The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental highway. Conceived and promoted by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. In 1915, the "Colorado Loop" was removed, and in 1928, realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. Thus, there are a total of 14 states, 128 counties, and over 700 cities, towns and villages through which the highway passed at some time in its history.
The first officially recorded length of the entire Lincoln Highway in 1913 was 3,389 miles. Over the years, the road was improved and numerous realignments were made, and by 1924 the highway had been shortened to 3,142 miles. Counting the original route and all of the subsequent realignments, there is a grand total of 5,869 miles.
Conceived in 1912 and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, 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."
Most significantly, the Lincoln Highway inspired the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, which was championed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, influenced by his experiences as a young soldier crossing the country in the 1919 Army Convoy on the Lincoln Highway.
By 1925, the transcontinental route was completed. However, in that year, the United States instituted a system of numbered highways and eliminated name designations. In Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Highway became Route 30. In 1928, Boy Scouts from across the country erected concrete markers along the route, some of which still remain today, in order to preserve the identity of the Lincoln Highway.
In Pennsylvania, much of the Lincoln Highway was constructed by improving and linking up pre-existing roads, including the early turnpikes. The creation of the highway had a significant impact on how people traveled. No longer were they held to the schedules of railroads. Instead, more and more people chose to tour America by driving the Lincoln Highway.
As automobiling became more popular, the face of the roadside changed. Filling stations, tourist cabins, motor courts, and restaurants lined the Lincoln Highway to service travelers. As competition for the travelers' business increased, entrepreneurs became creative in their attempts to solicit customers.
The Lincoln Highway Association (LHA), originally established in 1913 to plan, promote, and sign the highway, was re-formed in 1992 and is now dedicated to promoting and preserving the road. The association has active state chapters in 12 Lincoln Highway States and maintains a national tourist center in Franklin Grove, Illinois, in an historic building built by Harry Isaac Lincoln, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln Highway heritage Corridor (LHHC) is committed to improving operations, marketing, government relations and public advocacy. The mission of the LHHC is to identify, conserve, promote, and interpret the cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and economic resources along the Lincoln Highway in Westmoreland, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, Franklin, and Adams Counties. Through these regions, the original highway is marked with red, white and blue signs.