{ subscribe_url:'//loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/geography-and-maps.php', }

1920s Road Trip: The Lincoln Highway in Strip Maps

The following post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division.

The “strip maps” published by the Automobile Club of Southern California are considered a collector’s item in some circles of map enthusiasts. Strip maps once helped drivers navigate major routes and often included a list of “approved” hotels, restaurants, and auto repair stations. Their name likely stems from the narrow rectangular paper strip upon which they were printed. The maps were made to an exacting cartographic standard, often relying on the U.S. Geological Survey, state highway maps, and local maps as sources of reference.

Detail of Lincoln Highway from Omaha to Chicago and Philadelphia, about 1921. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Detail of Lincoln Highway from Omaha to Chicago and Philadelphia, about 1921. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

The Automobile Club of Southern California was founded in 1900. They produced magazines and maps for those interested in road travel. They also participated in debates on transportation policy. Among the many sets of strip maps that they produced, one of the most sought after by collectors is of the Lincoln Highway from Omaha to Chicago and Philadelphia, a set made up of 24 maps. The complete uncut set, seen below, was acquired by the Library in 1921.

Lincoln Highway from Omaha to Chicago and Philadelphia, about 1921. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Lincoln Highway from Omaha to Chicago and Philadelphia, about 1921. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

The Lincoln Highway was one of the earliest transcontinental highways.  Conceived in 1912 by the entrepreneur and racing enthusiast Carl G. Fisher, it ran from New York to San Francisco, passing through thirteen states and spanning some 3,389 miles. In 1928, the highway was redirected through a portion of West Virginia, thus it passed through fourteen states and more than 700 cities.  By the late 1920s, the Lincoln Highway was incorporated into various U.S interstates.

Automobile Road Map of the United States, 1918. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Automobile Road Map of the United States, 1918. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Maps back then were important for road trips and remain so today in both analog and digital formats.  So carries on the Automobile Club of Southern California as an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, popularly referred to as AAA.  Its strip maps serve as resource of social and transportation history in the United States. Many of its historic materials, including strip maps and photographs, have been digitized by the University of Southern California and can be reviewed by clicking here.

Places in Civil War History: The Anaconda Plan and Union Victories in Tennessee

This is part of a series of posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis. One of the primary strategies employed by Federal forces in weakening the […]

The President’s Globe

The following post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division. The “President’s Globe” is big — really big and important. Weighing in at a whopping 750 pounds and sized at an impressive 50 inches in diameter, the globe was specially designed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt for use during […]

Houses of Government

This is a post by Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. 225 years ago this month, on October 13, 1792, the cornerstone of what we now call the White House was laid. The term “White House,” although not its official name, was commonly used to refer to the […]

The Amphibious Landing Maps of William Bostick

The following guest post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division. William A. Bostick was an artist whose talents were utilized in the Second World War to help create chart-maps for the invasions of Sicily and Normandy. After the war, Bostick had a successful career as an artist and […]