ST. LOUIS – You would hardly know it driving through St. Louis, but one of the region’s highways runs along the same path as the “loneliest road in America.”
In 1986, Life Magazine claimed the state of Nevada’s portion of U.S. Highway 50 to be the nation’s “loneliest road.” This assertion is based on what drivers would encounter while driving on the highway: Desert valleys, packs of mountains, and very few signs of civilization.
“It’s totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident of their survival skills,” said the original report, via archives on the LoneliestRoad.us website.
The “loneliest road in America” runs around 400 miles, approximately from the municipalities of Carson City to Baker. The state’s tourism board Travel Nevada has embraced its stretch of U.S. Highway 50 as a “gateway to ghost towns, historic mining communities, [and] stunning state parks.”
As a whole unit, U.S. 50 stretches more than 3,000 miles across 12 states. The approximate end points from west to east are in Sacramento, California, and Ocean City, Maryland.
In the hypothetical case where a brave driver would take U.S. 50 in full from west to east, drivers would take on the nation’s “loneliest road” very early into the trip since Nevada neighbors California. And nearly two-thirds of the way through their trip, they would also roll through south St. Louis County.
According to RoadTripUSA.com, the same path would lead drivers through Kansas City suburbs and relatively larger small Missouri communities, like Sedalia, Jefferson City, and Washington, before reaching St. Louis County. Once past Missouri, U.S. 50 would continue through other Metro East communities, like O’Fallon, Shiloh, and Lebanon.
U.S. Highway 50 is a transcontinental highway that has served drivers since 1926 and expanded several times through the 1950s. Its origins predate the Interstate Highway System, which took effect after World War II.
A feature report from WeBuildValue.com says Nevada’s distinction helped the highway “connect the American states [and become] a symbol of the dream of travelling ‘coast-to-coast,’ a hop from one ocean to another, driven only by the desire for discovery.”
NOTE: Maps provided above courtesy of Google Maps, with routes created by other app users.