A nation’s progress is marked by its highways. One such highway that shaped today’s America is the Lincoln Highway, country’s first transcontinental route that completed 100 glorious years of history last month. To mark the occasion, The Lincoln Highway Association organized a centennial tour from June 21 to 30. 270 people from 28 U.S. states and several countries hit the highway in 140 vehicles ranging from 1913 Stoddard Daytons to 2013 rental cars.
Route map of the Lincoln Highway that connects San Francisco in the west coast with New York in the east coast. Image by Wikimedia Commons.
The aim of the tour was to follow the original road that spanned from New York to San Francisco. The group was divided into two halves, one part began the journey from the east coast and the other from the west coast, finally meeting at a midpoint in Kerney, Nebraska where a two-day centennial celebration was held on June 30.
Origin of the Lincoln Highway
In 1912, the concept of good roads was somewhat non-existent in the United States. Railways were the main means of transport, and in most cases, the only choice for interstate travel. Though 2.5 million miles of roads had been built already, a good number of them were just dirt, dusty during summers and filthy during rains. Whatever few miles of improved roads existed, were only around towns and cities. Graded roads were taken into the category of “improved”, the use of asphalt and concrete had still not started. Plus, several of these roads led to nowhere, they just started abruptly in the middle of a settlement and ended aimlessly. Continue reading
Summers are here, and so is the travelling season. As more and more people are taking the highway for their road trips, road safety has become a matter of special attention for states. Wear-your-seatbelt awareness campaigns, especially, have been rejuvenated in many states. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is running two seat belt campaigns- “Click It or Ticket” and “Buckle Up America”.
Road safety campaigns work in tandem with highway signs. And, all these summer months, motorists are going to encounter a lot of highway signs en route. But, not many would know, such signs have been a driving force in road safety campaigns since the 1970s.
Safety slogans like this are used as highway signage since 1970 [Image via eBay]
The school police stopped the traffic at intersections instead of directing it, so children could cross the road. Image by Minnesota Historical Society
During the early twentieth century, cars became less expensive, and hence more common around the United States. And while that meant getting to places faster, the presence of cars on the road made the life of pedestrians tougher. There were no standardized systems in place to keep pedestrians safe. Children, being children, did not fully understand the risks associated with fast moving cars, and often dashed across the road to get to the other side. Drivers, on the other hand, were not well equipped to drive safely because they did not require licenses during that time. [Source: mnopedia.org] Continue reading
Just like the highways, the signs that pass along them have a glorious past. And among these historic signs is the U.S. route marker that is as nostalgic as the popular Route 66. The story of the U.S. route marker is not free from twists and turns. Continuous changes in its design, text, shape, and more led to discarding of a huge number of route signs that are now vintage collectibles. This is the story of how the U.S. route marker was born. Continue reading
Vintage Yellow STOP Sign with Glass Marbles [Source: ebay]
Besides the message written on the surface, one of the ways signs display their objective is through colors. For instance, green is used for giving directions, orange for pointing to road work nearby, blue for guiding traffic to motorist’s services and so on. For decades now, red has been used for STOP signs. But rewind to 1924 and you’ll see the STOP sign in a different light- a different color to be exact. Continue reading
For an obsessive road sign collector, every icon of the open road is an invaluable treasure. Road signs, as much as they are reminiscent of the old days and for most their golden days, are also an important footnote to the history of traffic control and management. Speed Limit Signs are one such example that are popular with vintage road signs collectors and offer an insight to the history of speeding. Continue reading