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Highway to celebrate 100 years

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Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 2:24 pm

LEXINGTON – This summer the Lincoln Highway Association will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway by conducting an official Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour of the road in June 2013.

The tour will have both an East Tour and a West Tour, starting simultaneously in New York and San Francisco, and meeting mid-point in Kearney, for a celebration July 1 at the Great Platte River Road Museum, in conjunction with the Lincoln Highway Association 2013 conference.

Before the two groups converge in Kearney, however, the San Francisco group will stop in Lexington, Saturday, June 29.

In 1912, Carl G. Fisher, the man who created the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, had the idea of a transcontinental highway of good roads that would promote easier travel.

He pitched the idea to anyone and everyone who would listen. During these pitches, he proposed the new highway should be given a really patriotic name, so he chose Lincoln, after his favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.

Nebraska’s portion of the Lincoln Highway was 462 miles of roadway that stretched from Omaha to Sidney.

As it was the first highway to connect East and West coasts, the towns and villages through which the Lincoln Highway passed experienced an economic boom and the Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as “The Main Street Across America.”

The Lincoln Highway was the first road to cross the United States, stretching from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The 3,389-mile highway crossed 13 states; New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

Kearney was chosen as the 2013 meeting spot for the two groups because of “1733 Ranch,” located just west of Kearney city limits. The locale was called 1733 because it was the point on the Lincoln Highway where Boston was 1733 miles east and San Francisco was 1733 miles west.

In the years following, Lincoln Highway became fully paved, and changed course more than once, although usually not by more than a few blocks and eventually came to be called Highway 30, rather than the Lincoln Highway.

Telltale artifacts left from the original Lincoln Highway include a raised berm located south of Gothenburg, now on private land. The berm marks the original bed of the road, which was most likely rock and gravel, as concrete and asphalt was not yet in existence.

Outside Overton, just south of Highway 30, is a small cement bridge, painted with the red, white and blue Lincoln Highway logo. The bridge gives credence to the notion that the current Highway 30 does not share the same tracks the Lincoln Highway once occupied.

Any business or organization interested in creating or participating in welcoming activities for the group’s stop in Lexington on June 29 are encouraged to contact Julie Harris at the Lexington Chamber of Commerce at 308-324-5504.

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