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History of I-80 focus of Wyoming State Museum lecture


Posted: Thursday, December 07, 2017
Contact: Nathan Doerr

The history of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Walcott Junction, a section referred to by some as the Snow Chi Minh Trail, will be the focus of the December lecture at the Wyoming State Museum on Thursday, December 14, at 7 p.m.

The lecture, based on a recently released book of the same name published by the Wyoming State Historical Society, will be presented by John Richard Waggener, associate archivist at the UW American Heritage Center.

The title comes from long-haul truckers, who dubbed Interstate 80 (specifically the 77-mile stretch between Walcott Junction and Laramie) the “Snow Chi Minh Trail,” a negative reference to the similarly mountainous roadway used by North Vietnamese soldiers to reach South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

“Those guys saw a lot of action and relived some of it as they drove across I-80,” said Waggener, adding “Not many stretches of highway across America have generated so much interest to fill the pages of a book, but Interstate 80 between Laramie and Rawlins is one of those exceptions.”

During the lecture, Waggener will explore this stretch of road in south-central Wyoming that is steeped in tragedy, controversy, myth and even conspiracy.

Waggener is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in the Interstate 80 town of Green River.

He attended the University of Wyoming where he earned his undergraduate degree in education and geography and his graduate degree in geography. Since 2001 he has been a faculty archivist at the American Heritage Center where he enjoys preserving historical Wyoming documents and making them available to researchers.

The Wyoming State Museum’s Thursday Night Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month, September - May, at 7 p.m.

The Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The Wyoming State Museum is located in the Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne.

For more information, contact Nathan Doerr, Curator of Education, at 777-7021.

Photo captions:

Waggener-I80.JPEG: Presenter and authors, John Waggener. Courtesy photo.

I80-SnowPlow.JPEG: In the early years along the Snow Chi Minh Trail, bulldozers were needed to clear drifts like this one at Milepost 274.9 east of Arlington. Photo from the Ronald Tabler Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

I80-Closed.JPEG: A common sight for travelers of Interstate 80 is a road closure sign westbound out of Laramie. Courtesy photo.