Before there was Interstate 80, or Highway 50 roads had names like Lincoln Highway or Yellowstone Trail. These pole markers guided motorists or “autoists” as they traveled to their destination. The emblem would be either painted on telephone or telegraph poles or warped around and secured in the case of metal signs. You would find them where a critical turn was needed, or just to let you know you were on the right path.
These two photos from Jack Duncan seem to show Highway 40 "near Donner Summit," according to the caption. I'm having a hard time locating this particular spot. It looks much like the area between Cisco Grove and Big Bend, but the old road on the right rises much more rapidly at that location. The second photo below seems to show the same area, but check out all the traffic. If you know where this photo location is, please let us know.
This is Pacific House, guessing sometime in the 1920s. Pacific House is just east of Freshpond on Highway 50. It was a bustling place back in the late 1800s and early 20th Century as the highway passed right in front of the building. In the 1800's it was a stopping spot for people traveling along Johnson's Cut-Off Trail, which climbed up here after crossing the Brockliss Bridge over The American River.
This photo shows just how busy the old Lincoln Highway could get, complete with a cop with high boots walking the cars parked partially in the highway. Today the building exists but is in the midst of slowly falling down.
Photo from: Donner Summit Historical Society, Norm Sayler Collection.
One of our favorite drives is Auburn to Donner Lake via The Lincoln Highway. You can’t really travel all the way on The Lincoln, as much of it is bypassed, or has fallen into disrepair. We have mapped out what parts you can travel on, and what other alternatives will get you off the freeway. Sometimes freeway driving is the only way, but as soon as we can, we get off and travel on old Highway 40, which roughly follows The Lincoln.
The first incarnation of The Lincoln Highway often followed closely the old wagon roads and emigrant trails of the 19th Century. Where possible we have tried to map out historical markers pointing out these old trails, and actually mapping the trails so you can walk in the wagon ruts of our pioneers.
The entire trip from Auburn To Verdi, Nevada could be made in a day, but would require mostly driving without stopping much. We typically do the Auburn to Donner Lake, and back again in one day, with stops along the way! The section from Donner or Truckee to Verdi is a days worth fun, especially if you visit the town of Boca, which is a great ghost town to visit.
We mark the special historical spots with our logo (as seen above), so you can easily see them. When you “click” the logo either a photo or video explaining the significance of the location will pop up.
The maps are really best used on your portable media device, like a cell phone. The maps can be opened via Google Maps, showing you location and directions to the various places we visit. No longer do you have to figure out where you are on the map, and how to get to that place. It’s a boon for us history buffs!
We cannot make any guarantees as to the accuracy of this, or any map we produce. To the best of our knowledge they are up to date, and we change them as conditions warrant. Never the less, it’s up to you to decide whether to follow the map, or use your ‘gut instincts’ concerning these locations. We do not cross private property that’s marked, nor should you. Be respectful of the environment so these places and routes will stay open for us to explore.
The maps are located in our map section here.