Historic U.S. Highway 99

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Historic U.S. Highway 99

History

U.S. 99, once the "Main Street of California," was eliminated as an extant route during the 1964 California U.S. Highway Purge. It was mostly replaced by Interstate 5, although a significant portion exists today as California 99 and California 86. Along with U.S. 60, 70, 80, and 91, U.S. 99 was eliminated in its entirety from the Golden State. Moreover, just like U.S. 66, U.S. 399, and U.S. 466, the entire route of U.S. 99 was eliminated. The last U.S. 99 shields on the route from Calexico to Blaine, Washington, were gone by the early 1970s. In spite of this, much of the historical route of U.S. 99 has been signed with brown markers to keep the spirit of the former Main Street alive. This page chronicles some extant segments.

An entire detailed discussion of U.S. 99 is available at Casey Cooper's Finding U.S. 99 in California.

Highway Guides

For more on some of the routes that have since replaced U.S. 99, see the following pages:

U.S. 99 Whitewater River Bridge - See Historic U.S. 60
U.S. 99 south in Calexico
Immediately upon turning from southbound California 111/Imperial Avenue onto eastbound Second Street is this shield assembly showing the historic U.S. 99 shield along with an "END" U.S. 99 shield. While this intersection was not really the southern end of U.S. 99, it is the point where U.S. 99 used to turn east briefly for three blocks, then turn south again at Heffernan Avenue to cross the former border crossing into Mexico. Photo taken 01/27/06.
The cut-out U.S. 99 shield is made to today's Caltrans standard, and brown historic shield incorporates an older specification shield. The California Division of Highways insignia is located at the bottom tip of the U.S. 99 shield, which is authentic. Photo taken 01/27/06.
Two more historic U.S. 99 shields are posted along eastbound 2nd Street. This is the first of those two shields. They are both posted alongside the arches that support the facade of most of the shops along Second Street. Photo taken 01/27/06.
Another U.S. 99 historic sign is posted on the next block, between Rockwood Avenue and Heffernan Avenue. Note the redundant "HISTORIC" designation posted above and below the U.S. 99 shield. The upcoming intersection is Heffernan Avenue, and this is where U.S. 99 used to turn south to the former border crossing into Mexico. According to Casey Cooper's Finding U.S. 99 in California, U.S. 99 used to connect to Heffernan Avenue via 3rd Street rather than 2nd Street, but today 2nd Street is recognized as the old alignment of U.S. 99. Photo taken 01/27/06.
After Heffernan Avenue (which takes U.S. 99 south toward the former border crossing), 2nd Street continues east for another block as a one-way street, but it will change into a two-way street after Heber Avenue (one block ahead). A historic J.C. Penney's is located on the north side of 2nd Street. Photo taken 01/27/06.
Behind the bus stop in the median island, U.S. 99 reaches its southern terminus at the border fence. Today, there is no access to Mexico through this former border crossing. Now traffic must use the California 111 or California 7 crossings to the city of Mexicali. Photo taken 01/27/06.
Next to the old border crossing is the old customs house, which is located to the east of the old port of entry. The building is still federally owned and used by the Border Patrol (as near as we could tell). Photos taken 01/27/06.
The menacing and seemingly impervious border fence marks the southern terminus of U.S. 99, after its journey all the way from British Columbia. Photo taken 01/27/06.
U.S. 99 north in Calexico
Standing in front of the border fence looking north, the bus stop that signifies the southern terminus of U.S. 99 lies in the view of the former federal highway that used to follow Heffernan Avenue north from here into the United States. To the right (east) sits the customs house, and the next intersection is with First Street. Photo taken 01/27/06.
Northbound U.S. 99/Heffernan Avenue meets First Street at this intersection. Photo taken 01/27/06.
A BEGIN U.S. 99 shield is posted at the intersection between Heffernan Avenue and First Street in downtown Calexico. Photo taken 01/27/06.
The cut-out U.S. 99 shield is made to today's Caltrans standard, and brown historic shield incorporates an older specification shield. The California Division of Highways insignia is located at the bottom tip of the U.S. 99 shield, which is authentic. Photos taken 01/27/06.
Continuing north, U.S. 99 followed Heffernan Avenue briefly, then took Second Street west to today's California 111 west of downtown, then turned north to travel toward El Centro (via California 86). Photo taken 01/27/06.
U.S. 99/Coolidge Springs Road at Desert Shores
This original section of former U.S. 99 along Coolidge Springs Road features single-slab concrete near Desert Shores along the western edge of the Salton Sea in Imperial County, just south of the Riverside County line. Power lines parallel this old alignment, making it easy to locate, but the old concrete surface has worn and rutted, making vehicular travel somewhat hazardous. This set shows old U.S. 99 looking north. Photos taken 03/14/09.
This next series of photos looks at southbound Coolidge Springs Road in the same area. The new California 86 expressway is located to the east (left) of here. Photos taken 03/14/09.
U.S. 6-99/San Fernando Boulevard south - Burbank
Now in the city of Burbank north of Los Angeles, this Historic U.S. 99 route marker is posted along southbound San Fernando Boulevard after the intersection with Magnolia Boulevard just south of the Burbank Town Center shopping mall. Between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Clarita, U.S. 6 and U.S. 99 used to follow San Fernando Road (also known as San Fernando Boulevard in certain municipalities). After U.S. 6 and U.S. 99 were moved onto the new Golden State Freeway, the old alignment became Business U.S. 6 and Business U.S. 99. When U.S. 6 and U.S. 99 were decommissioned in Los Angeles County, this segment was then designated as Business Loop I-5, but that designation did not gain popularity and eventually was decommissioned as well. Now San Fernando Road (and Boulevard) are signed with Historic U.S. 99 signs such as this one. Photos taken 05/05/10 by Martin Grahl.
U.S. 99E/Washington Boulevard (former California 256) north - Roseville
U.S. 99E followed U.S. 40/Auburn Boulevard from downtown Sacramento northeast to downtown Roseville, entering Roseville via Vernon Street. Once in Roseville, the connection from Vernon Street to Washington Boulevard is made via Taylor Street and Oak Street. Once traveling north on Washington Boulevard, Old U.S. 99E proceeds under Vernon Street and the railroad via a subway as shown here. Note the divoted curbing on the median. The old alignment of U.S. 99E was a state highway (California 256) long after U.S. 99E was eliminated and the parallel California 65 freeway built. According to California Highways.org, California 256 was decommissioned by 1994. Photos taken 05/24/08.
Divoted curbing -- a common design feature for old state expressways/divided highways -- remains in use along U.S. 99E/Washington Boulevard north of Main Street in Roseville. Old U.S. 99E will follow Washington Boulevard north until it meets up with Industrial Avenue. Old U.S. 99E turns onto Industrial Avenue, although quite a few route realignments have occurred due to ongoing residential and commercial development in northern Roseville. Washington Boulevard itself ultimately merges directly onto California 65 north of downtown at the Blue Oaks Boulevard interchange. California 65 follows the original route of U.S. 99E, meeting Alternate U.S. 40 in Marysville and rejoining U.S. 99W in Red Bluff. Photo taken 05/24/08.
U.S. 99E/Industrial Avenue north - Roseville
The original alignment of U.S. 99E has been rerouted since its original construction due to ample residential development in northern Roseville. The best modern path of travel is to take Washington Boulevard north to Industrial Avenue north (left turn). Upon reaching an electrical substation on the left (west) side of the roadway, Industrial Avenue follows the original route of U.S. 99E north of Roseville. It is likely that former California 256 followed Washington Boulevard, not Industrial Avenue. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Northbound U.S. 99E/Industrial Avenue approaches the interchange with Blue Oaks Boulevard. Due to its proximity to the railroad, Industrial Avenue shares grade separation with the railroad. As a result, access to Blue Oaks Boulevard east is via Packard Drive (next right). To Blue Oaks Boulevard west, continue under the bridge to Alantown Road (second right). Photo taken 05/24/08.
Industrial Avenue passes under Blue Oaks Boulevard. The railroad continues to parallel Old U.S. 99E on the left (west) side and the modern California 65 freeway to the east (right). Photo taken 05/24/08.
Northbound U.S. 99E/Industrial Avenue next meets Alantown Road to westbound Blue Oaks Boulevard. Photo taken 05/24/08.
U.S. 99E/Industrial Avenue cross over the south branch of Pleasant Grove Creek on this old bridge. The rails of this bridge used to be white, but the paint has mostly peeled away. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Northbound U.S. 99E/Industrial Avenue next approaches a grade separated junction with Sunset Boulevard. The next right connects to Sunset Boulevard east to California 65. The second right (after the overpass) connects to Sunset Boulevard west. After this interchange, Industrial Avenue will next interchange directly with California 65/Lincoln Bypass. Photos taken 05/24/08.
Scenes Pertaining to U.S. 99E (California 256) in Roseville
A very nicely preserved, concrete section of old U.S. 99E's original alignment parallel to the railroad tracks is located off Industrial Avenue in northern Roseville. From northbound Washington Boulevard, turn left on Industrial Avenue after the Pleasant Grove Boulevard intersection. Follow Industrial Avenue north, and you'll see an electrical substation as Industrial Avenue curves next to a railroad track. The concrete road leads south into the substation is Old U.S. 99E; this view looks south toward the substation. Photo taken 05/24/08.
The extant concrete section of old U.S. 99E off Industrial Avenue was poured on May 6, 1929. Photo taken 05/24/08.
U.S. 99E/Rancho Road north
An extant section of Old U.S. 99E is located along Rancho Road southeast of Marysville in Yuba County. This two-lane segment of old U.S. highway parallels modern California 65 just south of the state highway's terminus. Photo taken 05/24/08.
A single-circuit power line crosses over Rancho Road; this line brings power from the Shasta Dam area (near Redding) south into the Sacramento metropolitan area. Photos taken 05/24/08.
White wooden railing lines this old bridge, which dates to the mid-1930s. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Northbound U.S. 99E/Rancho Road meets Ostrom Road east (right turn) or Forty Mile Road south (left turn). Use Forty Mile Road south to California 65 Exit 332. Photo taken 05/24/08.
This 1935 bridge carries U.S. 99E/Rancho Road over a creek. White wooden railing has faded as the paint has peeled off. Note the date stamp, which is imprinted into the concrete curb. Photo taken 05/24/08.
This view looks due north on U.S. 99E/Rancho Road after one of the creek bridges. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Prior to the McGowan Parkway intersection, Rancho Road sees two more bridges to cross small creeks and waterways. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Both of these bridges are just like the earlier two, with faded, white wooden railing and concrete curbs. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Northbound U.S. 99E/Rancho Road meets McGowan Parkway. Turn left (west) on McGowan Parkway to return to California 65 and connect to California 70. Photo taken 05/24/08.
U.S. 99E/Midway Road north - Durham
This historic U.S. 99 shield was located along Midway Road south of Chico near Durham (old U.S. 99E). It is not certain whether this shield remains posted today or not. Photo taken by Joel Windmiller, 03/29/02.
U.S. 99 and County Route A-17 north - Cottonwood
Business Loop I-5 and U.S. 99/Dunsmuir Boulevard north - Dunsmuir
Now on northbound Dunsmuir Boulevard, Historic U.S. 99 was briefly signed with shields such as this one along Business Loop I-5 in Dunsmuir. Upon return visits in 2005 and 2008, these shields were gone (possibly stolen). Photos taken by Jerry Mullady, 03/99.

Switch over to California 99, which replaced U.S. 99 in the Central Valley Switch over to Interstate 5, which replaced U.S. 99 north of Red Bluff Switch over to California 86, which replaced U.S. 99 in the Coachella and Imperial Valleys
Back to California 98 Return to the California Gateway Continue to U.S. 101

Page Updated January 26, 2012.