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Miles of Memory



Much fanfare has been given to Route 66, the “Mother Road” that spreads from Illinois to California. However, the Lincoln Highway, which could be called the ‘Grandmother Road,” was first conceived in 1913 as the first transcontinental highway, and stretched from NYC to San Francisco. The Lincoln Highway Assn. (LHA) began the 14-month process of constructing the highway with a series of four “seedling miles” – mile-long, 10-ft.-wide roads paved with concrete to convince the public such construction was preferable to dirt and gravel. One such seedling mile was “planted” in Malta, IL in October, 1914.

To pay tribute to the historical event, ShawCraft Signs’ (Machesney Park, IL) Jay Allen designed and – with a little help from his friends – painted a mural on the Malta Historical Society’s Old Town Hall. It depicts photos of workmen using the era s rudimentary tools and ample elbow grease to lay out the experimental patch of paved road.

According to historical accounts, federal highway officials were initially resistant to paved roads, so a combination of local government and private enterprise helped the LHA develop the highway.

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