August 8, Up and Down the Old Lincoln Highway

Highway 50 runs pretty much across the middle of Nevada, where it’s billed as “the loneliest highway in America” and there are parts of it which certainly fit that description. But highway 50 wasn’t always highway 50. Many years ago it was created as The Lincoln Highway and was to unite New York City and San Francisco with a two lane ribbon of “improved” highway that would contribute to changing the way America traveled and employed the automobile.

In 1913 it was announced that the Lincoln Highway would run through Reno and it literally helped to put Reno on the map, helping to make it a center for commerce, warehousing, tourism, gambling, prostitution and divorce. Not necessarily in that order.

With the advent of the interstate freeway running through Reno in the 60s, the portions of the old Lincoln Highway that ran through Reno and it’s sister city of Sparks, began to fall into the cycle of decline and renovation that so often happens when areas are bypassed by a more major thoroughfare. Today there are thriving businesses: up and coming breweries, bars and music venues as well as decaying warehouses, hotels and encampments of the unhoused.

I’m particularly interested in decaying older buildings both domestic and industrial, so a bike ride from one end of Reno in the west to the opposite end of Sparks in the east is not uncommon for me. On this ride I brought along my old Canon IVSb2 rangefinder with a Voigtlander (Cosina) 21mm lens and yellow no. 22 filter, loaded with Rollei Retro 80s, which is apparently a version of AGFA Aviphot Pan80, a super panchromatic film.

My Canon IVSb2

It wasn’t my intention to really document old motels and houses along the route, but just to photograph some interesting architecture. I’m still experimenting with a film developer made from sagebrush that I call Artemiasonal, which I’d never used with Rollei 80s before, so I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out most of this roll came out nicely exposed and I was somewhat impressed with the results from this developer. Artemisianol is starting to turn into my go to developer, it’s seeming quite versatile.

This roll of Rolle Retro 80s was shot at ISO 64 and developed for 15 minutes in Artemisianol.

Because I’m including probably more photos than you want to look at, I’ll break them up into sections so you can skip things that you find less interesting:

  1. Industry:
  2. Business:
  3. Motels:
  4. Residences:


On this route I began by heading east into and through Sparks Nevada, one of the first interesting things (interesting to me anyway) I encountered was this cement plant which was closed as I was out on a Saturday morning.

Through the chain link
Water and Fence


There’s a wide range of both active and shuttered business’s on 4th Street (Reno) and Prater Way (Sparks) on what was the old Lincoln Highway.

The Halfway Club, right between Reno and Sparks
Scoopers Drive-In in Sparks
Vacant for now
Mantra Glass
The Copenhagen Bar


There is a plethora of motels along this route, for this roll I only photographed a few that I hadn’t shot much before.

El Tavern Motel on West 4th Street
The Sunset Motel, you can see the foothills of the Sierras in the distance.
Motel 8 in Sparks


And of course people live along these streets, whether it’s in houses, trailers or tents set up on the sidewalk.

Single Wide
White Picket Fence
Asbestos siding is pretty common here.
Soft Top
Locust and elm trees

If you got this far, thanks for reading!

9 responses to “August 8, Up and Down the Old Lincoln Highway”

  1. Nice article! I like your pictures!


  2. Thank you Fred! I’m glad you like them!


  3. You got some very nice tones from this film and developer.

    I grew up in a Lincoln Highway town! South Bend, Indiana. Indiana has two separate major alignments of the LH, one from 1913 and the other a 1926 realignment that runs several miles south of the first. My hometown is on the 1913 alignment.


  4. Thank you Jim! Oh that’s very cool, small world (or big highway)!


  5. Quite a nice selection and “look” for 35mm on architectural subjects! A pretty rectilinear lens!


    1. Thank you Andy! I love that lens and the 15mm Voigtlander as well.


  6. I love your pictures! There’s nothing better than a day out on the road with a camera and an open mind.


    1. Thank you Brandi! I’m glad you enjoyed them!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! I discovered you through Jim Grey and I’m so glad.


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