This cabin has been taken from its original Lincoln Highway location where travelers would use them to spend the night, and is now refurbished and ready for display at the Van Wert County Historical Museum. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
This cabin has been taken from its original Lincoln Highway location where travelers would use them to spend the night, and is now refurbished and ready for display at the Van Wert County Historical Museum. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)

VAN WERT — Life on the road was much different 100 years ago. The nation’s first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway was lined with stops for food, gas, service, and even lodging, but the lodging was much different back then than it is today. Instead of cushy hotels with room service, turn-down service, and Internet service, staying all night on the road was almost literally that — on the road.

The Van Wert Historical Society’s Larry Webb said, “People took their tent, and strapped their water on the radiator and took their gasoline and a spare tire and pitched their tent where there was a wide spot in the road.”

Then around the 1920s, accommodations improved a bit. That advancement is now on display on the grounds of the Van Wert County Historical Museum.

“We now have an old Lincoln Highway Tourist Cabin that has been restored by Larry Mengerink and his students in the Building and Grounds program at Vantage Career Center.” Webb stated. “It has been fixed up to appear as it did in that period, and it will be on display beginning with Holiday at Home on July 4 on the campus of the museum.”



The cabin itself was one of four which sat behind Runyon’s Hi-Speed Gasoline Station and Tourist Court at the intersection of Lincoln Highway and Mendon Rd. The cabin was donated to the Historical Society by Dr. Tom Wilkin in honor of his parents, Dr. Harold and Natalie Wilkin.

The cabin was taken from its original location this past winter and has been refurbished for use on display at the museum grounds. The upcoming holiday weekend will mark its debut there.

A look at the cabin will not remind you of luxury accommodations, but they were very popular along Lincoln Highway all across Van Wert County. At that point, winter was not a time for traveling over any distance, so basically these were used only during the summer months.

The rates were not much like a luxury hotel either. Webb, whose parents rented tourist cabins at a location on down the highway, said, “My parents, when we rented these, got $4 for a single and $7 for a double, but those were just a little bit bigger than this one.”