The 20th annual conference of the Lincoln Highway Association, a national organization, will be Monday through Friday at the McKinley Grand Hotel in Canton — within view the route the Lincoln took as it passed through Canton on Tuscarawas Street.
Mike Hocker affectionately calls the 200 or so Lincoln Highway historians who will gather in Canton next week “road huggers.”
Hocker is executive director of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway. His group is partnering with the Ohio chapters of the Lincoln Highway Association, a national organization, to bring the annual conference of Lincoln Highway enthusiasts to Canton.
“This year the conference will kick off the centennial of the Lincoln Highway,” Hocker said, “and we’re excited to be able to say that.”
The conference is held each year at some point along the New York to San Francisco route of the Lincoln Highway. For the centennial in 2013, the meeting will be in Kearney, Neb., the geographic center of the Lincoln.
The 2012 gathering, the 20th annual conference, will be Monday through Friday at the McKinley Grand Hotel in Canton — within view the route the Lincoln took as it passed through Canton on Tuscarawas Street.
“Our theme is ‘Pathways & Presidents,’ focusing on Ohio presidents,” said Hocker. “We thought that the First Ladies’ Library being across the street and the McKinley museum being down the road plays right into that.”
Lectures, seminars, day-long road trips, banquets and special activities will be a part of the conference.
Conference organizer Jim Cassler, conference chairman and owner of Klingstedt Bros. company, said that tours on area “pathways” will include the nearby Amish country, canal towns, a train trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway, and a trip to the Packard Museum in Warren to recognize Lincoln Highway co-founder Henry Joy, who was president of Packard Motors.
The other two founders included Frank Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber in Akron, and Carl Fisher of Indianapolis.
Besides visits to the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and the National First Ladies
Library, people attending the conference will stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Palace Theatre, then travel to Marion to look at President Warren G. Harding’s home and consider his involvement in the development of the Lincoln Highway.
The highway is, after all, the focus of the convention. And its passage through Canton, Massillon and other communities of Stark County is something to be proud of, said Hocker and Cassler.
“A lot of the bricks that paved the road were made in Stark County,” said Cassler. “Metropolitan Brick, Belden Brick and other companies were based here.”
America’s first coast-to-coast road further will be celebrated with a public event — a cruise-in — that is designed to enlighten onlookers about the historic highway.
That free cruise-in will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in a closed-off section of Market Avenue S from Third to Sixth streets.
“The cruise-in is going to be fun, but the real reason for having it is to interest as many people from the public as possible who want to learn about the Lincoln,” said Hocker. “We think the Lincoln Highway should be as well known as Route 66, and here’s the opportunity to educate people about it.”
Page 2 of 2 - The cruise-in will offer dash plaques to the first 100 car owners to register vehicles, Hocker said. The display will include an exhibit of several Marmon automobiles, he said.
The event also will offer food and musical entertainment.
Perhaps the most important part of the cruise-in for lovers of the Lincoln will be the displays of information, memorabilia, souvenirs and other Lincoln items that will be on display inside the McKinley Grand, ostensibly as part of the conference but available to the public during the cruise-in.
“We have what’s called a book room which will be open the whole time,” said Hocker. “We have people from all over coming in to display historical items they want to share with other enthusiasts.
“It’s a great way for anybody who has ever had even an inkling that they wanted to know more about the Lincoln Highway to ask question and have them answered by people who love to talk about the Lincoln.”