1999’s Wide Load Penny: A Huge Coin-gestion!

1999’s Wide Load Penny: A Huge Coin-gestion!

Have you ever heard of a penny that caused a major traffic jam? In 1999, a “wide load” penny did just that in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. It may seem like a small thing, but this penny caused a massive commotion that lasted for hours. So kick back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into the story of the 1999 wide load penny.

The Penny That Stopped Traffic

On March 2, 1999, a truck carrying a very unusual load made its way through Phoenix on its way to the United States Mint in Denver, Colorado. The load was a massive penny weighing a whopping 2,500 pounds! The penny was so big that it needed special transportation to be moved safely, and hence it was transported on a flatbed truck. The penny was also 7 feet long, 3 inches thick, and had a diameter of 7 feet, making it a true wonder to behold.

As the truck made its way through the city, people started to notice it. Soon, social media and TV channels were filled with this grand news. The people of Phoenix could not believe what they were seeing, and it wasn’t long before everyone wanted to get a glimpse of this mammoth penny. As people began to flock to the streets, the truck carrying the coin slowed down.

The penny was so large that it attracted a lot of attention and quickly became a major tourist attraction. However, the truck hauling the coin was moving so slowly that it caused a massive traffic jam, preventing other vehicles from passing. This lead to long delays, and eventually, the highway had to be closed down entirely to make way for the enormous penny. The truck carrying the coin had to take a detour, and it took longer to reach its destination than expected.

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The Lengthy History of the Penny

To better understand the significance of the 1999 wide load penny, we need to look at the history of this humble coin. The penny, whose official name is the “one-cent piece,” has been circulating in the United States since 1793, making it one of the oldest coins in the country. Over the years, the penny has undergone several changes. From its original design, which featured Lady Liberty on the front and an eagle on the back, to its current design, which features Abraham Lincoln, the penny has been an integral part of American history.

Did you know that in the early days of the penny, it was so big that it was called a “large cent”? It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the size of the penny was reduced to the one we know today. The penny has a copper coating over a zinc core, and it is produced by the United States Mint.

Why the Wide Load Penny was Transported

You may be wondering why a penny had to be transported from Phoenix to Denver in the first place? The answer is simple – to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The penny was minted in honor of Lincoln and featured a special design on the back that included the Lincoln Memorial, along with the words “United States of America” and “One Cent.”

The penny was so large because it was actually a 1000 times bigger replica of the 1909 Lincoln penny, which was the first year the Lincoln penny was minted. The penny was created as part of a special promotion to commemorate the new design of the penny.

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The Aftermath of the Wide Load Penny

The 1999 wide load penny may have caused major traffic delays, but it also became a popular tourist attraction. In the end, the penny reached its destination and was used to create smaller replicas that were sold to the public for $9.99. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the replicas went to charity.

The wide load penny is still remembered today, over two decades later, and has even become a part of popular culture. References to the penny have appeared in movies and TV shows, and it has been mentioned on social media and in popular memes.


In conclusion, the 1999 wide load penny was a massive coin that captured the imagination of the public. It caused a major traffic jam but also became a unique tourist attraction in the city of Phoenix. As the penny was transported to Denver, it reminded the people of the importance of the penny in American history. To this day, the penny remains an important icon of American currency, and the 1999 wide load penny will always be remembered as a unique and special moment in American history.

Helpful Table

Here is a table that shows the different designs of the penny throughout history:

Year Front Design Back Design
1793 Lady Liberty Eagle
1859 Abraham Lincoln Shield
1909 Abraham Lincoln Wheat
2009 Abraham Lincoln Shield
2021 Abraham Lincoln Union Shield


Here are some interesting facts about the penny:

  • The penny is worth one cent, but it costs more than one cent to produce.
  • In 1943, during World War II, pennies were made of steel to conserve copper for the war effort.
  • The word “penny” comes from the Old English word “pening,” which means “coin.”
  • The penny is the most widely circulated coin in the United States.
  • The average lifespan of a penny is around 25 years.
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  • “City of Phoenix, Police Department, Historical Society.” Retrieved from https://www.phoenix.gov/police/history/historical-facts.
  • “Money Factory Tour.” Retrieved from https://www.usmint.gov/learn/tours-and-facilities/philadelphia/money-factory-tour.