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A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway
Rick Sebak's national PBS special looks at the nation's first transcontinental highway


Take A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway and See Everything!
A New PBS Special Goes Coast To Coast On The Country’s Best Old Highway

WQED PITTSBURGH – The Lincoln Highway is just a great American road. It was a route first mapped out by the original Lincoln Highway Association in 1913 as the best transcontinental highway. It was the fastest, smoothest and most direct path from New York City to San Francisco. And people have followed and learned to love that route ever since.

Now producer/narrator Rick Sebak (who has made PBS favorites like “A Hot Dog Program” and “A Flea Market Documentary”) has put together a new travelogue celebrating the history and enduring charms of the Lincoln. He talks with highway historians, with motor court operators, restaurateurs, travelers, members of the new Lincoln Highway Association, all sorts of folks who know and help preserve the highway and what’s along it.

This new PBS special titled A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway premieres Wednesday, October 29, 2008, on most PBS stations at 8 p.m. (but it’s always wise to check your local listings.) It airs simultaneously in high definition video on PBS-HD channels. And it repeats on many PBS stations on Halloween, October 31, at 10 p.m.

“We traveled from Pittsburgh to San Francisco twice,” Rick explained recently. “Then once from Pittsburgh to New York City and back. The crew and I had some stories planned in advance, but we also tried to leave room for unexpected discoveries.” So, they arranged to see what went on at a Lincoln Highway Association National Conference in Evanston, Wyoming, but they also stopped to check out the surprises at a small independent gas station in Grand Island, Nebraska. They showed up unexpectedly at a Mexican restaurant in Rahway, New Jersey, and they spent some time along the Ideal Section of the Lincoln Highway near Dyer, Indiana, among other places.

Their journey took them to Lincoln Highway landmarks like the big statue of Abraham Lincoln at Exit 323 off Interstate 80 in eastern Wyoming, but they also checked out the two small Lincoln busts in a cornfield near Scranton, Iowa. The Lincoln Highway itself was the first major national memorial to President Lincoln, established in 1913, almost ten years before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated.

“Because most of the traffic is now out on the interstates,” said Rick, “we often felt like we owned the two-lane road.” And their appreciation of the highway is echoed by two motorcyclists that they met in Wyoming: Buddy Rosenbaum and Bob Chase, both in their seventies, crossing the country from west to east on new three-wheeled cycles, looking for vintage Lincoln Highway whenever possible. “I think it’s a national treasure,” said Bob Chase one day at the side of the Lincoln. “And I think it should be preserved and it should be promoted.”

Lots of people get enthusiastic about the historic old road. At the national conference, Paul Gilger, the chairman of the Lincoln Highway Association’s mapping committee, proudly points out that “It’s the longest thing in America.” He also suggests a few spots to check out when crossing California on either of the two Lincoln Highway routes that have always connected western Nevada and Sacramento.

“The best part of the whole cross-country experience,” said Rick, “is that you get to see everything along the Lincoln. You see everyday America in incredible detail. You see Main Streets and beauty shops, ball fields and cemeteries, grocery stores and courthouses, elementary schools and family-run businesses. Not just roadside relics like diners and motels -- although they can be cool -- but everything. On the interstates, you see only landscape and occasionally a quick, limited view of a big city. On the Lincoln, you see the big stuff, the little stuff, and all the stuff in between. Big box stores and family owned businesses.”

So, you may end up spending a night in a cottage at the Lincoln Motor Court near Bedford, Pennsylvania, or you may get adventurous and decide to check out the unpaved sections of the old Lincoln near Fish Springs, Utah. You may learn to love the old concrete Lincoln Highway markers that were originally planted in 1928, or you may just want to spend a week or two taking a ride along the Lincoln Highway.

The new PBS special called A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway last only an hour on Wednesday, October 29 at 8 p.m., but it may convince you to hit the highway very soon. (As we said before, the program repeats on Halloween night at 10 p.m. and airs at both times also on PBS-HD channels across the country.)

A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thanks.

WQED Pittsburgh, honored with the 2007 and 2006 Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Award for Station Excellence, was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. WQED creates, produces and distributes quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within its community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED-DT; WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED-HD; WQEX-TV (A ShopNBC affiliate); WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; a publishing division that includes PITTSBURGH MAGAZINE; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org); and The WQED Education Department.

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Tag(s): Lincoln Highway, Rick Sebak, food, Travel



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