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What happened to the famous “Barstow, Calif.” sign on Interstate 40?

Ken Little
Day 25-29 465

Alison and Megan Goins at the sign on the Wilmington end of Interstate 40. The sisters made a cross-country trip on the highway. Photo courtesy of Alison and Megan Goins

Like at least four of its predecessors, the sign was stolen, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Initially, the DOT considered not replacing the sign, but decided to put up another one on November 19, 2009.

This is the fourth time that the sign has been replaced since it was originally erected in 1990. The cost of replacing the sign, including labor, is about $600, according to a DOT press release.

The sign was placed in a more open area to prevent it from being stolen again, the DOT release stated.

The sign is a familiar sight to travelers heading west out of Wilmington, and had been up for a number of years. Bloggers report similar problems with a sign on I-40 East in California that lists Wilmington as the destination.

To see the California sign, go to: www.unc.edu/~sdilts/pictures/wilmington40.jpg

The I-40 West sign contains the message: Barstow, Calif. 2,554

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7 Responses to “ What happened to the famous “Barstow, Calif.” sign on Interstate 40?”

  1. On November 11, 2009 at 10:46 am Henry Duncan wrote:

    Why not place the sign on an overhead pole where it cannot be removed similiar to all the other overhead signs around town. It is a shame the DOT will not replace it for all those who fought to bring I 40 to Wilmington. It serves as a reminder to us all.

  2. On November 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm Chris wrote:

    Could something similar to Hooker Road be done. I know that the Hooker sign has been stolen, instead of just replacing it the DOT has attached it to a concrete fixture to prevent it from being stolen or maybe attaching it to an overpass with screws and glue, making it impossible from removing?

  3. On November 12, 2009 at 9:16 am justincase wrote:

    You’re kidding, right? It took getting stolen FOUR TIMES before DOT opted to not replace the sign? Did these brilliant state employees ever think to use lock nuts or a taller set of poles?

  4. On November 18, 2009 at 7:58 pm Bob Heyward wrote:

    I saw the sign there today, Nov.18.

  5. On November 18, 2009 at 8:35 pm michael goins wrote:

    Our trip was inspired by the sign to Barstow outside of Wilmington. You can view a journal of our travels at http://travelinsisters.blogspot.com/. Attached are pictures of both of us at both signs. It was an amazing trip that brought both of us closer than we ever thought was possible!

    Please put the sign back up! We look forward to continuing to share our experiences and showing our children the sign that inspired an incredible trip.

    Alison and Megan Goins

  6. On November 20, 2009 at 10:17 am john wrote:

    They did all kinds of stories about how the sign would not be replaced and sure enough it was replaced a couple of days ago in the same fashion as before. With all the publicity, its surely to be stolen once again.

  7. On October 16, 2010 at 8:57 am Sign Expert/Map Maker wrote:

    From Wilmington,NC to Barstow,CA. it is 2,554 miles….from Barstow,CA. to Wilmington,NC it is 2,503.2 miles. Experts still can’t figure this one out other then the fact that maybe Arizona (not observing Daylight Savings Time) driving eastward has something to do with it…or the fact you go up hill more going eastward then westward on I-40!!! Ha! I’ve driven this route and can tell you the only difference I could see (both ways) is that when you reach Barstow,CA. on I-40..by then you are paying about $1 more per gallon for gas then in Wilmington…..NC!
    Now if you want to get into Kilometer measurement, that is a more (still) confusing diagnosis with less of an explanation then the standard US measuring standards.

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