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A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway

Airs Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Sometimes the Lincoln Highway itself (pictured) is just a beautiful site as it stretches out toward the horizon, all along its coast-to-coast route. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Utah (or anywhere on the route) when you take "A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway."

Courtesy of Rick Sebak, WQED Pittsburgh

These two old friends, Buddy Rosenbaum and Bob Chase, have ridden motorcycles all over the world, but in the summer of 2008, they decided to cross America on three-wheeled motorbikes called MP3s made by the Italian company Piaggio. Since Buddy lives in New York City and Bob in San Francisco, it made sense to travel the country’s first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway, that originally linked their two hometowns in 1913.

Courtesy of Rick Sebak, WQED Pittsburgh

It doesn’t matter if you’re driving east or west on the Lincoln Highway, if you pass through Franklin Grove, you will want to stop at this historic mid-19th-century building, once owned by a distant cousin of Abraham Lincoln. Here you can stock up on maps and books and Lincoln Highway souvenirs.

Courtesy of Rick Sebak, WQED Pittsburgh

In his book, "Greetings From The Lincoln Highway," author and historian Brian Butko (pictured) provides maps, guides, suggestions and inside information on the various cross-country routes of the old Lincoln Highway.

Courtesy of Rick Sebak, WQED Pittsburgh

In Franklin Grove, Illinois, you can find all sorts of merchandise that celebrates the history and the enduring charms of the old Lincoln Highway, and Lynn Asp (pictured) has been running a small shop here since 1996. She stocks a good supply of guide books, maps, magnets, coffee cups and T-shirts, too.

Online Map

Browse every mile of the Lincoln Highway through this interactive map, powered by Google Maps. Copyright © 2012–13 by the Lincoln Highway Association.

The Lincoln Highway was established in 1913 as America’s first transcontinental highway. An attentive driver with the right books and guides (and software) can still travel its route from New York City to San Francisco (or vice versa) and get a fascinating and surprising view of this land and its people, seeing things that one could never spot along an interstate. "A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway" celebrates the joys and charms of traveling this great old road.

The route of the Lincoln Highway tried to follow the fastest and most direct route across America from one ocean to the other — and early riders often ceremonially dipped their car tires in the surf at both ends of the journey.

When the federal government began giving numbers to highways in the late 1920s, the Lincoln Highway became U.S. 1, then U.S. 30 from Philadelphia to Granger, Wyoming, then a series of other routes through Utah and Nevada and across California to San Francisco.

While recounting the history of the route, "A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway" incorporates footage of cross-country journeys with unexpected encounters that make traditional two-lane traveling so rewarding.

Producer and narrator Rick Sebak and his crew talk to highway enthusiasts at the 2008 Annual Lincoln Highway Convention in Evanston, Wyoming, but they also stop to have coffee at the Brick Street Station in Woodbine, Iowa, where local folks have lovingly restored their red-brick stretch of the original highway.

Lincoln Highway historian and author Brian Butko offers insights into the changing routes of the road. From 1913 through the late 1920s, when the Lincoln Highway Association printed guides for automobile travelers, the highway didn’t always follow the same path or go through the same cities; often a route that once went through the center of town now takes a bypass around towns and cities.

Butko shows viewers some of the options available to Lincoln Highway fans traveling through his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The program includes stops at the Lincoln Café in Mount Vernon, Iowa, at a cool little gas station in Grand Island, Nebraska, and at the General Store in remote Ibapah, Utah.

"A Ride Along The Lincoln Highway" is the latest in a set of public television specials that identify and applaud some often overlooked aspects of American culture.

In 2007, Sebak celebrated market houses and market places in "To Market To Market To Buy A Fat Pig"; in 2005, he visited burial places in "A Cemetery Special"; in 2004, he pointed out wacky architecture in "A Program About Unusual Buildings And Other Roadside Stuff."

Several of his works, including "A Hot Dog Program," "An Ice Cream Show" and "Great Old Amusement Parks," have become summertime traditions on PBS stations across the country.

Rick Sebak is on Facebook, and check out Rick's blog.

A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway - Preview

A journey across America's first transcontinental highway with filmmaker Rick Sebak. 9/1/11