Lincoln Highway Association

If you were born after 1960, you probably think that interstate highways and toll roads have been around forever. If you were born before 1960, you probably avoid the modern highway.

After countless trips on the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes on my way to Gettysburg, in 2008 I looked at the map for an alternative route. I found a road, US-30, which was called the Lincoln Highway and decided to drive to Fort Wayne, IN and start my journey there.

Since then I have learned about and traveled on the West Michigan Pike, the East Michigan Pike, the Dixie Highway, the National Road, the Michigan Road (in Indiana), and of course the Lincoln Highway (which isn’t always US-30).

I also learned that as a youth I had traveled in the back seat of my parent’s automobile on some of those very roads when we lived in Elkhart, IN and my father worked in Goshen, IN and Niles, MI and again when we lived in Hagerstown, MD and he worked in Chambersburg, PA. And yes, the Lincoln Highway runs through Gettysburg.

If you’re tired of the view while driving an expressway, look for the road less traveled. It will take you longer to arrive at your destination but the experience will be worth it as you pass old motor courts, drive-in theaters, old repurposed gas stations, and downtown shops open for business.


Created in 1913, the Lincoln Highway was the first improved road across the United States, beginning at Times Square in New York City and ending at Lincoln Park in San Francisco, CA. The road was named in honor of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

The original Lincoln Highway Association was headquartered in Detroit; its first President was Henry B. Joy of the Packard Motor Car Co.

Indiana Lincoln Highway Association

Indiana can boast of having two alignments of the Lincoln Highway—the 1913 route which traveled northwest from Fort Wayne through Goshen and South Bend to Plymouth and the much straighter 1928 route from Fort Wayne to Plymouth.

The mission of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association is to preserve, promote, and mark the Lincoln Highway route across Indiana, and educate the general public of the various routes and related resources.

West Michigan Pike

At the turn of the twentieth century, deep ruts and sand made West Michigan roads nearly impassable. In 1911, the West Michigan Lakeshore Highway Association was founded to promote the construction of the first improved highway along Lake Michigan in order to bring auto tourists from Chicago to Michigan to support the new resort industry that grew up when logging ended in the region. Completed in 1922, the West Michigan Pike extended from the Indiana state line to Mackinaw City. It was designated one of the first state trunk lines (M-11) in 1917, as part of the Dixie Highway in 1923, and incorporated into the nations first federal highway system as US-31 in 1926. Straightened and realigned over the years, it is also known as the Red Arrow and the Blue Star Memorial Highways.

The West Michigan Pike, advertised as “Lake Shore All the Way Chicago to Mackinaw,” was completed as a paved highway in 1922. Tourists, particularly those from Chicago who sought cooler temperatures by coming to Michigan, gained greater access to communities dotting the Lake Michigan shore between the Indiana state line and the Straits of Mackinac. In 1926 the pike (M-11) was designated US-31. By then, traffic congestion and poor road conditions were again impeding Travel. The West Michigan Pike Association, which had started the road, advocated for US-31 to be widened and rerouted in 1929 as a “superhighway.” A full-blown tourism industry with lodgings, restaurants, and attractions grew up along the West Michigan Pike and flourished into the twenty-first century.

History of Michigan Roads

Taking a road trip in Michigan? This great website is full of information on historic Michigan roads both past and present.

Michigan’s Historic Bridges

Michigan is a nationwide leader in the preservation of the most threatened historic bridge type, the metal truss bridge. Metal truss bridges are beautiful and unique historic bridges that often face demolition as they age with time. However, experts in Michigan have developed revolutionary new rehabilitation and restoration techniques that preserve these bridges allowing visitors to continue to experience these bridges. Calhoun County is home to the first park in the country dedicated to historic bridges. Michigan’s unique concrete curved-chord through girder bridges, commonly called concrete camelback bridges are a unique attraction that cannot be found anywhere else. Even Michigan’s younger bridges from the 1950s and 1960s have character, with attractive railings and other decorative details. Whether they are your destination, or something you simply drive over on the way to other destinations, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of Michigan’s old bridges.

Dixie Highway

The Dixie Highway was a United States automobile highway, first planned in 1914 to connect the US Midwest with the Southern United States. It was part of the National Auto Trail system, and grew out of an earlier Miami to Montreal highway. The final result is better understood as a network of connected paved roads, rather than one single highway. It was constructed and expanded from 1915 to 1927.

The Dixie Highway was inspired by the example of the slightly earlier Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States. The prime booster of both projects was promoter and businessman Carl G. Fisher. It was overseen by the Dixie Highway Association, and funded by a group of individuals, businesses, local governments, and states. In the early years the U.S. federal government played little role, but from the early 1920s on it provided increasing funding, until 1927 when the Dixie Highway Association was disbanded and the highway was taken over as part of the U.S. Route system, with some portions becoming state roads.

A nice website with many turn-by-turn directions for different roads. Michigan had two routes of the Dixie Highway.

Dixie Highway Facebook