|The Lincoln Highway|
Roughly, the present route of U.S. 50
|VISITED||We Visited: All the time
Back in the good old days, roads were a local concern. If a road was needed from Point A to point B then some concerned citizens got together and made it happen. Many times, in the early years of transportation, someone would be given a license to build a toll road. This was a private road built with private funds and paid for by charging a toll to use it. Gieger Grade in Storey County and Kingsbury Grade in Douglas County both began as toll roads, as did many of the early roads in Nevada.About the turn of the century (1900's) railroads were the dominate form for interstate transportation, but a new invention- the automobile- was threatening to change all that. Richard Weingroff, in his article, The Lincoln Highway:
The country had approximately 2,199,600 miles of rural roads and only 190,476 miles (8.66 percent of the total) had improved surfaces of gravel, stone, sand-clay, brick, shells, oiled earth, bituminous or, as a U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) bulletin put it, "etc." Many people thought of interstate roads as "peacock alleys" intended for the enjoyment of wealthy travelers who had time to spend weeks riding around the country in their automobiles.
Then in 1912, Carl Fisher, an automobile enthusiast (and, coincidentally, manufacturer of automobile headlights) began campaigning for a transcontinental highway. By 1913, the route was dedicated, although the "highway" itself was still a ways off. Slowly, both the route and the surfaces were improved. In 1921, the federal government passed the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which made some improvement funds avaialble. Politics interfered as state and local governments campaigned to route their highways in ways that would economically benefit them. For example, instead of improving the Lincoln Highway west of Salt Lake City, Utah chose instead to improve a southerly route to Los Angeles, figuring it would keep motorists- and their money- in Utah for another 200 miles. The more northern Victory Highway competed for and won the coveted "Federal" designation, and by 1925 named highways succumbed to the present numbered system. Interestingly, interest in the Lincoln Highway- thanks to the hundreds of concrete markers and metal signs placed during its lifetime- didn't wane until the 1940's, and is even now enjoying a resurgence. For more information on the Lincoln Highway, you can view James Lin's excellent Lincoln Highway web site, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor web site, and The Lincoln Highway Association web site. Through Fallon, the Lincoln Highway (carrying the designations U.S. 50 and Nevada State Route 2) took a much different route than it does today, as you can see by checking out the maps on the next page. Around the site of Hill (Grimes Point) it turned directly west on what is now State Route 119 (Berney Road), turning north on present-day SR 115 (Harrigan Road) turning west again on East Stillwater Avenue (Courtesy Corner, as we old-timers used to call it). From there, it jogged north on East Street and then west on Center Street. Once at Maine Street, one headed North, turning left on Williams Avenue and continuing on until a right turn onto the present-day Auction Avenue.
Once out of Fallon, you could take the "northern" route through Reno and over Donner Summit- sharing a route with the Victory Highway- or the "southern" route through Carson City and over Spooner Summit.
U.S. Highway 50 is basically what remains of the Lincoln Highway In the eastern part of Churchill County, State Highway 722 through Eastgate and Carroll Summit was part of the original road as well. This web site is not going to attempt to cover the Lincoln Highway and it's route through Nevada-- that would take a lot more of my time. But keep in mind during your travels in Northern Nevada and the US 50 corridor that it's all around you. Check out this cool map.