This project presents an examination of the history of the Wyoming section of the Lincoln Highway, and the arguments for and against the final routing of the road across the state. The format found on this web site is primarily 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). 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.
Unlike today where a tourist can find a road atlas at any convenience store, gas station or even a big box store; road maps are printed annually by state departments of transportation, and of course the Internet is literally at the fingertips of anyone who has a smart phone. The only publications available to early travelers and adventurers who sought to explore the country were generally made available by the newly-formed American Automobile Association through their “Blue Book” guides; these were not entirely accurate. Many motorists would have to ask for directions from town to town, the roads were barely marked, (if at all), many roads crossed property belonging to farmers and some of these farmers would not only charge a fee to enter their property, but would charge additional fees to help the motorist out of a jam, or most likely a mud hole.
The “Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway” was the first travelogue which would offer the motorist a verifiable guide as a means to make a successful trek across a large swath of the country most would only have found accessible by rail. Rail was a wonderful way to see the country, but as Americans, we generally don’t like to have to follow “somebody else’s schedule”, and prefer to follow our own. Today we enjoy the freedom of being able to jump in the car and go anywhere we want, pretty much any time we want.
The guide book was intended to be used by motorists who would attempt the cross-country trek; it was estimated that the journey could be done in right at nineteen days. This assumed an average speed of eighteen miles an hour.
This page is broken into four sections, all are from the first part of the guide book:
The dedication, the “Foreword To the Woman Tourist” and a note about possibly getting gouged by unscrupulous oil and gas sellers, hotel and garage owners. Finally, you’ll see in the section below titled “The Necessities”; points west of Omaha had special recommendations; the perception being that the west was still mostly untamed.
Editors note: Everything on this page is copied, word for word from the guide book. I made no attempt to change any content, change or correct capitalization’s or correct misspellings. I did make notations where necessary.
To those motorists who this year use The Lincoln Highway in a search for the benefits of Health, Pleasure and Education, this Guide Book is dedicated.
This Guide Book is published for your use without excuse or apology.
Its publication was made imperative by a demand, both insistent and increasing, for certain detailed information.
In its compilation the Association has been aided by hundreds of those whose interest in the Highway might almost be considered an obsession.
We have tried to be truthful in all matters that pertain to road conditions, accommodations, etc. Some of the information may be inaccurate due to causes beyond our control. If you find such inaccuracies please communicate the facts to us.
Before the close of the present (1915) touring season, the Association expects to have every foot of this great 3384-mile transcontinental touring highway covered more than once, by its own officials, seeking out these inaccuracies in order that the second edition, for 1916, may be above any suspicion or reproach.
Given fair weather, and with the exercise of reasonable caution in your preparation for the tour, in the driving of your car, and in providing yourself with suitable equipment, provisions, water, gas and oil, whenever the opportunity offers or arises, your trip across the Lincoln Highway should be neither perilous nor unduly hazardous. If you disregard these simple precautions you are sure to pay the penalty, as you would if touring in Maine, Michigan, or Indiana.
Some valuable hints to tourists are given by our engineer, Mr. Frank H. Trego.
The welcome extended to you by the people of the great West, your neighbors, will never be forgotten.
Fill your scrap book with personal notes and your own photographs for study during the long winter evenings of 1915-16 and you surely go again, if not next year, then in that future whose pleasures are of anticipation.
Signed: Henry B. Joy
Pres., The Lincoln Highway Association
National Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan. March 30, 1915
To the Woman Tourist
By Mrs. Thomas S. Gladding, Brooklyn, N.Y.
When we undertook the long motor tour across the continent, on the Lincoln Highway, in the spring of 1914, we had behind us as a background for our American tour, two years of most interesting travel in Europe, in India, Burma and Ceylon, and in Australasia. My husband had driven his motor car nearly 9,000 miles in Europe, and we had visited in leisurely fashion eight European countries.
I can quite truthfully say that our trip across the continent was in no way an anti-climax to all our interesting motor and other travel of the previous two years. We reached New York more proud than ever of our country, and more impressed than before with her vastness, her richness and fertility, her prosperity, the boundless possibilities of her future, her varied scenery, and the friendliness of her people.
I cannot imagine a more enriching American trip for my country-women than this tour across the continent. If I could speak to them with a far-reaching voice I should say something like this: If you love to see the noble pine forests and lofty peaks of the high Sierras, the rich parklike [sic] valleys of the California coast, dotted with live oak trees; the prune, the cherry, the orange and the lemon; if you would enjoy the wide stretches of gray-green deserts of Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, where the aromatic scent of the sage brush is in your nostrils, where the sunsets and sunrises are incomparable in their scarlet and lavender glory, and where the air of these high plateaus is wonderfully clear and exhilarating; if you would be interested to travel comfortably over the very trail along which the forty-niners toiled so painfully and with such heart-ache of hope deferred; if you would enjoy the high mountain meadows of Estes Park in Colorado and the wonderful peaks that tower above these meadows, so near and yet so far; if you would like to see the bread of a nation and the corn-bread of a nation growing and being harvested on the great rolling plains of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois; if you would enjoy the green pastoral stretches of Indiana and Ohio and the charming diversified scenery of beautiful Pennsylvania, then take the Lincoln Highway tour. Sometimes squirrels, rabbits and prairie dogs will scramble wildly across your path. You will flush covies[sic] of quail and of prairie chickens. Sometimes an antelope will bound across the Wyoming desert in plain sight. Sometimes a coyote will sneak by, and turn from a safe vantage point to gaze curiously at you. Meadow larks will soar in the field around you uttering their sweet calls; and the killdeer will utter their clear cries. You will see thousands of gray doves and red-winged blackbirds. You will meet Western people traveling as of old in prairie schooners across the plains, sometimes to pay visits, sometimes to prospect for new farming country, open to the homesteader. You will stop at ranch houses and at country inns and learn much of the life of the country if you are courteous and friendly. You will probably come across some Wild West shows, and see such of the lasso and such horseback riding as you never before witnessed.
You will be weary at night, but you will be ready for the open road and the new adventure the next morning, particularly if you drive leisurely and really see things as you go along.
And if you are like me, you would feel that you would some day like to make the entire trip again.
Hotel and Garage Rates
The hotel and garage rates given in this Guide were secured in every instance from the properties of the establishments themselves and except in cases of a change of management or of facilities, will be found correct. As is well known, it has not been uncommon in the past for hotels, garages and other businesses, especially in the smaller towns, to have one rate for the local resident or ordinary transient and another for the motorist. The hotels and garages who have complied with our request and furnished us with their rates for publication in this volume have shown their good faith in this matter of one price for all. If in any instance the tourist is charged more for his accommodations or service than is indicated by the prices stated in this book, it will be a service to the Association and to other tourists if the matter is reported to the national headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association that future editions of this volume may not lead the tourists of next year astray.
Crossing the country in the early part of the twentieth century was going to be a time consuming project, regardless of the choice of conveyance. If taking a train, the journey would take right around a week. The following is an excerpt from The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway, again, as it appeared in the original text.
Hints to Transcontinental Tourists
By F.H. Trego, Chief Engineer, The Lincoln Highway Association
Editor’s note: Mr. Trego is an automobile engineer and a road expert of the highest caliber. He has made the journey from coast-to-coast many times by motor car and therefore knows whereof he speaks. His observations are all the results of a wide experience in matters of this kind, and his advice can be relied upon.
The transcontinental tour is now comparatively easy and decidedly worth while[sic].
I say “now” because such has not been the case in the past. Until very recently, a trip across the continent has been more or less of an adventure, a somewhat hazardous as well as an expensive and lengthy undertaking, requiring some measure of endurance.
Routes had to be selected with great care. Information had to be secured regarding the condition of stretches of road in many states, which might or might not be in passable condition. Much preliminary work had to be done before the trip was attempted, and even then a great deal was left to luck. Now that improved-road agitation has taken such a hold on many of the states, and since so much work has already been accomplished on the Lincoln Highway, which has been graded, drained, hard-surfaced and plainly marked over so many hundreds of miles of level road, a transcontinental trip by automobile has lost many of its formerly unpleasant aspects.
Of course a journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific by motor car is still something of a sporting trip, and one must expect and put up cheerfully with some unpleasantness, just as you would on a shooting trip into the Maine woods for example. Those who want luxury and ease should take a de luxe [sic] train. To those who love the wide spaces, who enjoy exertion in the clear ozone of the great out-of-doors, the trip is a delightful outing.
One can now drive for nearly 2900 miles across the country without once being more than half a mile from the familiar red, white and blue Lincoln Highway markers which point out so unmistakably the shortest and best route to the Pacific Coast.
The only thing which might make a coast-to-coast automobile trip a hardship now, would be a lack of proper equipment and perhaps the wrong time of year.
The greatest asset on a trip of this kind is “common sense.”
The next greatest asset is “efficient equipment.”
The entire expenses of a car and four passengers from New York to San Francisco, a distance of 3384 miles via the Lincoln Highway, should not exceed $300.00 if the trip is made in 20 days or so. This is expected to include everything except tire expenses and accidents, In it I have included gasoline, oil and all provisions, but have not figured on repairs to the car, caused by breakage or wear.
The above expense is based on the party camping out and doing most of their own cooking.
No restrictions need be placed upon the amount or quality of the provisions, as the above expense will easily cover the requirements of the average person.
The above estimate figures upon no hotel expense, the party sleeping in camp or in the car.
The time required for the trip, with easy driving, will be nineteen days, driving approximately ten hours per day. This will make an average of approximately eighteen miles per hour, during the driving time.
There are a few “don’ts,” which it would be well for every tourist to store away in his mind for future use – they will all come in handy at some time in the coast-to-coast trip.
Don’t wear wool next the skin. Wear linen or cotton underneath.
Don’t wait until the gasoline is almost gone before filling up. There might be a delay or it might not be obtainable at the next settlement.
Don’t allow the water-can to be other than full of fresh water, and fill it whenever you get the chance. You might spring a leak in the radiator or burst a water-hose.
Don’t allow the car to be without food at any time, The list given herewith indicates what should be in the car, all of the time, with four passengers.
Don’t buy oil in bulk when it can be avoided. Buy the one-gallon original cartons.
Don’t fail to have warm clothing in the outfit. The high altitudes are cold and the dry air penetrating.
Don’t carry loaded firearms in the car, except possibly a small pistol of some sort.
Don’t fail to put out your camp-fire when leaving.
Don’t forget the yellow goggles.
Don’t forget the camphor ice.
Don’t build a big fire for cooking – the smaller the better.
Don’t ford water without first wading through it.
Don’t drive over twenty-five miles per hour. The unexpected small, dry wash-outs (west of Omaha), will break springs.
Don’t carry good clothes – ship them.
Don’t wear leather puttees – use canvas.
Don’t drink alkali water – serious cramps will result.
Don’t wear new shoes.
As to help tourists making the coast-to-coast trip over the Lincoln Highway and from a knowledge which has dearly brought with experience, I offer a few suggestions, and also a list of necessary supplies which should be carried by all coast-to-coast drivers.
The supplies largely depend upon the taste of the individual, but there are some things which should not be omitted from the outfit under any circumstances. In case of a breakdown or delay, hunger or thirst are not pleasant companions; neither can a man work if he is half starved and his mouth dry from dust and lack of water.
The camping directions will be useful when the party gets west of Omaha, Nebraska.
To Get Out of a Mud Hole: if the rear wheels are stuck and will not take hold, dig a hole in front of each forward wheel, into which the wheels can immediately roll. Place sage brush in front of the rear wheels. When the car moves, block the rear wheels quickly and repeat the holes in front. Drive the rear wheels as slowly as possible to avoid unnecessary churning.
No extra gasoline need be carried. Keep the tank as full as possible at all times. Fill it at each opportunity, no matter whether it is low or not.
If sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag, wear heavy socks or moccasins.
Dig a trench in the bed location for the hips. This will prevent “sore hip.” Make it about two inches deep with round edges. The trench should be about 8 inches wide and the full width of the sleeping bag. Don’t neglect this.
Building a Fire: Shave three small sticks of the size of your finger, leaving the shavings attached to the sticks. Stand these in a pyramid, shavings pointing down. Pile other sticks against these in pyramid form, then light. Fire burns best with something to climb upon. If windy, build the fire in a trench. Always build the fire on the lee side of the car, on account of possible sparks.
Put shoes under the edge of the sleeping bag, out of the dew. Coat, etc., use as a pillow.
Several light blankets are warmer than one or two heavy ones. A cotton comfort with the blankets, will keep out the wind.
Start early and stop before dark to select camp site.
Always camp on high ground – never by water, on account of the mosquitoes.
If the feet get sore, rub the inside of stockings with soap.
1 Lincoln Highway Radiator Emblem.
1 pair Lincoln Highway Pennants.
2 sets Tire Chains.
6 extra Cross Chains.
1 Sparton Horn.
1 Chain Tightener Springs.
1 set Tools.
1 pair Good Cutting Pliers.
1 piece Hardwood Board, 1 ½ in. x 4 ft. x 10 in.
2 extra Tire Casings.
4 extra Inner Tubes.
1 Casings Patch.
3 Spark Plugs.
8 feet High Tension Cable.
8 feet Low Tension Cable.
1 extra Valve and Spring, complete.
3 Cans Oil, in one gallon cans.
1 Shovel (medium size0.
50 feet 7/8-inch Manila Rope.
1 small Can Liquid Glue (mending camera, etc.)
1 Upper Radiator Connection.
1 Lower Radiator Connection.
1 set Lamp Bulbs.
1 10-gal. Milk Can with stay straps (for water, west of Omaha).
1 Canteen, 2 quarts.
1 Frying Pan, 10 in.
1 Grate for camp fire, 12 in. x 24 in.
1 Coffee Pot, 2 quarts.
4 Cups, large.
4 Pans (deep), 5 in. diameter.
2 Cooking Spoons.
4 Soup Spoons.
8 Plates, 8 in. diameter.
2 Stew Pots (to nest).
1 Cooking Fork, 3-prong.
1 Carving Knife, butcher type.
3 bars Ivory Soap.
6 Dish Towels.
1 Can Opener.
1 Bread Pan (for dish washing).
1 Bucket with lid.
1 Can for Pepper.
1 Patent Egg Carrier (1 dozen).
1 Cork Screw.
1 Air-Tight Coffee Can, 2 pound.
1 Air-Tight Tea Can, ½ pound.
1 Lincoln Highway Association Membership Card.
1 Lincoln Highway Lapel Button.
1 Waterproof Sleeping Bag (warm type).
1 Waterproof Duffle Bag, 15 in. x 36 in.
No suit case or satchel should be carried.
1 Sleeping Cap (knit silk).
1 Pair Light Moccasins.
2 pair Khaki (or Duxbac) Riding Trousers.
2 Army Officers’ Shirts (best quality for warmth).
1 pair Light Weight Tan Shoes.
1 pair Heavy Weight Tan Shoes (loose enough for heavy socks).
2 pair Heavy Wool Socks.
2 suits Heavy Wool Underwear.
2 suits Light Linen or Cotton Under wear (to wear under the wool or alone – don’t wear wool next to the skin).
2 Bandana Neck Kerchiefs.
3 pair Medium Weight Socks.
1 Teamster’s Canvas Coat, slicker and flannel, lined with a high collar.
1 pair Canvas Puttees (don’t wear leather).
1 Rubber Shirt.
1 stick Camphor Ice.
2 dozen Cathartic Tablets.
1 package Gauze.
3 rolls Gauze Bandages, 1 ½ in. wide.
1 tube Vaseline (for guns and burns).
1 Tooth Brush.
1 Knife (strong), two or three blades.
1 Pocket Compass.
1 Safety Razor.
1 can Shaving Soap, Powder.
1 Mirror (small).
Needles and Thread.
1 package Bachelor Buttons.
1 pair Scissors (small).
2 pair Gloves, gauntlet.
1 Belt, leather.
1 Inexpensive Open Face Watch.
1 Rubber Sheet, 6 ft. x 7 ft.
1 pair Yellow Goggles.
1 pair White Goggles.
1 sq. yd. Mosquito Netting.
1 Can Tooth Paste.
(This list should be with the car at all times, west of Omaha, Neb.)
1 Slab Best Bacon.
3 cans Peaches.
3 cans Pineapple.
3 cans Tomatoes.
3 cans Baked Beans.
1 dozen Eggs.
4 loaves Bread.
1 sack Salt.
1 can Pepper.
1 pound Butter (not necessary).
2 pounds Rice.
10 pounds Potatoes.
6 cans Evaporated Milk (small size).
1 pound Sugar.
1 package Safety Matches (dozen boxes).
2 pounds Cracked Wheat.
1 pint Pickles.
1 box Graham Crackers.
2 pounds Coffee (ground).
½ pound Tea.
1 roll Surgeons’ Plaster, 1 in. wide, 5 yards (for sealing cans, etc.).
3 cans Corn.
Fresh Fruit, often as possible.
Citation: “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.