Driving the Lincoln Highway
VALPARAISO — Sally and Owen Clarke started their journey westward from New York City on the Lincoln Highway in a 1953 Lincoln Capri convertible.
After mechanical trouble struck the car on the first day, they returned to their home in Staatsburg, N.Y., for their Lincoln Continental and headed out once again, catching up with a group traveling the old highway in Gettysburg.
“Our car is now 60 years newer than the car we started with,” Sally said, adding they wanted to drive the classic Lincoln on the Lincoln Highway.
Still, they joined more than 70 cars and about 100 people in the journey to Kearney, Neb., where they will meet up with a group traveling the Lincoln Highway eastward from San Francisco to commemorate the highway’s 100th anniversary.
Thursday morning, many of the travelers stopped by Phil Doolittle’s house on Old Indiana 2, along a section of the old highway, for Indiana-shaped cookies with blue-icing Ls on them, soft drinks, and a photo op under an old railway bridge. Many also wore Lincoln Highway T-shirts.
The Clarkes had with them a torch with a Lincoln car emblem and a yellow felt flame. They’ll pass it on to folks heading back west from Kearney so the torch can make the full journey, and have it mailed back to them before they ship it to the Lincoln car museum in Michigan.
The stop at Doolittle’s, complete with signs that read, “For faces that go places — Burma Shave,” was an impromptu one along the journey. It drew folks with license from Florida to Ontario, Canada, and many points in between.
Barbara Leiber and Barry McCue drove from Joliet to New Jersey to meet up with the caravan. McCue said they went to see his daughter and son in Washington, D.C., earlier this year and followed parts of U.S. 30 — a remnant of the Lincoln Highway — and wanted to do the tour.
“We decided this would be a fun thing to do, and it turned out to be a really fun thing to do,” he said.
The drivers left New York City on Saturday morning and will arrive in Kearney on Sunday, when they’ll meet up with the eastward crowd. Activities in Kearney include a parade, car show and other festivities.
Janet and Joseph Ciganik, of Levittown, Pa., drove a 1969 Buick convertible for the journey. They plan on stopping more on their way back home after they hit Kearney.
When the two did the trip coast to coast on their own, they were interested in not only the highway, but also the things along the way, Joseph said, while the anniversary journey is focused on the highway.
“There’s so much to see,” Janet said, while she and Joseph chatted with Ann Reifsnyder, who’s from outside Canton, Ohio.
Reifsnyder and her husband, Donald, made the trip in a Corvette. She said he’d like to continue westward after the stop in Kearney.
“He’d like to go all the way to San Francisco,” she said. “We’ll see.”