The Victory Highway monument is a representation of the earlier county bronze eagle markers of the 1920s. original eagle markers were to be located at each county line with a plaque dedicated to the sons and daughters who served their country in World War I, sacrificing their lives for our freedom. Only five original bronze eagles are known to be in existence, two in Kansas and three in California. The Victory Highway is a near-forgotten relic of the early 20th century roadways, a path traversed by early auto-pioneers from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. The road you are standing on today was completed in 1925 and used until the 1940s. Highway U.S. 40 replaced the Victory Highway to the south, which is now known as Wendover Boulevard. The arch represents the Victory Highway sign, used at the only documented official ceremony opening the Victory Highway. The ceremony took place on June 25, 1925, just east of Wendover on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Officiating were Utah Governor George Dern, Nevada Governor James Scrugham, and Secretary of Agriculture William Jardine.
The Victory Highway Association incorporated in Topeka, Kansas, late in 1921 to locate and mark a transcontinental highway. Victory Highway, dedicated to American Forces who died in World War I, traversed the United States from New York City to San Francisco. In 1925, the transcontinental route offered a panorama of the mid-section of the country that epitomizes the western expansion of the Nation from Colonial days to the present time. For 3,205 miles, this great motorway follows the same course, or one closely parallel, as that of the earliest settlers of the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri valleys, crossing 14 states in all. Less than 14 percent or 788 miles of the highway was unimproved.
From Salt Lake City, the Victory Highway skirts around Great Salt Lake over the famous Wendover Cutoff. The crossing of the salt flats between Salt Lake City and Wendover on the Utah/Nevada border was costly, involving give years of labor. The remarkable engineering feat bridged what was once a great obstacle to transcontinental motor travel, the Bonneville Salt Flats. This accomplishment blazed a new auto-route across northern Nevada to Reno, parallel to the Lincoln Highway to the south. In the early to mid-twenties, only 81 miles of the 371 miles of the Victory Highway across Utah were paved, 107 miles consisted of gravel surfacing, and 183 miles were relatively unimproved. The Victory Highway was designated Route No. 40 by state and federal highway officials shortly after the Wendover Cutoff was completed, and the Victory Highway was used until it was replaced in the 1940s.
An original culvert to the east of this marker still exists today. When a newer portion of Highway 40 was constructed in the 1940s, this section of the Victory Highway, along with culverts, was left intact. Constructed of stone and galvanized steel, these culverts are a testament to the skills of road engineers and rock masons of the early 19th century.
In 1921, the federal government passed the Federal Highway Act of 1921. A similar act, passed in 1916, provided matching funds to the states for highway construction. Unlike the 1916 act, the 1921 act required the states to identify seven percent of its total mileage as “primary”; only these roads would be eligible for federal funds. In the ten years prior to the 1921 act, the United States went from having one named highway to having an unorganized and confusing system of multiple-named highways. As a result, a numbered highway system was formed to organize the national highways across the United States. In most states, the Lincoln Highway was the obvious choice as a federal road, but there were a few exceptions, the greatest challenge being Utah. Despite numerous reports and heavy lobbying by the Lincoln Highway Association, the federal government selected the Wendover route or “Victory Highway” (Route No. 40) as the federal road across Utah and Nevada.