The Lincoln Highway has been called “The Main Street Across America”. This was more than an affectionate slogan; this was the intention of the first trans-continental automotive route across the country. The founders of the original Lincoln Highway Association sought that a “larger number of population [should be] served.”(1)
Wyoming is a state where wide open spaces are revered and celebrated. The territory of Wyoming made the Trans-Continental Railroad possible in 1868; little more than half a century later, the state was instrumental in making the first Trans-Continental automotive highway a reality. The Lincoln Highway was called “America’s Main Street”; in fact, many of the towns that dotted the map called the Lincoln “Main Street”; and in turn, many of these places renamed their “Main Streets” to Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln Street, or Lincoln Way. This was one of the intentions of the Lincoln Highway; to connect the country – town to town, neighbor to neighbor.
Many of the early proponents of the highway oftentimes compared the Lincoln Highway to that of the Via Appia that the Romans constructed in the 4th Century BCE. The length of the Appian Way was approximately 362 miles, the Lincoln would traverse a distance of nearly ten times that.
Unlike today’s Interstate Highway System, with its controlled access, its smooth ribbons of asphalt, concrete, and steel, its wide areas of egress, simplicity, and regulation; the Lincoln Highway was quite the opposite.
This project seeks to examine the history of the Wyoming section of the Lincoln Highway, the arguments about the final routing of the road across the state. The format for this website is based on the first publication of the “Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway”, (published by The Lincoln Highway Association, National Headquarters, Detroit, Michigan – copyrighted 1915(2)). This will include the mileage to and from the termini for the highway; the complete listing for all services, accommodations, population, pricing, and business concerns to be found for each location as of 1915.
This project is focused on the 400-mile stretch of the Lincoln Highway, (U.S. 30) as it crosses southern Wyoming; some forty towns and places were bypassed when Interstate 80 was completed in 1970. Some towns have nothing more than crumbling foundations where buildings once stood; others are slowly dying from old age, with no one to care for them. Still others are serving the needs of ranchers and travelers who continue to use this once important highway; most towns that are being documented have population counts of less than 500*. The average is 145 souls in each town.
The cities that have prospered as a result of the Interstate passing through them will have limited exposure; primarily the motels, and motor courts that once made the journey across the state at least comfortable.
*2010 census data
About the images:
The historical images found on this website are from various sources, including The American Heritage Center, The Wyoming State Archives, and The University of Michigan. All images are used with permission.
All new images were made using either a Canon 5D Mk-II, or a Canon 5DS-r. All images are processed using a manual high-dynamic-resolution process to achieve what I call a “time-lapse film compressed into one image”. All images required thirty to one hundred eighty minutes of shooting time, with as few as four frames used; and as many as forty. All images are as viewed from one location, with no manipulation beyond minor color enhancements, and removing only those items, (garbage, delineator posts, power, communication lines and guy wires), that would not have any bearing or impact to the image.
1) Letter from A.R. Pardington, V.P. LHA; Wyoming Semi-Weekly Tribune newspaper, Cheyenne, 6Jun1914, pg. 8.
2)“The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway”, (published by The Lincoln Highway Association, National Headquarters, Detroit, Michigan – copyrighted 1915) , Box 98, Folder Number 1, Payson W. Spaulding papers, 1886-1980, Collection Number 01803, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.