By Dominique King
Posted On: Jan 13, 2012
Automobile travel in the early 1900s was a bumpy, muddy mess in this country, so the Lincoln Highway became the super road of its time. Such two-lane highways may seem quaint today, but following the Lincoln Highway through Ohio is great for fans of the state's history and a more leisurely road trip.
Entrepreneur Carl Fisher, who helped develop the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, envisioned a transcontinental highway as a way to ease cross-country travel and help the automotive industry.
Stories of Fisher's promotional stunts were legend, but the plan to build a cross-country highway he unveiled to a group of automobile manufacturers in 1912 probably struck some of them as his biggest stunt to date.
There were two major alignments of the route in 1913 and 1928. By the mid-1920s, about 250 named highways criss-crossed the country. Federal highway officials established a standardized numbering system for the nation's highways, and much of the Lincoln Highway became US 30 through Ohio.
Ohio's Lincoln Highway runs from East Liverpool near the West Virginia state line to the Indiana state line just west of Van Wert.
Here are some highlights along the Ohio leg of the highway:
Van Wert--A large sign at the city limits welcomes visitors to the Gateway of the Lincoln Highway. Don't miss Van Wert's castle-like Brumback Library, built in 1901 as the nation's first county library.
Delphos--See original portions of the Miami-Erie canal running through town. Delphos has a Canal Museum and Museum of Postal History, one of only three museums in the country dedicated to postal history. Both museums have limited hours, but we stopped at the Delphos Chamber of Commerce office, where the director made several calls resulting in someone opening the postal museum for us.
Beaverdam--is the site of a marker dedicated to Fisher as the "Father of the Lincoln Highway."
Lima--is along the earliest alignment of the Lincoln Highway. Visit downtown Lima for an olive burger at the 1920s Kewpee Burger diner, named (with a slight spelling alteration) for the roly-poly Kewpie dolls so popular during the 1920s.
Mansfield--Check out Mansfield's beautiful carousel with hand-carved animals, then drive a few miles out of town to tour the Mansfield Reformatory, perhaps best known as the prison in The Shawshank Redemption movie.
Canton--has several great museums, including: the Pro Football Hall of Fame; the First Ladies' National Library and historic Saxton-McKinley Home; the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum; and the Canton Classic Car Museum.
Make the most of your trip by taking along a good map. We found our Ohio Lincoln Highway Map book in the Canton Classic Car Museum gift shop. You might find one at the J & M Trading Post in Leesville (an old general store just off of the highway) or online at the Lincoln Highway Association's Trading Post. The map book shows various Lincoln Highway alignments and features vintage concrete Lincoln Highway markers and a few of the highway's original brick-paved sections existing as spurs off of the main road.
For more outdoor inspiration, Find It Here at Ohio.org.