The railroad is what most of Laramie’s early history is focused on as it allowed new peoples and industries to grow the burgeoning city. Even so, a few decades after the railroad first came to Laramie, a new form of transportation came through that would cause Laramie to be a stop on a major highway system.
The historic Lincoln Highway started as one of the earliest transcontinental highways in 1913. Cutting across the southern part of Wyoming, it allowed travelers to go from East to West with a new-found freedom that came with the invention of the automobile. Laramie was just one of the many stops in southern Wyoming but held a claim to fame with the highest point on the highway being only miles outside of the growing town.
By the late 1950s, the historic Lincoln Highway was set to be replaced by the new Interstate 80. The second longest interstate in the country, I-80 would wind its way through southern Wyoming, bringing with it large truck travel and various others that wanted to make the trek cross country.
Both highways boasted fast travel but the weather in Wyoming could either help or hinder that travel. Large amounts of snow and wind called for special structures to keep roads clear, although it wasn’t always effective.
These highways follow historic paths, such as the Oregon Trail, and have made a mark on Laramie’s history through those that have come to Laramie on these paths and the stories the highways have given Laramie’s residents.
The Highways in Laramie exhibit will run from August 20 to September 4. Exhibits can be viewed in the 4th floor Reading Room. Reading Room hours are Monday 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Tuesday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
– Submitted by Katey Parris, AHC Reference Department.