Group marks 100 years of Lincoln Highway
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent October 28, 2012 11:34PM
Artist Mitch Markovitz talks about the historical scene he created during the unveiling of a 100th Anniversary poster commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Old Lincoln Highway at the Merrillville-Ross Township Museum Sunday, October 28, 2012, in Merrillville, Ind. | Scott M. Bort~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2012 6:28AM
MERRILLVILE — Long-time resident Laura Yaros-Schilling brought a photo of herself as a young woman walking along a deserted “new” Lincoln Highway as she joined dozens of others Sunday in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the “old” stretch of the coast-to-coast road.
“You’d never see the road like that again,” Schilling said of the now heavily traveled U.S. 30 as it extends through Merrillville.
Schilling was at the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society on 73rd Avenue — also known as the old Lincoln Highway — to witness the unveiling of a poster by Mitch Markovitz, founding artist of the “South Shore Line” series of posters.
The poster, which commemorates the 100th anniversary, was commissioned by the historical society, with support from the Dean & Barbara White Foundation.
“What we wanted to do is build an awareness that the Old Lincoln Highway is here. A lot of people don’t realize that 73rd Avenue is the Old Lincoln Highway,” said Don Kleine, project manager for the poster.
The original Lincoln Highway extends from the Porter County line, through Deep River, Ainsworth and Merrillville to Schererville. The original 1913 route roughly followed what was part of the Great Sauk Trail used by Native Americans and early pioneers, according to the historical society.
Kleine said they wanted the poster to depict the road in its heyday, before the Depression, when it was the main east-west road between Lake and Porter counties.
The poster, titled “Along the Way,” shows a stream of cars traveling near where the historical society (a former elementary school) stands. There are marker signs indicating Gary is 8 miles away and Chicago 37 miles. The Lincoln Highway logo sits in a lower corner.
The posters, which were available for sale and signed by Markovitz, received thumbs up from those attending the unveiling, including several members of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association.
“I love this poster. I bought about six of them. I’ll take some to Kearney (Neb., where a Lincoln Highway Centennial celebration will take place from June 30 to July 5, 2013) and will auction some off,” said Jeff Blair, of Leesburg, who is state director to the national organization.
Jim Bevins, a Mill Creek resident and member of the association, said he liked the fact that the poster depicts the area when the road was in its heyday.
“My daughter lived on 73rd Avenue and she didn’t even know it was the old Lincoln Highway,” Bevins said.
Bevins said this will probably be the first of several events he will be attending to commemorate the historic road, which was once called Main Street Across America and was named in honor of President Abraham Lincoln.
The old Lincoln Highway was dedicated in October 1913. The route was 3,389 miles long.
“Next year there will be a lot more events like this,” Bevins said.
The Winamac Old Auto Club & The Early Ford V-8 Club were also at Sunday’s event with some older cars.
In conjunction with the anniversary celebration, the town of Merrillville has marked the original 1913 route with new signs along 73rd from the Deep River Mill to Hendricks Street.