The cities from Crockett through to Berkeley were once part of the nation's first transcontinental motor route -- barely.

The route known as the Lincoln Highway was established in 1913, but didn't come to Contra Costa County until 1927, just over a year before the celebrated coast-to-coast link from New York to San Francisco ceased to exist in name.

The highway celebrates its centennial this year and El Cerrito last week dedicated markers noting the city's official -- albeit brief -- role as part of the route.

The area was "a Johnny-come-lately," said Michael Kaelin, who represented the Lincoln Highway Association at the Jan. 25 dedication ceremony at Lincoln and San Pablo avenues. "At best, for you guys it was a year and a half," Kaelin said, adding that even so, the route "was just as important here as it was anywhere else."

The four new markers on San Pablo Avenue -- in the northbound direction at Lincoln Avenue and at Blake Street, in the southbound direction at Cutting Boulevard and at El Dorado Street -- were a joint venture of the city and the El Cerrito Historical Society. The signs, which Kaelin said are the first on the historic route in Contra Costa County, were purchased and donated by society members Rich and Mae Ritz, Joann Steck-Bayat and Barbara Hill.

For most of its history, the Lincoln Highway connected to the East Bay by a circular, indirect route that went south from Sacramento through Stockton, Tracy, Livermore and Hayward to get to Oakland and the ferry to its terminus in San Francisco. This was the early days of motor travel and the route was not a modern highway or freeway, but existing surface streets.

With the opening of the Carquinez Bridge on May 21, 1927, the Lincoln was rerouted to a more direct route that took travelers through Davis, Vacaville, Fairfield and Vallejo before the crossing into West Contra Costa, where the route went along San Pablo Avenue to the Berkeley Auto Pier at the foot of University Avenue.

The designation was short-lived, however, because the days of named highways were literally numbered. A move that began late in 1927 gave routes federally designated numbers rather than names, and in 1928 San Pablo Avenue became part of Route 40.

The original Lincoln Highway Association, which had promoted the route as a private venture, disbanded in 1927.

History buffs have revived the association and plan to celebrate the centennial with caravans leaving New York City and San Francisco in June that will meet in the middle at Kearney, Neb. The meeting place, measured at 1,733 miles from both starting cities, will be the site of a three-day conference from June 29 to July 1.

Learn more at www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org.

WEST COUNTY NOTES: Albany firefighters will prepare you breakfast of sausage, eggs, pancakes, coffee and juice at a benefit for the Albany Senior Center on Feb. 9.

The annual Friends of Albany Seniors Pancake Breakfast is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave., and the cost is $8 general and $5 ages 6 and under (save $1 by buying tickets by Feb. 1).

  • David and Linda Laflamme, the husband and wife musical team behind the 1960s hit "White Bird" by It's a Beautiful Day, reunite with special guests to perform as It's A Beautiful Day Acoustic at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Berkeley Art House Gallery, 2905 Shattuck Ave. The show is for all ages and admission is $10.

  • Run Around Town is a kind of free community group jog hosted by the Albany Recreation and Community Services Department that started in January and gathers each Sunday at 8 a.m.

    Meet in front of Suzette Crepe Cafe, 1226 Solano Ave. and choose from the day's short or long route.

  • El Cerrito is holding a community meeting at 3 p.m. Feb. 21 to discuss rules of conduct and salvage at the city's Recycling and Environmental Resource Center. The meeting at the center, 7501 Schmidt Lane, will include a presentation on the center's new rules and discuss the goal of creating a safer and more welcoming environment there.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.