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Lincoln Highway Companion: A Guide to America's First Coast-to-Coast Road Paperback – May 13, 2009
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Rick Sebak was producing a television documentary called The Pennsylvania Road Show for Pittsburgh's PBS, WQED-TV, when he first heard about the Lincoln Highway.
I had met this guy named Brian Butko, Sebak says by telephone from WQED-TV in Pittsburgh. I don't think he had written his first book yet, but as we were driving, he kept pointing to these offshoots saying, See that? That's the old Lincoln Highway. I said Well, what's the Lincoln Highway?
Butko, who has now published eight books, including three about the Lincoln Highway, is among the historians, motor court operators, restaurateurs and travelers featured in Sebak's latest television documentary, A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway, which airs Wednesday on PBS stations nationwide.
The one-hour special uncovers the history, nostalgia and renewed interest in the route first mapped out in 1913 as the fastest, smoothest and most direct path from New York City to San Francisco.
There's still a lot of people who have no idea that it exists. Sebak says.
The Lincoln Highway was created when Carl Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Prest-O-Lite headlamp company, combined resources with fellow titans Henry Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Co., and Frank Seiberling, president of Goodyear, to create a cement roadway that would make cross-country automobile travel a legitimate option.
By 1915, cars were able to make the 3,389-mile journey that cut through Indiana near Fort Wayne, traveling northwest into Elkhart, Osceola, Mishawaka and South Bend before reaching New Carlisle, LaPorte, Valparaiso and westward.
In 1928, the northern Indiana section was abandoned for a more direct route that connected Fort Wayne and Valparaiso through Columbia City, Warsaw and Plymouth. But like so many other two-lane hwys, the Lincoln fell out of fashion in the 1950s, giving way to sleeker, faster interstates.
Since 1992, however, with the formation of the new Lincoln Hwy Assn, roadway preservationists have shown a renewed interest in the routes.
The best part of the whole cross-country experience is that you get to see everything, Sebak says. You see everyday America in incredible detail. You see Main Streets and beauty shops, ball fields and cemeteries. Not just roadside relics like diners and motels although they can be cool but everything.
For A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway, Sebak and his crew traveled from Pittsburgh to San Francisco twice and once from Pittsburgh to New York City and back in 2007 and 2008.
They stopped to have coffee at the Brick Street Station in Woodbine, Iowa; discovered an unusual independent gas station in Grand Island, Neb.; and attended the 2008 Lincoln Hwy Convention in Evanston, Wyo.
Our first trip, in August 2007, we took off not knowing what we would see, Sebak says. The only thing I had set up was a meeting with David Hay in South Bend.
Hay, a LaPorte man who was the executive director of the Lincoln Hwy Assn at the time, is among the historians featured in the program.
It's a historical road, but it's also something we use everyday, Hay says. It's not like going to a museum where we must keep our distance. The road is something we can put our feet on, put our tires on and experience. It's history is all around us, and it's not something we should take for granted.
In fact, Sebak says it was Hay who directed his crew to what would become a favorite destination during their cross-country treks.
There's this place (in LaPorte) called B&J's American Cafe, Sebak says. We ate there three times. In the entire country, I don't think we ate at any other place twice.
I said it at the time, but I dare say it again: This was the best road trip we've ever taken. --Jeremy D. Bonfiglio; South Bend Tribune
About the Author
More About the Author
In addition to the books I've written, I was also project manager or editor of:
* The Civil War in Pennsylvania: A Photographic History
* Maz, You're Up!
* Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era
* Clash of Empires: The British French & Indian War, 1754-1763
* Pittsburgh's Strip District: Around the World in a Neighborhood
* Industry and Infantry: The Civil War in Western Pennsylvania (with Nicholas Ciotola)
Top Customer Reviews
It's the ultimate detailed authority on the current and historical alignments of the Lincoln Highway, conveniently sized to fit in a glove box (just over 8×5').
Every mile of the Lincoln Highway is covered with detailed color-coded maps showing the following:
* Original 1913 alignments
* Intermediate alignments or sanctioned detours
* Final Alignments still in use by 1930
* Modern detours
* Gone or hard to reach
The map scale varies as needed to show meaningful detail, all the way down to 1 inch per mile.
It bursts with snippets of interesting things to see, lodging and great food along the route - but the maps are the star of the show. It is obvious that a great deal of research went into this.
The author has put together a short video highlighting the features of the book: [...]
I originally bought it with the intention of putting together the "definitive" route for a Lincoln Highway Coast-to-Coast ride, but now I see there are too many variables and the decisions are just too subjective. The good news is that it gives me everything I need to choose the route I find most interesting.
While some Lincoln Highway travelers have the luxury of taking months or even years to see everything there is to see along the old road, my trip was a fairly quick one. I had read Butko's excellent coffee table book and history of the road, Greetings from the Lincoln Highway, but there was no way my schedule would allow me to see everything included there. The Lincoln Highway Companion's more limited scope allowed me to easily find the most popular sites that shouldn't be missed, yet it didn't overwhelm me with more than I would ever have time to see.
If you're planning a trip along the Lincoln Highway, do your homework. Read the many excellent books on the subject, make lists of the things that are most important to you, and plan to spend as much time on the road as you possibly can. And as you head out on your journey, be sure to have the Lincoln Highway Companion on your lap.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read for those planning Lincoln Highway adventures!Published 6 months ago by Brenda St. Clair
This book is okay. It's just rather thin. I didn't realize when I bought it that it really is a "companion. Read morePublished 12 months ago by C. P. Anderson
Excellent book, and a great guide to help you along the way of the Lincoln Highway. Forget Route 66 and it's johnny-come-lately businesses who masquerade as vintage, the Lincoln... Read morePublished 17 months ago by MonkeyBunker
Not a Milepost but some history and great detailed information for a trip of today.Published 17 months ago by michael millard
great book love it tells a great story about crossing the country from one side to the other , really great picturesPublished on January 7, 2014 by charles parker
The book is very interesting and definitely gives you a lot of information. Would recommend this to everyone interested in history along the highwaysPublished on October 15, 2013 by Connie
....Lincoln Highway until I saw the Rick Sebak video, which I love, and own....this book is far better than the one written by Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson... Read morePublished on October 11, 2013 by Gemma
We drove portions of the Lincoln Highway this past Summer. This book is a necessary adjunct to any exploration of that seminal American highway - the first Coast-to-Coast highway... Read morePublished on September 20, 2013 by Stanley Von Hagen