Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

The longest highway in America touches Wyoming

 


During a recent road trip through nine states, I stumbled onto an interesting factoid: the longest highway in America bisects Wyoming.

It is Historic US 20, which is 3,365 miles in length. We drove on that road a lot during our trip and it was well worth it.

In Wyoming, the highway enters the state east of Lusk on a truly crappy stretch of highway and continues to Orin Junction where it joins I-25 and then heads north to Douglas and Glenrock. It continues to Casper and then heads west to Shoshoni. My late father always complained that long stretch from Casper to Shoshoni, was “96 miles of nuthin.’”

From Shoshoni the highway heads north next to Boysen Reservoir and through glorious Wind River Canyon to Thermopolis. It continues to Worland, Basin and Greybull before turning west to Cody and Wapiti Valley where it enters Yellowstone at the east gate. Along the way Historic US 20 picks up and joins U. S. highways 14 and 18 at times, before exiting the state.

An effort that started in Ohio is underway to provide more recognition to Historic US 20, both as a tourism corridor and also a tourist destination in its own right.

I have some experience with foreign visitors, especially the Brits and the Germans. They love to visit out-of-the way towns like Lusk, Shoshoni, Thermopolis, Worland, Basin and Greybull. Europeans average five weeks of paid vacation each year so they can afford to take leisurely trips along the back roads of America.

They are going to love visiting Historic US 20. Folks in Wyoming along US 20 who want to get involved in this national promotional effort should contact Bryan Farr, who wrote a book a few years ago about the famous highway. More information is at http://www.historicUS20.com.

Our trip saw us travel by car through all these states as we headed to a wedding in Kansas and ended up in Northeast Iowa at my 50th high school reunion

Roads were generally good in all states although the wife of my best high school friend Everett Rowland, who is a county supervisor in Fayette County, Iowa, claimed that Iowa has the worst roads in the country and the third worst bridges.

That state’s “governor for life,” Terry Branstad was all over the TV bragging about Iowa being considered the “second best managed state” in the country. Who is first? Wyoming, of course.

Branstand is running again as the state’s official tightwad and if elected he will have served 24 years in that post. Amazing.

When you are in the Midwest this time of year the big news is the weather.

Torrential rainfalls that occasionally topped five inches in a single storm provided flooding and hazardous driving conditions all over my home area of Northeast Iowa.

Our planned visit to my favorite childhood state park, Backbone, will have to occur at another time since it was closed because of high water.

Earlier, while in western Iowa at my wife Nancy’s hometown of Harlan, we were concerned about tornadoes heading our way that had ripped through Pilger, NE. If you catch the images, it was extraordinary. Dual monsters, a mile apart, tore up parallel courses through that part of the Cornhusker state.

Although Wyoming is officially the windiest state in the union, Iowa has turned into a constant hurricane according to folks who live there. They all believe some kind of climate change is occurring. It was easy to believe that one day when I tried to play golf in 50 mph winds with my brother in law Roger Thomsen.

My sister Marybeth and her husband Steve hosted us in Dundee, Iowa, where I was able to spend time with four of my 10 siblings.

I had earlier joked with friends that I was “going to visit some old folks” at my class reunion, which was held later that week at a riverboat casino in Marquette, Iowa. Actually most of them looked pretty good.

Over half the room was filled with folks who had been together over 45 years. The majority had gotten married at the ages of 18 and 19. Nancy and I were 19 and 20 when we got married. I always told my kids that “it was true love, so why wait?” But according to many of my classmates, it was also because of something called the draft and the Vietnam War, which made us want to grow up pretty darned fast.

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at http://www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at http://www.wyomingwonders.com or fine bookstores.

 

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