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Former US Route 40 in Reno and Sparks

Reno and Sparks are cities located in Washoe County, Nevada on the corridor of Interstate 80.  Prior to the construction of Interstate 80 the primary east/west highway through Reno and Sparks was US Route 40.  Within Reno US Route 40 was aligned on 4th Street whereas it was located on what is now Victorian Avenue in Sparks.  The photo above depicts former US Route 40 on 4th Street in downtown Reno.  Below former US Route 40 on 4th Street in Reno is depicted on the 1956 Shell Highway Map of Nevada.  


Part 1; the history of US Route 40 in Reno and Sparks

Reno and Sparks are located along the Truckee River in the Truckee River Valley.  During the period of the California Gold Rush the area which is presently occupied by Reno and Sparks was located on the California Trail.  What is now presently Reno and Sparks can be seen near the communities of Onieda and Sloute Bridge on the 1863 DeGroot's Map of Nevada Territory along the California Trail.  Sloute Bridge had been constructed in 1859 by Charles W. Fuller as part of a connecting stage route from the California Trail to Virginia City.  Fuller's sold his bridge in 1861 to Myron C. Lake who renamed it to Lake's Crossing.  Being at the junction of two major stage roads Lake's Crossing began to develop into a small community.  

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.  During 1863 Myron C. Lake deeded some of his land to the Central Pacific Railroad to build a siding.  The Central Pacific Railroad established a siding at Lake's Crossing known as Reno during the Spring of 1868.  Reno siding was named after United States Army Officer Jesse Lee Reno.  Reno would become the Washoe County Seat during 1871 and would incorporate as a City on March 16th, 1903.  Reno can be seen on the 1873 Bancroft's Map of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona along the Central Pacific Railroad at the Truckee River.  

Notably the next closest major Central Pacific Railroad siding east of Reno on the 1873 Bancroft's Map of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona is shown to be Wadsworth.  In 1902 the Southern Pacific Railroad purchased a large swath of land along the Truckee River east of Reno to construct a new switching yard.  The Southern Pacific Railroad switchyard had been constructed by 1904 along with a new siding called "Harriman."  The establishment of Harriman largely drew population from Wadsworth due to the Southern Pacific Railroad offering to move homes there free of charge.  Harriman was renamed "Sparks" in honor of sitting Nevada Governor John Sparks and would incorporate as a City on March 15th, 1905.  

Reno and Sparks can be seen along 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 Reno and Sparks 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 Reno and Sparks 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.  

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 via split branches over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The northern branch of the Lincoln Highway is shown on the Lincoln Highway Association's Official Map originally entering Sparks via Glendale Way.  From Glendale Way the Lincoln Highway followed Galletti Way over a no longer existing rail crossing to 4th Street in Reno.  The Lincoln Highway is shown following 4th Street, Virginia Street, 3rd Street and 4th Street through Reno.  A later realignment of the northern Lincoln Highway shows it following Vista Boulevard, Prater Way, Pyramid Way, Victorian Avenue Rock Boulevard and Prater Avenue through Sparks westward to Reno.  A third realignment of the northern Lincoln Highway shows it following Victorian Avenue on a bypass directly towards Pyramid Way.  A connecting spur of the Lincoln Highway is shown originating in downtown Reno which followed Virginia Street towards the southern Lincoln Highway in Carson City. 




During November of 1926 the US Route System was approved by the American Association of State Highway Officials ("AASHO").  US Route 40 can be seen aligned over top the northern Lincoln Highway and Victory Highway through Reno-Sparks 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 Reno-Sparks.  

US Route 40 appears to have been straightened in Reno-Sparks largely during the early 1930s.  US Route 40 appears aligned on Victorian Avenue (then B Street) in Sparks and 4th Street in Reno on the 1936 Official Road Map of Nevada



The 1939 Official Road Map of Nevada shows a US Route 40 Alternate in Reno.  US Route 40 Alternate is shown following Alameda Avenue (now Wells Avenue) south from 4th Street and west through downtown Reno via 2nd Street.  US Route 40 Alternate appears to have never been officially authorized by the AASHO as it does not appear in the AASHTO Database.  It is unclear how long US Route 40 Alternate existed in Reno given it doesn't appear on any other editions of the Official Road Map of Nevada.  


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. 

The 1968 Official Road Map of Nevada shows Interstate 80 lapping both ends of the Reno-Sparks area with construction approaching downtown Reno from the California State Line.  


The 1969 Official Road Map of Nevada shows Interstate 80 in the process of construction through Reno-Sparks.


The 1972 Official Road Map of Nevada shows Interstate 80 completed through Sparks. 

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.  The request by Nevada to remove US Route 40 seems to have been spurred by the completion of Interstate 80 through Reno.  This action officially removed US Route 40 from the State of Nevada.





Interstate 80 appears completed through Reno on the 1975 Official Road Map of Nevada.  


During the 1976 Nevada State Highway Renumbering what was former US Route 40 in Reno and Sparks was reassigned as Nevada State Route 647.  Over the course of recent decades Nevada State Route 647 has been relinquished to a small segment west of McCarren Avenue (Nevada State Route 659).  Nevada State Route 647 first appears on the 1978-79 Official Road Map of Nevada.  




Part 2; a drive on former US Route 40 in Reno and Sparks

From Interstate 80 westbound former US Route 40 in Sparks can be accessed by taking Exit 19/McCarren Boulevard to Victorian Avenue.  Former US Route 40 on Victorian Avenue is signed Interstate 80 Business.




Former US Route 40 on Victorian Avenue is signed as the Lincoln Highway westbound approaching Nevada State Route 445/Pyramid Way.  







Former US Route 40 westbound on Victorian Avenue enters Victorian Square.  The later Lincoln Highway would have followed former US Route 40 westward to Rock Boulevard where it would have turned north.  









Former US Route 40 would have followed Victorian Avenue westward and merged onto Prater Way.






Former US Route 40 would have continued on Prater Way westward underneath Interstate 80 into the City of Reno onto 4th Street. 




Former US Route 40 westbound on 4th Street continues westward towards downtown passing underneath US Route 395/Interstate 580.




Former US Route 40 continued westward into downtown Reno and would have intersected US Route 395 originally at Virginia Street.  Viriginia Street is presently signed as US Route 395 Business.  













Former US Route 40 on 4th Street crosses under the pedestrian bridge connecting the El Dorado to the Silver Legacy Casino and intersects Sierra Street. 


Former US Route 40 on 4th Street continues west from downtown Reno and becomes Nevada State Route 647 at McCarren Boulevard/Nevada State Route 659.  












Former US Route 40 westbound follows 4th Street/Nevada State Route 647 to a terminus at the western ramp to Interstate 80. 












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