RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Lincoln Highway Companion: A Guide to America's First Coast-to-Coast Road, by Brian Butko

I've read Brain Butko's classic Greetings From The Lincoln Highway: America's First Coast-to Coast Road cover-to-cover several times in the last three years. Tracing the route of this first transcontinental highway remains one of my fondest road trip dreams. I've given copies of the hardback book to many fellow road trip enthusiasts, and I know of a few copies that have been enjoyed so much that the binding is falling apart.

Because hardback books don't make very good traveling companions, it was wonderful to learn about Butko's new companion piece to the original volume. The Lincoln Highway Companion: A Guide to America's First Coast-to-Coast Road is a perfect size and format for riding shotgun on road trips. With 190 pages packed with color photographs and detailed maps, road trip aficionados can easily follow this historic highway.

Actually, the Lincoln Highway is not a single road, but rather a chain of routes that link San Francisco and New York City. Butko's original book starts in New York City and works its way west. The new book starts in San Francisco and heads east. Since I'm closer to the west coast than the east, I now have even less of an excuse than before for not grabbing this excellent book and following those sections of the Lincoln Highway that are within a few hours of my house.

A particularly engaging feature of this new book is that the author has used commentary from fellow highway enthusiasts to describe attractions, motels, diners, etc. Reading the book is like sitting in at a "round-table" and listening to people share their favorite discoveries. The technique also allowed the author to include recent updates. I was amazed at how many new places have cropped up along this century-old highway in the last few years. Phone numbers and Web site addresses are listed, making it easy to make a reservation at a historic motel or to find a unique diner while on the road.

For most sections of the Highway, the author has created excellent lists of "must-see spots." Who could pass up a stop at Boot Hill cemetery in Ogalla, Nebraska or the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana? And when you reach Lisbon, Ohio, you'll know you should sample a deep-fried cheese ball at the Steel Trolley Diner. Even if you aren't planning a real-life road trip, this book is great fun to "random page."

One interesting feature of the Lincoln Highway is that it was never entirely paved. Some sections are still dirt roads, and some stretches in the east have brick surfaces. Few locals, however, are familiar with the highway and its interesting history. That relative obscurity makes this wonderful new book an essential tool for anyone interested in discovering the Lincoln Highway, whether by armchair, on short excursions, or on an extended coast-to-coast exploration. I recommend it highly.

Mark Sedenquist

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