US 99 – Violin Summit / Big Oak Flat

Historical Tour of old US 99

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Violin Summit / Big Oak Flat

Summit Elevation : 2591 ft.

1999 Aerial photo showing Violin Summit and the Templin Highway interchange.
1999 Aerial photo showing Violin Summit and the Templin Highway interchange.

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Old alignment of US 99 just below Violin Summit. It was bypassed when I-5 was constructed.
Old alignment of US 99 just below Violin Summit. It was bypassed when I-5 was constructed.
Section of pre-1970 alignment of US 99 approaching Violin Summit.
Section of pre-1970 alignment of US 99 approaching Violin Summit.
Remnants of the paving on the pre-1970 alignment.
Remnants of the paving on the pre-1970 alignment.
At Violin Summit, looking toward Big Oak Flat. Concrete to the right is an old retaining wall.
At Violin Summit, looking toward Big Oak Flat. Concrete to the right is an old retaining wall.

Violin Summit was a false summit on US 99. It was false in the sense that it was merely a break in a grade, not the high point. The real summit along this segment of highway was at Whitaker Summit, a few miles north. Just south of Violin Summit, a short section of abandoned alignment still exists with some paving still intact. The later construction of Interstate 5 bypassed this section about 1970, leaving a large curve, road cuts, and some fill area.

Big Oak Flat, the area just north of Violin Summit, must have been a great sight after climbing the steep Five Mile Grade. This segment of US 99 was originally opened in 1933 as a three lane highway and widened in 1949 to four lanes. This section of highway was able to have a wider median, as it isn’t alongside a slope. Here, old US 99 takes on the street name of Golden State Highway, the southernmost use of that name for an old US 99 alignment. Many movies have been filmed on this section of roadway, though usually mistakenly referred to as Templin Highway. The roadway is still called “Golden State Highway”. That roadway goes east from here toward the Ridge Route and Fish Canyon.

Big Oak Flat at Templin Highway, looking north.
Big Oak Flat at the Templin Highway intersection, looking north.
Big Oak Flat, looking southerly.
Big Oak Flat, looking southerly.
Looking north towards Whitaker Summit.
Looking north towards Whitaker Summit.
Looking southerly toward Oak Flat and Templin Highway.
Looking southerly toward Big Oak Flat.
1948 curbing along the median.
1948 curbing along the median.
Detail of the 1948 curbing.
Detail of the 1948 curbing.
FAP sign and section post just south of the Templin Highway junction.
FAP sign and section post just south of the Templin Highway junction.
1958 view of Big Oak Flat with Whitaker Summit in the distance. Looking northerly. Courtesy - Caltrans.
1958 view of Big Oak Flat with Whitaker Summit in the distance. Looking northerly. Courtesy – Caltrans.

Old US 99 continues on as Golden State Highway from here. This section is not continuous, but the tour follows right under Pyramid Lake.

Go North on US 99 to Bakersfield

Go South on US 99 to Los Angeles

Return to US 99 Introduction

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