The Lincoln Highway in Wyoming: Interstate 80 and U.S. 30
A replica historic Lincoln Highway marker is posted at the Tree Rock display in the median of Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 near Milepost 333. This page showcases some unique Lincoln Highway-related sights along the historic route, generally found along the Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 corridors. Photo taken 09/06/05.
The Lincoln Highway is a transcontinental route that crosses 12 states on its journey from coast to coast. The highway predates both the Interstate Highway System (1956) and U.S. Numbered Highway System (1926), extending from New York City in the east to San Francisco in the west. Most of the route is followed by either an Interstate or U.S. Highway, but there are some sections (notably in Nevada and Utah) that are all but abandoned and are not part of today's modern highway system. In Wyoming, the Lincoln Highway follows Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 across the southern tier of the state.
San Francisco, Stockton, Sacramento, Carson City, Reno, Ely, Salt Lake City, Evanston, Rock Springs, Laramie, Cheyenne, Sidney, North Platte, Kearney, Grand Island, Fremont, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Aurora, Joliet, Chicago Heights, Plymouth, Fort Wayne, Van Wert, Mansfield, Canton, Pittsburgh, Bedford, York, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Camden, New York City
The Lincoln Highway is one of many named roads and trails that predated the U.S. Highway numbered system. Envisioned as a coast-to-coast roadway from San Francisco to New York, the "Father Road" (as opposed to U.S. 66, the famed "Mother Road") follows an alignment through 12 states, starting at Times Square in New York City and ending at Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It is not the most direct route between those cities -- Interstate 80 offers the most direct route today -- but the highway was one of the first transcontinental routes to cross the country.
A group of motorists who were enthusiastic about such a transcontinental highway decided to form the Lincoln Highway Association to advance its proposed route in 1912. They were led by industrialist Carl Fisher, and Henry Bourne Joy (of Packard) joined Fisher in the quest to finance and build this transcontinental highway. While Fisher originally called his transcontinental route the "Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway," it was Joy who named it after President Abraham Lincoln, who was president during the Civil War. Through a fund raising campaign of fellow industrialists and auto makers, the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) began the long and sometimes arduous process of marking the road and lobbying governments for their proposed new road. By 1913, the Lincoln Highway was an official route promoted by the LHA.
In 1915, the first Lincoln Highway Association route guide was published, and it listed the cities and towns along the route. The route generally followed U.S. 1 from New York City southwest to Camden, New Jersey, then turned west along U.S. 30 from Camden west through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming to Echo Junction, Utah. At Echo Junction, the Lincoln Highway turned southwest via former U.S. 530 to connect to U.S. 40. The highway continued west generally along U.S. 40 through Salt Lake City, then turned southwest via Fish Springs to Ely, Nevada (later generations of the road would move the Lincoln Highway to today's U.S. 40 and U.S. 93 Alternate via Wendover). From Ely west to San Francisco, the highway followed U.S. 50 (and former U.S. 48 between Stockton and Hayward in California). A special alternate route, called the Colorado Loop, followed U.S. 138, U.S. 6, U.S. 287, and U.S. 87 from Big Springs, Nebraska, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, via Denver.
Through the 1910s and early 1920s, the Lincoln Highway gained in popularity as a travel route, even though there were issues with the route in western Utah and eastern Nevada. With the coming of the U.S. numbered highway system, the Lincoln Highway became lost among the various numerical designations that were specifically set to ensure that no named highway or trail was granted a single continuous highway number. By 1927, the Lincoln Highway Association had disbanded, and it was up to the states to improve their individual sections of the Lincoln Highway as part of their state highway networks.
However, interest in this old road never waned, and the Lincoln Highway Association was restarted in 1992. Its mission is to "identify, preserve, interpret and improve access to the Lincoln Highway and its associated sites; pursue the appropriate measures to prevent further deterioration, destruction or alteration of the remaining sections of the Lincoln Highway; publicize and seek public awareness of its goals and activities for preserving, promoting and developing the Lincoln Highway; facilitate research about the Lincoln Highway, and publish a magazine for articles and news of activity relevant to the LHA; and work with local communities and businesses to promote the Lincoln Highway as a tourism destination."
Off Site Links to the Lincoln Highway
We recommend the following websites for on the Lincoln Highway:
- Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) - official site
- Lincoln Highway History (James Lin)
- Greetings from the Lincoln Highway (Brian Butko) - this is also an excellent book, Greetings from the Lincoln Highway (2005). Look for Mr. Butko's book on Amazon.com and at your favorite bookstore.
- Modern Lincoln Highway Photos (Sandor Gulyas) - includes some photos of the Wyoming section of the Lincoln Highway
- Look to the focus pages of California, Nevada, Utah, and Nebraska for route guides of the highways that today follow the route of the Lincoln Highway, including Interstate 80, U.S. 30, U.S. 40, and U.S. 50.
Lincoln Highway Photo Gallery
|Lincoln Highway: Summit Rest Area|
|The Summit Rest Area, located at Exit 323 (Wyoming 210/Happy Jack Road) is a place steeped in historical, geographical, and scenic interest. Located at the highest point of transcontinental routes Interstate 80, U.S. 30, and the Lincoln Highway at 8,640 feet above sea level, the rest area features a bronze bust of President Abraham Lincoln to commemmorate the highest point on the well-known Father Road. The Department of Transportation saw fit to place this sign indicating the elevation of the Sherman Hill Summit at the entrance to the rest area and tourist information center. Photos taken 08/02/10 and 09/06/05.|
|Aside from the exhibits found within the visitors center of the Summit Rest Area are several other Lincoln Highway artifacts and memorials on the grounds near the parking lot. The Lincoln Highway, which predates both Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 but came after the railroad, was established by Carl Fisher in 1913 to define a transcontinental route that would connect New York City with San Francisco. The goal was to have the road ready for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and most of the road was mapped by that time. However, the Lincoln Highway was barely passable for all of its original 3,389 miles, especially in western states where it passed through unpopulated areas. The road was gradually improved, and even President Eisenhower passed over portions of the Lincoln Highway as part of a miliary convoy, causing him to become interested in good roads. The Lincoln Highway eventually became part of the U.S. Highway System, and the majority became U.S. 30 from Utah to Pennsylvania. This sign, which is posted adjacent to the Henry Bourne Joy Monument, offers an historical overview of the route. Photo taken 08/02/10.|
|Henry Bourne Joy was the first president of the aforementioned Lincoln Highway Association (LHA), and his wish was to be buried in the Great Divide Basin in south-central Wyoming. Joy witnessed a sunset that he described as the most beautiful he had ever seen when he drove the Lincoln Highway in 1916, hence his desire. While he never was buried at the site, a monument was placed in the basin at Continental Divide Road (now Exit 184) in 1936 to memorialize Mr. Joy and the history of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway. The Joy memorial was moved in 2001 from the Great Divide Basin site due to extensive vandalism and damages made to the monument area. Now the Joy monument is found next to the Abraham Lincoln memorial at the Summit Rest Area. Photos taken 09/06/05 and 08/02/10.|
|Replica Lincoln Highway markers surround the Henry Bourne Joy monument. At the nearby tourist information center, information is only available from a clerk during the summer months, but the exhibits and restrooms are open year-round. The exhibits include a historical journey of the Lincoln Highway and routing of the road up Telephone Canyon to the Summit. Wildlife information, a large regional wall map, and other exhibits are also presented inside the rest area/visitors center. A spectacular view of the surrounding Pole Mountain wilderness areas along with the Vedauwoo rocks is afforded from a deck on the back of the visitors center. To reach Pole Mountain, use Wyoming 210 east; to Vedauwoo, continue east on Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 to Exit 329. Photos taken 08/02/10.|
|The bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln was first installed at the highest point on the Lincoln Highway in 1959, which is located on the service road between Exits 323 and 329. The service road on the south side of the freeway follows the original route of U.S. 30/Lincoln Highway, and the bust was placed at the summit of the service road at an elevation of 8,835 feet. The old highway became the service road when the freeway was opened in 1969. At the same time, the bust of President Lincoln was moved to its present location, at the Summit Rest Area at an elevation of 8,640 feet. Photos taken 09/06/05.|
|Robert Russin, who was an art professor at the University of Wyoming, designed and created the 13.5-foot tall bronze bust of Lincoln in 1959 to celebrate the president's 150th birthday. According to Greetings from the Lincoln Highway by Brian Butko (2005, pg. 189), Russin used ten tons of clay to create the bust, and the bust was cast in 30 pieces in Mexico City (which has a more favorable climate for such construction than Wyoming). The bust was transported from Mexico to Wyoming and placed atop a 35-foot tall base made of granite. The granite base is hollow, allowing for ladders and lightning rods inside. Of course, the memorial only lasted ten years in its original location at the 8,835-foot summit; it was moved in 1969 to its current location at the 8,640-foot summit. Photos taken 09/06/05.|
|A small bronze plaque is placed at the base of the pedestal and bust, and it indicates that the memorial was provided for by the state of Wyoming. Photos taken 09/06/05.|
|Inside the summit rest area adjacent to the Lincoln Monument are some interpretive panels describing the construction of the monument and importance of Sherman Hill on the transcontinental Lincoln Highway. Photos taken 09/06/05.|
|Here, President Lincoln looks down on his highway and the thousands who pass by daily at Sherman Summit. Photos taken 08/02/10.|
Page Updated September 15, 2014.