Wyoming 59 is a primary state route originating at Interstate 25 Exit 135 in Douglas and traveling north to the Montana State Line via Gillette. The highway continues north as Montana 59 until its junction with Montana 200 at Jordan, Montana. Together, Wyoming 59 and Montana 59 serve Douglas, Bill, Wright, Thunder Basin National Grassland, Gillette, Weston, Broadus, and Miles City and Jordan. Wyoming 59 follows State Control Number P-43 for its entire length.
Based on research of older Official Wyoming State Highway Maps, Wyoming 59 used to be Wyoming 185 prior to 1936. Between 1936 and 1945, it was known as Wyoming 387. From 1945 on, the road was known as Wyoming 59. A 1947 Rand McNally map shows Wyoming 59 as Wyoming 87, but that seems to be an unlikely designation. Since Wyoming 59 continues in Montana as Montana 59, it is unclear if the 59 designation was first created by Montana or Wyoming.
Wyoming 59 is very long highway. Dale Sanderson traveled Wyoming 59 in the Fall of 1997, and he indicated that there are several "soft buttes" between Moorcroft, Gillette, and Wright. These buttes are shaped like most buttes east of the Rockies, but instead of bare rocks, they are mostly covered with very short grass. Dale wrote that while driving Wyoming 59 between Douglas and Wright that he had "the feeling of being about as far away from civilization as possible. ... I've looked at the Wyoming map before and imagined that the stretch between Gillette and Douglas must go through one of the most desolate places in the country -- now I know from experience." Development of the natural gas and coal mining industry throughout the Powder River Basin has resulted in tremendous growth along the Wyoming 59 corridor, including large mines and related facilities. Truck traffic on Wyoming 59 is especially high considering the relative desolation of the route, and the section of Wyoming 59 between Garner Lake Road and Interstate 90 in Gillette was the single busiest stretch of state highway in Wyoming (including the Interstates) in the late 2000s.
Recommendations for Wyoming 59
Consider designating Garner Lake Road as part of an officially signed and recognized Wyoming 59 bypass (coupled with an overlap on Interstate 90) to allow trucks easier access to the Gillette Port of Entry and to lessen the number of trucks on the busy segment between Garner Lake Road and Interstate 90 in Gillette. This may be accomplished also if Southern Drive and Garner Lake Road are unified as a single state route to serve as a circumferential route through the southern parts of Gillette.
Continue to add truck passing lanes and full passing lanes, especially between Wright and Gillette.
Designate Wyoming 59 as a U.S. highway. Available numerical designations that have historical significance include U.S. 185 (owing to the pre-1936 state route designation), U.S. 312 (owing to the former U.S. 312 between Broadus and Miles City along current Wyoming 59), or U.S. 387 (owing to brief time Wyoming 59 was signed as Wyoming 387).
|Wyoming 59/Douglas Highway north|
||Wyoming 59 extends from Douglas north to Montana via Bill, Wright, and Gillette. Here, northbound Wyoming 59 approaches Interstate 90 in Gillette. Follow Interstate 90 east to Sundance and west to Buffalo and Sheridan. Photos taken 09/04/04.|
||The next left turn connects northbound Wyoming 59 to westbound Interstate 90 in Gillette; Wyoming 59 continues north to meet the business loop near downtown. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
||Northbound Wyoming 59 is signed with this reassurance shield after the interchange with Interstate 90 in Gillette. A large city park is located to the west of Wyoming 59. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
||Turn left onto Business Loop I-90 and U.S. 14-16 west to downtown Gillette; turn right on U.S. 14-16 and Business Loop I-90 east to Interstate 90 east to Moorcroft, Devils Tower, Sundance, and the Black Hills. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
||Northbound Wyoming 59 reaches Junction U.S. 14-16 and Business Loop I-90, which is the original east-west route through Gillette before Interstate 90 was completed as a marginal route to the south of the downtown area. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
||To the north of Gillette, this is a scene of Wyoming 59 as it passes by ranch and mining areas. A rather large coal mine is located to the east of Wyoming 59, and a parking area provides views of the pit. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
|Wyoming 59/Douglas Highway south|
Page Updated August 28, 2011.