The Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast highway in the United States, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2013. With grant funding, the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition, in conjunction with communities, historians and artists, have been adding murals along Illinois’ 179 mile stretch of the Lincoln Highway in honor of the centennial. This is the first of a several part series on traveling the Lincoln Highway through Illinois.
Lincoln Highway, heading west from the Indiana border, followed two routes through its history. The original route traced Sauk Trail, an old Indian trail, from the state line to Route 1 and then headed north to Route 30. In later years, Sauk Trail was eliminated from the route and followed Route 30 from the state line westward.
- To see the first mural, take Route 30 west from the state line to 21490 Lincoln Highway, Lynwood’s Senior and Youth Center Building. The Lynwood mural depicts Carl Fisher, an entrepreneur in the automobile industry and founder of the Lincoln Highway.
- Backtrack east on Route 30 to the state line and then follow the Lincoln Highway signs west on Sauk Trail to the Mural at 1 Sauk Trail Plaza on the Fairway Foods building. This Sauk Village mural features the Kavelage Bridge, located just east of the plaza property.
- Continue west on Sauk Trail to Route 1. Turn right and drive north to Route 30. This is the intersection of the current day Lincoln Highway and the north-south Dixie Highway. A statue of Abraham Lincoln with children stands at the northeast corner of this intersection. On the southwest corner see the Arche Fountain, dedicated in 1916 as a tribute to Lincoln.
- Drive west on Route 30 to Western Avenue. The mural in Park Forest, as with several of the towns with murals, is not directly on the Lincoln Highway. To see it, turn left on Western Avenue toward Downtown Park Forest. The mural, depicting Abraham Lincoln, is at 348 Victory Drive. While you’re in that area, be sure to stop in to the 1950s Park Forest House Museum. You’re in for a nostalgia trip if you grew up in the late 1940s to 1950s. The museum is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays,
- Although not on Lincoln Highway, but rather, further south off of Western Avenue, University Park’s Riegel Farm, 580 Farmview Road, is home to a mural, too. This one is of Adeline and Augusta Van Buren, two women who proved that women could ride motorcycles as well as men by riding them the full distance of the Lincoln Highway. University Park is also home to Governor’s State University and the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park.
- Head back to Western Avenue and go north to Route 30. Turn left and continue west to the village of Matteson, the crossroad of the Lincoln Highway and the Illinois Central Railroad. Turn left on Main Street, travel south to 216th Street and then turn right. Heading west, the mural is on the left side of the road at 3627 216th Street. This mural is unique in that the building featured in the mural is the same building it is displayed on, the Mahler Service Station.
Look for the continuation of the Lincoln Highway drive through Illinois in articles published here throughout the spring. Be sure to click through the slides that accompany this article for more details on each mural. Find out more about the Lincoln Highway through Illinois on the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition web site.
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