Category Archives: US 99

Poppies in bloom!

On a trip to Grapevine Canyon today, I saw quite a few poppies in bloom. Grapevine Canyon and the area around the California Poppy Reserve were quite spectacular, considering the dry winter. The recent rains, which have been well timed, seemed to have made the drought a little prettier to look at.

Deadman's Curve and Poppies
Deadman’s Curve and Poppies
Poppies high on the canyon walls in Grapevine Canyon.
Poppies high on the canyon walls in Grapevine Canyon.

April 2010 Baja Earthquake – Part 1

On April 4, 2010, a 7.2 earthquake struck the northern Baja California and Southern California region. I was in Oceanside at a friends house at the time. Initially, I didn’t feel it and thought the others at the party were joking. We had been talking about the Northridge Earthquake earlier in the day. Once I stepped out onto the patio, I felt the ground moving. I knew it was large but farther away. My first thought was – What just happened to Los Angeles? Instead of Los Angeles, it was the Mexicali/Calexico area that got hit the worst as it was much closer to the epicenter.

Map showing the earthquake and affected area.
Map showing the earthquake and affected area.

Wanting to survey the damage to the roadways in that area and see if any of the old bridges were damaged, I headed out the following weekend. As it was also springtime, parts of the desert were in bloom. The ocotillo in particular had a beautiful display of flowers. To get out there, I followed Hwy 80 out to the Desert View Tower. After talking with Ben, the owner, I headed out to Calexico following Hwy 80 and Hwy 98. I was hoping to see cracks in Hwy 98 from any fault movement but did not find any.

Blooming ocotillo along Hwy 98 in the Yuha Desert.
Blooming ocotillo along Hwy 98 in the Yuha Desert.
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Closeup of the blooms.

In Calexico, many buildings were damaged with a large portion of the older downtown area closed off until the buildings could be stabilized. The biggest damage I saw was at a hotel in the northwestern end of downtown. Parts of the walls and roof had collapsed.

An empty and closed off downtown Calexico.
An empty and closed off downtown Calexico.
Partially collapsed roof and wall in Calexico.
Partially collapsed roof and wall in Calexico.
Damaged Hotel De Anza in Calexico.
Damaged Hotel De Anza in Calexico.
Front of Hotel De Anza showing some damage.
Front of Hotel De Anza showing some damage.
Partially collapsed facade of the Hotel De Anza.
Partially collapsed facade of the Hotel De Anza.

Returning from Calexico, I stopped at a few bridges to see the fill on each side had settled, causing some cracking in the pavement. Additional cracks were spotted at the New River crossing on old US 80. Overall, the highways were lightly damaged with some concrete broken at some bridges.

Typical settlement repair at the Westside Canal bridge on Hwy 98.
Typical settlement repair at the Westside Canal bridge on State 98.
Settled dirt at the edge of the Westside Canal at State 98.
Settled dirt at the edge of the Westside Canal at State 98.
Both sides of the New River trench show settlement on US 80.
Both sides of the New River trench show settlement on US 80.
Cracked pavement on old US 80 at the New River.
Cracked pavement on old US 80 at the New River.
Cracking in pavement and soil from settling at the edge of the New River trench.
Cracking in pavement and soil from settling at the edge of the New River trench.

US 99 in Lake Shasta – October 2008

In October 2008, Lake Shasta was dropping to near historic lows. I took a trip up there to hike many of the exposed alignments. I also got out in the water in my wetsuit when I needed to. The whole trip was a lot of fun. Here are the photos from that trip.

Salt Creek Inlet and Lakehead Area:

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Pit River Area:

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Where US 99 goes into the lake on the south bank near the Pit River Bridge.
Where US 99 goes into the lake on the south bank near the Pit River Bridge.

Exploring old highways

One of my interests is old highways. I’ve followed old US 99 and US 6 in Southern California for many years. A trip on the old “Ridge Route” between Castaic and Gorman was always a treat. I got be curious about how they looked when they were new, why they were built, and who built them. The journey that has taken me along has greatly increased my knowledge and understanding of both the history of the highways and of Southern California. It has become something much greater to me as a result. I understand why the cities and highways are laid out as they are.

However, in searching for some of the old highways, things can get tough. Realignments can sometimes take a roadway far from its original alignment, making the original harder to find. Sometimes its very obvious where the old road went. In Southern California, a massive megalopolis exists where there was once farmland. Old alignments may be ripped up and replaced with shopping centers. Using various tools available to me, including the Internet, old maps, highway logs, and topographical maps, I’ve been able to track down quite a few alignments that you’d never know were anything special today.

You just never know when you’ll find something! Exploring old highways and byways can be a great adventure. Come join me!

Swimming to a 1901 Southern Pacific Railroad bridge and tunnel in Lake Shasta near Lakehead. October 2008.
Swimming to a 1901 Southern Pacific Railroad bridge and tunnel in Lake Shasta near Lakehead. October 2008.
Swimming old US 99 in 2005 at Salt Creek in Lake Shasta.
Swimming old US 99 in 2005 at Salt Creek in Lake Shasta.
Out on old US 395 in the June Lake area in March 2009.
Out on old US 395 in the June Lake area in March 2009.

Redlands and old US 99 – Sunday, March 20, 2011

On Sunday, I went to the Redlands area to drop off a friend. I figured, why not see some old highway in the area and make the trip back more fun? So, after dropping him off, I headed over to Redlands Blvd. This is a section of old US 99 that still retains its concrete paving from the late 1940’s. I never really got any photos of it before, so it was good to see it still there. From Citrus Ave east, the roadway is more of an expressway, with a wide median and limited access.

After Redlands, the next section of old highway would prove a bit more interesting to get to. It was a short section of concrete paving, from the 1920’s most likely, and was located adjacent to the 10 freeway.  I had to actually pull off the freeway shoulder to drive the short section. It was pretty neat, seeing as how this had been realigned so many times since that concrete was poured. I was hoping to return to the freeway by simply driving through. That idea was quickly thwarted when I found a tall curb at the shoulder. I had to back up and get on where I pulled off. So much for trying to be inconspicuous!

Redlands Blvd, "in town"
Redlands Blvd, “in town”
Divided section of Redlands Blvd, like an expressway.
Divided section of Redlands Blvd, like an expressway.
Some of the concrete visible... seen just to the right of the shoulder.
Some of the concrete visible… seen just to the right of the shoulder.
More paving, both lanes now visible.
More paving, both lanes now visible.

My next stop would be Robert Rd, near Cherry Valley Blvd. This section is threatened with removal or repaving as it is adjacent to a new large housing tract. So far, it is still intact. This nice concrete section dates to about 1928 and is one of the last sections of intact concrete around here. I took many photos here, hoping they wouldn’t be my last. The economic slowdown seems to have helped here, as the housing tract construction has slowed dramatically. At this point, I figured, I’ve gone this far… might as well go to the 60 junction and look around. So, I got back on the freeway, and took the San Timoteo Canyon Road exit. A frontage road heads east here, on the south side of the freeway. A portion of it is old US 99, complete with a 1939 bridge over San Timoteo Creek. Upon closer inspection of the bridge, I found that the eastbound I-10 bridge was also a part of old US 99. It was the original westbound bridge for the expressway, built in 1951. Now traffic is going the wrong way over it, from a historical context. One final stop was to be made, the old US 99 / US 60 / US 70 junction at the edge of Beaumont.

Short section of Roberts Rd that is now a driveway.
Short section of Roberts Rd that is now a driveway.
Roberts Rd, fairly pristine 1920's concrete.
Roberts Rd, fairly pristine 1920’s concrete.
San Timoteo Creek Bridge from 1939
San Timoteo Creek Bridge from 1939
Old westbound bridge from 1950, now eastbound I-10.
Old westbound bridge from 1950, now eastbound I-10.

I’d seen what appeared to be bridge piers and concrete approaches to an old bridge just north of the current SR-60. It turns out, that is exactly what they were. In 1936, the current westbound bridge for SR-60 (old US 60), was built. It replaced an earlier bridge, the one that I had been seeing pieces of. Today was finally my chance to walk around and see the old pieces. I was rather amazed at how much was left, considering how long ago it was all torn out. A fair amount of the eastern approach to the bridge remained, most of it buried under a thin layer of dirt. There wasn’t anything left of the western approach. I also got some photos of the exit sign for the 60 West from the 10 East. The sign was from 1960, and was overlaid with a SR-60 sign. Yes, there is a US 60 shield under there… just hope the overlay panel falls off at some point! After hiking around, it was time to head back. The approaching storm was getting worse, and the winds were picking up. I had a long drive ahead, and didn’t really want to do it in heavy rain. Thankfully, all I had to deal with was heavy winds and dust at times. I finally got to see some sections of old US 99 that I either hadn’t seen before, or weren’t sure were still around. More trips will be made up this way, just not during summer.

1936 Beaumont Overhead, now westbound SR-60
1936 Beaumont Overhead, now westbound SR-60
Remains of the earlier Beaumont Overhead
Remains of the earlier Beaumont Overhead
Some of the old approach still exists, with concrete.
Some of the old approach still exists, with concrete.
The SR-60 shield is on top of a US 60 shield.
The SR-60 shield is on top of a US 60 shield.