Highway ♪ Rolling down that
Lincoln Highway ♪ Rolling down that
Lincoln Highway ♪ Rolling down that
Lincoln Highway (horn beeps) – [Narrator] These new
Travelers couldn’t afford hotels and fine meals. They barely had enough
for food and gas. They would simply pull
over onto any open land and set up camp often
without asking permission. These budget auto travelers
were called tincan tourists not because of the Model T
Tin Lizzy’s they drove, but because of the food they
ate out of tin cans. – [Effie] As we drive
along we’d constantly see the remains of former
camps by the roadside. Old tin tea kettles, pieces
of worn-out camp stools piles of tin cans, these
are mute and inglorious monuments to the
bivouacs of other days. These immense plateau
states are very dependent upon canned foods
and all along tin cans marked the trail,
Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] But at
one location in Wyoming tourist left more than
their tin can refuse. – We’re standing at an
inscription site along a segment of The Lincoln Highway between Rock
Springs and Rawlins. Just like the Overland
Trail immigrants in the 1840s and 50s who
stopped at Independence rock to sign their names,
the travelers here on The Lincoln Highway
also stopped here and scratched their names and
initials into the rocks. – [Narrator] Camps
sponsored by cities and towns began to grow because tourists were
trashing farmer’s fields and ranch lands
with their litter. – If there didn’t happen to
be anybody in the community who was willing to provide
the kinds of services that travelers may wish to avail
themselves of to maybe stop and throw up
a tent camp the Municipality would go ahead
and do it because they recognized pretty early
on that people who stopped at a free campground in
close proximity of the town would spend some money
in the local community. – [Narrator] Tourist traffic
on The Lincoln Highway proved to be a financial
bonanza for towns both large and small. Auto repair garages
and restaurants, hotels and gas stations, tourist
stops of all varieties reap the rewards of
The Lincoln Highway. – People realize
maybe a little shelter from the Wyoming
wind would be nice and they built little cabins. Well and then pretty
soon these cabins were kind of popular. Let’s kind of put them
all in a row and put them together and we’ll
call it the motel. That was really development of the first sort of
roadside Motel. These elongated rows
of rooms that early on often had a little garage
between each cabin. These cottages were built in the early 1920s 26, 30. People started using
them all the time for camping at night. They had showers,
garages to park in, and all the facilities inside. They were great. They mushroomed all over town. – Part motel, part camping
facility, travelers can get a good night’s
rest, take a shower and rustle up a meal all
for a very affordable price. – We’re at the Sunset
Cabins in Evanston, Wyoming, one of the great culture
resources in our community. It typifies what happened
when The Lincoln Highway in it’s heyday went
right next door here. When the cabins were built
in the 20s they were the first lodging
cabins in Evanston. – Astonishingly the remains
of the cabins are still standing, but are
in dire need of repair and restoration. So, the cabins are there,
campground over here. That’s fantastic. – Some wise enough to build
into their business the whole identity of gas,
food, and lodging. You could you could buy gas. You could get a sandwich
and you could rent a little tourist cabin. – [Narrator] One
business in particular rose from the ranks of
Mom-and-Pop establishments to become a major
player in the travel service industry,
Little America. Little America was
founded in 1934 by Stephen Mack Covey. As a young sheep
herder, the story goes, he once spent the
night without shelter when a blizzard struck
and temperatures plummeted to 40 below. After surviving this
ordeal he was inspired to build an oasis for
travelers he called Little America after
Admiral Byrd’s encampment in the Antarctic. The penguin became its logo. At first the business
was a modest affair, located near Granger,
Wyoming, with 12 cabins, two gas pumps and 24
seats in the cafe. It was a handy stop
on the Lincoln for gas food and a good night’s sleep. Soon a cocktail lounge called
the Palm room was added. Later a hotel was built. In 1949 Little America moved
to its present location at exit 68 along
the proposed route for the I-80 Interstate. In 1952 Earl Holding, Covey’s son-in-law
began managing it. Later he purchased the business. By the 1960s it billed
itself as the largest gas station in the
world with 55 pumps. Today long after many
Mom-and-Pop cabin courts have faded away, Little America is still a
popular Lincoln Highway vestige along I-80. – [Effie] Rollins was our
halting place for the night. It is a pleasant town
with wide streets and plenty of sunshine. In Rollins as in most
Western towns we stayed at a hotel managed
on the European plan and ate our meals in
a nearby restaurant. It is always a surprise to me
to see the number of people in the restaurants and
cafeterias of the West. Even in small towns
these places are crowded, Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] The hotel
she was referring to was The Ferris Hotel, a
downtown Rollins landmark since 1901. After falling into disrepair
it was demolished in 1999, but the Ferris Mansion
still stands in Rollins. Lincoln Highway travelers
must have gawked at this elaborate Queen
Anne style building. Today it’s currently
run as a B&B for modern highway travelers. Westward from Rollins the
route of the Lincoln Highway crosses the Continental
Divide and enters The Great Divide Basin. Here water flows
neither East nor West, but simply evaporates
into thin air. It is the beginning of
the Red Desert at over 9,000 square miles, the
largest un-fenced area in the continental
United States. Some Lincoln Highway
travelers loved the desert. – [Effie] The Wyoming
desert has a sharper and more vivid coloring
than that of Nevada. The table land is more
rolling and the mountains are farther away. The smell of the sagebrush,
pungent and aromatic is in my nostrils
from day-to-day. I love it in it’s
cleanness and spiciness and she’ll be sorry when we
have left the desert behind, Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] Others
couldn’t wait to cross it. One trailer called
the Red Desert a place where even the prairie
dogs, rattlesnakes, and coyotes had given up
the country in disgust. The Lincoln Highway in
this part of Wyoming, follow the old Union
Pacific Rail bed or more precisely it was
the abandoned rail bed. – So in 1913 when they
established the first grade they simply put people going
down these railroad grades and they were better
than virtually any other thing in Wyoming because
they were raised berms. You were up out of the mud. They were well drained. Moisture would
drain off of them, so what they did was
they just had to crop the top off of these
grades, widen them, dump the dirt on the
sides, and turn them into a rather narrow two-lane road. – [Narrator] With increased
traffic after 1920 major changes were required
in grade, alignment, and bridges. The Lincoln Highway
Association helped the state complete 105 miles
of graded gravel. – We’re standing on a
segment of the 1920s Lincoln Highway. This is the first purpose-built
version of the Highway. It’s a berm 24 foot
wide, two lane, generally covered with
crushed rock similar to the ballast that the
Union Pacific Railroad used on its tracks. Occasionally covered
with oil in places to stabilize the berm,
but very rarely paved at least until the 1930s. This is the last version
of the Lincoln Highway. we refer to it as
the 1930s variant, although officially it is
United States highway US 30. This version was built
between the mid-1930s and the early 1940s. It is a very typical
two-lane highway, 36 foot wide, paved with
the traffic lines signs, everything that a modern
highway would have. – [Narrator] Rock Springs
has been a coal town since the days of the
Transcontinental Railroad. It’s also the home of a
Lincoln Highway Landmark, The Rock Springs Coal
Archway was a errected over The Lincoln
Highway in 1928. As automobilist passed under it they had to watch
their progress. The speed limit
through Rock Springs was eight miles per
hour, one of the lowest along the entire road, yet another source of
potential income provided by the Lincoln Highway
for cities and towns
along its route. – [Effie] The Butte
scenery both approaching and leaving Green
River was very fine. The coloring was
extremely rich, soft reds, yellows, browns and clay colors. There were long lines of round buttresses and great
concavities of rock more like the famous
Cos of Southern France than anything I have ever seen, Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] In 1913 travelers
on the Lincoln Highway cross the Green River
over an Old Wagon Bridge. It was considered
Wyoming’s worst section of The Lincoln Highway. But in 1922 the
state built a new highway bridge and
shifted the route. What was once dreaded
by Travelers now turned into a beautiful crossing. This second-generation
highway past the foot of Tollgate Rock and
along the base of the spectacular Green
River Palisades. It then crossed the
longest Lincoln Highway span in Wyoming, the 286
foot long Green River Bridge. Tourists driving to Yellowstone
Park headed Northwest at Little America. Those staying on the Lincoln
veered West, Southwest. On the way Lincoln Highway
travelers marveled at the unusual rock formations
of Church Butte. – [Effie] The Wyoming Butte are wonderfully carved by
wind and sand and weather and many of them
present a mysterious and imposing appearance. Often they are
tablelands rising square and massive against the horizon
like immense fortresses, Effie Price Gladding. – [Narrator] Further
down the road they passed through (mumbles), originally a Mormon settlement
founded in 1899. The town of Fort Bridger
was originally a trading post built by famed trapper and mountain man, Jim Bridger. In 1843 it was a supply
stop for travelers along the Oregon Trail and later the
Overland Stage and Pony Express. Lincoln Highway Auto
tourists also stopped here and stayed at the black
and orange tourist cabins with attached garages. They’ve been recently restored
by the state of Wyoming. This stretch of Lincoln
Highway from Fort Bridger to Evanston even as late
as 1919 was abysmal, but it had its scenic pleasures. – One of the famous
landmarks that’s just about 12 miles East of here is call Eagle Rock and it was a
famous landmark on the road. If one is collecting
Lincoln Highway trivia, memorabilia and you
often come across a postcard with that image
of the eagle on it. – [Narrator] After a long
day’s drive through Wyoming’s arrid climate one of Evanston’s
roadside businesses road catered not only to
the lodging needs of Lincoln Highway tourists,
but to their thirst as well. – Pete’s Rock and Rye Club
which is just outside the city limits when
Evanston was built probably in the 40s
is a famous landmark in Evanston because it was the local watering hole. – Well it was a little roadhouse that was patronized by
people in the 40s and 50s. My dad and his brother had
milled some tourist cabins and I grew up in cabin number 6. Every morning I woke up with new neighbors and wonderful road
stories and then years later the bulldozers buried our
place to make a new highway and I relocated here
to continue my romance with the road. Now I open on the weekends. (mumbles) ain’t it tough. 12 hour week sitting over
on that stool over there and shooting the breeze
with my regulars, both of whom I love dearly. (laughs) – [Narrator] As the Lincoln
Highway Association lobbied state and federal
governments to support road construction, Washington
begin to listen particularly the
Department of Defense. 1919 Lincoln Highway
Association Field Secretary, Harry Osterman persuaded
the War Department to organize a motor convoy. It would navigate The Lincoln
Highway from coast to coast. Comprised of nearly 300
soldiers and 80 vehicles, the convoy set
out to demonstrate the practicality of
cross-country motorized troop movement. A last-minute addition to
that convoy was a young, Lieutenant Colonel whose
experiences on this trip would years later
ironically spell the end of the Lincoln Highway. His name was Dwight
D Eisenhower. The trip required many repairs
on military vehicles as well as rebuilding bridges that
could not support the heavy loads. – [Male Speaker]
Wyoming roads west of Cheyenne are
poor dirt ones with weak culverts and bridges. In one day 14 of these
were counted broken through by the train. The desert roads in
the southwest portion of this state are very poor. Lieutenant Colonel
Dwight D. Eisenhower. The convoy finally made
it to San Francisco after 62 arduous days. In the end this military
exercise was successful in convincing the government that
paved roads were essential to the country’s
National Defense. it was a PR triumph
for Osterman. All the efforts of the
Lincoln Highway Association we’re now aimed at
getting local, state, and federal governments
involved in the business of road building The Federal Highway Act
of 1921 provided matching funds to States for road
construction to the tune of 75 million dollars. Roads in America began
to rapidly improve. With better roads the idea
of a long road trip by auto was now really catching on. Women in particular
boldly embraced the idea of the American road trip. Some in an attempt to promote women’s rights, others simply
exercising their new found independence. – They could get in the
automobile and drive to town and got to a social circle
or perhaps even engage in businesses as many
women begin to do. It was a great freeing thing
for all segments of society, but particularly for women
because they had a mobility that they had not had before. – Doctor Grace Raymond Hebard
was a Wyoming historian in the early part
of the 20th century and she owned a car and
traveled around Wyoming looking for historic
sites and also she became very much involved
in the the historical marking work that was
more less a hallmark of the Progressive Era of marking places of historical importance. Many times she would be
out driving around looking at these historic
sites and something would go wrong with her
car and you would have to climb underneath and
figure out how to fix one part or another. One aspect that was very
important for Wyoming was the historical
landmarks that she set up because they were all
predicated on the fact automobiles could stop there and could read
about the historical event that had occurred. – [Narrator] With the
Highway Act of 1921 the involvement of the
federal government marked the beginning of the end
for the Lincoln Highway. Now that matching dollars
were available to state, new roads with a variety of
names popped up around the country. There were hundreds of
named roads by that time. It was a confusing
spaghetti bowl of roads in many places. You’d have six or eight named
highways coming together at one place and you were trying to read the signs
of all of them. It was a very poor Arrangement. It was very difficult for
the motorist to get anywhere by following these signs. – [Narrator] Washington stepped
in once again then proposed a numbering convention,
all national highways would now be identified
by a Federal Shield including the highway number. Route markers and signs for
named highways were removed. The Lincoln Highway was
designated as US Route 30 for much of it’s length,
but it also became US one, US 530, US 40 and US
50 in other areas. In the fall of 1926
the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Highway
Association voted to cease operations at the end of 1927. They realized that their
goal of an inter-continental network of highways
was coming to fruition, but there was one
final publicity attempt in September 1928. Thousands of Boy Scouts
across the country placed cast concrete Lincoln
Highway markers at sites along the Route. These red, white,
and blue markers held a brass medallion
of Lincoln’s head and directional arrows
to mark the way. In all, nearly 3000 of
these now iconic posts. were positioned. By the 25th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway in 1938 nearly
the entire route has been paved. On that anniversary NBC
broadcast a radio program that featured
interviews with former Lincoln Highway
Association officials and a message from Carl Fischer. The Lincoln Highway Association has accomplished its primary
purpose that of providing an object lesson to
show the possibility in highway transportion. Now I believe the country is
at the beginning of another new era in highway building that
will create a system of roads far beyond the dreams of
The Lincoln Highway founder, Carl G. Fisher. – [Narrator] Fisher
died the following year. He had lost most of his fortune
to the Wall Street crash of 1929. Henry Joy died on
November 6, 1936. As a general route The Lincoln
Highway in its new number persona was now being
used more than ever, but it soon gave way to
and even bigger idea. Dwight Eisenhower after
his experiences with the Army convoy of 1919 and
his admiration of the Autobahn during World War II had a
vision for something similar in America, a nationwide
network of limited access highways. When he became president
in 1953, he held true to his dream signing the Federal Aid Highway
Act of 1954 and 1956. Construction on the interstate
highway system soon began. It took 30 years
to fully complete. Now the Lincoln
Highway was truly gone. In it’s place in covering
much of its course from New Jersey to
California was I 80. Many portions of
the Lincoln Highway lay vacant and in ruins today. Other sections are still used as local routes
through many states. In Wyoming some areas of
the old abandoned highway can be seen running
alongside the current I-80. In the 1980s a new interest
in the Lincoln Highway began to develop, much
of it due to a book, a photographic essay
by Drake Hokanson. – He talked about the
emotion of the road, getting off the interstate,
America again and the fascination of this road and
it kind of faded out of the public consciousness. And that book influenced
a lot of people. We owe a lot to Drake Hokanson
for writing that book. – I’ve long been very
compelled by history by a sense of the hard work that people have done
for many generations to create what we have today. How we travel, how we
understand the land, how we know who we are, it’s very powerful. – [Narrator] A new Lincoln
Highway Association was formed in 1992
with the mission to identify, preserve,
and improve access to the remaining portions of
the Lincoln Highway and its associated
historic sites. In the summer of 2013 270
members from around the world traveled by car from both
Coasts to Kearney Nebraska, for a Centennial
celebration, 100 years on the Lincoln Highway. – (mumbles) when the desert
was inside the laptop on the keyboard. – He and I became known
around town as the (mumbles). – Torbioern Lorensen,
from Norway. (mumbles), Norway, North
of the Arctic Circle. – [Male Speaker]
It’s cold up there. – No not so cold compared
to (mumbles) cold. Yeah, I travel a
lot in my old car, convertible, black Mustang. I’ve been traveling all
over America, traveling and driving, feeling free
when I’m driving alone. – You want to pass the freeway
and going into (mumbles). – We are temporary
custodians of these vehicles. In 20 or 30 or 40 years
somebody else needs to be custodians so these cars
don’t wind up in museums. We want them on the
road, on tours like this so people can see them,
know what Packard is, know what Packard
is all about and get interested in owning one
of these Packards one day. That goal was accomplished
today in one small way. – [Narrator] Today we
zip across the country on divided, limited
access interstates. Lincoln Highway for the most
part has been eliminated. The routing of Interstate
80 has taken it’s toll on once thriving
towns including those in Wyoming. I 80 now bypasses such places
as Vosler and Medicine Bow, (mumbles) and Fort Bridger. – Today, what’s the goal? Get there as fast as we can. We don’t stop in places like
Rock River and Medicine Bow to get fuel. We pull off at the
big truck stops. We top off our tanks. We get back on the Interstates
and drive as fast as we can. – We’ve become
such a fast society because so much of travel today
is simply the destination. The act of the actual travel
itself has gone by the wayside. The Lincoln Highway offers
the opportunity, you don’t have to have a destination. You can just get in the car
and go as far as you want and sometimes it’d just take
four hours, take four days, take four weeks. – Well, it’s sad because
too many people think that the only way to get some
place is the fastest speed on the road. That’s boring. Get on I 80 and you miss
the fun of the old route of the Lincoln Highway and
the Mom and Pop restaurant and the tourist’s cabins. – There’s a great opportunity
for us out there today, to find these old pieces
of The Lincoln Highway and just slow down. The term that gets used
a lot is slow travel. How can I slow down and
explore some of my own country in ways that are similar to
the ways that the earlier automobile travelers
did in the early part of the 20th Century. – [Effie] We have a new
conception of our great country, her vastness, her varied
scenery, her prosperity, her happiness, her
boundless resources, her immense possibilities, her kindness and hopefulness. We are bound to her by by a
1000 new ties of acquaintance of association and of pride. Effie Price Gladding. (horn honking) – [Narrator] For those who
truly want to experience America and relive what those
early auto pioneers on the Lincoln Highway experienced,
get off the Interstate and seek out those
portions of the old road. Slow down and savor
the joy of auto travel. Discover the fascinating
history not only of the Lincoln Highway,
but of America itself. Get away from the mundane
and ordidnary and understand what those who
pioneered the way knew. That getting there
is half the fun. After 100 years on
the Lincoln Highway, it’s still the
journey that counts. ♪ Down the road how
far you going man ♪ We’re looking for
the Lincoln Highway ♪ Down the road (harmonica music)

100 thoughts on “100 Years on the Lincoln Highway

  1. not that i live i Wyoming…….. and I like some PBS things, but i would NEVER, IN A MILLION YEARS SUPPORT PBS. The crap they put out on social media is sincerely biased with leftist ideals. but thanks for putting this out. kinda cool.

  2. The Klondike Trail in the 1880s, came just east of my town, where I grew up in Alberta Canada. The small-river ford is still very evident. Not so many people know about it. I’m honoured to know.

  3. Wonderful documentary, but incomplete. Conspicuously absent is any mention of the cultural and environmental costs of building this magnificent route across the United States. If not for the westward expansion of the mid to late 19th century that cleared the land of uncooperative native american tribes there would have been no Lincoln Highway. In America we're conditioned to not think about such things. We can and should be better than that.

  4. Well said. Yes. We should stop and smell the Rose's or admire the tumbleweeds as the terrain changes each unique and beautiful. Those road trips and small town hospitality are under rated in a society that wants to go faster and faster. It's the memories made when you stopped to play that become your favorite past time as the years quickly spin away. God Bless America. United we stand divided we fall..

  5. The comments on here are refreshing insightful and respectful. A testiment to a moral generation. Thanks. Great documentary and a historic record of now those wonderful back roads of America.

    United we stand. Divided we fall. God Bless American.

  6. I'm from Bedford, Pa. Rt. 30 still goes through town. Still crooked and steep hills through the county. Some things never change. Which is a good thing.

  7. Lived within sight of the old Lincoln Highway while growing up in Edison, NJ from 1961-73 and although it had been renamed Route 27, the old name was still in use not only by the locals, but by the businesses along the road. Still is.

  8. Highway 30 is being four laned in Iowa they are bypassing Mt. Vernon and lisbon now next all the way to highway 61 close to the Mississippi

  9. I 80 should have followed hwy 30 through medicine bow local ranchers tried to tell engineers how bad weather was on elk mountain during the winter most expensive section of hwy to keep open in wyoming

  10. i blew up my engine driving from Colorado to Montana, and ended up getting a chain tow to Wamsutter where i slept in my pickup truck for two days until my buddy got their with his trailer and picked me up.

  11. Henry Ford wouldn't contribute because he thought the government should be responsible for roads. "In time he would be proven right. "

    I was tempted to stop watching then, but sat through the whole thing waiting for the proof. Nothing. Feeling somewhat foolish now.

    In fact, most of the video goes into detail on how private funding built the road for most of its existence. Then for a brief period states, counties, and municipalities got on board. Then not much later i80 was built by the feds and unintentionally destroyed it.

    And as an aside almost not worth mentioning, the interstates (including I 80) were built so the USG could effectively transport planet destroying weapons.

    Yeah, totally great that the government is responsible for roads.

    I recently traveled the entirety of i80 through Wyoming. Had I more time I would have gotten off on some side roads. This video makes that idea more tempting.

    I wish they could have done it without the mindless statist propaganda. Otoh, maybe someone made them put that "proven right" bit in, and they consciously refuted it throughout the rest of the video. Certainly did a good job if that was their goal.

    In case anyone is interested, a good piece on the potential (more practical and less nostalgic) benefits of private roads: https://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2017/Murphyroads.html

  12. Awesome, I just crossed the well marked Lincoln Highway near Van Wert, OH on Liberty Union Rd.
    En route from Cincinnati to Grand Rapids.

  13. I lived in southern Wyoming from 75 to 79 and became appreciative of the natural beauty and sunsets and sunrises that state embodies. From Rawlins to Wasmsutter to Table Rock to Point of Rocks and many other landmarks the place really became a very charming place to live and work. As a former oil field ruffneck i saw many places not traveled by the highway men and women that frequented that area in that era of travel. . One time while living in Rawlins i go to see the prisoners and Mormons play a game of basketball inside the gym. The prison was built around 1900 and still stands ( last time i was there 2011 ? ) and had the feel of a real dungeon because much of it was built from stone.

  14. This beautiful documentary gives me that urgent need to jump on my car and drive West…Last year I drove all the way to Phoenix ,just enjoying that beautiful SouthWest view and their Native-Speaking radio stations

  15. I'm 70yo, I just put this on my bucket list! 😉 Thank you for this well-done informational video! Great job inspiring me! Hope it does the same for others.

  16. America is very Rich in History. but we have some People working hard to erase this History. we must unite as one America to not let this come true. let us together Make America Great Again.

  17. are all americans now fat do to cars and the end of walking? answer, yes kevin they are fat! tel my people they are a lot of fat wankers!

  18. Thank you all for a very interesting ride on the Lincoln Hwy. Also like to see the old Rt. 66 soon. Thanks again. you made my day.

  19. I've driven the Lincoln highway in New Jersey (a.k.a.) Route 27 through Metuchen and New Brunswick many times growing up in that neck of the woods. Your video greatly expands my appreciation of that highway and its part in history. Thanks

  20. Lincoln highway through my home town, Fort Wayne, Indiana. I tra planted to Phoenix, Arizona in 1971. Now retired in Sun City, Arizona. I remember highway 30 thei Lincoln Highway growing up in Fort Wayne.

  21. Did anybody else want to know more about this Effie price Gladding? When I got to the end of the video I wanted to know more about her what happened to her

  22. My Grandfather told me when he drove from West palm Beach to Daytona it took 2 days and had to stop at Melbourne, Fla for the night. Also for cooking his wife would put a pot of stew on the engine where it would slow cook until they stop to rest for the night. (1913) US-1

  23. Born in Rock Springs, grew up on a ranch near Fort Bridger. To drive from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake, in the winter, in the 50s, was a challenge to say the least.

  24. That was super interesting!! (Currently with more views than the population of the entire state of Wyoming: 587,000)

  25. The thing I like about a motorcycle on Rt.2 & Rt.66 is you can go fast or go slow . I like slow ,I can see everything that I miss on flying over or getting there because I have too. Americans have lost the joy of smelling the roses.

  26. I went to Iowa State University in 1965 and it went right through Ames, Iowa, and still referred to as Lincoln Ave.

  27. This is great… I'm 41, a factory worker from Detroit and I just started driving semi a year and a half ago and been taking these pictures on my travels and this really help answer a lot of my questions and helped me connect some dot's…lol .. Thank you

  28. "100 Years on the Lincoln Highway"…I do believe that book is responsible for "Cars". All that talk about the "Mother Road" that would be Route 66, but this route preceded it by decades.

  29. I cant imagine there being many gas stations. What did those cars get for mileage……….20 miles to the gallon at most?

  30. I've driven 4,445,000 miles and counting all around this big beautiful country, the interstate system is by far the best in the world! Yes it has taken many many tourists, traveler's , business people off the old roads. BUT!!…… It is doing exactly what every small town council/politician normal person wanted and voted for back in the day when it was being built! Can you imagine the congestion thru these towns today? Our ancestors were pretty darn tired of all the travelers and hubbub in those small towns. This is one of the major reasons Ike looked at when he made that decision to get it done. The ability to land a military or commercial airliner on the interstate as a makeshift runway was another. a lot of places are designated as emergency runways, that's why in the rural states most intersections are minimum 5 miles between.
    The last 7-8 years our roads and infrastructure in just about every state has pitifully been neglected because the fuel/road tax has been diverted to other more pet projects of the Politicians. Kinda like when they borrowed all of the social security money in 1994 to 98 to try and balance the budget.
    Main point is folks, this country is gorgeous! Please get out and see her, it's the journey that counts, we all know how the ending is!

  31. familiar with the storied Great American highway… Lived on the Yellowstone Trail, east of Waupaca, WI (some remnants of the original trail bridges still exist, in farm fields… now U.S. 10… which my father helped build… he ended up married in Minneapolis.

  32. As someone that loves history, I thought this was an awesome video. There are remnants of the Lincoln Highway in the SF Bay Area. I found out about the Lincoln Highway when I saw a sign in Livermore, CA. I looked it up and learned something new. Thanks for posting this video.

  33. I always enjoyed Wyoming while during my trucking years. Very interesting video!!!! Makes me want to revisit WY.

  34. Drove it East to West in '04 with the Plymouth Club. We drove a 1940 Road King and had the trip of a lifetime. We started @ Plymouth Rock and ended in Newport Oregon.

  35. I would get in my car and drive around the USA. I wouldn't use a map and I wouldn't take the interstate. I'd take my dog and just take whatever little road that looked interesting. I wish I could've traveled the USA back in the early 1900s. Road trips will never be the same.

  36. Very informative, I did not know about this highway until someone on an RV video talked about it. Route 66 gets lots of noteriaty, but this highway seems to be a hidden gem. Thanks for posting this wonderful video.

  37. Interesting to note that this group of Detroit automotive men did not route the Lincoln Highway thru their fair city. A highway planned for the betterment of America.

  38. This was awesome, like from Star trek Voyager, it was the journey. Get of the the big black top,everyday I go work I try and hit the old road to work. This film full of history, oxo history. God bless from Canada.

  39. I have seen the 'old road' here, too; in Ontario, Canada. I can spot it in a second! ( Trans-Canada before there was a Trans-Canada) Follow the 'Old Road' and see what you would have missed, if you didn't….'Follow the Old Road'! Happy Trails!

  40. Sad I lived in Wyoming in the 1970s early years but I was young and dumb and raising a family was not interested in history at that time thank you so much for this video I recognize some of the areas really enjoy this

  41. Why all the hatred of modern interstates? many people died when the snow & cold took over the "pretty-scenery" the battery went dead, radiator froze up and you had no help in sight, all you could do was wait out the end, starving, teeth chattering, wishing there was an interstate to save your life

  42. I recall working for wydot and driving a snow plow on I80 . In the winter I had to shut down the interstate a few times in order to clear it of snow.

  43. The house I grew up in was right beside the Lincoln Highway in New Oxford Pa. I remember being told when I was young while they pointed to the road " If you stay on this road it will take you to California". At first I didn't believe them until I was older.

  44. We moved to Cheyenne in 1946 and my folks built a house right on the Lincoln Highway. It was (and still is) at 1723 E. Pershing Boulevard. and there was a Lincoln Highway marker just down the street to the east. Careyville was just about across the highway from us. Every year when we went to Iowa to visit relatives all we had to do was drive east from our home.

  45. I've traveled every mile of our interstate system many times and counting and also all US ROUTES in America as well driving a truck. Yes I've drove alot and most of this almost a million miles was in the same truck with the same engine an indestructible Detroit Deisel under the hood. Only truckers get to see what I've seen as much as I've seen jt, but I highly suggest regular drivers see our beautiful country. You just don't know what you are missing.

  46. I'd love to take either my 1949 Willy's Cj-2a (Ford 289 K-Code powered 😁) or my 1974 Ford Bronco (I'd be lucky to see 10miles a gallon with that Ford 347 stroker though) down the Lincoln highway, I think it'd make for a fantastic vacation….

  47. Its a lie Ford was not right that the government should be building roads. The government wanted the roads so they can take more money from the public and waste it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *