Lincoln Highway

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From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This page: Lincoln Highway, the Summit Tavern.

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About This Site

Early sign denoting highest point on the Lincoln Highway..

To the west of the Tree-in-the-Rock, travelers came to the highest point on the Lincoln Highway, the "Summit". From the mid-1920's until post-War years, the site was occupied by a log combination gas station and road house known as the Summit Tavern. Allegedly, some type of accommodation for travelers existed on the site as early as the late 1880's, but any event in 1922 William C. Deming (1869-1949), newspaper publisher, politician, and Good Roads advocate in 1922 began beating the drums for construction of a hotel on the site. See State Tribune, Aug. 17, 1922. Ultimately, Deming and Leslie A. Miller, later governor, constructed a small building which they called the Grenville Dodge Memorial Inn. At the head of Telephone Canyon it marked the highest point on the Lincoln Highway was named after the chief engineer for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad which passed nearby.

The Grenville Dodge Memorial Inn.

Gradually the little building grew and became a popular stopping point on the highway known as the Summit Tavern.

The Summit Tavern,approx. 1929.

Winter contditions on the summit could be brutal. On March 12, 1929, the A later storm hit the Rocky Mountain area smothering the area from the Canadian border to New Mexico with blizzard conditions. In the area between Cheyenne and Laramie 18 to 24 feet of snow fill. In Casper there was 12 inches. Denver had 9 inches. In Tie Siding, two passengers in an open car, had to be rescued by a party on snow shoes and taken back to Tie Siding on a toboggan and then by train to Laramie for treatment of severe frost bite. Air mail flights to Cheyenne were grounded at Greeley and Rock Springs.

At the Tavern on Sherman Hill, some tweny-five persons, most suffering from frost bite took refuge. Included were 12 members of the <Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity basket ball team from the University of Wyomming and 8 passengers on an interstate motor bus. The manager of the tavern, Frank King, and Jack McDaniels, a resident of the area, brought word to Larami on snow shoes. They assempled a horse pack train to carry supplies to the marooned occupants of the tavern. They reported that the snow on parts of the road on the level was four to five feet deep. Sources, wire reports published in the Ogden Standard, Helena Independent, and Billings Gazette March 13-15, 1929.

Lounge at the Summit Tavern prior to 1930. Note oil lamps for illumination. In addition to lack of electricity, the tavern had to haul water from Laramie in barrels.

Later in 1929, the Tavern burned. It was rebuilt and enlarged. The new building included in addition to a larger lounge, space for dancing referred to as the :ballroom" and space for banquets. By May 1930 the Tavern informally reopened with a formal Grand Opening on May 30, 1930, with formal ceremonies by American Legion Posts from both Laramie and Cheyenne.

American Legion Honor Guard raising the Flag at the Summit Tavern, May 30, 1930.

After rebuilding the tavern became a popular location for dances and for organizations to host visiting dignataries.

Summit Tavern after reconstructions set up for a dinner.

The view from the Tavern was spectacular.

View from the ball room 1930's.

Officers of the Elks hosting Grand Exalted Ruler Walter F. Meier at the Summit Tavern, 1933.

The sign on the base of the flag pole to the right of Grand Exalted Ruler Meier reads:


Summit Tavern, approx. 1945

Summit Tavern sign, 1940's

Following World War II the Tavern also had a ski slope. It and a ski slope at nearby Happy Jack were the closest to Cheyenne. At one time, the owner of the Tavern also had a pet bear. In the 1950's, the Tavern burned. Naught remains except the name. Department of Transportation winter weather advisories for I-80 still refered to the area as "Summit Tavern."

Left, Pet bear at Summit Tavern, Right, ruins of Tavern after fire.

Summit Tavern Winter, approx. 1940.

Next: Telephone Canyon and Laramie.

Music this Page: "There is a Tavern in the Town" as recorded by Bill Mooney and his Cactus Twisters.