Southern Wyoming has served as a major travel corridor since the mid 1800s - and for good reason. Emigrants traveling west needed safe routes where food and water were available. Guides familiar with the region determined the best route was across the basins of Wyoming, passing north of the southern Rocky Mountains. Over the next century, stagecoach routes, railroads, telegraph and telephone lines, and roadways would be established along this corridor.
Emigrant trails included the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails to the north and the Cherokee and Overland Trails, which followed a more southern path. More than 500,000 emigrants traveled these westward routes across Wyoming to new lives in California, the Salt Lake Valley, and the Pacific Northwest.
Pony Express horseback riders carried mail in relay between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California in only 10 days. Stations, where riders would change horses, were spaced about 10 miles apart along the 2,000-mile trail.
The Pacific Telegraph Company ran its cross-country telegraph line through southern Wyoming in the early 1860s. At the time, the telegraph served as the only instantaneous communication link between the east and west coasts.
Overland Stage Route
The Overland Stage carried over 20,000 travelers a year, including prominent people of the era like Mark Twain and Horace Greeley. At one time, the trail was the only route on which the government allowed travel, due to Indian conflicts on the Oregon trail.
One of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century was the building of the transcontinental railroad. The railroad crossed southern Wyoming to take advantage of the low grade and to stay close to coal deposits it relied on for fuel.
The Lincoln Highway was the first roadway to span the continent. Publications, like the 1913 Lincoln Highway Guide, helped travelers traverse the 3,000 miles between New York City and San Francisco. The highway became US 30 within Wyoming in 1928 and evolved into I-80 during the 1960s and 1970s.
Transcontinental Telephone Line
The first transcontinental telephone line followed the same path through Wyoming as the transcontinental railroad. Today, fiber-optic cables transport modern-day telecommunications along this historic travel corridor.
What Are These Buildings?
The red brick buildings, distributed along I-80, are telephone line equalizer stations that clear, strengthen, and direct telephone transmissions.
Transcontinental Mail Route1920
Airmail planes generally followed the route of the Union Pacific Railroad. The aircrafts required frequent refueling with stops at Cheyenne, Rawlins, Rock springs and Evanston.