Warren & Emily Swan → Trips → 2001This was a nearly 3 week vacation trip. For some time Warren had been considering taking an existing “back route” on a long vacation, say all the way to the Pacific Coast, rather than using a decommissioned nostalgic route that folks bemoan, such as route 66 (which we had taken for a ways on our 1996 vacation to New Mexico). He had considered taking US-30, until we discovered The Lincoln Highway.
The Lincoln Highway was mapped out coast-to-coast (NYC to San Francisco) before any of the numbered routes or good paved roads all over the nation, and was done by a group of interested parties, known as the Lincoln Highway Association, from 1913 to 1928.
When the U. S. Government finally got involved in nationwide routes and planned the grid of numbered US routes, it abolished the use of named interstate roads. The Lincoln Highway route was left only with their printed guide books, and permission to commemorate Abraham Lincoln along its entire length with concrete posts that had route arrow on them. Although there was once a radio program based and set on the Lincoln Highway, by the 1960s its memory was all but forgotten, except by a few older folks. It didn”t have a popular song to keep its memory alive; even though it was of more historical significance than that other famous route, and went from coast to coast, instead of from the Midwest to the West Coast.
The Lincoln Highway Association was re-formed in 1992 after 65 years, and we were now members of it. They put out a reprint of the 1924 edition of the guide book, which we bought. With that and a computer map program Warren tried to map out what is left of the route, or roads that parallel it as close as possible, from Rochelle, IL to San Francisco, CA. This was to be a treasure hunt. Emily”s sister, “Aunt” Olive, came along with us on this trip.
Daniel was the first to espy one of the concrete Lincoln Highway markers in Woodbine, IA. Elkhorn, NE preserved a section of the original brick-paved Lincoln Highway. As we did in 1990, we stayed at Fort Kearny SRA and visited the Fort.
The Sod House and Museum were also fascinating stops at Gothenburg, Nebraska. We found some original Oregon Trail wagon ruts near Brule, Nebraska.
Medicine Bow, Wyoming was an interesting stop, including old Hotel, museum, and Lincoln Highway museum. We camped and hiked at Flaming Gorge. We stopped at the place where Major J. W. Powell began his trip down the Colorado River and through the Grand Caņon in 1869. We visited Fort Bridger, as we had in 1993. We camped in Salt Lake City, but only spent a short time at the lake.
The scariest part of this trip was going through the desert of Utah. We were going along fine past Fisher Pass when we got to gravel road in the middle of nowhere. We were following the original alignment, which was never paved. We thought we would come unto pavement at anytime, but ended up going many miles on gravel, pulling the pop-up. We only saw a few vehicles at the start, with horse trailers, going to some kind of gathering that we passed. From there until we reached Ibapah we never saw another moving vehicle
We camped at an excellent campground near Ely, Nevada. The next day on US-50 we would get a flat in our left read van tire due to rock fatigue from the prior day.
We had been looking forward to going through Donner Pass, but yuppies ruined it for us. They had convinced the state government to block off the road so they could have some kind of biking rally. We couldn”t wait until the next day to continue on, so we had to take I-80 instead of the original LH.
Altamont “Pass” is a very low pass through a “range” that is only a few hundred feet. But it is a beautiful drive, made surreal by the large windmills used for power generation.
There were mixed feelings when we reached the end of the Lincoln Highway at Lincoln Park in San Francisco. No one knows whatever happened to the original marker indicating the Western Terminus of the LH, and the lack of a marker was a real let down. (A marker was put up by the current LHA the next year or two.)
Now we headed up the coast. The giant trees of Northern California are fascinating, and we stopped at several sites, such as the One Log House. We couldn”t drive our rig through the drive-through tree, but we did walk through it. We stayed 3 days at a campground just North of Eureka, California. From there we visited Victorian Ferndale, the Victorian homes in Eureka, Fort Humboldt, and had breakfast at Samoa Cookhouse, where food is put on family style.
We visited several coastal spots in Oregon and Southern Washington. One of our favorite sites was Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805–6. We found the Western Terminus of US-30, which is also unmarked. (Some folks think that the Lincoln Highway became US-30, but that is only true in here-and-there sections in several central states.) Here we were 700 miles North of the LH termination at the US-30 termination.
We didn”t get to see Mount Saint Helens because of the fog, which lasted several days. We rode the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, but also didn”t see Mount Rainier, until we were leaving heading East, turned around and saw the peak breaking through above the clouds.
We camped at Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota. This is where George Armstrong Custer was headquartered before setting out on his fateful encounter at Little Bighorn.