Tune up the Tin Lizzie. Hot wire the Herreshoff. Dust the Stutz.
If you own a 1913 automobile, the Nebraska State Historical Society is cranking up plans for owners of vintage cars to participate in a special celebration of the Lincoln Highway in western Douglas County later this month.
The event will mark the 100th anniversary of the first transcontinental highway.
“We're calling all cars — 1913 models, that is,” said Bob Puschendorf, deputy state historic preservation officer. “The cars need to be 1913 models, the year the Lincoln Highway was founded.”
The free, public celebration is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 29, on a brick section of the old highway that runs south of Blondo Street between 180th and 192nd Streets east of the former town of Elkhorn. The society's 500th highway historical marker will also be unveiled.
Drake Hokanson of La Crosse, Wis., a highway historian, will speak about the roadway's significance.
Before 1913, travel by car was an adventure and a challenge, Puschendorf said. Most of the nation's roads were farm-to-market trails of dirt that turned to a gumbo of slippery, thick, tire-grabbing mud when it rained or snow melted.
Few roads were graded or layered with gravel.
The Lincoln Highway was the first coast-to-coast road made for driving.
The 3,389-mile highway was a collection of concrete, brick, gravel and dirt. It crossed all or parts of 13 states in linking New York and San Francisco.
Red, white and blue stripes on trees, fence posts and barns guided motorists. Later, signs with the letter “L” were posted to mark the route.
From Omaha, the highway angled northwest to Fremont, where it generally followed the Union Pacific tracks westward to Cheyenne, Wyo.
Ironically, the Lincoln Highway — named for President Abraham Lincoln — didn't pass through Lincoln, Nebraska's state capital.
The Nebraska route later dropped Omaha in favor of Blair as engineers trimmed hundreds of miles from the highway by cutting corners and straightening roads.
The section of the old highway near Elkhorn used brick in its construction when improved in 1920.
The Omaha-area event precedes a June 30-July 1 national Lincoln Highway centennial celebration in Kearney, Neb.
About 140 vintage vehicles from more than two dozen states and Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Norway and Russia plan to embark June 22 from both coasts to arrive in Kearney for the anniversary. Activities, including a parade of cars, are planned downtown and at the Great Platte River Road Archway.
Car owners interested in bringing their 1913 vehicles to the Omaha-area event should register soon with Jackie Sojico at the historical society. Call 402-471-4417 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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