York Town Square

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Littered sardine cans attest to the Lincoln Highway motorist and his appetite

The Lincoln Highway, Route 462 and Route 30 in York County, is marked by markers and murals attesting to the old coast-to-coast highway’s history. Here, a mural goes up in Abbottstown, Adams County in 2005. Also of interest: Trees commemorate World War I vets.

Does anyone in York and Adams counties remember seeing cans of sardines littering the sides of the old Lincoln Highway, later Routes 462 and 30?

A writer in the fact-filled “Lincoln Highway Forum” found plentiful metal containers along western stretches of this early coast-to-coast highway.

“Your editor has come to to the conclusion that Lincoln Highway travelers of the ‘teens and 1920s lived on sardines,” Gregory M. Franzwa wrote… .

That roadside delicacy came before the heyday of motels, roadside diners, drive-ins with bellhops and fast food joints.
In examining detritus along abandoned stretches of the road, Franzwa found plenty of sardine cans. Most were smashed flat.
“There was no mistaking them – they had a distinctive shape and still do,” he wrote.
This comes from one of many articles in the “Forum,” a fun publication put out by the Lincoln Highway Association. York County’s own Mindy Higgins Crawford is listed as Pennsylvania’s representative on the group.
The winter 2007-2008 edition carried several other food-oriented items.
Sardines did not make The Complete Official Road Guide to the Lincoln Highway’s (1924 edition) list of provisions recommended for a party of four.

1 Slab Best Bacon
1 can Peaches
1 can Pineapple
2 cans Tomatoes
2 cans Baked Beans
1 dozen Eggs
2 loaves Bread
1 sack Salt
1 can pepper
1 pound Butter (not necessary)
2 pounds Rice
10 pounds Potatoes
6 cans Evaporated Milk (small size)
1 pound Sugar
1 package Safety Matches (dozen boxes)
2 pounds Cracked Wheat
1 pint Pickles
1 box Graham Crackers
2 pounds Coffee (ground)
½ pound Tea
1 roll Surgeon’s Plaster, 1 in. wide, 5 yards (for sealing cans, etc.)
3 cans Corn
Fresh Fruit, as often as possible

And, here was a typical 1920s restaurant menu:

Breakfast: Spider corn cakes, breakfast bacon, salt codfish hash, eggs a la Buckingham, boiled eggs, dried beef with cream, cold sliced meat, waffles, creamed potatoes, rye muffins, baking powder biscuits.
Lunch: Eggs scrambled with tomatoes, fried pig’s feet, grilled sardines, boiled ham, scalloped oysters, creamed chicken, scalloped potatoes, cold sliced tongue, dressed celery, cheese fondue, graham bread, riced potatoes, string bean and radish salad, sliced oranges, stewed prunes, fresh fruit in season.
Dinner: Baker fish, hot slaw, fricassee of lamb, shredded potatoes, boiled rice, mashed turnips, fig pudding, beefsteak in an oyster blanket, boiled salmon, braised beef, brussels sprouts, fish croquettes, cream of lima beans, baked Indian pudding, rice croquettes with currant jelly, creamed onions, sugared beets, and apple fritters.

“Yes, there were french fries,” Mike Hocker and Becky Renock wrote, “but ketchup was only beginning to emerge as a condiment. Believe it or not, we survived!”

A past cover of the “The Lincoln Highway Forum” warns members of the Lincoln Highway Association that the vintage brick surface of the historic highway in Stark County, Ohio, might be paved over. The magazine keeps members apprised of news and events affecting this early coast-to-coast highway, which passed through the heart of York and Adams counties. Background posts: Lincoln Highway Communities: ‘I know I’ll be back.’, A 7th bridge? Pedestrian walkway may span Susquehanna River some day and Trees commemorate World War I vets.