Archives On The Air 16: Snow Chi Minh Trail

Jul 9, 2018

The 77 mile stretch of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Walcott Junction has been dubbed the “Snow Chi Minh Trail.”

Long-haul truck drivers named it after the notorious mountainous roadway used by North Vietnamese soldiers to reach South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Wyoming residents warned highway officials of the adverse weather conditions around Elk Mountain and advised them not to build a road there.

In fact, the Union Pacific Railroad almost built in that area 100 years earlier and decided not to, even though it was more direct.

Despite the warnings, on October 3, 1970 the newly constructed stretch of Interstate 80 was dedicated.

It was not but four days later that a winter storm wreaked havoc on travelers of the new road.

Some Wyomingites have since referred to the road as a “monument to human error.”

UW’s American Heritage Center has more than 40 collections available with materials about the controversy behind this infamous stretch of Interstate 80.