RENO, Nev. (AP) — A procession of Model Ts, Model As and other cars will retrace the historic Lincoln Highway across Nevada and Utah this week to celebrate its 100th birthday.
A group of enthusiasts left San Francisco on Sunday with plans to make overnight stops in Fallon on Monday, Ely on Tuesday and Tooele, Utah, on Wednesday before heading to points east.
The group plans to reach the midpoint of Kearney, Neb., on June 30 to celebrate the 100th year of the Lincoln Highway, considered to be the nation's first transcontinental highway. A similar procession began at New York and will meet the other group there. In all, some 300 people from 28 states and seven countries are participating in the tours sponsored by the Lincoln Highway Association.
The highway, which roughly paralleled the Pony Express Trail across Nevada and much of Utah, patched existing roads together as it crossed more than 3,000 miles between New York and San Francisco. It was primitive and featured surfaces of packed dirt in many places.
"We jump on Interstate 80 now and drive to Sacramento or Salt Lake City, and we do not think twice," Mark Bassett, director of the Northern Nevada Railway Museum in Ely, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "A hundred years ago ... people were feeling out how the automobile fit into society. It was quite an adventure."
The group's Nevada stops will include the National Automobile Museum in Reno, the Eureka Opera House and the railway museum in Ely.
Utah stops will include the Willow Springs Pony Express Station in Callao, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge and the Simpson Springs Pony Express Station in Tooele County.
In Nevada, commemorative coffee mugs are being offered to travelers in Fernley, Dayton, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, Ely and Great Basin National Park as part of the centennial celebration. The highway in Nevada also roughly parallels U.S. Highway 50, called "America's Loneliest Road."
"We look forward to sharing an important cultural heritage experience with travelers," said Rick Gray, president of Nevada's Pony Express Territory tourism group. "Each coffee mug will feature an iconic photo of that town specific to the Lincoln Highway."
Many stretches of the highway still remain. A few areas remain much as they did 100 years ago, such as long, unpaved stretches in the Nevada and Utah deserts.
Predating America's highway system created in 1926, the Lincoln Highway system was a private venture proposed in 1912 by Carl Fisher — an early automobile entrepreneur and a founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — and several other entrepreneurs tied to the fledgling automobile industry. The group incorporated the highway on July 1, 1913.