Driving the Lincoln Highway, Chicago to Rochelle, Illinois (1915)

Emily Post (1872–1960)


We have struck it!
It looks pretty much as though our motor trip to San Francisco were going to end in Rochelle, Illinois.

Thirty-six miles out of Chicago we met the Lincoln Highway and from the first found it a disappointment. As the most important, advertised and lauded road in our country, its first appearance was not engaging. If it were called the cross continent trail you would expect little, and be philosophical about less, but the very word “highway” suggests macadam at the least. And with such titles as “Transcontinental” and “Lincoln” put before it, you dream of a wide straight road like the Route Nationale of France, or state roads in the East, and you wake rather unhappily to the actuality of a meandering dirt road that becomes mud half a foot deep after a day or two of rain.

Still we went over it easily enough until we passed DeKalb. After that the only “highway” attributes left were the painted red, white and blue signs decorating the telegraph poles along the way. The highway itself disappeared into a wallow of mud!

Excerpt from Chapter 10 of By Motor to the Golden Gate (1916) by Emily Post, read for Volume 36 of the Nonfiction Collection.

You might enjoy Grand Detour, Illinois, and the Self-Scouring Plow