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The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth, Nevada

Fernley and Wadsworth lie near the Lyon/Washoe County Line in northwest Nevada.  Historically Fernley and Wadsworth were tied together via the corridor US Route 40.  Despite the decommissioning of US Route 40 in Nevada the corridor of Fernley remains an active part of US Route 95A and US Route 50A.  Since the decommissioning of US Route 40 it's former alignment through Wadsworth has become part of Nevada State Route 427.  Pictured above is the 1936 Fernley Underpass which was part of US Route 40 on Main Street in Fernley.


Part 1; the history of the US Route System in Fernley and Wadsworth

Wadsworth is located at a northward bend of the Truckee River towards Pyramid Lake in what is today Washoe County.  During the period of the California Gold Rush the area which is presently occupied by Wadsworth was a stopping point on the California Trail known as Red Bluff.  Red Bluff can be seen on the 1863 DeGroot's Map of Nevada Territory along the California Trail via the so called "lower crossing" of the Truckee River.

Nevada obtained Statehood during October of 1864 largely off the prospects of the mining booms associated with the Comstock Lode.  During the construction the Central Pacific Railroad's first Transcontinental Railroad circa 1863-69 numerous sidings were established to services trains.  A Central Pacific Railroad siding known as Wadsworth was established at the site of Red Bluff.  Wadsworth was named after Union Civil War General James Samuel Wadsworth.  Wadsworth can be seen on the 1873 Bancroft's Map of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona along the Central Pacific Railroad at the Truckee River.


Fernley was established east of Wadsworth within Lyon County as an agricultural community during 1904.  Fernley was largely plotted out to take advantage of the 32 mile long Truckee Canal to the Lahontan Reservoir.  The Truckee Canal and Lahontan Reservoir were completed by 1905.  The Lahontan Reservoir and Truckee Canal were borne out Federal Legislation by way of the 1902 Newlands Reclamation Act.  The location of Fernley on the Truckee Canal saw it's profile of importance exceed that of Wadsworth which led to the construction of a new Southern Pacific Railroad Depot which was completed by August 1914 on Front Street.  Fernley was also plotted out as the eastern terminus of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Fernley & Lassen Railway.  The Fernley & Lassen Railway was constructed circa 1912-14 between Fernley and Susanville, California.  

Fernley can be seen as the junction of the Lincoln Highway, Victory Highway and Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway on the 1920 Clason Roads of California and Nevada Map.  


During March of 1914 the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway was formalized as a coast to coast highway.  As originally conceived the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway would have been plotted from Washington D.C. to San Francisco which would have put Fernley and Wadsworth on it's alignment.  The creation of the National Old Trails Road shifted the east terminus of the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway to New York whereas the emergence of the Lincoln Highway saw the western terminus shifted to Los Angeles.  The Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway was ultimately completed by 1924 as a highway aligned between Los Angeles and New York.  

The Victory Highway was formally organized during 1921 as a coast to coast highway aligned from New York to San Francisco.  Unlike the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway the alignment of the Victory Highway ultimately always had Fernley and Wadsworth on it's course.  The Victory Highway Association lived on after the creation of the US Route System and became the US Route 40 Association in 1938.  The Victory Highway entered Fernley via Main Street where it began a multiplex of the Lincoln Highway at East Street.  

During 1912 Indiana Businessman Carl G. Fisher conceptualized the Lincoln Highway as a major transcontinental Auto Trail.  The Lincoln Highway was formally dedicated on October 31st, 1913 and was aligned west of Fallon towards Fernley and Wadsworth.  The Lincoln Highway west of Fallon entered Fernley via; Farm District Road, Cottonwood Lane and modern US Route 95A/US Route 50A.  The Lincoln Highway passed through Fernley via East Street (where it picked up the Victory Highway) and Front Street.  The Lincoln Highway and Victory Highway multiplexed west to Wadsworth where they passed through the community via; Bridge Street, Virginia Street and Herman Avenue.  These early alignments of the Lincoln Highway through Fernley and Wadsworth an be seen on the Lincoln Highway Association's Official Map.



During November of 1926 the US Route System was approved by the AASHO.  US Route 40 can be seen aligned over top the Victory Highway through Nevada and by proxy Fernley/Wadsworth on the 1927 National Map Company Sectional Map.  Within Nevada US Route 40 was carried by the designation of Nevada State Route 1.  Early US Route 40 appears to have inherited the existing alignments of the Victory Highway/Lincoln Highway through Fernley and Wadsworth.  US Route 40 appears to have been straightened in Fernley and Wadsworth largely during the 1930s.  


The AASHO Executive Secretary advised the Highway Engineers of; California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho in a letter dated July 7th, 1939 that the AASHO Executive Committee approved the extension of US Route 95 to Blythe, California.  The extension of US Route 95 into California was contingent upon the completion of the Idaho-Oregon-Nevada Highway #456 in Oregon.  The extension of US Route 95 to California brought it through Fernley via multiplex of US Route 40 where the former split east towards Fallon via Main Street.  

US Route 95 was intended to branch from US Route 40 via Nevada State Route 1A towards Fallon.  A June 10th, 1939 letter by the Nevada Highway Engineer notes the condition of Nevada State Route 1A was poor.  A temporary alignment of US Route 95 via multiplex of US Route 40 to Fernley is cited as being recommended until Nevada State Route 1A was brought to higher standards.  The Nevada Highway Engineer expressed desire to have US Route 95 aligned through Yerington temporarily instead of backtracking eastward to Fallon. 


US Route 40 and US Route 95 can be seen multiplexing from Winnemucca to Fernley on the 1940 Official Road Map of Nevada


The AASHO Executive Committee notified the State of Nevada of a approved request to create an alternative alignment of US Route 95 originating in Fernley on July 1st, 1940.  US Route 95A was requested to branch from US Route 95 via US Route 40/Main Street in Fernley, south on Nevada State Route 2B to Yerington and east via Nevada State Route 3 to mainline US Route 95 in Schurz.  


US Route 95A can be seen for the first time originating at Fernley on the 1941 Nevada Department of Highways Map.  


On June 29th, 1956 the Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 was signed into law on the Federal Level.  The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 was the genesis point of the Interstate Highway System which would in the coming decades sew the demise via of US Route 40 in Nevada with replacement by Interstate 80.  

On 6/11/1959 mainline US Route 95 was approved by the AASHO Executive Committee to be relocated onto Nevada State Route 1A directly to Fallon after it had been modernized.  The AASHO also approved a request by the State of Nevada to maintain alternative alignment of US Route 95A via multiplex of US Route 40 to Fernley onwards towards Yerington.  




The new mainline of US Route 95 bypassing Fernley towards Fallon on Nevada State Route 1A appears for the first time on the 1960 Nevada Department of Highways Map.  The 1960 Nevada Department of Transportation Map shows the original alignment of US Route 95 between Fernley and Fallon was retained as a secondary alternate.  


US Route 40 and Interstate 80 are shown bypassing Fernley/Wadsworth on the 1965-66 Nevada Highway Department Map.  It is unclear if Nevada State Route 34 was extended through Wadsworth to Fernley as the map does not provide enough detail.  The US Route 40/Interstate 80 bypass of Fernley/Wadsworth left only US Route 95A aligned through surface streets in Fernley.  

On November 15th, 1974 the Nevada Department of Transportation in conjunction with states of California and Utah submitted a request to truncate US Route 40 from Truckee, California to Park City, Utah.  The request to truncate US Route 40 was approved by the AASHO Executive Committee on June 17th, 1975.  This action officially removed US Route 40 from the State of Nevada.





In 1976 the Nevada State Highway Renumbering occurred.  What had been US Route 40 through west of US Route 95A in Fernley through Wadsworth was designated as Nevada State Route 427.  The spur US Route 95A between Fernley and Fallon seemingly was reassigned by the State of Nevada as US Route 50A.  US Route 50A appears to have been designated without AASHO approval as it appears on the 1978-79 Nevada State Highway Department Map


The creation of US Route 50A from Fallon to Silver Springs via Fernley was approved by the AASHTO Executive Committee on 4/27/1997.  US Route 50A followed the original mainline of US Route 95 from US Route 50 west of Fallon to US Route 95A/Main Street in Fernley  US Route 50A followed US Route 95A through Fernley southward back to US Route 50 in Silver Springs.  The State of Nevada made requests for the same US Route 50A alignment in 1982 and 1983 but was rejected both times by the AASHTO Executive Committee.  








Part 2; a drive through Fernley and Wadsworth on former US Route 40

From Interstate 80 westbound the alignment of US Route 95A southbound diverges into Fernley via Exit 48 onto the Interstate 80 Business Route.  Signage directs traffic to use US Route 95A through Fernley to reach US Route 50A.  Exit 48 and the Interstate 80 Business was also the former alignment of US Route 40.  




US Route 95A southbound/Interstate 80 Business westbound jog away from Interstate 80 via an overpass structure of the Union Pacific Railroad.  US Route 95A southbound/Interstate 80 westbound intersect US Route 50A at a roundabout at Main Street.  US Route 95A southbound/US Route 50A westbound/Interstate 80 Business westbound on Main Street carry the original alignment of US Route 40 towards downtown Fernley.  











US Route 95A southbound/US Route 50A westbound/Interstate 80 Business on Main Street have numerous waypoints signed via a guide sign.  Reno is signed as 36 miles away, Yerington as 48 miles away and Carson City as 51 miles away.  


The Bottlecap Gazebo, the Desert Tortoise and 1914 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot can all be found along US Route 95A southbound/US Route 50A westbound/Interstate 80 Business via Main Street in Fernley.  Notably Fernley incorporated as a City on July 1st, 2001.










US Route 95A southbound/US Route 50A westbound/Interstate 80 Business westbound enter downtown Fernley via Main Street.  At East Street US Route 95A southbound/US Route 50A westbound split left towards Silver Springs.  Interstate 80 Business westbound continues on Main Street onto Nevada State Route 427 via former US Route 40.  As noted in Part 1 the Lincoln Highway and Victory Highway would have turned right onto East Street towards Front Street.  






Nevada State Route 427/Interstate 80 Business/US Route 40 westbound is signed as 3 miles from Wadsworth and 33 miles from Reno departing downtown Fernley.  



Nevada State Route 427/Interstate 80 Business/US Route 40 westbound cross under the Fernley Underpass approaching Interstate 80.  






Nevada State Route 427/Interstate 80 Business/US Route 40 westbound pass under Interstate 80.




Nevada State Route 427/Interstate 80 Business/US Route 40 westbound pick up the National Park Service designated California Trail approaching Wadsworth.  Wadsworth lies on the Pyramid Lake Piute Tribe Reservation which extends northward via the Truckee River towards Pyramid Lake.  Nevada State Route 427/Interstate 80 Business/US Route 40 westbound crosses the Truckee River in downtown Wadsworth and intersects Nevada State Route 447.












Nevada State Route 427/Interstate 80 Business/US Route 40 west of downtown Wadsworth departs the Pyramid Lake Piute Tribe Reservation and terminates at Interstate 80.






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