The Snow Chi Minh Trail: The History of I-80 Between Laramie and Walcott Junction

Western Wyoming Community College will host author and archivist John Waggener, in a historical discussion of Interstate 80 connecting Laramie and Walcott Junction on December 1st, at 7:00 p.m., in room 1302.

Waggener is an archivist at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center and writer of the book The Snow Chi Minh Trail: The History of I-80 Between Laramie and Walcott Junction.

The 77-mile stretch of highway got its nickname “Snow Chi Minh Trail” from long-haul truckers negatively referencing the Ho Chi Minh Trail, in Vietnam. The perilous mountain roadway in Vietnam was used by North Vietnamese soldiers traveling to South Vietnam with supplies and ammunition during the Vietnam War.

The “Snow Chi Minh Trail” is a particularly treacherous part of I-80 is responsible for some of the worst highway crashes in Wyoming’s history. Tales of the road are filled with tragedy but also of controversy, myth and even conspiracy. It was dedicated on October 3rd, 1970 and Wyomingites warned highway officials of the adverse weather conditions to no avail.

“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,” said Waggener – quoted from “UW AHC Archivist Writes Book on ‘Snow Chi Minh Trail’ Along I-80”, 2 October 2017, http://www.uwyo.edu/uw/news/2017/10/uw-ahc-archivist-writes-book-on-snow-chi-minh-trail-along-i-80.html, last accessed 17 October 2017.

The presentation offers both historical and regional perspective, enriching the understanding of the cultural significance of our state.

“The WWCC Department of History, as well as the WWCC Historical Society, strives to enrich the awareness of the Rock Springs and Green River communities to their cultural and regional heritage.  John Waggener’s new book about the legacy of the stretch of I-80 between Laramie and Wolcott Junction is a fascinating—not to mention entertaining—read about one of the most notorious stretches of highway in not only Wyoming, but the United States,” said Mark Neels, Ph.D., visiting Assistant Professor of History at Western Wyoming Community College.

The event is free and open to the public. The community is encourage to attend. For more information please contact Mark Neels, by phone (307) 382-177,1 or via email, mneels@westernwyoming.edu.

McDonald's All Day Breakfast

2 Comments on "The Snow Chi Minh Trail: The History of I-80 Between Laramie and Walcott Junction"

  1. Christine Wilcox | November 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Reply

    Drove thanksgiving day, 1970′ on that glorious road. Had a ’65 Falcon with studded snow tires…the semis were sitting on the inclines, only the tops of the road reflectors were visible and I was chewing bubble gum! By the time I got to Walcott junction, my jaws were so sore I couldn’t believe it. My dad had told me the road was open and it shouldn’t be a big deal! He got several pieces of my mind when I arrived home!

  2. I drove that stretch many times during the later 1970’s. One time that is particularly etched in my mind I was driving alone in my Toyota Celica. They probably closed the road behind me. It was a total white out. I was driving from reflector to reflector at 50 miles an hour. No one else was on the road, which probably saved my life. As I dropped into Laramie it turned into a sheet of ice. I did have studded snow tires also. What craziness! I 80 is so busy now I couldn’t imagine attempting that now!

Leave a Reply