SWEETWATER COUNTY — With the Lincoln Highway Association’s 2019 Conference set to open in Rock Springs in a few days, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River is taking the opportunity to recognize a largely-unheralded Lincoln Highway pioneer.
Ezra Lowman Emery was a Wyoming groundbreaker in cross-country automobile travel. A civil engineer, in 1911 and 1912 he mapped out an automobile roadway across southern Wyoming from Cheyenne to Ogden, Utah, along the corridor of the Union Pacific railroad line. His concept of what he called the “Transcontinental Highway” became the Lincoln Highway, which was officially christened in 1913.
Emery — known as “Good Roads Emery” due to his tireless work with the Good Roads movement — was a genuine Renaissance man. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1866, he was first employed by the Union Pacific civil engineering corps and soon moved to Wyoming. He was the organizer and first president of the Laramie County Good Roads Association in Cheyenne, and served as city treasurer of Rock Springs from 1896 to 1899. From 1900 to 1904, he was Rock Springs city engineer. He also served as Wyoming assistant commissioner of Public Lands, chief clerk of the Wyoming State Senate, and field superintendent of the Intermountain Good Roads Department, National Highway Association. At the time of his death due to a heart attack in 1924, he and his family were living in Reliance.
Among the most-treasured items in the museum’s collection are Emery’s scrapbook and photo album. Emery was an inveterate auto traveler, and his album is filled with photographs of his journeys.
The Lincoln Highway Association 2019 Conference will be in Rock Springs on June 18-21. For details, visit wyominglincolnhighway.wordpress.com.