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American Roads: Site Map > Auto Trails > Auto Trail Articles > American Motorist article December 1918, p8

Carving “L. H.” in the Salt Desert

New Route to Save Fifty Miles Between Salt Lake City and Ely, Nev.

By R. O. Allen

― from American Motorist, December 1918, page 8.


IN rebuilding the Lincoln highway west from Salt Lake City across the dazzling desert it has been found necessary to do some of the surveying work by twilight or at night with the aid of torches in order to avoid the blinding glare from the vast areas of salt crytals. It is possible that there is no other such region in the world as the bottom of this ancient lake, crusted over on top with a surface skin of hardened alkali, sand and salt, and kept constantly moist below by the seepage from the surrounding mountains. The flat looks so solid and inviting that many tourists have wondered why it was at all necessary to follow the terrible roads around the southern edge of the desert when the flat stretching out in such alluring manner to the west looked as smooth, hard and inviting as a concrete surface. Dozens who have tried to skim across the desert in their touring cars have suddenly found it necessary to hoist a distress signal. It was on these desolate and bone-dry wastes that in former years the dazzling fires of the sun claimed their victims and dotted the deep ruts made by the crawling prairie schooners with the whitening bones of animals and men.

Lincoln Highway Great Salt Lake crossing

Across No Man’s Land

It is to conquer this desert No Man’s Land that the new highway is being pushed rapidly to completion. It will cut 50 miles from the distance between Salt Lake City and Ely, Nevada. The construction across the Great Salt Lake Desert is 17-1/2 miles in extent; the road is to be 18 feet wide and gravel surfaced, and will cost $100,000.
The urgent necessity for work in this region was recently brought home to the officials of the Lincoln Highway Association when some of them were stranded for hours without water in the center of the desert, in an attempt to cross it at the point where the construction work is now in progress.The final construction of the historic cut-off across the desert and through Fisher Pass will be to transcontinental highway transportation what the Lucin cut-off is to the Southern Pacific railroad, with the difference that the railroad company expended $6,000,000 on its historic improvident.

Map of the Lincoln Highway alignment changes near Salt Lake City


Copyright © S. Varner 2006