Friday, June 21, 2013

Back When Highways Had Names…

Lots of people remember the period of history before the Interstate Highway System was created to move masses of humanity long distances across the United States quickly and safely. In those days before Interstates, numbered highways such as US-66, US-20, and US-1 moved cars from state to state, but at a much slower, more congested pace. 

Far fewer people remember a time before the numbered U.S. highways came into existence in 1926.  But there was a time when roads, loosely termed “highways”, existed with names rather than numbers. Hundreds of them, with names like the Dixie Highway, the Bankhead Highway, the Jefferson Highway, the Lee Highway, the Dixie Overland Highway, the Old Spanish Trail and the Yellowstone Trail were utilized by adventurous motorists to travel from one place to another; sometimes thousands of miles in the process.

The most famous of these roads was the Lincoln Highway. Created in 1913, the Lincoln Highway route traversed the entire country, beginning in Times Square in New York City and ending in Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It wasn't the first highway created but it was the most well-known. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this famous highway, which brings me to our latest adventure.

This week Sharon and I, as well as a bunch of other adventurous people, are leaving New York and heading west along the Lincoln. Some will be driving very old cars, while others will be driving modern vehicles. We will be in our "trusty" 1972 Monte Carlo. Another like-sized group is leaving from San Francisco and heading east. We will all meet on June 30th at the midpoint in Kearney, Nebraska, where a 100th anniversary celebration will ensue. 

The trip has been organized by the modern incarnation of the Lincoln Highway Association. The journey begins Saturday morning at 7:00 am at the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway in Times Square. We will follow the original route as closely as possible, which means we will be driving on US-30 in some cases, smaller highways and roadways in others, and even the occasional stretches of brick or gravel. Sometimes the original road no longer exists so we have to connect the existing stretches as best we can. Other times there are different alignments because the route changed over the years. In those cases we had to choose which alignment we would take; often it was simply based on the fact that one alternative is more interesting than another.

Sharon and I arrived in Secaucus, NJ today and checked in to our hotel where we and the other participants are staging the start of the event. We got here early so we could visit Manhattan, and we spent the day wandering the city. Sharon shopped, I toted bags, and we both ate way too much at the Carnegie Deli. We ordered the “Woody Allen” sandwich and split it. Without exaggeration, we could have split it with two more people. It was the largest sandwich I have ever seen. Also the best pastrami and corned beef I have ever tasted. Definitely worth the 16 pounds I gained as a result.

I took a few pictures today but didn't upload them, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what we find. We’ll be in Manhattan for only about a mile; then we’ll cross into New Jersey and head toward Philadelphia. We will cross into Pennsylvania near Philadelphia and spend tomorrow night in Malvern.

Until then...



Jeanette said...

That sounds so fun! Have s wonderful trip!

Mona Taplin said...

I'm a day late getting to read about your fantastic journey, but my thoughts have been with you all along. Enjoy!!!