The motorists, who departed New York City over the weekend, will meet their counterparts headed east on U.S. 30 from San Francisco at the midpoint in Kearney, Neb., on Sunday. There, a two-day celebration will mark the 100th year of the nation’s first transcontinental highway.
“The Lincoln Highway started it all for the automobile,” said Paul Gilger, president of the California chapter of The Lincoln Highway Association. “Before that, people traveling outside of their town did so on a train.”
The highway was the precursor to America’s highway and interstate system, and, in a sense, marked the birth of trucking, Gilger said. Before its creation, people primarily ate only what was grown or raised near them, he said.
“No one in Ohio had ever seen an avocado,” Gilger said. “It changed the way we ate. It created a whole culture.”
The westbound tour stopped Sunday evening in Chambersburg, Pa., and departed early Monday for McConnellsburg.
Jason Ritchey opened his business, Lincoln Way Pizza, early to offer travelers refreshments, saying he wanted to seize the opportunity to promote Fulton County.
Ritchey and Sue Cauffman from the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce chatted with Charles and Audrey Bronk as the North Carolina couple prepared to depart. The Bronks hoped to stop next at the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa., to leave a flag in honor of a United Airlines female flight attendant who was friends with their son.
The memorial was undeveloped when the Bronks drove in the last Lincoln Highway tour a decade ago. They met their best friends on that trip; now, they are reconnecting with those people and rediscovering aspects of the journey.
“Going through New Jersey and Philadelphia hasn’t changed at all. (The traffic) is the most horrendous thing,” Audrey Bronk, a former New Jersey resident, said while laughing.
Lorrie Fleming left British Columbia with her beagle in the back of her BMW for the trip.
“We do Route 66 every year, and we saw in a magazine about this trip,” Fleming said.
Fleming described the Lincoln Highway tour as well-organized.
“Every inch of the way is accounted for,” she said.
Jim Cassler from Canton, Ohio, helped organize the trip through The Lincoln Highway Association. He is driving the concessions truck and trailer.
“You meet a lot of great people,” Cassler said.
Downingtown, Pa.-area resident Brian Gomez promised his aunt on her 81st birthday that he would take her on a cross-country tour. They piled into his Mini Cooper, which he said boasts the best gas mileage of the 60 vehicles on the tour.
Gomez said the people who live along the Lincoln Highway seem to be proud of it. He has spotted people sitting outside as the tour passes.
“They’re just so happy, and smiling and waving,” he said.