The Lincoln was the first US transcontinental highway. It crossed the USA from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, CA. It crossed 14 states and led eventually to the Interstate Highway System that got under way during the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950s. This well-used route eventually paved the way for the development of a national highway network and brought great prosperity to the towns along its route. It got started officially in 1913 and developed into a route that covered 3,389 miles. An association developed to administer and guide it. One of the more difficult stretches was in western Utah where it entered Nevada near the settlement known as Wendover. It crossed miles of salt desert near here that was often under water. Alternatives were offered, but the association guiding the project ceased activity in 1927, and the highway became more of a memorial to Abraham Lincoln. Concrete markers accompanied busts of the 16th President along with inscriptions about him for the entire route.
Nothing came along to further advance a national highway system, but several popular travel routes developed until the Interstate Highway System became a national reality. People became hungry for travel beyond their native environs.
Perhaps the 2 biggest national routes that followed the Lincoln Highway were Route 66 and the Great River Road. Route 66 took travelers from Chicago to LA, and towns and cities like Tucumcari, NM and Oklahoma City, OK thrived. The Great River Road followed the Mississippi River south from its source at Lake Itasca State Park about 20 miles from Park Rapids, MN to appropriately named Venice, LA where the Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico. It was more than 2,000 miles long and crossed through 10 states.
A popular West Coast road trip also developed. It began in San Diego and took travelers to Seattle, WA via Astoria and Portland, OR. Its most perfect stretch took sightseers along the California Coast on Highway One.
A hugely popular north-south route developed. US Highway 93 carried vacationers from Nogales, AZ and the city with that same name in Mexico all the way north to Jasper National Park in Canada. The lucky travelers who took this drive got to see The Sonoran Desert and Lake Louise on their rugged and wild excursion. They also got to see Cranbrook in Alberta, Missoula, MT, Twin Falls, ID, Jackpot, Ely, the new cities of Las Vegas and Boulder, NV, and Phoenix and Kingman, AZ.
The Appalachian Trail attracted hikers and the Loneliest Road in America was identified in Nevada. One of my favorites was old US 80. This decidedly southern route took people from Savannah, GA to San Diego, CA on a circuitous route that often left Highway 80 but let them see Columbus, GA, Montgomery, AL, Jackson, MI, Shreveport, LA, Dallas, TX, and Tucson, AZ. It became known as the Southern Pacific. Another lesser known route before Interstates followed The Oregon Trail. It began in Cape Cod, MA and exposed travelers to Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and the delights of Portland, OR. It basically followed old US Route 20 for more than 3,300 miles.