In doing some research recently, I found an original section of US 99 from Tipton to Tulare. It had been a while since I looked at maps of this section, as most of my research has concentrated between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. The map below shows the alignment of US 99 in 1926.
Until 1931, US 99, and by extension Legislative Route 4, went on the west side of the Southern Pacific tracks from current Ave 164 north of Tipton to Bardsley Ave in Tulare, following Tulare County Road 112. This section was most likely paved with a 20′ concrete slab around 1917.
The roadway also retains three original bridges. The two North Branch Tule River bridges (46C-0004 and 46C-0010 respectively) are from 1917 and retain their original pipe railing. Two other bridges, Elk Bayou and Bates Slough are also original, with the former dating to 1916. The telltale cracking of asphalt over concrete is also visible near the northern North Branch Tule River bridge to near Ave 184 at Octol.
The realignment in 1931 eliminated two railroad crossings without the use of bridges at the tracks. The new road was also built a little higher to help ease flooding problems that were common in the Central Valley. Today, some of the bridges built at that time still remain, albeit widened or otherwise modified.
On May 20, 2017, I am planning a cleanup of my section on I-5 in Grapevine Canyon. Specifically, this is KER-005-6.0/8.0. For those interested in joining, please send us a message to add your name to the list. The plan, thus far, is to meet in Lebec in the morning and carpool to the cleanup site to reduce the number of vehicles along the roadway. Let us know as soon as possible if you are interested in joining us. A partial tour of the remaining sections of US 99 and the Ridge Route in Grapevine Canyon, including Deadman’s Curve, will also be included in the cleanup.
The first “major” update is an extension of my US 99 tour. I’ve decided to take it north of the Kern River. How far north I have not yet decided, but so far at least as far as Delano to the Tulare County Line. I may push it to Goshen, but we shall see. More photos are necessary as well as more research. Maybe Fresno is in the future, but it will be quite some time away. Right now, I’ve extended the tour two stops north to the Oildale OH, the northern end of the 1933 Bakersfield Bypass.
This year, the Ridge Route will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary. While the roadway is still not fully open to travel and has not been since January 2005, it is still there and still coming up to its century mark. This celebration will be held in Lebec at the El Tejon School, located near the top of Grapevine Grade on Lebec Road. For more information, please contact the Ridge Route Communities Museum. The road also needs your help and pressure to reopen the roadway to the public. For more information about this issue, contact the Ridge Route website.
From the Ridge Route Communities website:
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION – 10/3
It has been 100 years since the Ridge Route Road opened
Come celebrate with the Ridge Route Preservation Organization and the Ridge Route Communities Museum & Historical Society
from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
at El Tejon School right on the old two lane highway
across I-5 from Fort Tejon
There will be displays, antique automobiles, food, music,
This month marks 16 years for me as an Adopt-A-Highway program volunteer. In August 1998, I adopted a section of Interstate 5 in Grapevine Canyon in Kern County. To be more specific, my section is on Route 5 between Postmiles 6 and 8 in Kern County. I chose that section initially as it allowed me to inspect sections of old US 99 that I couldn’t reach before. Now that I have adopted it and have a permit, I can stop along that segment and see the old roadway.
I found that the section I adopted was also quite scenic and special. Of all the sections of Grapevine Canyon, mine has the most of the wild grapes that gave the canyon its name. It also contains one of the more famous sections of the original Grapevine Grade, Deadmans Curve. During wildflower season, the canyon is green and alive with yellow, orange, and purple flowers. Deer, hawks, and other wildlife can be spotted in the canyon as well.
Passing through Grapevine Canyon now gives me a sense of pride. I’ve actually gone there many times to help clean the highway, given stranded motorists help, and fixed things along the roadway. It is something that I enjoy doing and something that I don’t do often enough. When I first adopted it, I lived in Santa Clarita. Now I live in San Diego, much further away. As a result, I don’t clean it as often but still try to get up there as much as I can. I’ve also had the help of friends at times which has been nice.
I encourage all those that have the ability to adopt a roadway to do so. You can help clean up some of your community, or even someone else’s in my case. You can help others and can be a lot of fun. Most counties and states have this sort of program. Find out what your local agency has and find a section to adopt. You never know what you might find out there.