Browse Articles about Transportation
|Highways, Wyoming’s Named||John Clayton|
|1949, Blizzard of||Rebecca Hein|
|Ada Magill Grave||WyoHistory.org|
|Airmail, U.S. in Wyoming||Steve Wolff|
|Arthur, Chester A. and 1883 trip to Yellowstone||Dick Blust, Jr.|
|Automobile, Wyoming’s first||Phil Roberts|
|Ayres Natural Bridge, Oregon Trail site||WyoHistory.org|
|Baker, Pvt. Ralston, pioneer grave of||Randy Brown|
|Bicycling in Early Wyoming||Lori Van Pelt|
|Big Sandy Crossing||WyoHistory.org|
The automobile age arrived in Wyoming almost unnoticed. While the Spanish American War dominated headlines, Elmer Lovejoy was building Wyoming’s first car in his Laramie bicycle shop during the winter of 1897-98. Townspeople thought the machine an “interesting toy,” but Lovejoy stuck with his tinkering, with some surprising long-term results.
Freight, mail and stagecoach passengers endured the rough, dangerous road from Rawlins on the Union Pacific through Lander to the Shoshone reservation for 27 years. “God bless the old stage line; she is doomed,” one postmaster wrote in 1906, when a railroad first reached Lander, “but it beat walking.”
In the early days of motorcars, promoters gave names to auto routes to boost tourist travel. Several named highways crossed significant portions of Wyoming, with Yellowstone Park a prime attraction. But by the mid-1920s the system had become chaotic. The government began numbering routes instead—gaining efficiency and sacrificing romance.
In 1913, the nation’s first transcontinental highway—initially more idea than road—followed Wyoming’s southern rail corridor. After its life as a named highway ended, the route lived on as U.S. 30. Since I-80 was finished in 1970, the Lincoln Highway has become a nostalgic touchstone for a friendlier, more easygoing way to drive.
As mass production of automobiles increased the demand for better roads, federal highway funds became available to states and “good roads” committees pioneered the identification, improvement and naming of likely tourist routes. Among the first of these, from the Black Hills to Yellowstone, was the Black and Yellow Trail.
Thirteen hours before killer “Tricky” Riggle’s death sentence was to be carried out, Gov. Milward Simpson commuted his punishment to life in prison. Simpson family members later maintained that this cost the governor his second term, but other controversial stands—on gambling and the route of the new I-90—probably hurt him more.
Wyoming’s coal mining industry was secure until the early 1950s, when the Union Pacific switched to diesel-powered locomotives. Laid-off miners and their families struggled; little company towns disappeared. Eventually, trona mining expanded and replaced many of the coal jobs—and in the 1970s, coal came roaring back.