America's Scenic Byways

Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway

241.4 miles - It only takes six hours to drive the byway, but to discover the secrets of the byway, plan on spending two or three days on your trip.

The Lincoln Highway in Ohio combines history that predates Ohio's statehood with how America changed and grew with the advent of automobile travel from 1913 onward. Many of the original signs, monuments, and painted telephone poles that initially marked the route can still be seen today. The inevitable re-alignments of the Lincoln Highway were needed to allow for smoother, faster, and safer roads, mainly after the 1928 route was marked by the Lincoln Highway Association. Some places exhibit several generations of alignments within yards of each other, containing surfaces like brick, stone, or macadam along with varying roadbed widths. Today US Route 30 bypasses many Lincoln Highway towns, but if the traveler sticks to the now-designated county or township roads and city streets, he or she will see early auto-era remnants like remodeled motor hotels, restaurants, gas stations, theaters, and drive-ins.

Traveling west from East Liverpool reveals an old town that holds the survey marker for the entire Seven Ranges of the Northwest Territory. The ceramics industry was also founded here. Eastern Ohio takes you through the Appalachian foothills, small towns, and sections of the earliest brick paving of the original highway. During the 1840s, Hanoverton and Kensington once hosted the Sandy and Beaver Canal with barges of goods towed at mule speed. Hanoverton also has a breathtaking, 1840s' housing development much like those in Georgetown or Williamsburg. Canton is the largest city on the Ohio route, where many Lincoln-named businesses can be found with architectural leftovers of the highway's peak years.

Traveling west through Dalton to Wooster, the countryside changes to rolling pastures. Wooster exemplifies the Lincoln Highway's best-known slogan, "Main Street Across America," with its tree-lined streets, magnificent courthouse, and historic business district.

Several alignments occur from Wooster to Mansfield, involving several towns and scenic vistas. West of Mansfield the road parallels the Pennsylvania Railroad and allows a traveler to see vast, large-format farms and several grain harvest "elevator" towns that grew with the railroads and thrived beside the Lincoln Highway. Unlike larger cities that were forced to raze historic buildings for growth, these towns still claim grand churches, schools, and homes that reflect the boom times of the Lincoln Highway.

Upper Sandusky has a brick section of original highway. It was also the site of the last Wyandotte Indian reservation before the American Indians were pushed west to Kansas in 1843, opening all of western Ohio to white settlement. Other cities boast different features. In Lima there is more train history, Delphos was a key town of another successful canal of the earlier 19th century, and Van Wert has a grand courthouse and the first Ohio county library.

Approaching the Indiana state line, you will have completed an experience of Ohio history from the opening of the Ohio frontier through the building of World War II tanks (in Lima). You will have seen several remnants of earlier transportation systems including canals and railroads, and you will have experienced the very road that ushered in the automobile age. Along the way, you can stop at numerous museums and interpretive signs and experience the same scenic vistas enjoyed by travelers 90 years ago. This road hides secrets waiting for you to discover in antique shops, museum display cases, and libraries - mysteries about the history of the road that changed America.