A highway befitting to a president
The winding Lincoln Highway traversing through some of Northern Nevada’s most rustic scenery took more than 100 drivers and their passengers across the Silver State this week on their way to a rendezvous with other automobile enthusiasts.
Fallon, the second stop on a week-long journey that ends on Monday in Kearney, Neb., is one of the major stops on the Lincoln Highway, which is celebrating its centennial. The highway passes across an estimated 14 states, 128 counties, and 700 communities and covers 5,869 miles. The highway became the country’s first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. by nine years. Famous supporters who helped fund Lincoln Highway included Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison, while various authors and artists including Emily Post have traveled Lincoln Highway.
The West tour through Central Nevada also paralleled many legs of the Pony Express route.
This year’s centennial trip across the Lincoln Highway began at two points. The West tour began Sunday in San Francisco, and the East tour, which began with 115 riders and drivers, chugged out of New York City on Saturday. As they did 10 years ago, the drivers in their old-time automobiles, along with their passengers, stopped in Fallon on Monday to eat dinner and enjoy fellowship at the Overland Hotel and then toured the Churchill County Museum, which features a display on the Lincoln Highway.
After leaving Fallon on Tuesday, the group traveled east to have lunch in Austin and a mid-afternoon snack in Eureka, where they toured the opera house. Their overnight stop in Ely also provided dinner aboard one of the trains from the Northern Nevada Railway. Wednesday’s schedule took them to Baker, Lehman Caves and Great Basin National Park.
Bob and Rosemary Rubin are leading this year’s group of intrepid travelers, many of whom are driving automobiles older than most people’s grandparents. Bob Rubin said the tour gives everyone an idea of how the country grew up around the railroads in the late 1800s and then the highways after the turn of the century.
“We did this tour from New York to San Francisco 10 years ago,” Bob Rubin said, while viewing several exhibits at the museum. “This trip shows you the amazing diversity of the country … geography, landscape, people and the roads. From San Francisco we see a diversity in population to tonight in the desert.”
Bob Rubin said the tour gives participants an better insight into the common core of people and makes the drivers and riders appreciate the country better.
“The further we drive from each coast, the people are more basic, more grounded,” he said.
The three-day jaunt across Nevada took the tour across portions of U.S.Highway 50, “The Loneliest Road in America,” so named in a 1986 magazine article describing the open, yet bleak two-lane highway extending across Nevada.
“I love it out here,” said Rosemary. “There are a lot of things to do and see out here. I am looking forward to it.”
The tourists in their old-time automobiles will have more time than the modern motorist to look at the sites. The Rubins said the older cars reach a maximum of 35-40 miles per hour, slower on the high mountain passes.
Bob Rubin illustrated his point on the second leg of the trip from Sacramento, Calif., to Reno and finally into Fallon.
“We traveled on portions of the old Lincoln Highway that changed from a four-lane interstate highway to a dirt road,” he said with a laugh.
Many of the antique automobiles entered in the tour include Model A Fords and other vehicles form the 1920s. Others, he said, come from the 1940s and 1950s, and some joined the tour in newer vehicles.
As for Bob and Rosemary Rubin, who live in Canton, Ohio, home of the professional Football Hall of Fame, they are navigating the Lincoln Highway in a 1968 two-door Lincoln. With less than a week remaining on their trip, the Rubins, along with the other participants, are gearing up for their Kearney rendezvous on Monday, the official centennial day of the highway when a proclamation recognized the coast-to-coast highway in 1913.
Rosemary Rubin said on the last day, each tour will stop about 50 miles away from Kearney. Then, the two processions chug their way to the Nebraska city where they will have a dual parade of cars.
For the Rubins and the other travelers, some who came from as far away at England, the trip has given them an opportunity to see automobile museums in Sacramento and Reno. They also had time to peruse through the Churchill County Museum to see the various bits and pieces of Americana.
Roger and Susan Newborough, who live about 150 miles north of London, flew to the United States where they rented a vehicle to drive the West tour. After their stop in Kearney, they plan to continue to Chicago.
“This trip gives us a feel of 100 years ago and how people struggled (to go from one location to another),” she said. Both Roger and Susan spent an hour at the museum looking at the exhibits before having dinner at the Overland. “We’ve done some great road trips … Route 66, the East Coast, Denver to Mt. Rushmore,” she said. “We have seen a lot of diverse scenery from one state to another.”
The couple said they are impressed how the tour is keeping to the original highway.
Although the travelers are spending the majority of their time in an automobile during the day, Susan Newborough would like to learn more about the communities in which they visit or rumble through.
“I do wish we could spend more time in the little towns,” she said, adding she wold love to see more of the agricultural side of Fallon.
Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Kevin Ray Zarmer is a passenger and also a photographer for the group.
“The museum display is amazing,” Zarmer said. “This personal collection has not just one book buy many books on the Lincoln Highway.”
Zarmer said he is familiar with many sections of U.S. Highway 50, but he has recorded his experiences in a more modern automobile.
As for this trip, though, Zarmer hitched a ride in a 1931 Ford Model A with a driver looking for a passenger.
“He called me up, asked me if I wanted to go on a trip, and I said yes,” Zarmer recalled. “Now, we’re bopping along in an antique car.”
Although Zarmer and his driver encountered some engine problems on the second day, they, nevertheless, caught up to the group. During the day, though, Zarmer said they crossed Donner Pass on the old Lincoln Highway. Like the Rubins, the day produced some memorable moments.
“Today, we got a flavor of individual towns,” he added.
Rick and Lori Jensen, who live in Verdi, about eight miles west of Reno, decided to spend a few days with the tour and cross the Silver State. The Jensens belong to a Model A touring group and have been to New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
Lori Jensen explained the Lincoln Highway rolls through Verdi and that a one-lane bridge crosses the Truckee River. Their trip from Sacramento to Fallon took eight hours, almost double of what it takes today in a newer vehicle.
“We also took time out to drive on the old highway,” she said.
Rick Jensen agreed.
“What’s neat about old cars is we can toodle down the roads” Rick Jensen said, “the two-lane roads through the foothills.”