The Lincoln Highway in Basin and Range – Chapter Two – Reno and Sparks

The Lincoln Highway Monument

Just west of Reno on I-80 is a Lincoln Highway monument worth stopping for. I include it here because it serves a a kind of gateway to west 4th Street, Reno’s Lincoln Highway route for the most part.

After leaving Verdi eastbound on I-80, this will be a pulloff on the right shoulder,  accessible only to eastbound travelers. Westbound traffic should exit at Verdi, go around the roundabout, and come back onto eastbound I-80.

It is here: ( 39° 30.568′N 119° 56.254′W)

Lincoln Highway Monument near Reno

And across the road, the other half:

Monument 2

Here is the plaque which describes the monument:

Plaque - click to enlarge

Reno

The 1916 guide to the Lincoln Highway says this in part about Reno,

Pop. 14,000. Alt. 4,499 feet. On the Truckee River. Seventeen hotels, 5 garages. Local speed limit 12 miles per hour, enforced. Route marked through town, signs at town limits. Five banks, 3 railroads, 1 express company, 2 telegraph companies, telephone, 2 newspapers, 8 public schools, electric lights, trolly, water works. Automobile Club. Commercial Club. Camp site.

For the most part, not entirely, the LHW was on Fourth Street all the way from one end of the city to the other and still can be driven without interruption. This takes you through a less desirable part of town but there is a nice country road on the west side. Need I mention there are plenty of hotels in Reno?

Directions Eastbound: from the LHW monument (above) on I-80 take the second exit for 4th Street, not the Mogul exit. You may return to I-80 eastbound at McCarren.

Directions Westbound: I’d take the McCarren exit north to Lincoln Way, turn left and left again where Lincoln Way bumps into Prater Way. Continue west on Prater and this becomes East 4th Street.

West 4th St

Although Reno has changed a great deal in the years since 1913, the flavor of the road is still there, even downtown. I wouldn’t bother trying to find all the old 1913 alignment further east since much of it has disappeared, especially true in neighboring Sparks. In fact at the time of the dedication of the LHW, Sparks was just a rural place not even mentioned in the first guidebook.

Downtown Reno ca. 1930

On east 4th Street

Here are some gps waypoints:

West 4th Street eastbound exit off I-80:  39° 30.846′N  119° 54.816′W

Lincoln Way at Prater in Sparks:  39° 32.342′N 119° 45.585′W (Prater becomes 4th St.)

McCarran exit in Sparks:  39° 31.868′N 119° 44.001′W (north to Lincoln Way the turn west)

Reno’s National Auto Museum

The National Auto Museum in Reno is not to be missed. It is just south of the Truckee River off S. Wells Ave. which crosses 4th St.

A Note for Model T Drivers and Fellow Slow-Car Travelers

I was hoping to find a freeway- less route on the old LHW but there is going to be about a one-mile trip on I-80 to get from Verdi to 4th Street. I’ve tried to find an alternative but it doesn’t exist, no matter what Google Earth might hint.

Next chapter: Fernley and Fallon

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4 Responses to The Lincoln Highway in Basin and Range – Chapter Two – Reno and Sparks

  1. Matt says:

    I’m very much enjoying this series on the Lincoln Highway (and old U.S. 40). I would think that when you’re bumping along in a Model-T that you get to appreciate the road and it’s history much more than us hermetically sealed drivers whizzing by at 70mph.

    I go to Reno fairly often and wills tart looking for some of these signs of the old highways. I know of one LHW marker in San Francisco at Geary and Park Presidio Boulevards. I didn’t know that the old highway terminated at Lincoln Park. I will have to hunt around that neightborhood for traces of the highways presence next time I’m there.

    • clevelandg says:

      Matt,

      I’m going to loan you a copy of “To Donner Pass from the Pacific” by Jack Duncan. It is a well researched volume on all the early roads through the mountains and down into the Valley. It includes the Lincoln Highway alignments.
      Other folks interested in this book should see a link in the Introduction to this series.

  2. Jim D says:

    Grover, There is now a street route to avoid the one mile of travel on I-80. Just to the north that short part of of I-80, there is a new residential development, and a street route that avoids I-80.

    • clevelandg says:

      The only problem with taking this slightly circuitous route is that you miss the Lincoln Highway bridge railings on the south side of I-80. Other than that it is a great idea for Model T owners.

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