LINCOLN HIGHWAY

The Lincoln Highway

Begun in 1913, the Lincoln Highway was the first paved, transcontinental highway, ultimately stretching 3,400 miles, from New York to San Francisco.  The Plainfield portion of the Lincoln Highway was paved in 1921.  In 1940 when U.S. Route 66 crossed the Lincoln Highway in the heart of the Village, Plainfield hosted the intersection of the two longest highways in the world.  Ulysses S. Grant Blakely was the owner and publisher of the local newspaper, The Enterprise, at the time that the paved highway was proposed and he was instrumental in getting the Lincoln Highway routed through Plainfield.  According to the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition web site, “The Lincoln Highway was once the most famous road in America. It was the symbol that “Good Roads” supporters rallied around in their crusade to create a highway system for the country.  It was the first successful transcontinental highway and served as the catalyst for the driving improvements that were being demanded by an increasingly mobile public and by the car makers of Detroit.  The Lincoln Highway was the first successful, all-weather, coast-to-coast, automobile highway. The Lincoln Highway owed its success to promotion."

The idea for a “Coast to Coast Rock Highway” came from Carl Fisher, who also founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and owned the Prest-O-Lite Headlight Company.  Fisher approached others in the automobile industry to support and fund the highway.  Out of this effort, the Lincoln Highway Association held its inaugural meeting on July 1, 1913.  The president of this new association was Henry Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Company and he suggested dedicating the new paved route as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln.  In 2000, the Illinois portion of the Lincoln Highway was designated as an Illinois State Scenic Byway and a National Scenic Byway largely due to the efforts of the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition, of which the Village of Plainfield is a member.  To help promote heritage tourism and celebrate the Village’s historic ties to the Lincoln Highway, the Village participated in the ILHC Interpretive Gazebo Project.  In the Village of Plainfield, from east to west, the historic alignment of the Lincoln Highway follows portions of US Route 30, Joliet Road, Illinois Route 59, Lockport Street, former US Route 30, 135th Street, and Heggs Road.

Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition Interpretive Gazebo Project

In 2006, the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition received a Federal Highway Administration Implementation Grant and a Transportation Enhancement Grant for the construction of Interpretative Gazebos along the Lincoln Highway across Illinois.  These gazebos attract travelers' attention and the interior interpretive panels will establish public awareness of the historic Lincoln Highway in Illinois.  Each gazebo houses interpretive panels – one highlighting the history of the Lincoln Highway, one that has stories and history related to the Illinois Lincoln Highway, one that has a map of the Lincoln Highway, and one that highlights the Lincoln Highway in the Village of Plainfield.  The Village of Plainfield participated in this grant opportunity and MainStreet Plainfield, Inc. and the Plainfield Historical Society also pledged funding to help offset the cost of the gazebo.  Plainfield's gazebo is located at the foot of the Settlers’ Park knoll on the east side of the Village Hall. 

Links

Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition

Lincoln Highway Association

Lincoln Highway Association – Illinois State Chapter