wife wanted to go to a Stitchery Seminar in Danvers, Massachusets and I
wanted to take a trip in our 1930 Model "A" Ford. After a discussion
about various routes we decided the Lincoln Highway would be a "fun" way
to go. The thought of ending in Times Square was too much to turn
down so we started planning.
I went on the internet, typed in Lincoln Highway, and found lots of information about state organizations, sights to see, and people to contact with our questions. I went to the Model "A" and Model "T" web sites and contacted more folks who provided us with information about old roads, bridges, and gas stations. Three people who were very helpful were Jess Petersen in Tooele, Utah, Ted Griffin Crete, Illinois, and Olga Herbert in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. We read "The Lincoln Highway, Main Street Across America" by Drake Hokanson. That was enough----it was time to pack up and go!
In the Model "A" 265 to 280 miles is a good days drive so we planned to take fifteen days and get into Times Square on a Sunday morning. The thought being that there would be less traffic. Don't believe it. The first night was spent in Bishop, California and on the second day we picked up the Lincoln Highway and U.S. 50 in Carson City, Nevada. We found our first Lincoln Highway marker so we knew the trip had really started. At a stop sign in Fallon, Nevada a guy saw the Lincoln Highway Map we had on the back of the car and said, " Did you know Eisenhower drove the Lincoln Highway?" (We did.)
From Fallon to Ely there were few cars, great desert views, two summits of over 6000 feet and three over 7000 feet. Along the way is Grimes Point where there are some outstanding petroglyphs and a little farther along the ruins of a Pony Express Station. Austin is an old mining town where we stopped for lunch and gas. Here we had our first "second gear" driving.
Eureka was next and right across the street from the old Opera House was a Lincoln Highway marker so we were still on course. They call US 50 the "Loneliest Highway" but it is a good road and if you like the desert you'll like US 50. The night was spent in Ely, another mining and ranching town.
We took US 93, and US 93A from Ely to Wendover, Utah and then I 80 to a turn off called Rowley Junction, where we got on State 193 and headed for Orr's Ranch. Dennis and Shirley Orr Andrus operate the ranch and Shirley is the granddaughter of the original owners. Both are very friendly folks and were interesting to talk to. The old building where early travelers could get a meal and spend the night is still there. From the ranch it's another 6000 foot pass, some winding road and you are in Tooele, Utah. Here we contacted Jess Petersen and he offered to show us around the area. He has done a lot of research and located old sections of the highway. At one spot you can look down on the Lincoln Highway, US 40, I 80 and the RR tracks as well as the salt flats. On the Kennicott Mining Co. property there are still sections of the original concrete road, some of which is still used by the big trucks. That should say something about the old construction. Jess gave us a Salt Lake City Street Map with the old Lincoln Highway all marked out and we went all the way through town without having to use I 80.
We got off I 80 a ways out of Salt Lake and went through Wanship and Coleville
on some of the old highway but then it was back on I 80 to Wyoming. US 30 and I 80 are the same most of the way through Wyoming. A short jog takes you to Fort Bridger which was an interesting side trip. They have an exhibit showing the overlapping of the Oregon and California trails and the original Lincoln Highway. Between Rock Springs and Rawlins, Wyoming you cross the Continental Divide twice. At Walcott you can get back on the old road and go through Medicine Bow, Rock River, and hit I 80 at Laramie. In Medicine Bow the Virginia Hotel is still going strong and you are welcome to look around.. They make great soup. The wind blew so hard in Wyoming that we got 20 MPG. At the rest stop in Laramie there is a big monument with a bust of Lincoln on the top and across the highway you can get on another stretch of the old highway.
From the Wyoming Nebraska border to Grand Island you can stay on US 30 and go through lots of neat little towns. It was Sunday when we got to Potter, Nebraska so the hoped for "Tin Roof Sundae" was not possible. In Sydney the Lincoln Highway marker once again showed us we were on the right road but when we stopped to take a picture the "A" sounded like it was coming apart. It turned out to be the water pump and by the time we got to Chappell it had died. We were stopped, wondering where the best place to park would be, when some folks stopped to see what the problem was. They directed us to a empty area next to the town garage where we could work. They also said that when we were finished to come by their house, "It's the only one in town with a car port", to wash up and have a cold drink. It took about two hours to replace the water pump with the extra one under the front seat. It is times like these that you realize that the world is really full of a lot of good people.
If you like trains you'll love this part of US 30 because North Platte is near, and the Union Pacific has one of the worlds largest classification yards there. You are hardly ever out of sight or sound of a train. A few miles East of Overton, Nebraska we came across an old Lincoln Highway bridge that had Lincoln Highway 1914 stenciled on it and the Lincoln Highway logo. While we were taking pictures two trains went by.
At Grand Island the road angles north east following the Platte River and you cross the Missouri at Blair, Nebraska. When we got to Woodbine, Iowa a little town with brick streets, we spotted another Lincoln Highway marker. If we thought it was fun spotting those markers think how the old timers must have felt when it really made a difference.
A little way past Marshalltown, Iowa we got on E49 and went into Tama to 5th street and the bridge whose sides spell Lincoln Highway and then E66 and the old gas station at Belle Plaine. Nobody was there but luckily we didn't need gas.
We crossed the Mississippi at Clinton, Iowa and a few miles later, east of Morrison Illinois, we saw a marker showing the location of one of the many "'seedling miles". This one had been covered with asphalt so we just had to believe that it was down there some place. In Park Forest, Illinois we spent the afternoon with Ted Griffin and some of his antique car buffs. It was a pleasant change of pace, and they, in their old cars, led us through town and back to US 30.
Through Indiana and Ohio there were quite a few places to turn off the highway and go through little towns that had been on the original Lincoln Highway, but as US 30 straightened they were bypassed. You don't have to drive along each one, but if you do you get the feeling what it was like to travel the old road. In Canton we took in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Noon found us in Minerva, Ohio. It is one of the many old towns with the brick streets, the clock in front of the bank with the wrong time, and the "mom and pop" type diner that gives you a good lunch. From there on it was an up and down, no passing road with a lot of trucks, but the fall colors made it worthwhile.
Driving through the Allegheny Mountains in the old car gives a hint of what it was like in the past. In a new car you may not notice that at the bottom of most hills the road will invariably curve to the right or left before it starts up the other side. This prevents you from getting a "run" at the hill, which in turn means shifting into second half way up the other side.
After touring Greensburg, Latrobe, and Bedford, Pennsylvania we came to the old Ship Hotel. The hotel was built in 1931 and our car was built in 1930. I'm not sure there is any significance to that fact, but it was fun to think about it. In Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
we found their two Lincoln Highway markers and then it was on through the traffic of Gettysburg and Lancaster.
Our last day on the Lincoln Highway started out in an early morning fog. It was Sunday and there wasn't much traffic (YET). We got through Philadelphia, found US 1 and were on the way to New York. The sun was out, everything was great, and then, what seemed like every car in the world, met at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel. So much for getting to New York on a Sunday to miss the traffic. After going around a couple of blocks we were parked in Times Square. Maybe legally, but I don't think so. We took pictures, answered a lot of questions, and wondered if we could find our way out.
It had taken fifteen days, one water pump, and 3453 miles to get there. We know we didn't see everything, but we saw a lot. We had good weather and good roads. We met lots of good people. We had "done" the Lincoln Highway.
William B. Power
Rancho Palos Verdes, California