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The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 23, June 8, 2008, Article 25

MORE ON THE NUMISMATICS OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY

Jeff Starck provided the following update on the numismatics of the Lincoln Highway. -Editor
A while back I shared some information I read in The Lincoln Highway, by Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson, and after a few delays and sidetracks, have finished the book. In reading the second half, there were several more numismatic mentions.

On page 187, the authors recount a tale of an alleged, locally famous robbery that happened near Big Spring, Nebraska. "On a moonlight night, Sam Bass, a lawman-turned-brigand, and five companions swept down on the eastbound train stopped to pick up mail. The outlaws made off with $60,000 in shiny $20 gold coins newly minted in San Francisco... A monument in Big Springs recounts the story of the robbery." The coins are reportedly buried nearby, but none are known to have been discovered, according to the authors. A historical marker in Brule, near Big Springs, notes that the Lincoln Highway was built on a route traveled by many gold seekers and others in wagon trains heading west from 1841 to 1860.

On page 210, the authors report of damage to a monument to U.S. Congressman Oakes Ames and his brother Oliver, the third president of Union Pacific. Architect Henry Hobson Richardson created the 60-foot-high pyramid standing in "the middle of nowhere." It can be found near the summit of Sherman Hill, west of Tree Rock, Wyoming. Bas-relief medallions by Augustus Saint-Gaudens "caught the eye of sagebrush marksman, who have shot away both men's noses."

Middlegate, Nevada is the site of a most interesting "bank," as reported on page 260. The ceiling of Old Middlegate Station, a gas station/bar/grocery/campground is littered with several thousand pieces of paper money from all over the world. The "bank" dates to old mining days when the bartender was a bank. After writing the owner's name on the money, the bartender would pin it to the ceiling for safekeeping. When they needed some, the bartender would retrieve it. The authors report that money from China, Switzerland, Russia, and Japan, and many other foreign nations, is stored on the ceiling. A special section is reserved for U.S. Navy fliers stationed at nearby Fallon.

Another train robbery, reportedly one of the first in the West, is reported on page 265. In 1870, John Chapman and others boarded the Central Pacific Overland Express train near Verdi, Nevada, and stole $41,000 in gold coins. They were later caught and convicted.

The final numismatic note tells of a Lincoln Highway marker in Lincoln Park in San Francisco, which bears a medal of Abraham Lincoln. No further information about the piece is given.



Wayne Homren, Editor

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