The National Lincoln Highway Association held its annual conference on June22-26, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. LHA members and car enthusiasts from across the nation came together to share their love of automobiles and the Lincoln Highway.
The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental road and it begins in Times Square in New York City and ends in San Francisco. The Lincoln Highway began as an idea of Carl Fisher, an entrepreneur and founder of the Indianapolis Speedway, and Henry B. Joy, the president of the Packard Car Company. It travels through 13 states and in Iowa, 13 counties.
The Lincoln Highway Association was formed and helped promote paving the road, marking the route with concrete markers (installed by the Boy Scouts of America) and asking for a highway number after the numbering system was created. As the LHA felt their work was done, they disbanded. All Lincoln Highway documents were sent to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, near the home of the automobile in Detroit.
In 1992, a hand full of people resurrected the organization in Jefferson, Iowa. They began to draw attention to the importance of the highway in the transportation story and encouraged preservation of bridges and iconic structures along the route. The group elected officers, gained members in other states, and began holding a yearly conference to exchange ideas and learn more about the history. This year’s conference included seeing the LHA archives in the Hatcher Library and the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. Usually the conference is held in a community along the Highway. Ann Arbor is not on the route, but it does house the Highway’s archives due to its relationship with the auto industry and proximity to Detroit.
Other tours included going to the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, downtown Detroit, LHA related sites, and the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum.
On Thursday, Robert Casey gave a talk on “Three Men, Twelve Cylinders, and 2800 Miles on the Lincoln Highway” about the Henry B. Joy 1915 trip across American on the Lincoln Highway. Brad Fuller, great grandson of Henry B. Joy, talked about his plans for a Henry Joy documentary and Steven Sanford spoke about “Albert Kahn- Henry Ford’s Architect and Detroit’s Architect”. Victoria Mobley, Lynn Anderson, and Elaine Verneersch gave an entertaining look at “Fashion and the Automobile”.
After a business meeting on Friday, the conference was adjourned and the group travelled to the Packard Proving Grounds. Saturday morning, the annual Henry B. Joy Auto Tour followed a feeder route to the Lincoln Highway. Many old cars and newer cars made the Tour journey. The Joy Auto Tour had about 65 cars and over 100 people that travelled on the Lincoln Highway all the way to San Francisco, arriving during the second week in July. They stopped along the way to see museums, bridges, and other attractions.
Next year, the Lincoln Highway Conference will be in Gettysburg, PA. In 2017, the Association celebrates its 25th year of reorganization. Denison, Iowa will be the host. Watch the Iowa LHA and National LHA websites for more information. The conference is open to auto and transportation enthusiasts as well as LHA members. We hope to see you there!