The Lincoln Highway
Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson
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Buy *The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate* by Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson online

The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate
Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson, ed.
W.W. Norton
293 pages
July 2007
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Extending from Times Square to the Golden Gate, the Lincoln Highway is the stuff of legend, genuine Americana, although this once great highway has of late succumbed to the greed of progress, some of the more colorful places along the way no longer as accessible as in the highway’s heyday.

Since the 1980s, enthusiastic travelers have crossed from the East Coast to the West, enjoying the many faces of a country with a diverse population, the culture exploding in neon signs, billboards advertising gas, food, lodging and the eccentric motels that dot the urban landscape.

This fascinating coffee-table book provides a nostalgic journey down memory lane, the easy freedom of “motoring” with the family on a leisure vacation. Unfortunately, today’s vehicles are driven by expedience and a rapidly rising cost of fuel, robbing families of a unique and picturesque adventure. Speed and convenience have replaced such family excursions, a devastating cultural loss for those of us who relished the many faces of our country from one coast to the other.

Nevertheless, there are still many who remember and value the text and images provided in this book. The chapters address a parade of states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California, from east to west a staggering panorama of roadside attractions, a great scavenger hunt for the bizarre Americana of which we are so proud.

With a reluctance to deny the eclectic images of a memorable America where individualism triumphs over corporate blandness, unable to release the quirky icons of our history, the ever-changing city landscapes retain relics of the past, signs and buildings that refuse to be relegated to obscurity.

Peopled by the folks who fought world wars and settled in unfamiliar places, their tales reflect a respect for hard work and the joy of accomplishment. Illinois boasts the Abe Lincoln Motel and the historical road alignment of the Lincoln Highway and Route 66; Nebraska has a chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association.

Although Interstate 80 has made devastating inroads on the once-booming commerce along the (imaginary) border between Nebraska and Wyoming, the history is there for those with the inclination to bypass the Interstate for the Highway towns. Entering the Pacific Time Zone, Nevada is rife with iconography, the giant figure of Wendover Will in West Wendover, accoutrements of hardscrabble miners dotting the state all the way to Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World.”

Perusing The Lincoln Highway, I escape the present for a brief time, traveling along Lincoln Highway from the East Coast to the West, thrilled to rediscover the intimate face of this proud country, a great journey through the not-so-recent past.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2007

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