Skip to main content

CA 168 Road Work Update and Friant Dam

In my previous post about CA 168 West I noted that Caltrans was working on a new roundabout in Prather.  The new roundabout is being built at the junction of CA 168 and Auberry Road which was a somewhat infamous local spot for traffic accidents.  As of yesterday it appears the roundabout is functionally open although far from complete.






I ended up taking Auberry Road and Millerton Road west to Friant to back to San Joaquin Valley.  That put me at the foot of the Friant Dam which was opened in 1942.


The Friant Dam impounds the San Joaquin River to create Millerton Lake which has a catchment area of about 1,600sq miles.  The Friant Dam was constructed between 1939 and 1942 by the Central Valley Project.  Today the Friant Dam is part of the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project and the lowest reservoir in the system.  The scope of Big Creek Project can be seen on this map:

Big Creek Hydroelectric Project Map

What I find interesting about the Friant Dam project was that it flooded over the area that once the town of Millerton which was original Fresno County Seat from 1856 to 1874.  Millerton was located on the San Joaquin River and was part of the Stock-Los Angeles Road which largely used to the Sierra Foothills to avoid what was once marsh lands in the San Joaquin Valley.  Problems in Millerton began when the town flooded over in 1867 and was largely abandoned.  Eventually county voters moved to the Fresno County seat to Fresno proper which was the final nail in the coffin for Millerton.  Eventually Madera, Kings, Tulare, Inyo, Mono, and San Benito counties all split off from Fresno which is why the site of Millerton is now in Madera County.  There wasn't much left of Millerton when the 1930s and the Friant Dam project got going.  The Millerton Courthouse was preserved above the Friant Dam and still stands to this day.


The alignment of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road largely followed the alignment of several state highways in San Joaquin Valley such as; CA 59, CA 140, CA 145, CA 180, and CA 65. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…