Warsaw takes great pride in the fact that one of the few Lincoln Highway markers still in existence is located along the famous highway that traverses through its city limits. In fact, it is the only marker in the State of Indiana in its original location, and the last remaining marker known to exist along the 23 miles in Kosciusko County. The marker is located in Funk Park on North Lake Street.
The Lincoln Highway came about from citizens buying $5 memberships to honor Abraham Lincoln and the contributions by the automotive industry. The Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) engineered the road connections, and through the years the association maintained the route and made improvements. In 1926 the Federal Government took over the upkeep and planning of all U.S. highways.
The Lincoln Highway was America's first coast-to-coast highway. From a vision of Hoosier Carl G. Fisher, a founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was conceived in 1912 and mapped a year later. The transcontinental highway connected Times Square in New York City with the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco's Lincoln Park. It crossed the nation's midsection with 3,300 miles of interconnecting roadways, ranging from 18th Century turnpikes in the East to dirt roads in most of the rest of the country.
The LHA then took its remaining funds and contracted for cement markers adorned with a medallion of Abraham Lincoln. The LHA then struck a deal with the Boy Scouts of America to set the 3,000 markers over approximately 3,300 miles coast to coast. The purpose of the markers was to memorialize the Lincoln Highway since the federal government was changing all the highway identification to a numbering system. Boy Scouts across the nation set the markers on September 1, 1928 to proudly mark all turns and bends.
The Warsaw marker had been removed in the early 1990s during some road work, and the Warsaw Street Department carefully stored the marker. On September 1, 1995—67 years later—the restored marker was unveiled and rededicated with a parade of antique vehicles along Warsaw's Lincoln Highway to Funk Park. The Boy Scouts of Kosciusko County, Junior Historical Society, and members of the LHA were instrumental in planning this celebration to a very special road which was for so many years the most important door to our community.
In 1924, Henry Ford produced his 10-millionth Model T. As a publicity stunt, the car was painted with appropriate lettering and Lincoln Highway markers. It was driven on the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco by Frank Kulich, a well-known contemporary racing star. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 10-millionth Ford's cross-country tour, the trip was re-enacted in 1974.
The 75th anniversary of the original 10-millionth Model T drive was commemorated with another re-enactment across the U.S. The car's owner at that time, Dr. Alan Hathaway, 70, of Davenport, Iowa, repainted it in the original manner. The car passed through Warsaw on June 9, 1999, and stopped by the marker in Funk Park.