US 40 is one of the most important and historic highways in the United States. Its route runs over the National Road, the United States' first federally funded road and comprised the western half of the Lincoln Highway. From 1926 to 1964, US 40 was a transcontinental highway and its route covered a lot of American history. It went next to the Oregon Trail and the ruts from the covered wagons could be seen from cars going down the road at high speeds. The highway followed in many places the route of the ill-fated Donner party and went through the pass that bears their name. It also went right next to Sutter's Mill in Sacramento where the discovery of gold changed the course of US history and ended in San Francisco, the final destination for many seeking a better life.
US 40 started in San Francisco at the intersection of Harrison and 10th Streets and went over the Bay Bridge to Oakland. From there it followed the general route of I-80 to the Nevada state line. Originally, it took a fairly circuitous course between the Bay Area and Sacramento, following a zigzag pattern of east - west and north south streets. From Sacramento, most of US 40 is buried under I-80, but many sections remain, both as frontage roads and the main streets through bypassed town. There is a particularly nice original routing over the Donner Pass which serves as an excellent contrast with the modern I-80.
Outside of California, US 40 followed the general routing of I-80 to Salt Lake City. Like in California, most is now buried under the Interstate, but quite a few free standing sections remain. From Salt Lake City east, US 40 has generally followed the present routing all the way to Atlantic City, NJ.
US 40 has been severely truncated, with about one third of its routing having been decommissioned. Its western terminus is now east of Salt Lake City at an interchange with I-15. In fact, when I was there last in July of 2005, I saw no marking denoting the end of this historic highway.
US 40 was one of the first US highways to have been completely decommissioned in California and has ceased to be a signed highway in the state since 1964. Despite this, a substantial portion of the old routing remains, although its last incarnation from the 1950s is now I-80. A monument remains in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco commemorating the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway, which US 40 had succeeded.
The US 40 Guide will have detailed descriptions of its old routings and what remains today.
Since US 40 was such an important road, there are several web pages dealing with it.
Go to the Historic California US Highways Main Page
1 The Lincoln Highway logo is based on the one found on James Lin's Lincoln Highway Page.If you have any questions, comments, or if you would like to send me any updates or pictures, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.gbcnet.com/ushighways/US40.html