Lincoln Highway Songs
by Nolan Stolz


Inspired by a recent road trip along the Lincoln Highway, I composed two art songs for singer Cece Otto and her American Songline project. Rather than setting an existing poem to music or writing an original text, I excerpted lines from The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway (1916) to illustrate how different life was a century ago. I divided the excerpts into two topical categories, one for each song: preparing for the trip (e.g., what to bring, what to expect, etc.) and local references.

Here are the texts to the two songs:

(Preparing for the) Lincoln Way

The Lincoln Way so selected, if done wisely, will become great.
I offer a few suggestions and also a list of supplies to carry:
two extra tire casings, four extra inner tubes, two sets tire chains, six extra cross chains, eight feet high tension cable, eight feet low tension cable, one set lamp bulbs, one Sparton Horn, one five-gallon milk can (for water west of Cheyenne), one axe, one shovel, one Moto-Meter.
Have some food in the car west of Salt Lake City:
one slab Best bacon, one dozen eggs, one sack salt, one can pepper, one pound sugar, one pint pickles, one pound butter (not necessary), one box graham crackers, one roll surgeonís plaster (for sealing cans), half pound tea, two pounds coffee (ground), two pounds rice, four loaves bread, six cans evaporated milk, ten pounds potatoes
(Have some food in the car west of Salt Lake City)
three cans corn, three cans baked beans, three cans tomatoes, three cans pineapple, three cans peaches--fresh fruit often as possible

Instead of sixty days from the Atlantic to the Pacific, a pleasure party can make the trip in less than thirty: driving approximately ten hours a day, approximately eighteen miles an hour.
You must cheerfully put up with some unpleasantness, yet there are no hardships which make the trip one of undue severity, even to a woman.
Fish Springs, Utah -- J. J. Thomas Ranch. If trouble is experienced, build a sage brush fire. Mr. Thomas will come with a team. He can see you twently miles off.
You must cheerfully put up with some unpleasantness. Van Wert, Ohio to Fort Wayne, Indiana: seven miles of concrete, eight miles stone, five miles gravel, thirteen miles dirt.

The Lincoln Way so selected, if done wisely, will become great.
There are a few doníts which every tourist should store away in his mind:
Donít forget the camphor ice; the dry air of the west will crack your lips.
Donít forget the yellow goggles; the western desert is hard on the eyes.
Donít build a big fire for cooking. The smaller the better.
Donít drink alkali water. Serious cramps result.
Donít wear new shoes.
The Lincoln Way will become great
The Lincoln Way will become great

Along the Way

Sadsburyville, Pennsylvania, 135 miles to New York. Population: 300. One hotel: $1.50, American plan. No garage, 1 telephone company, electric lights.
Salt Wells, Nevada. 350 miles to San Francisco. Make inquires here if in doubt. Saloon, ranch, drinking water, radiator water, telephone, meals.
Iosepa, Utah, population 125. Ranch meals and lodgings, one public school, general store, telephone. Hawaiian settlement. Native dances are sometimes held.

Indiana asks that her visiting motorists do not drive at a greater speed than reasonable or prudent. Greater speed than twenty-five miles an hour is regarded as an unreasonable speed.
Paxton, Nebraska. Local speed limit: six miles per hour, enforced.
Grand Mound, Iowa. Local speed limit: ten miles per hour, enforced. One railroad crossing, protected by bells.
Marshalltown, Iowa. Local speed limit, 15 miles per hour, not enforced. Lincoln Highway will be paved clear through the city in 1916. Six hotels, six garages, Indian reservation 16 miles east.

Special Warning
Special Warning
Special Warning: †At Central City, local antagonistic influence has removed the official markers from the direct efficient Lincoln Highway route.
On The Lincoln Highway: Tama, Iowa. Lincoln Garage. Complete in Every Way. Ladies Rest Room.
On the Lincoln highway. New Henshaw Hotel. Absolutely fireproof. European plan. $1 up without bath, $1.50 up with bath
On the Lincoln Highway. Look for electric sign: ďHotel Weber.Ē Running water, private bath, white service

On The Lincoln Highway
On The Lincoln Highway
On The Lincoln Highway

Here are the advertisements from the guidebook quoted in the second song: