The Lincoln Highway
National Museum & Archives
102 Old Lincoln Way West
Galion, Ohio 44833

(202) 536-5329

1913--Lincoln Highway Signs--1928
"Blazing the Big Trail"

The "Spirit of the Lincoln Way" was infectious.

Once the Official Route was Announced on September 14, 1913
Patriots all across the country set out to mark the Glorious Way.

The enthusiasum was so great that within a few months
most of the Highway was marked.

At first there were a variety of methods used.

Metal Signs, Painted Fence Posts & Telephone poles,
and everything else in between.

You name it they used it.

While initially this was considered progress,
very soon it began to look like a "Barber Pole".

This concerned Lincoln Highway Officials and soon thereafter
they devised a plan to standardize signage on the Highway.

It was both an expensive proposition and a logistical nightmare.
Right Arrows, Left Arrows, 30 miles to Omaha, 200 Miles to Salt Lake,
not to mention vandals, thieves, and target shooters.

Each year they put up literally thousand and thousands of signs
only to come back the next year and find 30 to 50 percent missing or damaged.

I think you get the picture...

Then in 1928 as the days of the named Highways came to an end,
The Lincoln Highway Association working with Boy Scouts
came up with a daring plan.

To place 3400 Concrete Markers across the country
and secure The Lincoln Highway
as a Living and Perputual Memorial
to the Great Abraham Lincoln-All in one Day.

The following is the most complete pictoral
history of Lincoln highway signs anywhere in the World.

If you have any corrections or additions
please contact me at you convience.

Proclamation of Route
September 14, 1913

"Blazing the Big Trail"
The Evolution of
Lincoln Highway Road Markers
Perpetual Memorial
September 1, 1928

1913-The Evolution of Lincoln Highway Road Signs-1928

Lincoln Highway Sticker

Date Used: 1913
Size: 1 x 2 1/2"
Material: Printed with glue back
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Copyright application
Source: Studebaker Museum, South Bend, IN

Comments: This packet of stickers is in the Copyright File
submitted to the US Patient Office by The Lincoln Highway Assoc.
and was prepared by the Packard Legal Department.
These stickers were also used in the 1913 Membership Packet,
The Lincoln Highway-its Ideals, Plans and Purposes.


Official Lincoln Highway Marker

Used 1913-
Size: 11 x 21
Material: Metal with Enamel
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Allen County, Indian
Source: Leslie's Weekly-December 25, 1913, Page 614

Comments: To my knowledge, this is the earliest dated photo
of a Lincoln Highway Sign. It appears to be metal with enamel.
While it says Allen Co., Indiana I suspect it was Allen Co., Ohio.
W. F. Coan, Pres. of the Clinton National Bank & LH State Cousul
set the first official sign near Clinton, IA on September 15, 1913.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1914-1915
Size: ***
Material: Painted on Galvanized Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: California State Auto Association
Original Location: Lincoln Highway-West Coast
Source: Private Collection-California

Comments: Originally I thought this sign was not an original,
but a more modern copy since it wasn't Metal and Enamel.
It is quite crude with stencils or stencil like letters used.
The photo on the right shows this style in use on August 25, 1915.
Further research reveals these signs were provided by the
California State Auto Assoc. and used as early as March 1914
by The Oakland Commercial Club on a signing trip to Lake Tahoe. This is the only known example of this style.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1914-1915
Size: ***
Material: Painted on Galvanized Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: California State Auto Association
Original Location: End of the Lincoln Highway
Source: Edward Holden Album-LHA

Comments: This photo has been cropped from a much larger image
and shows the claiming of Lincoln Park as the End of the
Lincoln Highway on August 26, 1915, one day after arriving at
The Panama Pacific International Exposition and ending a 4 month
trip from NYC to SF across the Lincoln Highway taking moving
pictures of all the towns for a film called "See America First".
The sign is the same as the one on the left,
down to the small stencil lettering on the bottom.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1915
Size: ***
Material: Painted on Stamped Copper
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Unknown
Source: California State Automobile Association

Comments: This sign came to the CSAA in a large collection of
vintage road signs. It is the only known sample of this
style and its date was unknown until I remembered the
photo at the right. This clearly dates it as August 1915
and quite possibly is the sign on the right. What makes
it unique is the stamped copper and painted overlay.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1915
Size: ***
Material: Painted on Stamped Copper
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: 1915 PPIE
Source: San Francisco Examiner-August 26, 1915, Page 5

Comments: This is the sign H.C. Osterman and E. J. Philips
show upon arriving at the PPIE August 25, 1915. It was declared
Lincoln Highway Day and a grand and glorious celebration followed
with the special presentation of a Gold PPIE Medal.
Never thought much about it being embossed until I saw the one
on the left. Clearly they are the same style if not the same sign.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1915
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: 1915 End of Lincoln Highway
Source: San Francisco Chronicle-September 15, 1915, Page 9

Comments: On August 26, 1915 Lincoln Highway Officials planted
the American Flag and claimed Lincoln Park as the End of the
Lincoln Highway. Soon there after on September 14, 1915 a
more permanent sign was erected during an elaborate dedication
ceremony in conjunction with the CSAA that featured,
Miss Helen Hughson as the California Lincoln Highway Girl.
Speeches were made, roses were thrown and the sign was erected.
The ceremony was at 2 pm with speeches one minute or 250 words.
A short film of the ceremony is available on the web.
Click Here to View
The Diamond on the top is the CSAA Symbol.
The marker was to be temporary until a more suitable granite
marker could be designed.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1916
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: 1916 End of Lincoln Highway
Source: San Francisco Examiner-June 16, 1916, Page 6

Comments: This picture shows Miss Grace Jarbou linking
The Exposition Trail and the Lincoln Highway.
Notice the sign is different than the one erected less
than a year earlier. The ceremony welded together
San Francisco and San Diego as Exposition Cities.
While several attempts have been made over the years to
erect a Lincoln Statue or other suitable granite marker at
the end of the Lincoln Highway the only one to ever make it past
the talking stage or drawing board was the 3400 Concrete Markers
erected all across the country in 1928 by the Boy Scouts.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1915-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Steel
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 3
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Utah
Source:Lincoln Highway Museum-Jefferson, Iowa
Utah Historical Society-Salt Lake City, Utah

Comments: This original Lincoln Highway Sign was one of several
found in the Barn by David Bush in the mid to late 1990's.
Mr. Bush has since passed away but, lived all his live on Bush's
Ranch in Utah just East of Fisher Pass. His father was involved in
county government and worked on The Lincoln Highway.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Used 1915-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Steel
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Sparton
Original Location: Lincoln Highway
Source: The Horseless Age-September 1, 1915, Page 241

Comments: This photo from shows a Sparton Sign Posting
Car marking the Lincoln Highway. Note the small LH sign
below the "Safety First" sign. It appears from the cutline
they marked the entire Lincoln Highway. The Sparton horn signs
were the precursor to today's modern day road signs.


Lincoln Highway Signs

Date Used: 1915
Size: 15 x 25
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Western States
Source: Private Collection-Oakland, CA

Comments: This Lincoln Highway Control Station is
the only one known. Looks like it might date to 1915
although there are several few differences between it
and the 1915 Western Terminus Marker. There was a Control
Station in every town so a driver could reset the
odometer and check the distance to the next town.


Lincoln Highway Signs

Date Used: 1916
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 14
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Pioneer Trail-Nevada
Source: Private Collection-Carson City, Nevada

Comments: These Lincoln Highway Signs are the same style,
but one has several mounting holes and the other does not.
The Pioneer Trail Signs were discovered near Dayton, Nevada
in the mid-1990's. There were 14 in all...all neatly wrapped
in the original box. It is by far the largest cache of original
Lincoln Highway Signs ever found. They were made in Los Angeles.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1915-1916
Size: 13 x 20
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Calif. Metal Enameling Co.-Los Angeles, CA
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: California State Auto Association
Original Location: Western States
Source: Private Collection-SF Bay Area, CA

Comments: This is the best known example of this style sign.
It was no doubt posted close to or within the city limits
since there are no bullet holes.
The owner traded a US-466 porcelain road shield circa 1949.
US-466 is where actor James Dean was killed.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1916-1917
Size: 24 x 9
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Calif. Metal Enameling Co.-Los Angeles, CA
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: Automobile Club of Southern California
Original Location: Utah
Source: Private Collection-SF Bay Area, CA

Comments: This is the only know example of this style
and no doubt came from the Utah desert.
It was bought years ago from an old car collector in Reno.


Curved Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1916
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Burdick Enamel Sign Company-Chicago, IL
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Somewhere on The Lincoln Highway
Source: Lincoln Highway Museum, Jefferson, Iowa

Comments: This is one of the curved Lincoln Highway Signs
put up around 1916. Not sure how long they were in
use, but there were similar ones used in Crestline, Ohio
in the mid 1920's.


Lincoln Highway Sign

Date Used: 1916-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: 1916 End of Lincoln Highway
Source: Lincoln Highway Road Guide

Comments: This is an Ad for the curved style Lincoln Highway
Signs made by the Burdick Company in Chicago, Illinois.


ACSC-Lincoln Highway Signs

Date Used: 1917-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Automobile Club of Southern California
Original Location: Western States
Source: Carbon County Museum-Rawlins, WY

Comments: These Lincoln Highway Signs were donated and
put up by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
They were used from Salt Lake City to Omaha and
placed by special Sign Crews outfitted by the ACSC.
This is the most I've ever seen in one place.


ACSC-Lincoln Highway Signs

Date Used: 1917-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Automobile Club of Southern California
Original Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Utah Historical Society Salt Lake City, Utah

Comments: Here's one of the ACSC Sign Crews hard at work
near Salt Lake City. This image was taken on July 10, 1918
and is from the Shipler Photo Collection. The Utah Historical
Society is located in the old Rio Grande Railroad Station.


1928 Lincoln Highway Marker

Date Used: 1928-
Size: 7 feet
Material: Concrete Post
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: 3400+
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Bucyrus, Ohio
Source: Public Square-Bucyrus, Ohio

Comments: This 1928 Lincoln Highway Marker was originally
set somewhere in Bucyrus and moved to the Square at a later date.
3400 markers were placed across the Continent by the Boy Scouts
on September 1, 1928 as a Memorial to Abraham Lincoln.
The copper penny was made by Whitehead & Hoag of Newark, NJ.


1928 Lincoln Highway Marker

Date Used: 1928-
Size: 7 feet
Material: Concrete Post
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: 3400+
Quantity Known: Unknown
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Lincoln Park-San Francisco, CA
Source: Private Collection-San Francisco, CA

Comments: This photo shows Eagle Scout Charles Blum
placing the Western Terminus Marker in Lincoln Park
at the End of the Lincoln Highway. While most of the
3400 markers were placed on September 1, 1928 there
is no evidence to indicate when this one was set.


State Line Marker

Date Used: 1917-Present
Size: 22 x 34
Material: Painted Cast Iron
Manufacturer: Lebanon Machine Works-Lebanon, NH
Quantity Made: 11
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: State Line-Utah/Nevada
Source: Utah Historical Society-Salt Lake City, Utah

Comments: This original Lincoln Highway Sign was used on the
Utah/Nevada Border. It is one of many made for this purpose by
the Lebanon Machine Works in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
To my knowledge there are only three left. One in its original
location in Trenton on the border between New Jersey &
Pennsylvania, this one on display at The Utah Historical Society
and one in Cheyenne at the Wyoming Department of Transportation.


State Line Marker

Date Used: 1917-Present
Size: 22 x 34
Material: Painted Cast Iron
Manufacturer: Lebanon Machine Works-Lebanon, NH
Quantity Made: 11
Quantity Known: 3
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: State Lines
Source: Popular Mechanics-September 1917, Page 418

Comments: This is the only published image of the Lebanon
Machine Works-Lincoln Highway State Line Markers
I've ever run across. If I've done my math right
there were only 11 made. While only three are known
to have survived, it is thought the others may have fallen
victim to vandals, thieves or scrap yards over the years.


Lincoln Highway Feeder Sign

Date Used: 1915
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: All Feeder Routes
Source: Popular Mechanics-June, 1915, Page 915

Comments: These Lincoln Highway Feeder Signs were designed
by The Lincoln Highway Association for use on all feeder routes.
One such route was Washington DC to Gettysburg.
This is the only illustration I've ever seen and to my knowledge
there are no surviving examples.


Lincoln Highway Feeder Sign

Date Used: 1915-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Automobile Club of Maryland
Original Location: Washington Feeder
Source: ???-???, 1917, Page ???

Comments: These Lincoln Highway Feeder Signs were designed
by Elmer C. Jenson, Chairman of the Lincoln Highway Committee
of the American Institute of Architects.
These are the first signs to deviate from the standard rectangle,
to my knowledge there is no evidence they were ever used.


Lincoln Highway Feeder Sign

Date Used: 1917-
Size: ***
Material: Enamel on Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: South Side of Chicago
Source: Engineering & Contracting-June 6, 1917, Page 148

Comments: These Lincoln Highway Feeder Signs were designed
by Elmer C. Jenson, Chairman of the Lincoln Highway Committee
of the American Institute of Architects.
These are the first signs to deviate from the standard rectangle,
to my knowledge there is no evidence they were ever used.


Ornamental Lincoln Highway Marker

Date Used: 1915-
Size: 9 feet
Material: Concrete & Granite Chips
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Source: The Horseless Age-July 21, 1915, Page 77

Comments: This photo shows the first ornamental marker
to be placed on the Lincoln Highway in Pittsburgh, PA.
According to Brian Butko's book, The Lincoln Highway-
Pennsylvania Travelers Guide
the City's Art Commission
protested. The Good Roads Committe countered the design
was approved by the LHA and considered the most attractive
in the country. I'm not aware of any other photos of this marker.


Ornamental Lincoln Highway Marker

Date Used: 1915-
Size: ***
Material: Cast Iron
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 0
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Source: The LH-Pennsylvainia Travelers Guide, Page 296-8

Comments: According to Mr. Butko, a contest ensued with nine
entries being submitted including one by renown architect
Frederick Scheiber. This marker was the winner but apparently
was never used. His source, The Carnegie-Mellon Univeristy
Architecture Archives in Pittsburgh.


Lincoln Highway Glad Hand Club

Date Used: 1920's-
Size: ***
Material: Silk Screened Metal
Manufacturer: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Iowa
Source: Tama County Historical Society-Toledo, Iowa

Comments: The Glad Hand Club was formed in Belle Plaine,
Iowa in the mid 20's to serve the Lincoln Highway Tourist.
The signs were secured to a members place of business
and guaranteed travelers satisfaction with every transaction.
This is the only known sign.


Lincoln Highway Glad Hand Club

Date Used: 1920's-
Size: ***
Material: Printed Tri-fold
Publisher: Unknown
Quantity Made: Unknown
Quantity Known: 1
Sponsor: Lincoln Highway Association
Original Location: Iowa
Source: Lyle Henry Collection, Iowa City, Iowa

Comments: This Glad Hand Club brochure was produced in
1926. It includes a mission statement as well as
membership list, map and a short tour guide of Iowa.
Click Here to View the Full Brochure-1.9 Mb
Headquarters was in Belle Plain at the Herring Hotel.

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