First Seedling Mile in Nebraska

First Seedling Mile in Nebraska

Lincoln Highway Markers

Lincoln Highway Markers

TRAVELING THROUGH GRAND ISLAND, I found an unusual section of Lincoln Highway history. The road was conceived as an all-weather, toll free automobile route from coast-to-coast, but the huge project was costly and slow to be adopted. The Lincoln Highway Association, created in 1913, marked out a route and funded sample stretches of pavement ("seedling miles") to encourage local governments to build the rest. Road building really took off in the 1920s, when federal law and government money financed much of the country's road building. The hard surface was a great improvement over dirt roads that were tough on vehicles, slow to travel, and dangerous to negotiate. The roadway near Grand Island was built in 1915 and is the only section that remains. (And as a retired highway engineer of 40 years, it was my pleasure to visit the humble beginnings of our national highway system!)

 

One early promotion involved the Boy Scouts who placed thousands of markers along the route in 1928.  Yet another group of Boy Scouts publicized the highway by taking a 3,389 mile cross country trip that took 34 days to complete. Using their “covered wagon” vehicle the Scouts showed the nation it was possible to travel the transcontinental highway with speed, comfort and safety. They stopped in cities along the way, and demonstrated road safety, scouting, first aid, life-saving, and other activities. It was a successful trip as the “covered wagon” reached San Francisco avoiding flat tires and mechanical breakdowns en route.

 Transamerica Scout Troop

 Transamerica Scout Troop

The Lincoln Highway Association lobbied tirelessly to rally public support for government-backed construction and developed early ideas that laid foundation for the National Federal Highway program that continues to this day. In fact, federal government administration -- including the old Bureau of Public Roads and the current Federal Highway Administration -- came from this concept of improved nationwide travel, which has boosted our country's economy and unrestricted mobility ever since.

Kensinger Service Station, Grand Island - Open since 1933

Kensinger Service Station, Grand Island - Open since 1933

 

Week 20,  1552 Miles, Weather 70F🌦

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe