Lincoln & Dixie Highways

Lincoln & Dixie HighwaysLincoln & Dixie Highways

 

Location: Southwest corner of Michigan and Washington Streets, South Bend, IN 46601 (St. Joseph County, Indiana)

 

Installed 2010 Indiana Historical Bureau, GFWC/IFC Progress Club of South Bend, and Indiana Lincoln Highway Association

ID#: 71.2010.1

Text

Lincoln Highway Association, formed 1913, promoted and procured a route from New York to California.i Dixie Highway Association, formed 1915, worked similarly for Canada to Florida routes.ii Highways intersected hereiii and demonstrated the success of private organizations, individuals, and local governments iv in advancing goals of the Good Roads Movement.v

In 1880s, popularity of the bicycle increased public demand for improvement of roads, still built and maintained by local governments and residents. vi Transportation of agricultural products,vii free federal rural mail delivery,viii and mass production of automobiles increased demand for concrete roads;ix resulted in state and federal highway programs by 1920s. x

Annotations

[i] On September 10, 1911, Carl Fisher, Indianapolis businessman, presented his idea for promoting and funding a coast to coast highway at a meeting of automobile manufacturers and dealers in Indianapolis "Carl Fisher Plans Continental Road," South Bend Tribune, September 11, 1912, p. 2; "Organize to Build Nation-Wide Road," Indianapolis News, September 11, 1912.

The idea of a transcontinental highway had been proposed before, but Fisher brought the concept to a group with interests in the industry. These leading businessmen of the automobile industries organized the Lincoln Highway Association, which was incorporated by July 1, 1913, with headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, for the purpose of promoting and procuring "the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific." The Lincoln Highway ran from New York to San Francisco. The original route through Indiana passed through Fort Wayne, Elkhart, South Bend, LaPorte, and Valparaiso. (See footnote 3 for maps). "Automobile Club Plans Vast Roads," New York Times, April 3, 1900, (accessed 12/11/2009 through nytimes.com); "Lincoln Highway Now Incorporated," South Bend Tribune, July 8, 1913, p. 4; "Proclamation of the Route of the Lincoln Highway," reprinted in "Lincoln Highway to Cross 13 States," South Bend Tribune, September 13, 1913, p. 2; "Lincoln Highway Route Announced," New York Times, September 14, 1913, p. C6.

Rather than constructing one continuous new highway, the association selected existing roads to promote to the public as one continuous route. A. S. Blakely, "Indianapolis Not on Lincoln Way," Indianapolis Star, September 14, 1913, p. 16;

The Lincoln Highway Association also organized improvements called "seedling miles" and "ideal sections" to serve as examples to and encourage citizens in surrounding areas to mobilize for further improvements. One example of this is the "Ideal Section" in Lake County, Indiana. William Herschell, "Indiana Site Chosen for 'The Ideal Section' of the Lincoln Way," Indianapolis News, February 11, 1922, p. 17. See Indiana Historical marker "The Lincoln Highway/The Ideal Section," Indiana Historical Bureau website http://www.in.gov/history/markers/181.htm.

For further reading on the Lincoln Highway, see: The Lincoln Highway Association, The Lincoln Highway: The Story of a Crusade that Made Transportation History, (New York, 1935); Drake Hokanson,The Lincoln Highway: Mainstreet Across America (Iowa City, 1988); Kevin J. Patrick, "Significance of the Lincoln Highway," The Lincoln Highway Resource Guide, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Geography and Regional Planning Department, www.chss.iup.edu/kpatrick/Lincoln (accessed September 24, 2009); Richard F. Weingroff, "The Lincoln Highway," U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway History, www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/lincoln.cfm (accessed September 3, 2009); James Lin, Lincoln Highway Association, "History of the Lincoln Highway," lincolnhighway.jameslin.name/history/part1.html (accessed August 28, 2009). For further information on Carl Fisher see Jane Fisher, Fabulous Hoosier: A Story of American Achievement, (New York: 1947); Mark S. Foster, Castles in the Sand: The Life and Times of Carl Graham Fisher, (Gainesville, FL: 2000).

[ii] In 1914, Carl Fisher and H. L. Gilbreath, secretary of the Hoosier Motor Club, began discussing an Indiana to Florida highway organization modeled after the Lincoln Highway Association. In December 1914, Indiana Governor Samuel Ralston proposed a meeting to organize a north-south highway initiative. Unlike the Lincoln Highway Association, locating the various routes of the Dixie Highway was controlled by the governors of the states involved. Letter, Samuel M. Ralston to governors of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, December 11, 1914, reprinted "Governor Ralston to Promote New Highway," Indianapolis News, December 12, 1914, p. 18; "New Dixie Highway in State Control," Special to theNew York Times, April 4, 1915, p. 10 (accessed September 22, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers); "Fights for Dixie Highway," New York Times, April 10, 1915, p. 16 (accessed September 22, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers); William Herschel, "Dixie Highway, Born in Indianapolis. Assumes International Scope, A New Canadian Link Extending from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto," Indianapolis News, September 27, 1919, p. 15.

Before the Dixie Highway Association was organized, Indiana newspapers referred to a proposed route from Indianapolis to South Bend as a "feeder route" to the Lincoln Highway. As early as October 1914, improvements were already being made to these "feeder" routes. As with the Lincoln Highway, the roads that became Dixie Highway already existed, but the routes again had to be improved and promoted to the public. W.H. Blodgett, "Seek Place on Map of the Lincoln Highway," Indianapolis News, August 24, 1914, p. 14; W.H. Blodgett, "Dissention at Kokomo Over Lincoln Highway," Indianapolis News, August 24, 1914, p. 7; "Counties Between Indianapolis and South Bend to be Scene of Great Activity, October 27, as Citizens work on Link to Lincoln Highway," Indianapolis News, October 24, 1914, p. 13; "Once More a 'Made-in-Indiana' Idea Looms as a National Benefit, This Time as the Promoter of the Hoosierdom-to-Dixie," Indianapolis News, March 27, 1915, p. 15; W. M. Herschell, "10,000 Boosters urge Dixie Highway," Indianapolis News, April 3, 1915, p. 1; W. M. Herschell, "Commission to Select Dixie Highway Route," Indianapolis News, April 5, 1915 p. 7; "Enthusiasm Grows for Dixie Highway," Indianapolis News," May 20, 1915, p. 17; Officers of Dixie Highway Association elected and campaign is launched. "Plan 'Dixie' Highway," New York Times, July 25, 1915, p. X7 (accessed September 18, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

The Dixie Highway Association was officially organized and incorporated on April 3, 1915 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. On May 22, 1915, the Board of Directors responsible for mapping the Dixie Highway designated a winding route that had two and sometimes three parallel north-south roads joined by a ladder-like series of east-west connecting roads. (See footnote 3 for map). W.H. Herschell, "10,000 Boosters Urge Dixie Highway," Indianapolis News, April 3, 1915, p. 1; "Pick Two Routes for Dixie Highway," Indianapolis News, May 22, 1915, p. 1.

By 1919 the Dixie Highway Association began planning to continue the road into Canada, creating an international highway. William Herschel, "Dixie Highway, Born in Indianapolis. Assumes International Scope, A New Canadian Link Extending from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto,"Indianapolis News, September 27, 1919, p. 15; Pam S. Ecker, "The Historic Context of the Dixie Highway," www.us-highways.com (accessed August 28, 2009), 3.

For further information on the Dixie Highway see: Dixie Highway Association of North Georgia, "History of the Dixie Highway," www.dixiehighway.org (accessed August 28, 2009); Claudette Stager and Martha Carver, eds., Looking Beyond the Highway: Dixie Roads and Culture, (Knoxville, 2000), [1]-1; Tammy Leigh Ingram, "Dixie Highway: Private Enterprise and State Building in the South, 1900-1930" (Yale dissertation, 2007); T. Zimmerman, U.S. Highways from US 1 to (US 830), www.us-highways.com (accessed August 31, 2009) (valuable articles from this sources include: "Past, Present, and Future of the Dixie Highway," "The Historic Context of the Dixie Highway," and "Whatever Happened to the Dixie Highway?").

[iii] The Highways intersect in South Bend where they are marked locally as Lincoln Way for the Lincoln Highway and Michigan Street for the Dixie Highway. As Lincoln Way intersects the grid of streets in downtown South Bend, a motorist today could turn onto Michigan (Dixie) at E. Washington Street. Thus, the location of the marker is the corner of Michigan and Washington Streets.Sanborn Insurance Maps of South Bend, Indiana, Volume One (New York: 1917), section 30; "South Bend - Mishawaka Attractions," Indiana: A New Historical Guide (Indianapolis: 1989), 530. (Map likely created as WPA project and published in 1941, revised 1978: see introduction p. vii.)

The Lincoln route was announced September 13, 1913. "Lincoln Highway Route Announced," New York Times, September 14, 1913, p. C6. For a map of the complete Lincoln Highway route, including a later (1928) shift in the route that avoided South Bend) see "Lincoln Highway State Maps," Lincoln Highway Association website, www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/maps (accessed October 12, 2010).

The Dixie Route was announced May 22, 1915. "Pick Two Routes for Dixie Highway," Indianapolis News, May 22, 1915, p. 1. For a map of the complete Dixie Highway see Dixie Highway Association, "Outline of the Dixie Highway," 1923 (accessed October 12, 2010 through www.us-highways.com/tzimm/dhmap23.htm).

[iv] Businesses, businessmen, local and state automobile clubs, and individuals made up the memberships of the Lincoln Highway Association and the Dixie Highway Association. Motor clubs like the South Bend Motor Club and the Kosciusko Highway Association were organized to promote good roads, especially the Lincoln and Dixie highways. The funds for improvements were contributed by private companies and public subscriptions as well as city, state, and federal governments."Motor Club will Submit Road Bill," South Bend Tribune, July 10, 1915, p. 16; "Many Want Good Roads," South Bend Tribune, August 7, 1915, p. 6; "Counties Between Indianapolis and South Bend to be Scene of Great Activity, October 27, as Citizens work on Link to Lincoln Highway," Indianapolis News, October 24, 1914, p. 13; Elkhart County commissioners awarded contract to improve the Lincoln Highway leading into Elkhart with concrete. South Bend Tribune, August 4, 1915; St. Joseph County residents in township where ½ mile concrete road constructed, voted to issue bonds to pay for improvement. "Permanent Highway Will Solve Road Problem," South Bend Tribune, August 14, 1915, p. 11; New York Times, April 5, 1914, November 7, 1915, December 3, 1916, August 6, 1922, February 7, 1926 at ProQuest Historical Newspapers (accessed September 22, 2009); The Lincoln Highway The Story of A Crusade That Made Transportation History (Lincoln Highway Association, 1935), 271-76 accessible online at Archives.org (B087066).

 

[v] The Good Roads Movement began in the late nineteenth century, when Americans began to "put great value on individual mobility" and urban dwellers sought getaways in the country first by bicycle and then automobile, technologies which had improved and made greater mobility possible. Roads, however, remained unimproved. Peter J. Hugill, "Good Roads and the Automobile in the United States 1880-1929," Geographical Review, 71 (July 1982): 328.

Indiana and national newspapers reported that the building of the Lincoln and the Dixie highways gave impetus to the Good Roads Movement and extolled the importance of these highways to the state and nation. "Lincoln Highway Now Incorporated," South Bend Tribune, July 8, 1913, p. 4. "Permanent Highway will solve Road Problem," South Bend Tribune, August 14, 1915, p.11; Indianapolis News, April 5, 1915, p. 7; "Austin F. Bement, " Lincoln Highway Progress Rapid During Second Year," New York Times, November 7, 1915, (accessed September 22, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers); Indianapolis News, January 5, 1918, p. 18; "Big Road Improvements," New York Times, January 13, 1918, p. XX2 (accessed September 22, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

For further information on the relationship of the Lincoln and Dixie Highways to the Good Roads Movement, see: William Kaszynski,The American Highway: The History of Roads and Culture in the United States (Jefferson, North Carolina, 2000), 38, 42; Clifton Phillips, Indiana in Transition: The Emergence of an Industrial Commonwealth, 1880-1920 (Indianapolis, 1968) 264-5 (B087017); Ecker, Pam S., "The Historic Context of the Dixie Highway," U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830) (accessed August 31, 2009 through www.us-highways.com) (B087028); Fisher to Ralston, December 4, 1914, Ralston Papers, reprinted in Suellen M. Hoy, "Governor Samuel M. Ralston and Indiana's Centennial Celebration," Indiana Magazine of History, 71 (September 1975): 263.

At least one secondary source claims that the Dixie was not successful in Indiana: Suzanne Fischer, "The Best Road South: The Failure of the Dixie Highway in Indiana," Looking Beyond the Highway: Dixie Roads and Culture, (Knoxville, 2000), 1-15.

 

[vi] Bicycle enthusiasts organized the League of American Wheelmen in 1880, reaching over a million members by 1897; a main priority was promoting better roads. By 1904 there were 2.14 million miles of roads, but 1.9 million miles were dirt roads. Thus, bicycle organizations and automobile touring clubs lobbied for the construction of new and improved roads. By the 1880s, Indiana road supervision was controlled by local governmental entities. Construction and improvement was financed by taxing nearby property owners. Road repair and maintenance was performed by local able-bodied men who were required to work on the roads for two to four days per year. "A Marvel of Ingenuity," The Indiana Historian, (December 1996), p. 12 (accessed October 14, 2010 through www.in.gov/history/files/bicycles.pdf); William Kaszynski, The American Highway: The History and Culture of Roads in the United States, (Jefferson, North Carolina: 2000), 21, 27, 30; Clifton J. Phillips, Indiana in Transition: The Emergence of an Industrial Commonwealth, 1880-1920 (Indianapolis: 1968), 260-270.

In 1912, the South Bend Tribune reported that Indiana roads were mostly bad, hindering and isolating rural residents and farmers. A 1914 South Bend Tribune article explained that the State of Indiana took no responsibility for its roads and noted that the question of a state highway department was hotly debated. W.H. Blodgett, "Indiana's Bad Road System," South Bend Tribune, September 9, 1912, p. 6; "Promote Campaign for Better Roads," South Bend Tribune; October 22, 1914, p. 9.

[vii] Farmers sometimes stood against road improvements for fear of higher taxes. However, farmers' organizations whose motivation was getting products from rural farms to urban markets were involved in lobbying for new roads. "Road Improvement is Gaining Ground," South Bend Tribune, June 26, 1915, p. 17. "Motor Club Will Submit Road Bill," South Bend Tribune, July 10, 1915, p. 16; "A New Road Saves Five Cents a Bushel on Wheat," Indiana Farmer Guide, March 23, 1918, p. 5 (accessed September 19, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers); Phillips, 263.

[viii] In 1902, free mail delivery was permanently established by the federal government for rural citizens as part of "a national effort to reduce rural isolation." The earliest rural free delivery route in Indiana was in Bartholomew County in 1896. U.S. Postal Service, "Rural Free Delivery," at www.usps.com/postalhistory/ (accessed February 18, 2010; Phillips, 141; "Government Use of the New Dixie Highway for Farm Parcel Service Also Discloses this North-and-South Road To Be a Military Asset," Indianapolis News, January 5, 1918. Quote is from Peter J. Hugill, "Good Roads and the Automobile in the United States 1880-1929," Geographical Review, 71 (July 1982): 327-349; "Road Improvement in Gaining Ground," South Bend Tribune, June 26, 1915, p. 17; "Motor Club Will Submit Road Bill," South Bend Tribune, July 10, 1915, p. 16; "Good Roads for All," Indiana Farmer Guide, March 23, 1918, p. 24 (accessed September 19, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers); "A New Road Saves Five Cents a Bushel on Wheat," Indiana Farmer Guide, March 23, 1918, p. 5 (accessed September 19, 2009 through ProQuest Historical Newspapers); Ecker, "The Historic Context of the Dixie Highway," www.us-highways.com (B087028); Wayne E. Fuller, "Good Roads and Rural Free Delivery of Mail," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 42, No. 1 (June 1955) 67-83; Jean Labatut and Wheaton J. Lane, eds., Highways in Our National Life, (Princeton, NJ: 1950); Foster, 97.

[ix] After Henry Ford introduced the 1909 Model T Ford, mass production of the automobile increased so that by 1913, there were close to 7000 Ford dealers throughout the country. In Indiana, automobile registrations grew from 96,915 in 1915 to 333,067 in 1920. Hugill, 336-37; Phillips, 266.

August 10, 1915, a one-half mile concrete roadway was opened to public traffic in St. Joseph County, and "marked the real beginning of permanent road building in northern Indiana." "Permanent Highway Will Solve Road Problem," South Bend Tribune, August 14, 1915, p. 11.

[x] U.S. Congress passed a law in 1916 to distribute $75,000,000 to states for improvement of rural roads. Indiana established a state highway commission in 1917 to receive and allocate these federal funds. Phillips, 266-70.

In Indiana, Governor Samuel Ralston's efforts, and the pride generated by the celebration of the centennial of statehood, were two reasons that Hoosiers got behind the good roads movement. Newspapers were also influential in their descriptions of negative affects of bad roads, such as high costs of transporting goods for farmers and the problems of rural isolation, and in their descriptions of the positive effects of good roads, such as their ability to increase tourism. Suellen M. Hoy, "Governor Samuel M. Ralston and Indiana's Centennial Celebration," Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 71, No. 3 (September 1975) 245-266; "Indiana's Bad Road System," South Bend Tribune, September 9, 1912, p. 6; "Promote Campaign for Better Roads," South Bend Tribune; October 22, 1914, p. 9; "Road Improvement is Gaining Ground," South Bend Tribune, June 26, 1915, p. 17; "Long Distance Touring 600 Per Cent Greater," South Bend Tribune, June 26, 1915, p. 18.

In 1920, the Indianapolis News announced that the State of Indiana would be taking control of designated highways. In 1925, the New York Times reported that the Joint Board on Interstate Highways decided to "designate as United States highways the through thoroughfares to be marked as interstate routes." In that year, a uniform numbering system began to be developed for Federal Highways; Lincoln became U.S. 1, 30N, 30S, 530, 40 and 50; Dixie became many different numbers (since it wound north, south, east and west) including U.S. 41, 25, 27 and 75. "The Highway System," Indianapolis News, April 6, 1920, p. 6; "Uniform Motor Road Marking for Main National Highways," New York Times, May 3, 1925, p. XX16; Kaszynski, 58-62; Richard F. Weingroff, "The Lincoln Highway," from U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway History (accessed September 3, 2009 through www.fhwas.dot.gov/infrastructure/lincoln.cfm); "Whatever Happened to the Dixie Highway?" U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830) (accessed August 31, 2009 through http://www.us-highways.com/dixiehwy.htm); Pam S. Ecker. "Historic Context of the Dixie Highway," U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830) (accessed August 28, 2009 through http://www.us-highways.com/tzimm/ecker.htm); James Lin, "The End of Named Highways," The Lincoln Highway (accessed August 28, 2009 through http://lincolnhighway.jameslin.name/history/part4.html).