US 466 was first introduced to California in 1935. It was meant, at least in part, as good highway to bring traffic from US 91 (now I-15) and US 66 (now I-40) to the Central Valley. It also served as a low and easy pass from the Central Valley to the US 101 corridor. The route began in Kingman, AZ, where it diverged from its parent route (US 66) and headed to Las Vegas, NV via US 93. From Las Vegas, it followed US 91 to Barstow, CA and finally went on its own to Morro Bay, CA via Bakersfield and Atascadero. While it did get close to US 66 there, it did not connect directly to it. US 91 served as the short connector. The roadway didn’t get as much attention in popular culture as some other California roadways, it did get mentioned alongside US 66 and US 99 in “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. It was US 466 that brought them to the Central Valley, not US 66.
Routing in California
US 466 originally followed present-day I-15 from Nevada to north of Barstow. From there, it followed State 58 from Barstow to Bakersfield, US 99 from Bakersfield to Famoso, State 46 from Famoso to Shandon, State 41 from Shandon to near Creston, State 229 from Creston to Rocky Canyon Road, Rocky Canyon Road (no longer public) from 229 to Atascadero, and finally State 41 from Atascadero to Morro Bay. From 1959 to 1964, it followed current State 46 from Shandon to Paso Robles, US 101 from Paso Robles to Atascadeto, and current State 41 from Atascadero to Morro Bay. For quite some time, US 466 also had the notoriety for having the last section of dirt roadway along a US highway in California. The dirt section, aptly named Rocky Canyon Road, remains unpaved to this day, albeit partly as a private roadway. It was abandoned as a State Highway in the late 1950’s, with the current alignment of State 41 taking its place to the north.
Today, the roadway is a major artery in California for commercial and auto traffic. The roadway is mostly four-lanes, or will be soon, from Barstow to Bakersfield and is slowly being upgraded to four lanes from Famoso to Paso Robles.
This tour will follow US 466’s journey through California from Barstow to Morro Bay. While portions of the current alignment of State 58, State 46, and State 41 follow the last signed route of US 466, this tour will only follow the pre-freeway route. Some sections of the tour follow abandoned or bypassed segments that may be private roadways.