Site Navigation
Colorado
Iowa
Kansas
Missouri
Nebraska
South Dakota
Wyoming
 
 

Interstate 80 Westbound

Kimball County

Westbound Interstate 80
We begin our westbound journey on Interstate 80 in Keith County as the freeway approaches the sole exit to Ogallala, the county seat. Founded in 1868, Ogallala is home to 5,107 people as of 2004 (estimate). Sitting at an elevation of 3,216 feet, Ogallala is at a lower elevation than its neighbors to the west (such as Sidney and Kimball). The South Platte River flows through Ogallala, and the Union Pacific Railroad separates downtown Ogallala from the river. Named after a Sioux tribe, Ogallala can be spelled in many different manners, but "Ogallala" is correct for this city. Sitting beneath much of Nebraska, as well as eastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, western Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, and Texas panhandle is the Ogallala Aquifer. This massive aquifer stores water underground, and it is tapped for agricultural and ranching purposes through wells. While some parts of the aquifer have seen an increase in the amount of water stored, other sections have seen a net loss, since the semi-arid region may not supply sufficient rainwater to recharge the water taken from massive underground reservoir. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Ogallala's history with Interstate 80 had been a relatively peaceful one until the Thousand Year Storm hit Keith County on July 6, 2002. This storm dropped ten inches of rain on Ogallala between 1:00 am and 11:00 am, with rain falling at a rate of one inch an hour for ten hours. As the ground could not absorb the rain quickly enough, excess water funneled through streets and gulleys to the South Platte River, which quickly spilled over its banks. The waters eventually crossed U.S. 26/Nebraska 61 and Interstate 80 itself, causing damage to bridges and culverts as well as flooding most of the area around the freeway interchange. For more information on this storm and its aftermath, visit the official Interstate 80 July 2002 Flood page presented by the Nebraska Department of Roads. To the north, follow U.S. 26/Nebraska 61 north through Ogallala to Lake McConaughy, a large reservoir located along the North Platte River. At more than 35,700 surface acres, Lake McConaughy is Nebraska's largest reservoir; plenty of water-based recreational activities are available there. Photo taken 09/05/05.

Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 126, Junction U.S. 26 west and Nebraska 61 north to Ogallala and Nebraska 61 south to Grant in Perkins County. This interchange marks the eastern terminus of U.S. 26, a major highway that originates in Seaside, Oregon, and travels southeast through Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming before ending here at this interchange. U.S. 26 generally follows the North Platte River from here northwest through Scottsbluff to Torrington and Casper in Wyoming. From there, the highway travels toward Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming, then angles toward Idaho Falls and Boise in Idaho. After crossing the state of Oregon, U.S. 26 ends at U.S. 101 within sight of the Pacific Ocean. Originally, U.S. 26 was a fairly short route connecting Ogallala with today's Interstate 25 and U.S. 87; it was extended in 1950 to cross Wyoming and was extended to Astoria, Oregon, in 1952. Although U.S. 26 was retracted out of Astoria in 2004, it is still a major route in the West. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Now on the offramp from Interstate 80 west to U.S. 26 and Nebraska 61, this sign for Grant (19 miles south) and Ogallala (turn north) is posted. Nebraska 61 travels south to Imperial (Junction U.S. 6 in Chase County) and Benkelman (Junction U.S. 34 in Dundy County) before changing into Kansas 161 south en route to Bird City (Junction U.S. 36). To the north, Nebraska 61 travels past Lake McConaughy to Arthur (Arthur County), Hyannis (Grant County), and Merriman in Cherry County. It changes into South Dakota 73 en route to Martin (Junction U.S. 18) and Kadoka (Junction Interstate 90). The route is fairly desolate north of Lake McConaughy as it travels through the remote Sand Hills of northern Nebraska. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 117, Junction Nebraska Link 51A to Brule. Brule was established in 1886 and is home to 372 people of as the 2000 Census. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 117, Junction Nebraska Link 51A north to Brule, where it connects with U.S. 30 and the Lincoln Highway. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 107, Junction Nebraska Link 25B north to Big Springs and a junction with U.S. 138. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 107, Junction Nebraska Link 25B to Big Springs. Continue straight ahead on westbound Interstate 80 to the Interstate 76/80 split. Exit here to connect to U.S. 138 northeast to U.S. 30. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The village of Big Springs was founded in 1884 and was incorporated as a village in 1917. Several historic trails, such as the Oregon Trail and California Trail, passed through or near Big Springs. As of the 2000 Census, 418 people lived in Big Springs. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 102, Junction Interstate 76 southwest to Fort Morgan, Greeley, and Denver. Interstate 76 is a connector route that follows the South Platte River to Denver, and it allows for Interstate 80 to have a direct route to the Denver metropolitan area. Photo taken 09/05/05.
This mileage sign provides the distance to two capital cities: Cheyenne, Wyoming (148 miles) via Interstate 80 and Denver, Colorado (188 miles) via Interstate 76. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Nebraska has chosen to sign Interstate 76 as a north-south route, even though it becomes a signed east-west route in Colorado. Prior to 1975, Interstate 76 in Colorado was signed as Interstate 80S. This redesignation was part of a larger effort to eliminate suffixed Interstate Highways. All of the eastern Interstate 76 in Pennsylvania was originally known as Interstate 80S,a suffixed route. This situation lasted between 1958-1964, but Interstate 76 was introduced in 1964 between downtown Pittsburgh and downtown Philadelphia. In 1972, the eastern Interstate 76 in Pennsylvania was fully signed along its present route in the Keystone State (excepting the section swapped with Interstate 676 in Philadelphia; this was changed in 1974 so that Interstate 76 crossed the Walt Whitman Bridge instead of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge). Photo taken 09/05/05.
A diagrammatical overhead sign is in place to show the split between Interstate 76 and Interstate 80. a fair amount of traffic follows Interstate 76 southwest toward Denver, so traffic counts on Interstate 80 west of this interchange are significantly lower than they are here. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Interstate 80 and Interstate 76 split at Exit 102. Interstate 76 generally stays on the south bank of the South Platte River. The freeway parallels U.S. 138 southwest to Sterling, then follows U.S. 6 to Brush/Fort Morgan and then onward to Denver. A connection to Greeley and Loveland is afforded via U.S. 34 west. Photo taken 09/05/05.
After the Interstate 76 interchange, the next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 101, Junction U.S. 138. U.S. 138, which was orphaned from its parent route (U.S. 38) way back in 1931, today connects Sterling, Colorado, with U.S. 30 northeast of Big Springs. Photo taken 09/05/05.
U.S. 138 provides local access to the various towns on the north bank of the South Platte River in Colorado, including Julesburg, Ovid, Sedgwick, Crook, Proctor, and Iliff. To the northeast, U.S. 138 follows the original Lincoln Highway through Big Springs before the highway ends at U.S. 30. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 101, Junction U.S. 138. This is a folded diamond interchange to accommodate a railroad undercrossing, so a loop ramp makes the connection to U.S. 138. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Nearing the base of the offramp, U.S. 138 east connects to Big Springs and westbound U.S. 138 travels to Julesburg, Colorado. Photo taken 09/05/05.
A single U.S. 138 shield is posted at the end of the ramp. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Continuing west, the next exit on Interstate 80 is Exit 95, Junction Nebraska 27 south to Julesburg (via a connection with Colorado 11) and north to Oshkosh (Junction U.S. 26/Nebraska 92) in Garden County. Nebraska 27 has a route break between U.S. 26/Nebraska 92 and Nebraska 2 near Ellsworth; the road would have cut through the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Photo taken 09/05/05.
There are no services available at Exit 95, and there is no town located at the intersection of Nebraska 27 and U.S. 30. Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 95, Junction Nebraska 27 to Colorado 11. Photo taken 09/05/05.
A safety rest area is located near Milepost 86 just prior to the Chappell interchange. This rest area provides rest rooms, phone, and water. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 85, Junction Nebraska Link 25A north to Chappell. As of 2000 Census, 983 people live in Chappell, which is the seat of Deuel County. The county consists of 440 square miles and has a population of 2,098 people as of the 2000 Census. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 85, Junction Nebraska Link 25A (Babcock Avenue) north to Chappell and to U.S. 30/Lincoln Highway and to U.S. 385 southbound. There is no direct interchange between Interstate 80 and U.S. 385, so this exit is the best way to southbound U.S. 385 (in case you did not use Interstate 76 west): follow Nebraska Link 25A north to U.S. 30-385, then follow the signs for U.S. 385 south. To U.S. 385 north, continue west on Interstate 80 until the Business Loop I-80/East Sidney interchange (Exit 59). Photo taken 09/05/05.
A patriotic theme is in place for the grain elevators found in Chappell, as seen from the Interstate looking north toward the town. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 76, Junction Nebraska Link 17F to Lodgepole, a small town located just north of Interstate 80 along U.S. 30 in Cheyenne County. The town of Lodgepole was founded in 1867 and was incorporated in 1901. The town is named after the Lodgepole Creek, which follows Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 through Kimball and Cheyenne Counties. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Between the previous sign and this sign, Interstate 80 leaves Deuel County and enters Cheyenne County. Cheyenne County used to encompass all or parts of some neighboring counties, including Kimball County to the west and Banner County to the northwest. the county includes the following towns, with 1990 populations (per U.S. Census): Dalton, 282; Gurley, 198; Lodgepole, 368; Potter, 388; and Sidney, 5,959. Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 76, Junction Nebraska Link 17F to Lodgepole. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 69, Junction Nebraska Link 17E to Sunol and U.S. 30-385, which parallel the freeway. Sunol is another community that owes its existence to the railroad and agriculture. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 59, Junction Business Loop I-80 and Nebraska Link 17J (Upland Parkway) north to U.S. 30 and U.S. 385. This is the eastern entrance to the city of Sidney, which is the seat of Cheyenne County. Photo taken 09/05/05.
A rest area is located just prior to Exit 59 for restrooms, phone, and water; all services are available at the Sidney Business Loop exit. Photo taken 09/05/05.
According to the community statistics page on the official Sidney website, traffic at Exit 59 has more than doubled between 1988 and 2002, from 6,680 vehicles in 1988 to 16,985 vehicles in 2002. This is partially due to the growth of the area as well as the increased traffic counts along Interstate 80 itself, which have dramatically risen during the same time period. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Near this interchange is the nationally famous Cabela's, the World's Foremost Outfitter. A regional draw, the headquarters and flagship Cabela's store is located here in Sidney just west of this interchange. Cabela's features hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear of all kinds. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Now on the offramp from Interstate 80 west to Business Loop I-80 and Nebraska Link 17J (Upland Parkway) is this sign, advising a right turn (north) to all services and downtown Sidney. Follow the signs to U.S. 385 north to Bridgeport and U.S. 26. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Nebraska Link 17J is merely the link between Interstate 80 and U.S. 30, and it is designated on Upland Parkway between Interstate 80 and U.S. 30/Illinois Street. To U.S. 385 north, simply continue north on Upland Parkway (which is signed as U.S. 30 east); at the point where U.S. 30 east splits off of Upland Parkway, U.S. 385 continues north toward Bridgeport in Morrill County. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 55, Junction Nebraska 19 and Business Loop I-80 north to Sidney and Nebraska 19 south to Colorado 113 to Lorenzo and Sterling, Colorado. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Nebraska 19 travels south to the Nebraska-Colorado state line, then turns into Colorado 113. Colorado 113 ends at U.S. 138 northeast of Sterling; follow U.S. 138 west into the city. Photo taken 09/05/05.
To the north, Nebraska 19 only travels as far as U.S. 30; the state highway ends there. Unlike some of the other north-south state routes, Nebraska 19 is relatively short and only acts as a connector route between Sterling and Sidney via Lorenzo. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 55, Junction Nebraska 19 and Business Loop I-80 north to Sidney and Nebraska 19 south to Colorado 113 to Lorenzo and Sterling, Colorado. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 48, Junction Nebraska Link 17C north to Brownson and U.S. 30/Lincoln Highway. Cheyenne, Wyoming is 94 miles west of here. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 48, Junction Nebraska Link 17C north to Brownson and U.S. 30/Lincoln Highway. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 38, Junction Nebraska Link 17B north to Potter and Junction U.S. 30. Potter is another small town along the Union Pacific Railroad that owes its existence to agriculture. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 38, Junction Nebraska Link 17B north to Potter and Junction U.S. 30. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The town of Potter is visible to the north of the freeway. Incorporated in 1907, Potter is a small village along the Lodgepole Creek. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Midway between Potter and Dix, Interstate 80 leaves Cheyenne County and enters Kimball County. Interestingly, Potter and Dix share the same school district even though they are located in different counties. The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 29, Junction Nebraska Link 53A north to Dix. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Two hundred twenty-nine people call Dix home as of the 2000 Census. This small town was named Dix, which was short for "Dixon." Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 22, Junction Nebraska Link 53E north to Kimball; the control city of Cheyenne remains in place. Photo taken 09/05/05.
There are two exits (Exit 22, Junction Nebraska Link 53E and Exit 20, Junction Nebraska 71) that serve the city of Kimball. Called "The High Point of Nebraska," Kimball is considered the gateway to western Nebraska due to its location on Interstate 80 and the Heartland Expressway. The city is closest to the highest point in Nebraska, which is near the point where Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado meet in the southwestern corner of Nebraska's panhandle. A total of 2,559 people live in Kimball as of the 2000 Census, which is a number close to the population of the city in 1990. An average of 14.65 inches of precipitation falls in Kimball each year. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 22, Junction Nebraska Link 53E north to Kimball. The city of Kimball was founded in 1867 as the Union Pacific Railroad pushed through western Nebraska. Known as Antelopeville (due to a nearby herd of antelope), Kimball was given its modern name in 1885, only five years before the town became the seat of the newly formed Kimball County. For more on the history and economy of Kimball, visit the official History of Kimball webpage. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 20, Junction Nebraska 71. For now, this interchange serves as the connection to the Heartland Expressway, but that might change with the proposed construction of the Heartland Expressway Kimball Bypass. Plans call for completion of a Nebraska 71/Heartland Expressway bypass of Kimball to be completed in 2010, along with the section of expressway from Kimball south to Brush, Colorado. As of November 2005, funding is secure for the Kimball bypass, but funding has not yet been identified for the section leading south to Kimball. The Heartland Expressway project would create a four-lane highway from Colorado Springs to Rapid City via U.S. 24 and Nebraska 71 with a spur route via U.S. 26 to connect to Torrington and Interstate 25. Completion of the route is expected in 2015, pending funding identification. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 20, Junction Nebraska 71. Nebraska 71 is part of a long, multi-state route, extending from U.S. 350 near Timpas, Colorado north to U.S. 18-385 in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Of this route, the section between Limon and Scottsbluff is part of the Heartland Expressway Corridor. This corridor, which is part of the High Priority Corridor 14, will provide for a four-lane highway (not necessarily freeway) between Colorado Springs and Rapid City via Limon, Kimball, Scottsbluff, and Alliance in 2015. The portion of Colorado 71 south of Limon is also slated for an upgrade as part of the Heartland Expressway Corridor. This corridor is part of High Priority Corridor 38. Photo taken 09/05/05.
A large wind farm owned by the Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska (MEAN) is located north of Interstate 80 after the Nebraska 71 interchange. The first year of operation was in 2002. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Now west of Kimball, westbound Interstate 80 approaches Exit 8, Junction Nebraska Link 53C north to Bushnell and U.S. 30. Photo taken 09/04/04.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 8, Junction Nebraska Link 53C north to Bushnell and U.S. 30. The village of Bushnell is home to approximately 117 people as of 2004 (estimate). Incorporated as a village in 1916, Bushnell owes its existence to its location along the Union Pacific Railroad. Photo taken 09/04/04.
Like most shields along Interstate 80, the reassurance shield after Exit 8 is again a large, neutered shield. Photo taken 09/04/04.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Pine Bluffs (Junction Nebraska Link 53B/Business Loop I-80, seven miles) and Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming (49 miles). Photo taken 09/04/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 80 is Exit 1, Junction Business Loop I-80 and Nebraska Link 53B north to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. This is the final interchange in the Cornhusker State. Photo taken 09/04/04.
The State of Wyoming Welcome Center is available at Exit 401, Junction Business Loop I-80 and Business U.S. 30 to Wyoming 215. This is the second Pine Bluffs interchange, located after the Nebraska-Wyoming State Line. Photo taken 09/04/04.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 1, Junction Nebraska Link 53B and Business Loop I-80 north to U.S. 30, Pine Bluffs. From here, U.S. 30 merges onto westbound Interstate 80; the two routes will share alignment through much of Wyoming, unlike their separate routings throughout most of Nebraska. Photo taken 09/04/04.
Follow Nebraska Link 53B and Business Loop I-80 north to U.S. 30 and Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. The town is located in Wyoming, but some development is in Nebraska. Photo taken 09/04/04.
At the top of the ramp is this shield assembly for northbound Nebraska Link 53-B and Business Loop I-80 north to U.S. 30. The business loop turns west to follow Business U.S. 30 into Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. Most motorist services are located in Wyoming, not Nebraska. Photo taken 09/04/04.
Westbound Interstate 80 and U.S. 30
Immediately after the Pine Bluffs exit, the next exit is the State of Wyoming Welcome Center/Rest Area (as well as Exit 401, Junction Wyoming 215, Business Loop I-80, and Business U.S. 30 north to Pine Bluffs and Albin). Photo taken 09/04/04.
Interstate 80 leaves Nebraska and enters the Equality State of Wyoming. Photo taken 09/05/05.

Page Updated November 6, 2005.