Historic Highway 99

The Golden State Highway


US 99 ran from the Mexican border north to the Canadian  border mostly near the present route of Interstate 5. It was one of the original US highways commissioned in 1926. Starting in the 1960s, it was decommissioned gradually and by the end of the 1970s it was decommissioned entirely. It was the main artery along the West Coast for almost 40 years and it is well known as the highway that carried the migrant farm workers of the 1930s through the San Joaquin Valley.

The title "Golden State Highway" is particularly appropriate for this route, as it traverses just about every kind of terrain in California, from the deserts of the Imperial Valley to the streets of Los Angeles, then through the rich farmlands of the Central Valley and the snow-capped Siskiyou Mountains. If it's in California, it is also on US 99.

[California | US 99]

Old style US 99 shield in Dunsmuir, CA

US 99 at a Glance

Original Routing

US 99 had its southern terminus at the Mexican border, then followed SR-111 and then SR-86 to I-10. It went along I-10 to Los Angeles, then followed the general route of I-5 to Wheeler Ridge. From Wheeler Ridge to Sacramento, US 99 generally followed current  SR-99. In Sacramento, it split into 99W and 99E and was reunited in Red Bluff. From there it followed I-5 generally to its northern terminus at the Canadian border, eh?

Current Status Outside California

US 99 was finally decommissioned in Oregon and Washington in the 1970s. However, much of it still remains, though it has been bypassed by I-5. In both states, many sections are numbered as SR-99 and Oregon has retained the 99E and 99W designations.

Current Status in California

US 99 was completely decommissioned by 1968 with the completion of I-5, but it had gradually been phased out beginning July 1, 1964. It was replaced by SR-111 and SR-86 between the Mexican Border and Indio. I-10 replaced US 99 along with US 60 and US 70 between Indio and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles it was replaced by US 101 (Santa Ana Fwy), SR-110 (Pasadena Fwy) and followed I-5 (Golden State Fwy). Between 1964 and its final decommissioning in 1968, US 99 had its southern terminus at the I-5/I-10/SR-60/US-101 (East LA) interchange and was routed with I-5 to Wheeler Ridge. It was gradually replaced by the eight lane Golden State Fwy and ended when the final leg of I-5 was completed on Violin Summit in 1970. Many portions of US 99 remain, though mostly as frontage roads. From Wheeler Ridge to Sacramento, SR-99 follows almost the exact course of US 99 with the exception of several towns that the current freeway has bypassed. The old alignment of US 99 is known as Business SR-99 through several. Between Sacramento and Red Bluff, US 99W was replaced by I-5 and remains as frontage road known as 99W. US 99E was replaced by I-80 between Sacramento and Roseville, then was replaced by SR-65 to Yuba City and SR-99 to Red Bluff. The reunited US 99 was completely replaced by I-5 to the Oregon border, although it is almost entirely preserved for its whole length.

Intersections and Routing with other US Routes in California

US 99 Guides

Since US 99 was such a long highway through California, I have split the guides by southern and northern California. I have guides completed from the Mexican Border through the Grapevine and hope to have guides for northern California in the near future.

US 99 Guides (Southern California):

US 99 Photo Album

The US 99 photo album features historic pictures of the road and current pictures I have taken. Since there is so much to be seen, I've split the photo album into several sections. As they are added, they will be listed below.

US 99 arch bridge
SR-263 (US 99) near the Oregon Border

US 99 Links

Virtual Tours of US 99

Mike Ballard has compiled an "Historical Auto Tour" which currently extends from the I-5/SR-14 (US 6 / US 99) interchange to the Kern River over crossing north of Bakersfield. I suggest visiting this site since Mike has placed a lot of photographs here as well as giving detailed descriptions of the road including history and local flavor.

There are two components of Mike's US 99 Tour:

Ridge Route: This was US 99 from 1925 to 1933 and was the first paved road to connect Los Angeles with places to the north.

US 99 Tour: This covers the alignments of US 99 after 1933 and includes the "Ridge Route Alternative" and later alignments, some of which are now part of I-5.

Mike's tour has been continued in northern California by Brian Green. This is a tour very similar to Mike's, with a lot of interesting pictures and interesting history.

Historical Auto Tour of US 99E. This tour covers Sacramento to Yuba City. The midpoint of the tour is Roseville which is the starting point of the tours.
Note: It appears that the US 99E site is no longer part of particles.org. If anyone has further information about this, please let me know.


Other US 99 Links

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Go to the Historic California US Highways Main Page

If you have any questions, comments, or if you would like to send me any updates or pictures, please contact me at: casey@gbcnet.com.
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