We know it today as Route 27. But at one time, the road that runs through the village of Kingston and on through Princeton was known as “The Main Street across America.” That was the moniker given to The Lincoln Highway, the nation’s first transcontinental auto route, after it opened officially in 1913, nine years before the Lincoln Memorial was unveiled in 1922 in Washington, D.C.
Running right through New Jersey on its way from Times Square, New York City, to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, the Lincoln Highway originally traversed 13 states between New York and California. Today it’s estimated to cover almost six thousand miles.
To mark this year’s 100th anniversary, the Lincoln Highway Association has launched the Official Lincoln Highway 100th Anniversary Tours and Centennial Celebration.
Almost 300 people in 140 vehicles, from 28 states and from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Norway, and Russia, will set off simultaneously from New York City and San Francisco, and take a week to reach the highway’s midpoint in Kearney, Nebraska on July 1.
This Saturday, June 22, the eastern half of the tour makes a pitstop in Kingston between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. According to the Kingston Historical Society, about 92 participants in about 50 cars are expected to stop for lunch between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The Lincoln Highway Association in partnership with the Kingston Historical Society (KHS) and Eno Terra Restaurant is providing lunch to the tour participants.
Some participants may merely pick up their lunch and go, but most are likely to linger for a while, before continuing on their way to Pennsylvania where they are to arrive by 3 p.m. The cars will not come all at once, but rather in small groups of one to six cars. And not all of them will be vintage Lincoln Highway era vehicles. Automobiles traveling to Nebraska must be capable of 55 mph.
Since most of the cars in the tour do not date to the Lincoln Highway’s heyday, considered to be from 1913 to before World War II, the Kingston Historical Society (KHS) has arranged for a display of antique and classic cars for the benefit of the tour participants and the public at large. KHS will also be placing markers along the route of the Lincoln Highway in the area historically considered Kingston.
A 1914 Model ‘T’ Ford will take pride of place in front of the Eno Terra restaurant. Other cars will be displayed at the parking lots of the two service stations that were in operation in Kingston during the Lincoln Highway period, as well as in the immediate vicinity of the Kingston Lock-tender’s House, where KHS has its headquarters. The Lock-tender’s House is on the Old Lincoln Highway at the D&R Canal in Kingston.
Formed in 1997, to preserve, enhance and promote the history of the village of Kingston, KHS is open April through October, on Saturdays, Sundays, and major holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On view through September, is “The Lincoln Highway: 1913-2013,” an exhibition of historical photographs and information. For more information, call (609) 223-3877, or visit: www.khsnj.org.