Did You Know Abraham Lincoln Proudly Looks Over I 80 In Wyoming?
If you were to ask the question 'Who is your favorite president'? Many would would answer that their favorite US leader was the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.
February is popular Presidential birthday month as we celebrate the birthdays of four former U.S. presidents.
- 40th President Ronald Reagan was born February 6th, 1911,
- 9th President who only had the chance to serve 31 days of his term before dying, William Henry Harrison was born February 9th, 1773.
- The nations very first president George Washington was born February 22, 1732
- 16th President Abraham Lincoln was born February 12th, 1809.
Lincoln's presidency was short lived, but he accomplished quite a bit from 1861-1865. Wyoming has a strong connection to Lincoln, even though he wasn't alive to see the territory become a state:
- He signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 which allowed the transcontinental railroad to be developed and eventually run through the future 44th state.
- Lincoln County, Wyoming was named after Honest Abe when it was created in 1911.
- The Lincoln Highway was the first highway that connected east coast to the west coast and travelled all across Wyoming (close to what I-80 is today).
- The only Abraham Lincoln monument on the old Lincoln Highway and one of the largest bronze heads in the United States.
More than likely he didn't have a clue how much of a future impact he would have on Wyoming, but in 1959 the Wyoming Parks Commission wanted to pay tribute to Abe on his 150th birthday by creating a giant Lincoln sculpted head and placing it at the highest point on the old Lincoln Highway. That point happened to be at the 8,878 ft Sherman Summit Rest Area just east of Laramie along I-80 near Buford, WY.
According to Roadside America the sculptors name was Robert Russian who was a big fan of Lincoln and had been dreaming of doing something like this for over a decade before getting the chance.
The head was sculpted out of 70 tons of clay then sent to Mexico to have it cast in bronze before being placed on the 30' pedestal to look over I-80. According to an interview with Robert's son Joe, while in transport from Mexico, the Mexican National Army guarded it because they thought someone would try stealing it.
The monument was removed from the pedestal a few years ago to be sandblasted and restored as you can see in this video.