Ohio's Lincoln Highway Scenic Buy-Way | Midwest Living

Ohio's Lincoln Highway Scenic Buy-Way

A string of 1,200 garage sales transforms a scenic drive on Ohio's Lincoln Highway into a treasure hunt. Small towns, a haunted prison and great bargains await among farm-flecked landscapes.


A barn east of Van Wert, Ohio, is a stop on the Lincoln Highway Buy-Way.
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Drivers watch for sign posts on the Lincoln Highway, which marks its 100th anniversary in 2013.
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Bricks pave portions of the old Lincoln Highway.
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We snicker at the green eagle and snap its picture with my iPhone. There he stands, 18 inches tall, head held high, near an enormous latch-hook rug of a grizzly bear and among stacks of books about O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. Three dollars, and he could be ours.

Amanda considers it.

She’d been looking for green glass pieces to put in a display case in her living room. But she wants classy. This is so … 1970. Especially once she realizes his head comes off and the regal eagle actually is a decanter.

It’s a no.

We continue our browsing spree on the Lincoln Highway’s Scenic Buy-Way, an annual Ohio event with roughly 1,200 garage sales across 300 miles. Other sales take place along the Lincoln Highway from New Jersey to Nebraska; similar ones line other Midwest routes.

Amanda and I aren’t yard salers, aside from an occasional hunt for kids’ toys or cute dresses. But even we can see the appeal of 1,200 sales along a scenic byway, and we like the idea of taking a break from the sales to see historical sites and small towns we’d probably never visit otherwise. We start just west of Van Wert and follow the L signs along the byway, which hopscotches over, under and along US-30 across northern Ohio through Canton. We slow to a crawl when we see five or six cars parked along the shoulder near a carefully tended farmhouse. We step inside the garage to find brand-name baby gear that looks barely used: furry winter coats for $10, shoes for $5, Halloween Onesies for 50 cents. I think of a friend hoping to adopt a baby and grab the Halloween stuff.

High from the quality and the deals, we press on, singing along to dance tunes between stops. We hop out at another stop to find boxes of 50-cent Bibles, religious figurines, beat-up purses and stained 30-year-old coffee makers that I’m not sure even Goodwill would accept these days. Our spirits sag.

“It’s like gambling,” Amanda says after we trudge back to the car. “You keep going, thinking the next one is going to be the jackpot.”


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