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Lincoln Highway exhibits to dot region

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 12:19 p.m.

An organization promoting tourism along the Lincoln Highway is expanding the length of its roadside museum and educating travelers with its first exhibit.

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, which previously had run 150 miles, has been extended to 200 miles, said executive director Olga Herbert.

The corridor now stretches from Irwin to Gettysburg and across six counties - Westmoreland, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, Franklin and Adams - reaching the border of York County in the east and Allegheny County in the west.

'We're trying to educate the tourists' about the importance of the Lincoln Highway, Herbert said.

When Henry Ford first built Model T cars in 1909, highways were practically nonexistent and railroads were the most convenient means of traveling across the country.

In 1913, the Lincoln Highway became the first road to span the nation, stretching from New York City to San Francisco. In Pennsylvania, much of the highway is known as Route 30, Herbert said.

The Roadside Museum will provide tourists with exhibits that can be seen from their cars, Herbert said. She hopes the project will entice tourists to find out more about the history of the Lincoln Highway.

Wayne Brentzel, vice president in branch administration at Irwin Bank and a member of the LHHC board, said the highway represents a great deal of history.

'The goal (of the LHHC) is to share our heritage and our past with the up-and-coming generations,' he said.

'(The highway) was used to transfer military troops and vehicles during World War I,' he said.

He also said the plan for interstate highways, proposed by then-President Dwight Eisenhower, came directly from Eisenhower's experience of traveling on the poorly maintained roads.

Currently, replicas of the original markers used on the Lincoln Highway have been placed at historic sites along Route 30.

In addition, the Lincoln Highway's first exhibit of the Roadside Museum has been installed at The Train Station in Greensburg.

The interpretive exhibit tells the history of the The Train Station and its restoration in 1998. It also provides a timeline that shows the increase and decrease in railroad usage as compared to the continuing rise in automobile usage.

The heritage group plans to install more exhibits by the end of summer, including six in downtown Greensburg, thanks to a $350,000 federal grant from Transportation Efficiency for the 21st Century. TEA-21 provides state funding through the state's Heritage Parks Program. Herbert did not say where the exhibits will be placed.

The Lincoln Highway corridor is one of nine heritage areas in Pennsylvania designated by Gov. Tom Ridge. All are administered by nonprofit organizations as part of the Pennsylvania Heritage Parks Program.

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