Standing Up for Illinois - Office of Lt Governor Pat Quinn

Lincoln Highway Tour

Known as “Main Street Across America”, the Lincoln Highway was once considered America’s most famous road and was the first transcontinental highway built in the United States, with assistance from the automobile industry and the 1916 Road Aid act. The historical highway runs east-to-west from New York City to San Francisco.

By the mid to late 1920’s, the Lincoln Highway was at its peak. Travelers were engrossed in the excitement and adventure the road offered. Fuel pumps at gas stations along the highway were painted red, white and blue. Illinois native, Jen Jensen, constructed concrete markers and placed them along the highway marking its direction. Songs were written about the road. Restaurants, service shops, campgrounds and lodging facilities named their businesses after the “Lincoln” Highway.

In Illinois, the Lincoln Highway was a very popular road mainly because of its namesake, Abraham Lincoln. Malta, Illinois was the first town on the highway to receive a small section of concrete road, known as the “seedling mile”. Also unique to Illinois were several towns receiving Lincoln Highway water fountains because they renamed their streets Lincoln Way.

Illinois was the first state where the Lincoln Highway was designated as a National Scenic Byway. The route (Rt. 30) runs east-to-west across the northern Illinois landscape. Starting in Chicago Heights, just south of Chicago and ending in Fulton on the banks of the Mississippi River, your Lincoln Highway tour can comfortably be done in one day.

Start your “Main Street Across America” Lincoln Highway tour in Plainfield. The town is located 40 miles southwest of Chicago. Take a photo of the Historic Road Alignment sign located on the southwest corner of Rt.66/Rt. 30 and Lockport Street near downtown Plainfield. This is the only point in America where the Lincoln Highway and Rt. 66 join together and travel a short distance.

Continue your journey west on the Lincoln Highway and travel a few miles north on Rt. 31 to the Main Street town of Batavia. Take the time to visit the Batavia Depot Museum which exhibits an 1854 railroad caboose, bedroom furniture from Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom, artifacts from Swedish farm immigrants as well as other historical items.

The Villa Batavia Bed and Breakfast (1430 S. Batavia Avenue) is another recommended attraction. The building sits on seven beautiful acres and is 150 years old, overlooking the Fox River. If your tour allows, spend a night at the Villa Batavia. You’ll be well rested the next day!

Just a short drive north of Batavia is the Main Street community of St. Charles. This town sits in the heart of Kane County and is the “pride of the Fox River”. There are several lodging accommodations located in St. Charles and entertainment can be found for Lincoln highway travelers of all ages. Enjoy a day in beautiful downtown St. Charles!

Northwest of St. Charles, you’ll find the quaint Main Street town of Genoa. Once a popular stop on the old Stagecoach Trail from Chicago to Galena during the late 1800’s, Genoa offers travelers an historic downtown business district with a variety of shops and restaurants to choose from. Make sure to visit downtown Genoa!

Traveling south of Genoa to the Lincoln Highway, make sure to visit the “Malta Seedling Mile” which is located near the entrance of Kishwaukee College just west of DeKalb. Take a photo of the marker commemorating the first Lincoln Highway seedling mile, constructed in 1914. Various photographs can be found depicting this innovation.

Continue your “Main Street Across America” tour on the Lincoln Highway into the Main Street town of Dixon. Here you will find Abraham Lincoln sites, statues and markers in addition to the Ronald Reagan Trail which includes historical sites of the late President’s Boyhood Home and his Birthplace in Tampico – Eureka College.

You may want to enjoy the view from the Lincoln Memorial Bridge in Dixon. Built in 1939, it spans the Lincoln Highway over the Rock River. Make sure you stop at the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition Visitor’s Center while visiting Dixon Main Street. The Visitor Center is part of the Illinois Lincoln Highway Interpretive Master Plan.

Your last stop on the Lincoln Highway is Sterling. This historic town is your starting point for a tour of Whiteside County. Be sure to check out all the Ronald Reagan sites and the ten different National Register of Historic Places scattered throughout the county.

Listen to Lincoln Highway Audio Tour
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Illinois Main Street Calendar

08/07/2008 7:00pm -8:00pm
Concerts in the Park - Lincoln Park, Downtown Vandalia
Lincoln Park, Downtown Vandalia
Vandalia Main Street's Summer Concert Series Band: TBA Genre: TBA
Vandalia Main Street, 618-283-8751,,
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08/07/2008 7:30 pm -approx 1 1/2 hrs
Concerts In The Park - Settlers Park
Settlers Park
Appearing Mr Myers - call for more info at Settlers Park info line @ 815-609-6124
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