“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
La Porte in LaPorte County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Lincoln Highway

America's First Paved Coast-to-Coast Highway

The Lincoln Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
1. The Lincoln Highway Marker

How It All Began

     The time was 1912. One million plus motor vehicles were in use in America, primarily in urban settings. To that time only eight recorded motor car travelers had ventured a trip across America. Paved roads were rare beyond city limits and interurban automobile travel was difficult and nearly impossible after heavy rain. Of approximately 2,199,600 miles of rural road only 190,476 miles (8.66%) had improved surfaces of gravel, sand-clay, brick, shells, oiled earth, or macadam. All improvements were through local efforts. East of the Mississippi River roads were prevalent, but west of the Mississippi, road conditions deteriorated dramatically. America’s highway system was a disorganized series of roads from place to place and from town to town via pioneer trails, Native American trails and Pony Express routes. Railroads and steamships were the principal modes of long distance travel.
     Auto manufacturers continued to produce automobiles and component manufacturers were supplying parts for the car makers and for repair beyond the factory. Citizens had vehicles to drive but little opportunity or incentive to travel by automobile from town to town, let alone far from town.
     Indiana-born Carl Fisher, owner of Prest-O-Lite Corporation, maker of carbide fueled auto lamps, realized
Upper Left Corner Images image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
2. Upper Left Corner Images
Close-up of images on marker
the need for improved roads to provide interurban travel. He conceived the idea of a “Coast to Coast Rock Road”. Fisher also had a great business sense and so, invited auto manufacturers and automotive parts suppliers to a banquet at the Athenaeum (German House) in Indianapolis to present his idea.
     At that meeting Fisher encouraged donations to the venture and received pledges of approximately one million dollars, $300,000 of which was donated by Frank Seiberling, President of Goodyear Tire Company of Akron, Ohio.
     Henry Joy, Packard Motor Car Company President, proposed the road be named “The Lincoln Highway” in honor of Abraham Lincoln, our nation’s 16th President. On July 1, 1913 the Lincoln Highway Association was established and Henry Joy became President. On July 7, Henry Joy with a Packard Twin Six began a tour from Detroit to San Francisco to decide upon a direct route.
     On July 1, Carl Fisher led a group of motorists in seventeen touring cars followed by two trucks carrying spare tires and supplies from Indianapolis to San Francisco to solidify the route and demonstrate the need for an improved trans-continental paved highway. The thirty four day trip generated a wealth of publicity and excitement.
     By 1915 the official route of the Lincoln Highway was established and The Complete Official Road Guide was
Center Top Row of Images image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
3. Center Top Row of Images
Close-up of images on marker
published. The Lincoln Highway from Times Square in New York, traversed thirteen states and ended at Lincoln Park in San Francisco, California. This route ran 3,389 miles and was a true Coast-to-Coast “continuous improved highway from Atlantic to Pacific.” Existing roadbeds were chosen, along with new sections to be built by local supporters and governments to complete the path.
     The time was right. San Francisco, devastated by the great earthquake of 1906 was rebuilt, alive and well and was hosting the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, a World’s Fair commemorating the recent opening of the Panama Canal and the four hundredth anniversary of Vasco de Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific Ocean. Motorists had good reason to venture west on the Lincoln Highway.
     Between 1912 and 1915 much took place to promote the Highway’s growth and popularity across the land. For example: Public enthusiasm for travel brought about the Federal Aid Road Act authorizing $75 million for sturdy all-weather roads. WWI halted progress until it ended in 1918. On July 7, 1919, the U.S. Military formed a convoy to assess road capability for the movement of large numbers of troops and heavy equipment. Lt. Col. Dwight Eisenhower, who later became the nation’s 34th President, was assigned to report events of the journey that began at the White House in Washington, D.C. and followed the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco. The journey proved
Center Lower Middle Row of Images image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
5. Center Lower Middle Row of Images
Close-up of images on marker
roads too frail for heavy trucks and too narrow for efficient movement of military personnel and equipment. “Ike’s” report gave rise to what became “The Ideal Section”, and as President he supported the building of the U.S. Interstate highway system.

The Ideal Section was a 1.3 mile section of highway constructed from 1921 to 1923 between Dyer and Schererville, Indiana along the Lincoln Highway. In 1920 the LHA, determined to establish a highway that would for many years survive heavy traffic under variable weather extremes, convened a group of 17 of the nation’s foremost highway engineers to design such a highway. The result was the Ideal Section, a 40-foot wide concrete pavement 10 inches thick, steel reinforced, and 4 lanes wide for two-way traffic. The original road survived until 1997 when that section of U.S. 30 between the Illinois state line and Indianapolis Boulevard was removed and rebuilt to create a wider highway.

     The map above is one example of seventeen such Strip Maps published by the Lincoln Highway Association. The maps directed travelers along the 1915 route from Times Square in New York City, through thirteen states and four state capitals to its terminus in San Francisco at the Panama Pacific International Exposition.
     The bold line shows the original LH route through Indiana. The north route through
Center Bottom Row of Images image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
6. Center Bottom Row of Images
Close-up of images on marker
South Bend was considered more “vehicle friendly” than that to the south. As auto travel increased road quality improved. In 1925 the LHA changed the alignment, represented by the red line from Valparaiso to Fort Wayne. On November 11, 1926 the American Association of State Highways established the current national highway numbering system and the Lincoln Highway across most of the Midwest became U.S. 30.
     Of the thirteen Indiana counties through which the Lincoln Highway passes, La Porte County is one of four the claims the history of both (1915 and 1926) alignments. Over the years the alignments have been modified to provide smoother curves and to bypass towns. Most of both LH alignments in Indiana still exist in well maintained condition. The familiar red, white and blue Lincoln Highway signs erected by the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association, guide travelers through the countryside where they may stop at a friendly diner for a bite to eat or simply enjoy the scenery.
     To assist travelers the LH Association set up Lincoln Highway Control Stations in cities and towns along the route. The Courthouse was La Porte’s Control Station. Judge John C. Richter served as judge on the La Porte Circuit Court and also served as the La Porte Lincoln Highway Consult. He answered questions and provided travel information about the route.
     To promote the
The Lincoln Highway Across Indiana image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
7. The Lincoln Highway Across Indiana
Close-up of map on marker
Lincoln Highway and draw motorists through towns the association encouraged towns to rename their main streets Lincoln Way.
     Another encouragement to travel was the Seedling Mile, a sixteen foot wide one mile long stretch of concrete paved road between towns to demonstrate the joys of smooth open-road motoring. Portland Cement and other concrete companies donated the concrete and local business and communities provided the manpower and equipment. Indiana received funding for a Seedling Mile in 1916. It was constructed about seven miles east of New Carlisle on what is now U.S. 20 just west of South Bend.

A Lincoln Highway Timeline This information kiosk has been made possible by contributions from the national Lincoln Highway Association, the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association, the City of La Porte, the La Porte County Historical Society and Museum, Jennie Rae’s Restaurant, Jeff and Carol Blair, the Michiana
The Lincoln Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
9. The Lincoln Highway Marker
View to north; historic train depot in background
Antique Auto Club, Alcoa, Inc., and many others. Special thanks to Jim Bevins and Fred Sachtleben of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association and to Fern Eddie Schultz, La Porte County Historian, for long hours of commitment to the successful completion of this project. For more information about the Lincoln Highway, visit:

(Center Top Row Image Captions from left to right)
In 1915 roads were difficult to travel in wet weather. This photo was taken 14 miles east of the Indiana-Illinois state line.
(Courtesy University of Michigan.)

After a heavy rain, getting bogged in gumbo mud was an all too common occurrence. A.F. Bement and Henry Joy - 1915 Nebraska.
(Courtesy University of Michigan.)

The Conestoga wagon, soon to be part of American history, passes Henry Joy’s Packard in 1915.
(Courtesy University of Michigan.)

(Center Upper Middle Row Image Captions from left to right)
The Lincoln Highway route established, the LHA soon began to mark it with signs displaying the familiar “L”.
(Courtesy University of Michigan.)

Henry Joy points to LH marker along the way in Utah, 1915.
(Courtesy University of Michigan.)

Main Street, Westville, IN - 1921. Garage on left and Inn on far right corner had changed their names to Lincoln.
The Lincoln Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, August 16, 2014
10. The Lincoln Highway Marker
View from Michigan Avenue; marker is located
on opposite side of kiosk
The Lincoln Highway brought demand for fuel, auto repairs, food and lodging.
(Courtesy Mike Fleming, Westville, IN photo historian)

LH marker placed by Boy Scouts of America in 1928. On display at La Porte County Historical Society Museum.

(Center Lower Middle Row Image Captions from left to right)
Auto camping in a typical Car Tent. This family was traveling the Lincoln Highway in 1915. There were hotels in town but not in the country.
(Courtesy Fred Sachtleben)

This campsite in North Aurora, IL, had everything a Lincoln Highway traveler might need.
(Courtesy University of Michigan)

Motor courts sprang up along the LH offering convenience and comfort. Wiley’s Camp was located several miles east of La Porte on the site of the rest area at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Oak Knoll Road.
(Courtesy La Porte Historical Society)

(Center Bottom Row Image Captions from left to right)
1919 Lincoln Highway Military Convoy in eastern Wyoming.
(Courtesy University of Michigan)

1919 Lincoln Highway Military Convoy
(Courtesy University of Michigan)

Constructing the Ideal Section
(Courtesy University of Michigan)

Cars and a truck on the 4 lane Ideal Section
(Courtesy University of Michigan)

(Upper Right Corner Image Caption)
Abraham Lincoln - 16th President of the U.S.A. This image is a photo of the medallion embedded in a concrete marker, one of 2436 placed across America in September, 1928 by the Boy Scouts of America commemorating the Lincoln Highway and Abraham Lincoln. The marker, one of few remaining, is on display at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum.
(Courtesy Fred Sachtleben)

(Lower Right Corner Image Caption)
The photos above show Indiana’s only Seedling Mile under construction west of South Bend in Warren Township-St. Joseph county.
(Courtesy Historic New Carlisle)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Lincoln Highway marker series.
Location. 41° 36.766′ N, 86° 43.382′ W. Marker is in La Porte, Indiana, in LaPorte County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located on the lawn south of the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce in the historic train depot. Marker is at or near this postal address: 803 Washington St, La Porte IN 46350, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Lincoln Highway in La Porte County (here, next to this marker); First Log Cabin in LaPorte (a few steps from this marker); World War Memorial Tree LaPorte County (Indiana) (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); LaPorte County Courthouse (about 700 feet away); Meinrad Rumely (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Rumely Companies (approx. 0.2 miles away); Site of Meinrad Rumely's Blacksmith Shop (approx. 0.2 miles away); LaPorte's Carnegie Library (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in La Porte.
Also see . . .
1. The Lincoln Highway Association. Official website of the Lincoln Highway Association. (Submitted on September 17, 2014.) 

2. Indiana Lincoln Highway Byway. Official website of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association. (Submitted on September 17, 2014.) 
Categories. Roads & Vehicles
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 483 times since then and 277 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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