A history buff who worked with UDOT and others to build a monument to the Lincoln Highway was recently recognized for his efforts.
Retired shop teacher Rollin Southwell says he “should have been a historian” because of his interest in the old Lincoln Highway and his admiration for its “flamboyant promoter” Carl Fisher. Rollin was recently presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award by Utah State History for 10 years of work to plan, build and place a monument to Fisher and the Lincoln Highway.
The monument, on Utah State Route 199 at milepost 12, marks what is now known as Fisher Pass and is part of Utah’s portion of the Lincoln Highway. Carl Fisher funded this part of the Lincoln Highway a century ago during a time when most roads were not suitable for the newly invented automobiles.
Rollin worked closely with UDOT Region 2 Area Supervisor Jack Mason. “Jack is an excellent supervisor of his people,” says Rollin. UDOT employees assisted in the effort by moving a large rock and paving near the monument. Jerry Timmins, also of Region two helped resolve a right-of-way issue. Most of the effort was paid for with private funds.
The monument plaque has a picture of a lighthouse — a strange image in landlocked Utah. A lighthouse lit by Prest-O-lite gas, a product championed by Carl Fisher, was once proposed as a way to provide light for Lincoln Highway travelers driving between Wendover and Tooele. Plans for the lighthouse were found, but the structure was never built.
A solar-powered beacon turns on automatically after dark. A Lincoln Highway Marker is placed next to the monument.
The Lincoln Highway, Carl Fishers brain child, was the nation’s first transcontinental road built exclusively for automobiles, and was planned to extend from San Francisco to New York City. Many routes for the Utah’s section of the Lincoln Highway were proposed. The final route crossed northern Utah from Wendover, Nevada, through Salt Lake and on to Evanston, Wyoming.