The Lincoln Highway: A Vision that Spanned America

The Visionary: Carl Fisher was a dreamer with an entrepreneurial spirit. After amassing a large fortune and building a reputation in the auto-parts industry, Fisher began to dream of building a paved, hard-surface, coast-to-coast highway. He envisioned a magnificent roadway that spanned the United States and officially closed the gap between the East and the West forever.

The Vision: Prior to the Lincoln Highway’s completion, the majority of roadways in America were unpaved, dusty trails that aimlessly crooked and kinked from one settlement to the next. The disjointed nature of the roadways did not permit transcontinental travel. Fisher recognized the growing popularity of the automobile and saw the need for a national road which would allow individuals to travel at their own pace, a luxury not afforded by trains.

Construction began in 1913 with the proposed highway route starting in Times Square in New York City and passing through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and ending in San Francisco, California’s Lincoln Park. As the construction effort moved forward, paving the roadway became an expensive proposition, and much of the route was left unpaved until state and federal funds were invested in the project almost a decade later.

The Vision Fades: The Lincoln Highway triggered the American people’s desire to connect and drive across the nation. Witnessing the economic prosperity that followed the highway route, every state in the Union wanted a named highway built within their borders. Soon, named highways began to pepper the landscape. The new roadways shared routes, intersecting and overlapping in a confusing tangle. The time for a national system of highways was looming.

In March 1925, the American Association of State Highway Officials ( AASHO ) started planning a federal highway system. All named roads (including the Lincoln Highway) were ignored in their planning. Eventually, the Lincoln Highway was broken up into U.S. 1, U.S. 30 (including U.S. 30N and U.S. 30S ), U.S. 530, U.S. 40, and U.S. 50. All road signs featuring the Lincoln Highway name were removed. By the 1940s, the Lincoln Highway had faded away.

This historic marker is located at the Schellbourne Rest Area is located along Highway 93 in Nevada.