The Nebraska History Museum recently acquired this radiator emblem which advertises the Lincoln Highway.
In 1912, the Lincoln Highway Association formed to create the first transcontinental highway from New York to San Francisco. In Nebraska, some of the towns it ran through included Omaha, Fremont, Grand Island, Kearney, North Platte, Ogallala, and Sidney. It eventually became U.S. Highway 30.
Lincoln Highway radiator emblems were distributed perhaps as early as 1913 by the Lincoln Highway Association. The first one was a brass oval, which included a map of the United States with the route indicated. A contributor of any amount of money reportedly received one of these emblems along with a certificate.
The red, white, and blue rectangular emblems were advertised in the first Complete Official Road Guide published in 1915. A 1916 ad indicated that by sending in $2.50 one would receive the Complete Official Road Guide, a pocket map of the route, and a radiator emblem. By 1918 these items were sent to those who became Sustaining Members by paying $5 in annual dues. The words “Sustaining” and “Member” were added to the emblem.
Motorists also decorated their cars with Lincoln Highway pennants. Unfortunately, we do not yet have one of those in our collection. We’d love to hear about yours or any other interesting Lincoln Highway memorabilia you may have.
For more information about Lincoln Highway collectibles see David L. Cole’s article, “Embellishments for the Automobile” in the Spring 1994 issue of The Lincoln Highway Forum. The Nebraska State Historical Society has this journal in the Library collection. Contact the Library/Archives for more information.
-Laura Mooney, Senior Museum Curator