For those interested in the early Lincoln Highway, I highly recommend
the Ken Burns PBS video and book, Horatio's Drive.
This is the story of the first automobile trip across the country in
1903 before the Lincoln Highway made this possible for all.
Starting on the east coast in New York, the highway moved
across the United States before entering California. In 1915, it passed
through the mountains over Donner Pass (current Highway 80), Lake Tahoe,
through the central valley, over the Altamont pass, to Hayward, Oakland's Jack London Square
and then via ferry to SF. The road ends at Lincoln Park in San
Francisco near the Legion of Honor. Today you can find a plaque in
Lincoln Park adjacent to the 34th Ave entrance that commemorates the
highway. An alternate route
was later added that would follow south of Lake Tahoe and down the highway 50
The Lincoln Highway was the first organized highway to span
the United states. Officially started in 1913, it was the dream of the
organizers to complete the coast to coast highway in time for the San Francisco
Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915. The
highway incorporated many existing roads, improved others and built new sections
to try to provide a continuous path for early motorists of the 20th century. In 1915,
some sections were concrete, others where gravel, some dirt and in raining
seasons, mud. The road was improved over the years with better pavement
and rerouting of sections to improved the road.
In 1921, the
Federal Highway system started to reorganize the nations highway and
convert to a system of numbered Highway. What was the Lincoln highway,
was either incorporated into the new system or replaced by new highways.
Association web site for more on the highway.
They also sell a very nice and very detailed set of maps of the highway route;
This photo of the road on the pass above Donner Lake was taken
by my grandfather in 1952. I believe this 1952 road is in
the same location as the original Lincoln Highway. I do
not know if they were paving at the time or if the road was
partial blacktop and part concrete. Anyone know?
View detail of road
Donner Lake California - 1952
The Lincoln Highway is gone but you can see it in old photos from
around 1915 such as those on this page. But you can also
see parts of the old route, some little changed, in more
Historic Mally's Hotel in Livermore, California around 1914.
Shortly before the opening of the Lincoln Highway. (about 1913)
From Hamilton's Illustrated Atlas
Riverside Hotel in Reno Nevada next to the bridge across the
Around the time of the opening of the Lincoln Highway. (1915)