The Road Evolves


Roadside Markers

A series of permanent markers along the Lincoln Highway was erected so motorists would never forget the highway’s namesake. On September 1, 1928, Boy Scouts nationwide installed 3,000 concrete mile markers, each bearing a bronze profile of President Abraham Lincoln, a directional arrow and the Lincoln Highway logo. While the weather, careless drivers and road-widening projects have taken their toll, motorists can still spot some of these markers along the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania. Since 1998 the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor has installed close to 200 new signs marking the historic route.

Early road-building and maintenance was a challenge across the country. Like other northern states, Pennsylvania has a wide range of weather, including heat, freezing and thawing in addition to complications indicative of high elevations. According to the April 1918 issue of Motor Age, “... a real effort was made to maintain roads during touring season from April to December. Pennsylvania has done wonders in road building. The road from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is practically a boulevard all the way, particularly the western portion which has been completely rebuilt.”


The Pennsylvania State Highway Department fought the problems caused by rain and snow. Water breaks for drainage were eliminated, replaced by a modern system of culverts. Where all snow removal had been done by hand, snowplows were developed to clear the heavy snowfalls. These and other measures allowed the roads to remain open, ensuring deliveries by motorcars and trucks.


By the end of the 1920s, the federal highway system changed the names of early routes to a system of standardized numbering. In Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Highway was renamed U.S. Route 30.


With the opening of the country’s first superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, travel volume on the Lincoln Highway declined. It could not compete with the faster, less dangerous interstate highway system. Yet the Lincoln Highway remains. Over the years, some sections have been bypassed, realigned and resurfaced, while other sections are as pristine and unspoiled as they were more than 90 years ago.


(Photo: Alex Bellotti, Commonwealth Media Services)
Panoramic views along the Lincoln Highway confirm that getting there is more than half the fun.


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