Lincoln Highway aficionados to descend on county this week

EAST LIVERPOOL – It was October 1913 and newspapers were heralding the Lincoln Highway as “one of the greatest developments ever made in this country” and saying it promised to be “a lasting monument to the automobile industry.”

Today, parts of the historic highway have been transformed into four-lane freeways, while other portions are still gravel, but it still holds the same charm and interest for members of the Lincoln Highway Association, which is commemorating the road’s beginning with its annual tour.

The LHA began its journey Saturday, leaving from New York City, following the original route of the Lincoln Highway as much as possible.

This week, more than 140 cars of all makes, models and vintages are expected to travel through the area en route to Kearney, Nebraska, commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s first transcontinental highway.

East Liverpool is the first Ohio community on the Lincoln Highway, and about 270 people from 28 states, Australia, Canada, Germany, England and Norway will be headed for the city on Tuesday morning.

Driving and riding in everything from a 1916 Oldsmobile Model 44 V-8 Roadster and a 1948 Tucker to a 1966 Chevy Nova wagon and a 2013 Chevy Impala they are expected to stop at the Ohioville Borough Community Park at the state line then travel along the original route through the city.

The entourage is also expected to stop for lunch at the Steel Trolley in Lisbon, among other stops along the way. Among the Ohio points of interest listed on the tour’s itinerary are the Point of Beginning outside East End, the site of the former Chester Bridge and the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton.

By Wednesday, the group will have moved into Indiana on its way west, traveling an average of 240 miles per day to allow for sight-seeing and the slower pace of some of the vehicles.

The Lincoln Highway, as it became known, was the brainchild of Carl Fisher, the man responsible for Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for turning swamp land into Miami Beach.

He and other industrialists, including Frank Seiberling of Goodyear and Henry Joy of the Packard Motor Car Co. envisioned a hard-surface road stretching 3,400 miles from coast to coast at a time when most vehicles traveled on what were little more than mud-caked trails.

The Lincoln Highway Association was formed to promote the road, using private and corporate donations to raise the $10 million needed. Communities along the route were expected to provide equipment for road building, receiving free materials for their stretch of highway. Plans were to complete the road for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.

Ironically, one of the primary automobile magnates, Henry Ford, would not support the project, so Fisher pushed on, ultimately bringing Seiberling and Joy on board.

It was Joy’s idea to name the highway after President Abraham Lincoln and to have the road travel in the most direct route, even though it would bypass some major cities and attractions.

The road was ultimately dedicated on Oct. 31, 1913 and directly led to a system of numbered highways across the nation and the federal highway system.

The Lincoln Highway Association ceased operations at the end of 1927 but in 1992 was re-activated by those interested in preserving the highway’s history.

More information is available on the centennial celebration at