Tag Archives: Lincoln Highway

Books sharing auto history

As some of you might know, we’ve been feverishly working on publishing and republishing three books sharing auto history. They focus on travel in the early days of the automobile.

Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Journey

Hoosier Tour

Our new book, Hoosier Tour, examines how the 1913 Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour helped generate interest for building roads, like the proposed Ocean-to-Ocean Rock Highway later to be known as the Lincoln Highway. At that time, the IAMA Tour was one of the largest continental tours attempted in the United States. One of the trek’s primary goals was to draw attention to the need for road improvements.

They envisioned a national system of good roads that could tie the country from coast to coast. They only had to convince the rest of the country.

Hoosier Tour chronicles this trip and provides a glimpse into the hardships and accomplishments they encountered along the way.

More on: Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Journey
Tales of a Pathfinder

Tales of a Pathfinder

This republished version of the 1921 Tales of a Pathfinder is a beautifully bound chronicle of a true pioneer of early automotive history. Westgard recounts his many adventures in his role as trailblazer for the Good Roads Movement.

“Daniel Boone of the Gasoline Age” is an apt way to describe Anton L. Westgard. He was one of the pioneers who helped build the foundation for automotive travel. Without the pathfinding excursions of Westgard and others like him, the way west would be a tangle of buffalo traces and weed infested country lanes.

In the early part of the 20th century, U.S. highways and byways were in deplorable shape. Rains drenched the dirt roads and often left a gumbo-like substance making travel by cart or car nearly impossible.

Tales of a Pathfinder is Westgard’s own story and impressions as he wrote them in 1920.

More on: Tales of a Pathfinder
Motor Manners

Motor Manners

This beautifully bound republished version of Motor Manners provides Emily Post’s advice and rules for highway safety. After all, according to Post, “bad motoring manners can be murder.”

Even years after her death, Emily Post is still known as the resource to consult on etiquette in polite society. Her reputation was cemented in history in 1921 when her Book on Etiquette was first published. From that springboard, she developed a syndicated newspaper on etiquette carried by newspapers throughout the United States.

Eventually the National Highway Users Conference approached her to share her advice about motoring on the highways. The result was the pamphlet entitled Motor Manners published in 1949. Although the underlying purpose was to promote highway safety, perhaps the group thought that the influx of female drivers on the road after World War II would respond better to a list of manners rather than a set of rules from a driver’s manual.

This booklet is the republished version of Post’s original writing. The inside pages consist of her advice to the motorists of the 1950’s.

More on: Motor Manners
We’ve enjoyed the work of researching, writing, and publishing these books. It is our wish that you will enjoy these stories about travel in an earlier era. Enjoy the drive!

We’re writing a book on the 1913 Hoosier Tour

As many of you know, for the past few months we have been working on our book Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Journey. This book documents the 1913 Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour.

Hoosier Tour

We have known about the IAMA Tour for a number of years and decided to share this story of Hoosier ingenuity during its centennial year. This book examines how the 1913 IAMA Tour served as a model of promoting Indiana-built automobiles and generating interest for building roads, like the proposed Ocean-to-Ocean Rock Highway later to be known as the Lincoln Highway. This road was the impetus to the start of our federal highway system.

Previously all roads were developed and maintained by local governments. The first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway, showed the federal government the opportunities brought by linking good roads from coast to coast. We were to arise from the mud onto paved roadways.

Today we can dash across interstates, from city to city, state to state. This modern-day convenience owes a great deal of thanks to the 1913 IAMA excursion.

We urge you to follow our book launch process as we bring this story to fruition.

Celebrating the Hoosier Tour

The Indiana Region of the Classic Car Club of America celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour on July 1st.

The celebration featured vintage cars, biographical author Jerry M. Fisher, character actor Jeff Kuehl as Carl Fisher, and Carl Fisher’s 1914 Packard roadster that paced the 1915 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

1914 Packard

Carl G. Fisher’s 1914 Packard
Copyright © 2013 Dennis E. Horvath

Before lunch three vintage 1914 autos gathered in front of the Athenaeum for a photo opportunity of the nearly 100 year old vehicles. One of these autos was Carl Fisher’s original unrestored custom roadster. This car sported many unique features along with a custom body. Next was an American Underslung six-passenger touring car from the company’s last year in business. This American represented the top end of the company’s product line. The other car was a Cole five-passenger touring car. Coles were advertised as “The Standardized Car,” indicating that they were “the standard for quality in the industry.” The last two cars were Indianapolis-built on South Meridian St. and East Washington St. respectively.

The luncheon presentations by the “two Fishers” featured the significance of the 1913 IAMA Tour and how it served as a model for developing the Lincoln Highway. Jerry Fisher calls Carl Fisher the forgotten man from the early part of the twentieth century.

1914 American

1914 American Underslung
Copyright © 2013 Dennis E. Horvath

After lunch everyone commenced the 40-mile reenactment of the first day’s drive of the 1913 IAMA Tour in western Indiana on the way to the west coast. No one was daunted by the light showers as we ambled across the National Road to the Clay County courthouse in Brazil. Our afternoon ended with dinner at the Lake House Restaurant in Staunton.

Thanks to Carol and Larry Pumphrey of the IN Region CCCA for planning this centennial event and celebrating Hoosier auto pioneer Carl G. Fisher.

1914 Cole

Dennis Horvath & Beauford Hall with his 1914 Cole
Copyright © 2013 Dennis E. Horvath

For more information about the 1913 Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour click here. For more about Hoosier auto pioneer Carl G. Fisher click here.

What was happening in Indianapolis on July 1, 1913?

At 2 pm, on July 1, 1913, more 70 people and 20 Indiana-built cars and trucks gathered around the south side of University Park in Indianapolis for the departure of the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour. At the time, the IAMA Tour was one of the largest transcontinental tours attempted in the United States.

Haynes & Gilbreath

Elwood Haynes, president of Haynes Automobile Company
conversing with W. S. Gilbreath, secretary of the Hoosier Motor Club
at University Park

The 1913 IAMA Tour was designed to promote Indiana-built automobiles to the larger market outside of the Midwest and to generate interest for building better roads. The reawakening Good Roads Movement members felt that the auto industry would only grow when travel by road was made easier. But, investment in roads would only occur when people showed more interest in the automobile industry. IAMA members envisioned a way to help make that happen – a cross country tour to build the country’s interest in automobiles, particularly Indiana’s products, and better roads.

When the IAMA Tour left Indianapolis on July 1, 1913, the Hoosier tourists experienced numerous thunderstorms, crossing the Rocky Mountains and the Western deserts in primitive automobiles that are hard to imagine 100 years later. The tour took 34 days to cover the 3,600 miles and allow for propaganda work and sociability. They passed through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Nearly every vehicle accomplished this trek and arrived in Los Angeles after never being more than 24 hours behind schedule.

Marmon No 22

The Lincoln Highway sponsored Marmon
was one of the tour participants that made it to California. Left to Right:
Capt. Robert Tyndall, Carl G. Fisher, Charles A. Bookwalter, and Heine Scholler.

The 1913 IAMA Indiana-Pacific Tour served as a model of promoting Indiana-built automobiles and generating interest for building roads, like the proposed Ocean-to-Ocean Rock Highway, later to be known as the Lincoln Highway. This road was the impetus to the start of our Federal Highway System.

Previously all roads were developed and maintained by local governments. The first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway, showed the federal government the opportunities brought by linking good roads from coast to coast. We were to arise from the mud onto paved roadways.

Henderson No. 4

Ray Harroun in the Henderson Motor Car entry
at California State Capitol in Sacramento

Today we can dash across interstates, from city to city, state to state. This modern-day convenience owes a great deal of thanks to the 1913 IAMA Indiana-Pacific Tour.

Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration is now mainstream

It’s now official. Per the March 1st edition of USA Today, The Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration in Kearny, NB, is worth planning a trip around.

Why is this celebration significant? Fifty years before the Interstate Highway System was enacted, the Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental highway, was proposed. Within three years of the founding of the Lincoln Highway Association, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, the first of many that would eventually see the highways of America built.

Some have called the Lincoln Highway “America’s Main Street.” It encouraged travel to communities with stops in hotels, mom and pop restaurants, and local tourist attractions. The Interstate Highway System wrought the demise of leisurely travel along these byways.

Studebaker at Kearney 1915

Studebaker at Kearney, Nebraska 1915

This summer the Lincoln Highway Association is hosting the Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration in Kearney, NB, June 30 – July 1, 2013. Kearney is conveniently located on the Lincoln Highway in the center of the country, 1733 miles from Boston and 1733 miles from San Francisco.

On Saturday, June 29, two auto caravans will converge on Kearney, one from New York and the other from San Francisco. On Sunday, events will kick-off in downtown Kearney, five blocks will come to life celebrating the 1910s to 1950s. The celebration continues at the Great Platt River Road Archway, a world-class attraction about the routes that opened the West, on Monday. Check out www.visitkearney.org or www.lincolnhighway.org for more information.

Closer to home, Indiana’s part in the Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration will take place when the Centennial Auto Caravan from New York tours the Lincoln Highway with an overnight stop in South Bend, on Wednesday, June 26. The Indiana Lincoln Highway Association invites you to come to the Studebaker National Museum to visit with the tourists for dinner at 6:30 pm and a self-guided tour of the museum. This should be a once-in-a-lifetime-event. For more information on this event visit www.indianalincolnhighway.org

I concur with USA Today and invite you experience some of these festivities celebrating the Lincoln Highway Centennial.

Hi all you roadies:

As many of you may know, I have been selected to present at the 99th Annual Purdue Road School. My presentation “Lincoln Highway Centennial and the Birth of the Federal Highway System” is on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 11:00 am. I invite you to come and see how Carl G. Fisher and the Lincoln Highway Association got us out of the mud and on to modern paved highways.

Road School Title Slide

Here is the information brochure.

Online pre-registration is available here.

I look forward to seeing some of my roadie friends at this event.


Lincoln Highway Event Rates “Wow”

I have to say, Wow! What an incredible experience for this weekend’s Indiana Lincoln Highway Association’s Centennial Event. A group of Lincoln Highway enthusiasts from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois gathered in Indianapolis to celebrate the centennial of the announcement of the nation’s first transcontinental highway at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis.

We kicked-off our celebration at the James A. Allison, Carl G. Fisher, and Frank H. Wheeler’s mansions along millionaire row on the Marian University campus. We got an inside look at these 100 year-old time capsules of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, automotive, and transportation founders. I intend to visit the campus again for further exploration. Thanks to Deborah Lawrence for hosting us.

Allison Mansion

Allison Mansion
Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath
On Friday afternoon we continued with an Auto Pioneer Burial Site Tour at Crown Hill Cemetery nestled along the Dixie Highway. Auto pioneers Carl G. Fisher and Louis Schwitzer are buried on Strawberry Hill near James Whitcomb Riley, President Benjamin Harrison, and Eli Lilly. Later, we toured the Stutz Motor Car Company complex on Capitol Avenue to view some automobiles built in the building from 1912 -1935. Building proprietor Turner J. Woodard has autos ranging from a Stutz Bearcat to a Stutz Pak-Age-Car. Everyone enjoyed his and Anne Jester’s hospitality.

Our Saturday morning, Auto Pioneers Tour visited some mansions along Meridian Street and Fall Creek Parkway. We then continued along Indianapolis’ Automobile Row on North Capitol and auto manufacturing sites around the belt railroads circling the city. Our morning tour finished, with some shopping along Massachusetts Avenue.

Our luncheon celebrated the centennial of Carl Fisher’s and James Allison’s announcement of the Lincoln Highway at the Athenaeum on September 10, 1912. Everyone enjoyed character speaker Jeff Kuehl who addressed the group as Carl Fisher. We were transported to 1912 as Fisher elaborated on his thoughts about automobiling across the country.


Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath
After lunch, we went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum to see Fisher’s custom-built 1903 Premier racer designed for the Vanderbilt Cup Race and the Fisher-era Stoddard-Dayton. It seems like every time I visit the museum that there is something new to study. Everyone gathered around one of the racers for a group photo. Who is that mystery driver? Our afternoon finished up by touring by the Prest-O-Lite and Allison Engineering factories on Main Street in Speedway.

LH Centennial Event

Lincoln Highway Centennial Event
Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath

It is interesting how this part of Indianapolis’ business and social heritage started about 120 years ago when Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, and Arthur C. Newby met while being members of the Zig-Zag Cycling Club during the 1890’s bicycle craze. Their friendships went on to form the genesis for ventures like the Fisher Automobile Company, Prest-O-Lite Company, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Lincoln Highway, the Dixie Highway, the development of Miami Beach, Allison Engineering Company, Allison Transmission, Indianapolis Stamping Company (the predecessor of today’s Diamond Chain Company), and National Automobile Company. These men and their ideas have brought employment and enjoyment to tens of thousand’s of individuals through the years.

Much new information and camaraderie was shared by all tour participants. It will take many days for the special feeling of this event to wear off. I can’t wait until the next Indiana Lincoln Highway Association event to discover some more new experiences.

The nation’s first transcontinental highway was proposed at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis

Did you know that the nation’s first transcontinental highway was proposed at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis? Check my article at HistoricIndianapolis.com to find out more.

Athenaeum 1910
Athenaeum 1910 © Indiana Historical Society

If you are interested in learning more about the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association’s Centennial Celebration of Carl Fisher’s announcement, peruse the Event Flyer. Happy motoring.

Lincoln Highway Day in La Porte Indiana

Terri and I had an enjoyable Lincoln Highway Day in La Porte Indiana. The events surrounding the day centered on our mission to share automotive history with others.

We attended the Lincoln Highway Kiosk Dedication on the plaza in front of the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce at 803 Washington Street. The kiosk was developed by Indiana Lincoln Highway Association members in cooperation with a number of La Porte area sponsors.

La Porte area natives Jim Bevins and Fred Sachtleben were recognized for their tireless efforts conceptualizing and constructing the kiosk. This is an outstanding example of a community effort developing an educational resource for future generations.

Jim & Fred at LaPorte Lincoln Highway Kiosk

Jim & Fred at LaPorte Lincoln Highway Kiosk
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath
The interpretative panel on the north side of the kiosk depicts the impact of the Lincoln Highway in La Porte County. Two famous restaurants from the 1910’s and 1920’s still serve patrons along the highway: B & J’s American Café and Jennie Rae’s. The Hotel Rumley that paid special attention to automobile parties has been renovated into apartments. One early photo shows autos and interurbans along Lincoln Way. Other photos feature vignettes of life along the highway in the first-half of the twentieth century.

The south side interpretative panel shares the early history of the Lincoln Highway: America’s First Paved Coast-To-Coast Highway. The idea for the highway was proposed by Indiana auto entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher in September 1912. Today with our modern interstate highways it is hard to imagine what travel was like 90 years ago. At the time, less than 10% the country’s roads were paved, and suburban travel was only attempted in fair weather. These photographs and documentation provide a glimpse into development of the highway and travel across it in the early days. I still marvel at the photos and stories of motorists attempting to cross country on muddy and deeply rutted roads.

Munson Factory

The Munson Factory
Copyright © La Porte County Historical Society

La Porte also shares an interesting link to our early automotive history with the demonstration of a Munson hybrid runabout on April 25, 1898. The Munson Company, the recognized builder of America’s first gasoline-electric hybrid automobile, was located on the south-east corner of the street, just south of the kiosk. Munson built four vehicles and demonstrated them for two years across northwest Indiana and Chicago, but failed to produce further vehicles for sale.

I enjoy being involved with groups like the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association which develop sites, materials, and events to share our auto heritage. I invite you to travel Indiana’s two Lincoln Highway routes today. Check back with the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association often for more developments regarding the Lincoln Highway in Indiana. We’re continuing to develop additional materials and events for you.

The federal highway system is a great idea

Recently, we returned from a spring vacation road trip, and I marveled at how the federal highway system is a great idea. Federal funding and planning for our cross country highways is almost 85 years old making our leisure and business transportation is much better because of it.

In 1909, there were 2.2 million miles of road in the United States. Only about 190,000 miles were surfaced. Most travel was in urban areas, with travel into the country mostly being attempted in fair weather. Rain quickly turned country roads into thigh-deep mud ruts, making travel extremely difficult. If they got stuck in the mud, many travelers had to enlist the aid of a nearby horse team to extract them from the quagmire.

Road building and maintenance were entirely the province of local government. There were no federal funds for roads in those years. The tiny state and county appropriations were sometimes wasted on projects that had little effect on the conditions of roads.

In the fall of 1912, Hoosier auto entrepreneur, Carl G. Fisher announced his idea for a coast-to-coast rock highway from New York to San Francisco to alleviate the problem of bad roads. With the enthusiasm of Indiana auto manufacturers, Fisher began a letter writing and personal visit campaign to representatives of the automotive trades across the country. Fisher believed that the success of the infant auto industry revolved around the use of better roads.

Within 30 days of his announcement, Fisher raised over a million dollars in pledges and considerable ink in the nation’s press. In early December, Fisher received a letter from Henry B. Joy, president of Packard Motor Car Company, pledging $150,000 and recommending that the road be built in the name of Abraham Lincoln. In the summer of 1913, Joy became president of the Lincoln Highway Association. The Lincoln Highway ran through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.

The optimism of non-governmental funding development for the road soon led to reverting to the earlier practice of states, counties, and communities providing the major funding. Joy proposed that the association fund and oversee the construction of “seedling miles” in places where improvement was most needed. This was the way most highway development preceded across the country until the Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916. The act established provisions for the construction of rural Post Roads and construction and maintenance of National Forest roads in cooperation with the state and local authorities.

In fall of 1925, the federal highway plan introduced national numbered highways with a uniform style of regulatory and warning signs to replace the named routes across the country. With the completion of last section of U.S. Route 30 in Nebraska in 1935, the original Lincoln Highway became the first paved transcontinental highway in the country.

At mid-century, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act of 1956. The act authorized construction of a highway network that promised to hurry the nation’s commerce and military and greatly reduce driving time by eliminating stoplights, sharp curves, intersections, and no-passing zones.

The Interstate Highway System that we know today revolutionized highway travel and interstate commerce. Now, on a good day, one can drive from central Indiana to central Florida in 16 hours. A large amount of the commercial products we use daily are transported via interstate highways. These benefits are made possible by a 90 percent federal – 10 percent state funding formula and Federal Highway Administration certification.

Federal highway programs still benefit us on other U.S. highways across the country. On our recent trip, for instance, in Kentucky we used U.S. routes 25, 50, 150, 127, and 421 to travel along lesser traveled roads from Mt. Vernon to Madison, Indiana. I especially enjoy these back roads to get a taste of how life used-to-be during a simpler time in America.

I want to say thank you to all of my friends and relatives across the country for making our federal highway system possible through their tax dollars. What a great idea!