Totaling 171.72 miles in length, Wyoming Highway 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 extends north as Montana State Highway 59 to MT 200 at Jordan. Together, the multi state route serves Douglas, Bill, Wright, Thunder Basin National Grassland, Gillette, Weston, Broadus, and Miles City and Jordan. WYO 59 follows State Control Number P-43 for its entire length.
Based on research of older Official Wyoming State Highway Maps, WYO 59 used to be WYO 185 prior to 1936. Between 1936 and 1945, it was designated as WYO 387. Onward from 1945, the highway was known as WYO 59. A 1947 Rand McNally map shows WYO 59 as WYO 87, but that seems to be an unlikely designation. Since WYO 59 continues in Montana as MT 59, it is unclear if the 59 designation was first created by Montana or Wyoming.
WYO 59 is very long highway. Dale Sanderson (webmaster of US Ends.com) traveled WYO 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 WYO 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 resulted in tremendous growth along the WYO 59 corridor, including large mines and related facilities. Truck traffic on WYO 59 is especially high considering the relative desolation of the route, and the section of WYO 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 Highway 59
Consider designating Garner Lake Road as part of an officially signed and recognized WYO 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 WYO 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 (relating to the former U.S. 312 between Broadus and Miles City along current WYO 59), or U.S. 387 (referencing the brief time WYO 59 was signed as WYO 387).
|Wyoming 59 north|
|Wyoming 59 extends from Douglas north from Wright to Gillette. The state highway expands into a commercial arterial through Gillette, where it meets Interstate 90. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
|Interstate 90 angles northwest from WYO 59 to WYO 50 in west Gillette before departing the area for Buffalo. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
|WYO 59 confirming marker posted along Douglas Highway north ahead of 7th Street. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
|Removed sign bridge for Business Loop I-90 and U.S. 14-16 on WYO 59 (Douglas Highway) north at 3rd Street. A monotube assembly at the forthcoming intersection replaced these overheads. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
|Wyoming 59 north combines with Business Loop I-90 & U.S. 14-16 (2nd Street) west through Downtown Gillette. The business route leads east to cross paths with I-90 in 1.3 miles. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
|Traveling north away from Gillette, Wyoming 59 passes by ranch and mining areas. A rather large coal mine is located to the east of the state highway, with a parking area providing views of the pit. Photo taken 09/04/04.|
09/04/04 by AARoads
Business Loop I-90 - Gillette
Page Updated 01-20-2018.