First total solar eclipse this century draws massive crowds
Thousands of people trekked to the path of Monday’s solar eclipse, from Oregon through Wyoming and Nebraska and down to South Carolina. It was the first total eclipse in almost three decades; 1979 to be exact.
It took about 90 minutes for total blockage to cross the country. Two-hundred million people live within a day's drive of Monday's path of totality. So towns and parks along the eclipse's main drag have welcomed monumental crowds. The last coast-to-coast eclipse was in 1918.
People in and around Alliance, Neb., were treated to a 100 percent total eclipse while further out from the center of the path, the event wasn’t as dark or as long in duration. Rapid City, for example, only had a 96 percent totality during the eclipse, which lasted more than two minutes.
The eclipse caused some traffic jams along the routes. In Wyoming, near the state line with Colorado, traffic was reportedly reminiscent of that through Denver. The Wyoming Highway Patrol reports that traffic was 27 percent heavier than normal for this time of year.
Rapid City had its own traffic jam of sorts; hundreds of people lined up around the downtown public library in hopes of snagging some eclipse glasses as the last minute.
Darrin Allard of Rapid City was first in line, showing up at 5 a.m. "The last time they had an eclipse in North America, I was in third grade and we had to stay indoors and you couldn't see it. I'm not going to miss this one," Allard explained.