The Lost Highway: The Tale of the Lincoln Highway, America’s First Cross Country Road

THE FIRST PODCAST  In 1900, there were about 8,000 registered automobiles in the United States. They were a genuine novelty. Those that attempted to go on ‘road trips’ met with a frustrating reality — there were no drivable roads, no unified road maps, no nation-wide infrastructure of gas stations or amenities. The first automobiles to attempt cross-country travel were essentially UFOs streaking through a sparsely populated and isolated America.

This is the story of how that all changed. This is the story of the Lincoln Highway, the first cross-country road in the Untied States, linking Times Square in Manhattan with Lincoln Park in San Francisco via a patchwork of pre-existing roads in twelve states.

The Lincoln Highway was developed by automotive executives who wanted to use the cross-country road to promote automobile sales. It accomplished more than that; the Lincoln Highway invented the pleasures and eccentricities of American road travel.

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A 1916 route map for the Lincoln Highway: