Iowa History Daily: July 1 - Lincoln Highway Association Forms

Iowa History Daily: On July 1, 1913, Carl Graham Fisher and a group of associates came together to form the Lincoln Highway Association in order “to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without tolls or charges.” Running from Clinton to Council Bluffs, the Lincoln Highway still serves motorists today.

Carl G. Fisher, a principal investor in the Indianapolis Motor speedway and general automobile enthusiast, dreamed of creating a transcontinental highway to compete with the dominant railroads of the time during the early 1900s. Convinced if potential motorists could access quality roads more people would buy cars, Fisher set out to make his dream a reality by raising over $1 million in funds from the likes of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt.

Starting in New York, the Essex to Hudson Lincoln Highway in New Jersey was dedicated on December 13, 1913. Planning to go from New York City to San Francisco, the western portion of the route proved the more difficult to plan. Established roads east of the Mississippi River provided quality options, but a team called the “Trail-Blazers” set out to find the best route from Indianapolis. After the group bogged down in what they called “Iowa mud pits,” a journey of 34 total days faced the Trail-Blazers on their mission to reach San Francisco’s Market Street.

Initially stretching 3,389 miles, over time road improvements shaved some 250 miles off the official Lincoln Highway Route. As the highway reached completion and public funds started to pay for the costs of maintenance, the Lincoln Highway Association disbanded in 1927. Reforming in 1992 with a goal “to identify, preserve, and improve access to the remaining portions of the Lincoln Highway and its associated historic sites,” the group continues to maintain an active presence today. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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