The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 27, 2013

A road map through history | Lincoln Highway celebrating milestone

JOHNSTOWN — In an era where six- and eight-lane highways crisscross the country, it’s easy to forget about the Lincoln Highway and its importance.

The highway, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, was the nation’s first road stretching from coast to coast. By hopping in a 1910 International Truck or a 1911 Oldsmobile Limited, one could conceivably drive all 3,389 miles from New York City to San Francisco.

By linking and improving pre-existing roads as well as building some new ones, the Lincoln Highway Association was able to connect the East Coast with the West Coast and everything in between.

The then-state-of-the-art road sparked some of the qualities that have become synonymous with America: independence (travelers were no longer restricted to railroad schedules); entrepreneurial spirit (businesses quickly sprouted up along the road); and patriotism (in addition to allowing residents to see more of the country, the Lincoln Highway played an important role in the World War I-era United States).

The Lincoln Highway, which is Route 30 throughout most of Pennsylvania, plays an especially important role in our region, as it brings visitors to Bedford, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.

Reporter Dave Sutor looks at the Lincoln Highway in a six-part series that started Saturday in The Tribune-Democrat.

From lessons in colonial history and Native American culture to much more recent events like the crash of Flight 93 near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, the Lincoln Highway provides a road map through American history.

It has helped shape our region and given us some unique landmarks, such as The Coffee Pot in Bedford and the murals that grace buildings in each of the local counties it passes through.

As Sutor mentioned in Saturday’s paper, Pennsylvania has, perhaps more than any other state, worked to preserve the Lincoln Highway’s rich history.

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor features a museum in Latrobe and has developed a board game, book covers, clothing, toys and other merchandise around the historic road.

“One of the important things to me is how do we cultivate the next generation of Lincoln Highway fans,” said Olga Herbert, executive director of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. “Just the same way that they do a feeder system for Little League and football, we had to start working on it.”

We hope that our readers take the opportunity to not only travel the Lincoln Highway, but to stop along the way and appreciate what it has meant to our region and our nation.

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