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Cruising The Lincoln In A Lincoln

For Chuck Beard, art director for Pittsburgh Magazine, traveling the Lincoln Highway wasn’t about the destination, it was about the journey. Traveling east towards Gettysburg in a 20-foot-long vintage Lincoln Continental Mark V weighing over three tons , Beard was in search of two things - chili and pie.

“We had to change the menu when the first two restaurants didn’t have chili,” Beard recalled.

With soup replacing chili the excursion continued. While the original destination was Philadelphia, Gettysburg ended up as the final destination.  

The Lincoln Highway came into being just as the auto industry was taking off. Henry Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Company and Carl Fisher, who built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway decided to connect a number of roads stretching from New York to California. It was the nation’s first coast to coast highway.

“Towns along the way would develop certain portions of the road and improve it,” Beard explained. This might involve paving one or ten miles of the highway.

At the time of its creation the Lincoln Highway was 3,389 thousand miles. Some portions of the road no longer exist.

During its heyday a number of businesses sprang up along the highway where travelers could get a hot meal or a place to stay for the night. One such business was a cafe in the shape of a giant coffee pot.

While it’s no longer in business an effort is being made to recognize the highway’s past. The Lincoln Highway Association has partnered with high schools to built objects, including a Packard, to see as you travel the highway.

Recalling the best culinary experience of the trip Beard singles out, “The oatmeal pie at the Jean Bonnet Tavern in Bedford. It was absolutely fantastic.”

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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