Seedling Mile

The Lincoln Highway was the first paved highway in the United States to run coast-to-coast. It was the first of a myriad of named highways that served the motoring public in the early days of interstate travel.

When the Lincoln Highway was being built, most of the road was paved with gravel or macadam, if it was paved at all. In much of Iowa, the Lincoln Highway was a route of a wheel-sucking gumbo of mud after a rainfall. The Portland Cement Association members and Lincoln Highway Association provided states with enough paving material to build one mile of demonstration highway, known as "Seedling Miles" that were out in the country, to show motorists what a good road could be like.

Building the Seedling Miles out in the country was a stoke of genius, because a family might climb into the car for a Sunday drive, with father determined to see the Seedling Mile. The trip there, over bad roads, made a brilliant contrast to the one mile of concrete paving, adding another voice of support to the good roads movement.

In 1926, the federal government banned all named highways, and the Lincoln Highway was lost in a web of hardly romantic, numbered roads, like US 1, US 30, US 40, and several more. Just the same, the name "Lincoln Highway" stayed in the lexicon for a long time. There was even an NBC radio program in 1941 named for the famous road. The names of streets, like Lincoln Way, Lincoln Highway, or Lincoln Avenue, remain in place to this day in many communities that are on the famous road.

Lincoln Highway "Malta" Seedling Mile (De Kalb County, Illinois)
First Lincoln Highway seedling mile.
Lincoln Highway Ideal Section (Lake County, Indiana)
Seedling Mile (Linn County, Iowa)
A section of seedling mile, a demonstration highway built to show motorists the advantages of concrete paving over macadam, gravel or mud.