The nation’s first transcontinental highway is about to be immortalized in Lathrop.
The Lincoln Highway – the route that ran from Lincoln Park in San Francisco to Times Square in New York City – once ran along Manthey Road from the south of the Mossdale Bridge up to Roth Road.
Opened for traffic in 1913, the highway was the realization of an Indiana entrepreneur who envisioned a route that could carry traffic from one side of America to the other. It took more than a year to build and traversed through 13 states at the time of its opening – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California – and was reconfigured to include West Virginia to bring the total number of states along the route to 14.
But the route only operated unadulterated as the coast-to-coast thoroughfare for the United States until 1926 when sections became renamed as part of the country’s numbered highway system – the section that runs through Tracy eventually becoming US Highway 50.
A large portion of the highway eventually became Interstate 80 – which runs from the Bay Bridge in San Francisco to the George Washington Bridge between New York City and New Jersey.
The highway was named for President Abraham Lincoln.
The Lathrop City Council has agreed to place seven signs along Manthey Road signifying the original route through Lathrop. The signs will be provided by the Lincoln Highway Association – a representative of which has been attending Lathrop council meetings for the last several months asking for their support – and will be posted by Lathrop staffers.
The total cost to the city will be in the neighborhood of $1600, and will come from the available money approved for the 2016/17 budget in the Local Street Fund.
While Lathrop wasn’t officially incorporated as a city until 1989, it served a crucial thoroughfare for both the nation’s first coast-to-coast highway designed with cars in mind as well as the transcontinental railroad that connected the East Coast and the West Coast and allowed for people and goods to take a much shorter route between the two.
While the golden spike for the Transcontinental Railroad hammered in at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory, the last section of the crucial railway was actually constructed after the fact when the bridge over the San Joaquin River at Mossdale was finally completed in 1869. Less than 50 years after the fact, the Lincoln Highway would run right past the bridge, which still stands today.
Other communities in San Joaquin County that have placed signs commemorating the Lincoln Highway include Stockton, Tracy, Lodi and Galt. The original route through Lathrop paralleled modern day Interstate 5 near what is now Harlan Road before turning west near Nestle Way and closely following Manthey Road across the river and towards the City of Tracy.
In order to authorize the placement of the signs, the council adopted a resolution that will be finalized when it’s reintroduced early next year for final approval.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.