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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Van Wert in Van Wert County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Historic Lincoln Highway

First Transcontinental U.S. Highway

 

— Main Street Across America —

 
The Historic Lincoln Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 27, 2016
1. The Historic Lincoln Highway Marker
Inscription.  
Carl G. Fisher
Father of the Lincoln Highway
Carl G. Fisher was an American entrepreneur and tireless promoter of the automotive, auto racing, and real estate development industries. An Indiana native and bicycle enthusiast, he became involved with bicycle racing and later many activities related to the emerging automobile industry in the early 20th century. Early in his business career, Fisher bought an interest in the US patent to manufacture acetylene headlights, a precursor to electric automobile headlights that would be developed later. Soon Fisher’s firm supplied nearly every headlamp used on automobiles in the United States, making him rich as an automotive parts supplier. In 1909, Fisher joined a group of Indianapolis businessmen to invest in what became the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first as a loose rock track and then as the first paved racing track opening to 60,000 spectators in 1911.

In 1913, foreseeing the automobile’s impact on American Life, Carl Fisher conceived and was instrumental in the planning, development, and construction of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America, connecting
Marker detail: The Old Dutch Mill image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: The Old Dutch Mill
The Old Dutch Mill east of Van Wert was a “one-stop” for gas, food, and lodging for early highway travelers. Pictured as it looked in the 1920’s, an original section of road remains on the property from before the curve along Lincoln Highway was straightened.
New York City to San Francisco. Fellow industrialists Frank Seiberling (Co-founder, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company) and Henry Bourne Joy (President, Packard Motor Company) helped Fisher with their promotional skills, together creating the Lincoln Highway Association. Much of the highway was paid for by contributions from automobile manufacturers and suppliers, although Henry Ford bitterly opposed the idea. President Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas A. Edison, friends of Fisher, along with President Woodrow Wilson, all sent financial pledges toward the construction of the highway.

Fisher turned his attention to creating the Dixie Highway, connecting north to south the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to southern Florida, with an opening celebration hosted in 1916. His efforts then changed to real estate development, first developing and promoting Miami Beach, Florida, then later Montauk at the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. Carl Fisher died at the age of 65.

History Timeline
1908 First Model T rolls off the Ford assembly line

1912 Carl Fisher conceives the idea of a transcontinental highway across the US as a living memorial to President Lincoln

1913 Lincoln Highway Association is formed in Detroit, MI, with Henry Joy (Packard Motor Co.) as first president
Early automobile companies funding transcontinental
Marker detail: Army Transport Convoy image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Army Transport Convoy
A 3 mile long Army Transport Convoy makes its way through Van Wert in 1919, showing the "efficiency of the army's transport service" and demonstrating the "inestimable value of a system of national highways." The Wilkinson Printing Co. is identifiable in the left of the photo. Young Army Officer Dwight David Eisenhower was a member of this motor convoy and credited the experience when supporting the Interstate Highway System as President in 1952.
highway idea and physical construction of road

1914 Lincoln Highway representatives travel through local communities to pitch the idea of being part of this first national road
Van Wert County is very enthusiastic about being on Lincoln Hwy
1st official marker placed in place in front of Hotel Marsh in Van Wert
County and community consuls elected, responsible for the maintenance of portions of the highway
Lapel buttons sold to raise funds for volunteers to paint telephone poles across the country
$5.00 subscriptions sold at local banks for residents to join and help fund the road construction with the endeavor of gaining 250 members in Van Wert County

1915 Marsh Hotel opens with 55 guest rooms, recognized as one of the most inviting hostelries in Ohio
Lincoln Hwy Special Consul Henry Osterman took recorded film of his entire drive along Lincoln Highway across United States

1919 3 mile long Army Motor Convoy passes through Van Wert along Lincoln Hwy, on route from Washington DC to San Francisco, CA

1923 The Marsh Foundation School is built along Lincoln Highway east of Van Wert

1924 Population of Van Wert City 8,100 people

1931 Local Boy Scouts planted concrete Lincoln Hwy markers along highway through county

1932 The first Van Wert Peony Festival is held. Two days
Marker detail: Webb’s Hi-Speed Service Station image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Webb’s Hi-Speed Service Station
Webb’s Hi-Speed Service Station, Restaurant and Tourist Cabins west of Van Wert. One example of the dozens of lodging options that served the needs of travelers through Van Wert County. Although serving travelers, local farmers would stop and stay for food, company and a game of cards.
in length, with two parades, dances, flower shows, and a musical pageant

1939 Admiral Bird’s snow cruiser passes through Van Wert as hundreds gather to see vehicle

1949 Martha Raye makes stop at Webb’s Hi-Speed Station outside of Convoy

1956 The Federal Highway Act of 1956 authorizes rebuilding of the nation’s interstate highway system with limited access expressways

1968 Interstate US-30 is constructed through Van Wert County

1992 The Lincoln Highway Association is reformed in Iowa, dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of America’s first transcontinental automobile road
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles.
 
Location. 40° 52.167′ N, 84° 35.082′ W. Marker is in Van Wert, Ohio, in Van Wert County. Marker is on Main Street (Lincoln Highway) (Ohio Route 118) just west of South Jefferson Street, on the left when traveling west. Marker is located beside the sidewalk on the north side of Fountain Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Van Wert OH 45891, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Brumback Library (a few steps from this marker); First County Library in the United States (within shouting distance of this marker); Van Wert Gazebo
Marker detail: The Marsh Hotel image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: The Marsh Hotel
The Marsh Hotel as it looked when it opened In 1915, with 55 guest rooms with elegant furnishings, electric call bell, gas and electric light, hot and cold water, and toilet rooms on each floor. Noted for its irreproachable culinary and varied menus, it was recognized as one of the most inviting hostelries in the state.
(approx. 0.4 miles away); The Homestead (approx. 0.9 miles away); Hoghe Road Bridge (approx. one mile away); Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument (approx. 1.2 miles away); Company D, 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Monument (approx. 1.2 miles away); Ohio City Civil War Memorial (approx. 6.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Van Wert.
 
Also see . . .  Lincoln Highway (Wikipedia). The Lincoln Highway was America's first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., by nine years. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way. The Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as "The Main Street Across America". (Submitted on August 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: Carl A. Wright Service Stop image. Click for full size.
6. Marker detail: Carl A. Wright Service Stop
Carl A. Wright service stop with modern cabins, restaurant, garage, service station and barber shop. Complete with radio, showers, gas heat, home cooked meals and popular prices. West of Van Wert, open 24 hours a day, shown circa 1946.
Marker detail: The Wassenberg Peony Gardens image. Click for full size.
7. Marker detail: The Wassenberg Peony Gardens
The Wassenberg Peony Gardens east of Van Wert, shown in full bloom in the late 1930’s. Charles Wassenberg took a great interest in commercial flower farming, establishing this large flower nursery for peonies, iris, and other flowers. For 26 years Wassenberg was Director of the American Peony Society.
The Historic Lincoln Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 27, 2016
8. The Historic Lincoln Highway Marker
(Fountain Park in background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 65 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Jan. 16, 2021