Lincoln Way celebrates 100th birthday

Dillon Bauer

July 1 marks the 100th celebration of Lincoln Highway in Ames. What is now known as Lincoln Way was constructed in 1913 and proved to be the most popular route of its time. For the next 40 years, it had put its mark on cross country travel, being the first route to stretch from coast-to-coast.

The highway had its own impact on the city of Ames. Jeff Benson, a member of the Lincoln Highway Association here is Ames said Lincoln Highway sparked business in Ames.

”It allowed business owners to start building on the highway which in turn really impacted the growth of Ames,” Benson said.

Iowa State University also had an impact in the early years. In 1920, one of the first highway commissioners for Lincoln Highway graduated out of the Engineering College at Iowa State.

In celebration of the event, history buffs as well as auto lovers will pack their bags and travel half way across the nation. Both set of travelers starting from opposite ends of Lincoln Highway will meet in Kearney, Nebraska for a two day celebration.

The route spans 5,000 miles across the nation starting at Central Park in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

The drive will be a historic site as well, with the array of old Model T and Model A cars leading the way. The organizers of the event are expecting 300 cars traveling to Nebraska along with 5,000 people.

Pat Hahn, a board member of the Boone Historical Society who also works at Iowa State brought up her travels in the last two years.

“Two years ago we trekked the Lincoln Highway from Western Iowa to Eastern Iowa, and stopped on Main Street at the Saturday morning Farmers Market on Main Street in Ames,” Hahn said. 

Iowa has its own unique history with this historic route as well.  Boone, Iowa, is home to the original Lincoln Highway stone marker placed directly in front of the museum. The museum also holds history about Lincoln Highway.

Not too far east of Ames is the town of Tama, Iowa. Tama is known for the lonely bridge over the small stream. During the long journey from New York to California, there is a famous little bridge. This bridge is the only remaining bridge that was original to the 1913 road.

Tama holds its own celebration for its Lincoln Highway Bridge by having venders, live entertainment and even a parade. Pictures are also taken by the bridge to show a little piece of their Iowa history. As for being the oldest bridge on the route, it is still functional for everyday use.