West Wendover, Nevada, Celebrates Over 80 Years of Highway History in Style

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West Wendover recently held an event in March celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the routing of the Lincoln Highway through West Wendover. The Victory Highway in West Wendover (primarily US 40 today) was dedicated 82 years ago this coming June 25. West Wendover now plans to preserve part of old roadbed that carried early automobile tourists across the Great Salt Desert by seeing the original auto route converted into a walking path with informational signs about the highway and relevant local history. Metal Arts Foundry, of Utah, is fashioning a monument -- similar to the original Victory Highway arch dedicated 82 years ago -- for the park. Area youth are involved in the project -- helping shape tomorrow's history today.

Celebrating the end and the beginning of something seldom happens at the same time. However, that's exactly what's going on in West Wendover, Nevada.

Honoring a beginning: A group of Indiana automobile manufacturers decided their cars needed a hard-packed coast-to-coast highway -- covering New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. Back in 1913, this route through Nevada was predominantly old stagecoach and freight wagon trails. That required some cash to be raised, and raise it they did.

Despite debates about routes, the Lincoln Highway Association and the federal, local and state governments all contributed funds for improvements. Considering that traveling the whole Lincoln Highway took twenty to thirty days, with the Salt Lake City to Ely leg alone requiring two full days, there was no question these changes were required.

Honoring an end: The routing dispute between Utah and Nevada was settled in a 1927 compromise -- a road between West Wendover and Ely, linking the Victory (primarily following US Route 40) and Lincoln Highways. This was the final section of the Lincoln Highway in Nevada to be agreed upon and built.

A celebration on March 16, 2007, was all about starting that final sector. West Wendover held a dedication ceremony to place commemorative markers on its historic stretch of the Lincoln and Victory Highway. These emblems are replicas of the original Lincoln Highway markers, fashioned after the three thousand cement ones commemorating Abraham Lincoln that were placed along the highway by the Boy Scouts of America in 1928.

It is only fitting that Korbin Murphy from Boy Scout Troop 140 Wendover, Utah, fashioned and placed a tep cover for the marker, dug the hole for placement, presented the colors and conducted the pledge the day of the event. Appropriately, this was done as part of his eagle project.

Following this event, the City of West Wendover began work on an eagle project too: Plans are underway to reenact the original Victory Highway dedication ceremony held over 82 years ago on June 25, 1925. Festivities, scheduled in 2009, include placing a monument that incorporates two bronze facsimiles of American bald eagles facing each other with a Victory Highway arch. This landmark will span the original roadway, which sits on the site of the newly planned West Wendover City complex.

Another new beginning is in store for that same abandoned half-mile stretch of pavement. West Wendover envisions preserving the old roadbed that carried early automobile tourists across the Great Salt Desert by seeing the original auto route converted into a walking path with informational signs about the highway and relevant local history.

The dedication of the Victory Highway in West Wendover over eighty years-two years ago had two governors and a member of the president's cabinet dressed in white overalls clearing away a pile of salt that was blocking the roadway. Officiating were Utah Governor George Dern, Secretary of Agriculture William Jardine, and Nevada Governor J. Stratham. Kerrie Supanich, who is responsible for organizing the 2009 event, indicates the intention to recreate the original dedication down to the last grain of salt.

Thomas Repp, Executive Editor of American Road® magazine, says, "The City of West Wendover's preservation efforts serve as a model for towns and cities across America. The fact that city schools in West Wendover have signed on to participate in the project means that the youth of West Wendover will gain a new appreciation for area history and their hometown. West Wendover provides us with an excellent example of ways to involve young people in shaping tomorrow's history today."

Please contact Kerrie Supanich for more information at 866-299-2489 or via e-mail at ksupanich @ westwendovercity.com.

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Kerrie Supanich
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