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California State Route 49; The Golden Chain Highway (CA 41 north to CA 16)

Last year I traveled California State Route 49 from CA 16 north to CA 89 in one continuous trip.  The prior two years I traveled the rest of CA 49 south to CA 41 in Oakhurst.  This blog post consists of photos of the highway from that time period and historical information about the southern part of CA 49.






This blog post is meant to be a continuation of the previous one I did regarding CA 49 from CA 16 north to CA 89.  A link to said blog post can be found below:

California State Route 49; The Golden Chain Highway (CA 16 north to CA 89)

As stated in the previous blog post; CA 49 is an approximately 295 mile long north/south highway which traverses the traditional Gold Rush Country of California.  While I intend to discuss county level historical alignments of CA 49 as I did in the first blog post I thought this would be a good place to discuss the backstory of highway. 

CA 49 was first signed in 1934 along a series of Legislative Route Numbers ("LRN") that were largely located within the Sierra Foothills of California.  Prior to 1934 all state highways that were not part of US Routes were unsigned.  All that the number assignments of LRNs referred to was the order they were defined by the state legislature, they were not meant as a navigational aid.  A large percentage of the LRNs were first signed in 1934 but there essentially was no continuity between the actual number signed in the field and the legislatively defined route number.  CA 49 was selected to the traditional Gold Rush Era corridor to honor the 1849 Gold Rush.  The original alignment of CA 49 was first signed from Mariposa north to Vinton along the following Legislative Route Numbers:

-  Mariposa to Auburn via LRN 65.
-  Auburn to Nevada City via LRN 17.
-  Nevada City to Sattley via LRN 25.
-  Sattley to Sierraville via LRN 83.
-  Sierraville to Vinton on roads maintained by Sierra and Plumas counties

Despite the Signed State Highway program being created in 1934 it took several years for the actual signage to be properly placed out on state highways.  CA 49 in it's original form first appears on the 1938 State Highway Map.

1938 State Highway Map 

While referencing legislative information defining state highways in California I generally refer to CAhighways.org.   The website has excellent resources for anyone interested in finding out how state highways in California were defined and they came into place dating back to an era even predating the US Route system.

CAhighways.org


Originally LRN 65 was first defined in 1921 as a highway running from Auburn south to Sonora.  This segment of modern CA 49 was known as the "Mother Lode Highway" and can be seen on the 1922 State Highway Map of California.

1922 State Highway Map of California

In 1933 LRN 65 was extended south to Mariposa.  This extension can be observed by comparing the 1932 and 1934 State Highway Maps.

1932 State Highway Map

1934 State Highway Map

In the ensuing couple decades there was not very much large scale change with LRN 65 as it became the southern segment of CA 49.  By 1959 the legislative definition of LRN 65 was extended south of Mariposa to Oakhurst.  By 1960 a proposed extension of LRN 65 to Oakhurst appeared on the state highway map.

1960 State Highway Map

In 1964 the California State Highway renumbering occurred which renumbered LRNs along state signed highways to match what they were signed in out on the roadways.  All unsigned LRNs were given new numbers which largely would be signed in the ensuing couple years.  What was the proposed extension of LRN 65 between Mariposa and Oakhurst was renumbered to LRN 49 to denote it would be a future segment of CA 49.

1964 State Highway Map

By 1967 CA 49 was completed between Mariposa and Oakhurst which can be seen on the state highway map from said year.

1967 State Highway Map

More information regarding LRN 65 can be found on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 65


Originally LRN 17 was first defined in 1909 as a highway running from Roseville north to Nevada City.  LRN 17 between Auburn and Nevada City would be come part of CA 49 in 1934.  Previously LRN 17 between Roseville and Auburn became part of US Route 40 in 1926.  The earliest state highway map I can find showing the route of LRN 17 is from 1918.

1918 State Highway Map

More information on LRN 17 can be found on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 17


Originally LRN 25 was first defined in 1909 as a highway running from Nevada City to Downieville.  LRN 25 was extended over Yuba Pass to Sattley in 1933.  LRN 25 in it's original form can be seen on the 1918 state highway map above while the extension over Yuba Pass can be see by comparing the 1932 and 1934 state highway maps below.


1932 State Highway Map

1934 State Highway Map  

More information on LRN 25 can be found on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 25



Originally LRN 83 was first defined in 1933 running from LRN 3 near Mount Shasta to Truckee.  LRN 83 is largely known for being signed as part of CA 89 starting in 1934 but also briefly carried CA 49 between Sattley and Sierraville.  More information on LRN 83 can be found on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 83


Interestingly when CA 49 was originally signed it included a section of roadway between Sierraville and Vinton which was maintained by Sierra in addition to Plumas County.  During the 1930s it appears that the California Division of Highways signed routes it was attempting to adopt as state highways.  Sections of CA 33, 180, and 12 are also seen on the 1938 state highway map running on county maintained roadways.

1938 State Highway Map

Between 1938 and 1940 it seems that all State Highway signage on routes the state did not maintain were removed.  The section of CA 49 between Sierraville and Vinton disappeared during this time frame which can be seen  by comparing the 1938 state highway map to the 1940 state highway map.  I am uncertain if CA 49 was pulled back to CA 89 in Sattley or still multiplexed it to Sierraville.

1940 State Highway Map

The route between Sierraville and Vinton would be revisited in 1953 when LRN 233 was defined.  LRN 233 had two segments; one in Oakland oddly, the second between Sierraville and Vinton.  A proposed routing of LRN 233 can be seen on the 1954 state highway map.  Interestingly LRN 233 appears to have been intended to be a much more direct route from Sierraville and Vinton than modern CA 49.

1954 State Highway Map

Ultimately the existing roadways between Sierraville and Vinton were adopted as part of LRN 233 and was signed as part of CA 49 in 1958.  Ironically LRN 233 was on the exact same roadway between Sierraville and Vinton that CA 49 was originally signed on in the 1930s.

1958 State Highway Map 


So with the overall historical information regarding CA 49 out of the way I'll get to the individual sections of the route starting with the southern terminus of CA 49 at CA 41 in Oakhurst which is located in Madera County.  CA 49 begins in downtown Oakhurst roughly where the Fresno River and China Creek meet at a confluence.


Oakhurst dates back to the 1870s when it was originally known as Fresno Flats.  The name of Oakhurst dates back to the 1910s, the community has never seen incorporated.  Oakhurst is notable as a gateway to Yosemite National Park via CA 41 but was also well known for being the location of the headquarters of Sierra-Online which was one of the larger PC gaming companies in the 1980s/1990s.  From Oakhurst along CA 49 Mariposa located 26 miles to the north.





North of Oakhurst CA 49 crosses through the communities of Ahwahnee and Nipinnawasee.  Ahwahnee apparently dates back to the 1890s and appears to possibly been a bedroom community of a ghost town known as Gertude which was along the Fresno River near the Enterprise Mine.   Ahwahnee is mostly known for Wassama Round House State Historic Park which is located on Road 628.   The Wassama Round House is a reconstruction of 1860 era Southern Sierra Miwok gathering houses.  More information can be found on the official State Park brochure.

Wassama Round House Brochure

Nipinnawasee is directly located north of Ahwahnee.  My understanding is that Nipinnawasee dates back to the 1900s and once had a Post Office.  Apparently the Post Office caught fire 1961 which burnt most of the community of Nipinnawasee.  Nipinnawasee never truly rebuilt and while generally isn't considered a ghost town is largely a shell of what it was.

Entering Mariposa County the alignment of CA 49 gets interesting approaching the East Fork Chowchilla River.  Modern CA 49 uses a large bridge over the gorge above the East Fork Chowchilla River whereas the previous route between Mariposa and Oakhurst used Kemble Road.  Kemble Road descends to the East Fork Chowchilla River and crosses over this single lane span located directly below CA 49.


Despite CA 49 not being extended between Mariposa and Oakhurst until 1967 there was certainly a well maintained county level maintained roadway between both locales.  CA 49 from Mariposa and Oakhurst follows the general alignment of previous county roads which can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Maps of Madera County and Mariposa County.  It appears that previous route prior to CA 48 used Road 601 and Woman Road crossing the Madera/Mariposa County line to Kemble Road

1935 Madera County Highway Map

1935 Mariposa County Highway Map

Northwest of Kemble Road along what became CA 49 on the 1935 Mariposa County Map there appears to have been a community known as Usona located at Usona Road.  I haven't been able to find much information about the community other than a couple. 

From Usona CA 49 takes a western jog towards Mariposa crossing through the community of Bootjack which is roughly located where the highway meets Darrah Road.  Directly west of Bootjack CA takes a northward turn at Mariposa Creek which is roughly where the ghost town Mormon Bar was located.  Mormon Bar was first mined in 1849 by Mormon Miners.  Mormon Bar as a community largely has continued to exist in some capacity likely due to it being directly south of Mariposa.  The California State Mining and Mineral Museum is located along CA 49 near Mormon Bar as it runs along Mariposa Creek.  More information about the California State Mining and Mineral Museum can be found on the State Parks website.

California State Mining and Mineral Museum

Interestingly the modern alignment of CA 49 doesn't exist on the east bank of Mariposa Creek in 1935.  The Division of Highways map from said year shows the highway from Mariposa to Oakhurst crossing Mariposa Creek to Old Highway.  Old Highway was the original alignment of LRN 18 which became CA 140 between CA 99 in Merced east to Yosemite National Park via the El Portal Road.  Old Highway was part of LRN 18 at least until 1932 as it still appears on the state highway map along with the modern route of CA 140 to the north.

1932 State Highway Map 

Previously I wrote about the history of LRN 18/CA 140 along the El Portal Road to Yosemite which can be found here.

California State Route 140 in the Merced River Canyon (The El Portal Road)

The modern alignments of CA 140 and CA 49 meet in Mariposa at a junction near 3rd Street.


 CA 49/CA 140 multiplex through downtown Mariposa. 






Mariposa was settled during the 1849 California Gold Rush and was located originally approximately 6 miles to the west along Aqua Fria Creek.  Following floods and fires in the winter of 1849/50 the town site of Mariposa was moved east to Mariposa Creek where it presently stands.   Mariposa County was one of the original counties in California created in 1850 and Mariposa was selected as the county seat in 1851.  Originally Mariposa County was by far the largest county in California with it's jurisdiction stretching at least partially into modern day; Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Kern, San Benito, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.   The Mariposa County Courthouse located along Bullion Street dates back to 1854 and is the oldest continually operating county court house in California.






North of downtown Mariposa CA 49 splits towards northwest Bear Valley and CA 140 splits northeast towards Yosemite.  Until CA 49 was extended to Oakhurst in 1967 this was the southern terminus of the highway.




Northwest of Mariposa on CA 49 is the community of Mount Bullion where the Mariposa-Yosemite Airport is located near the junction with Old Toll Road.  Mount Bullion isn't really much of a community today but it dates back to the at least the 1850s in connection to the Princeton Mine.  Mount Bullion might have been once named after the Princeton Mine at one point but I'm not certain. 

About five miles north of Mount Bullion on CA 49 is the site of the community of Mount Ophir.  Mount Ophir was founded in 1850 and was the location of the first mint in California; the Mount Ophir Mint.  The Mount Ophir Mint was notable for creating $50 dollar gold coins.  The Mount Ophir Mint apparently closed in 1853 and apparently still has existing ruins.  While I haven't been able to find the mint site myself I have seen pictures of the foundations on ghosttowns.com.

North of Mount Ophir is the community of Bear Valley which is located at the junction of CA 49 and Signed County Route J16.




Bear Valley was first settled as Haydenville in 1851 after gold claims were discovered at the Merced River.  The area Bear Valley is located in was part of Rancho Las Mariposas which was purchased by John C. Fremont in 1847.   John C. Fremont became wealthy from his mining claims along the Merced River and eventually became thefirst Republican candidate for U.S. President in 1856.  The modern name of Bear Valley was in use by 1858 and the community had Post Office Service on/off until the 1950s.  The Oso Hall was a hotel constructed by Fremont in the heyday of Bear Valley.






Bear Valley has extensive ruins of crumbled buildings from the Gold Rush Era.  Back in 2016 I took some photos with my Challenger in front of some of them while returning home from Yosemite.





Immediately north of Bear Valley CA 49 begins to descend into the Merced River Canyon.  There is an overlook at the south rim of the Merced River Canyon where CA 49 can be viewed descending towards the community site of Bagby.  The south rim of the Merced River Canyon is the location of John Fremont's fortification which was constructed in 1858 to prevent his mining claims from being seized by claim jumpers.


At the bottom of the Merced River Canyon CA 49 crosses said river which is in the upper reaches of the Lake McClure Reservoir.  The site of the community of Bagby was a rail siding on the Yosemite Valley Railroad which operated from Merced to El Port from 1907 to 1945. 


The Yosemite Valley Railroad used the north bank of the Merced River in the Merced River Canyon and would drop passengers off in El Portal.  From El Portal a stage was used for Yosemite Valley Railroad passengers to reach Yosemite Valley proper.  I touched on the Yosemite Valley Railroad in the above article about CA 140/El Portal Road, a timeline history of the line be found here.

Yosemite Valley Road Timeline

Interestingly Bagby managed to linger on for a time after the closure of the Yosemite Valley Railroad.  It was wasn't until construction of the New Exchequer Dam was completed in 1967 that the peak water levels of Lake McClure were high enough to cover Bagby.  Long before Bagby existed Ridley's Ferry operated at the site from the south bank of the Merced River from 1850 to 1852.

CA 49 through the Merced River Canyon is probably the most difficult part of the highway.  The roadway is extremely narrow and doesn't allow room for very much speed.  I took this photo looking south towards Bagby in 2016.




As CA 49 emerges from the Merced River Canyon it approaches a junction with CA 132/CR J132 in Coulterville.  Interestingly CR J132 is continuation of CA 132 east to CA 120.  CR J132 runs on Greeley Hill Road and Smith Station Road.









Coulterville was founded in 1850 along Maxwell Creek and is named after George Coulter.  Originally Coulterville was called Maxwell Creek but it was changed to the modern name by 1853.  Coulterville has numerous buildings from the 1850s which remain in the community today.  Some of the more notable buildings that I took photos of were; the Hotel Jeffery which was completed in 1851, the Barrett Blacksmith Shop which was built in the 1850s is now a Mini-Mart, and the Wells Fargo building from 1856 is new a museum. 












North of Coulterville CA 49 enters Tuolumne County and approaches the Moccasin Reservoir where it has a junction with CA 120.  Moccasin is a company town which is operated by the city of San Francisco and was on the Hetch Hetchy Railroad.  The original Moccasin Powerhouse was completed in 1925 and was replaced by the present powerhouse in 1969.  The Moccasin Dam was which impounds the reservoir of the same name was completed in 1930.  The Moccasin Reservoir began to leak in March of 2018 due to heavy rains causing it plug with debris.  Ultimately the reservoir did not fail but is presently undergoing repairs as of my writing of this blog.

The Hetch Hetchy Railroad was in operation from 1917 to 1949 and was largely used to haul supplies from Hetch Hetchey Junction east to the O'Shaughnessy Dam construction site on the Tuolumne River located at Hetch Hetchy Valley within Yosemite National Park.  The Hetch Hetchey Railroad ascended above Moccasin on a series of switchbacks which are presently occupied by Moccasin Switchback Road and Priest Street.  More detailed information regarding the alignment of the Hetch Hetchey Railroad can be found at Abandonedrails.org.

Abandoned Rails on Hetch Hetchey Railroad

CA 120 multiplexes CA 49 to the west and to the east it ascends the New Priest Grade to the community of Priest.  The New and Old Priest Grades both ascend slightly over 900 to Priest which lies at an elevation of approximately 2,400 feet.  The Old Priest Grade dates back to the early Gold Rush Era as a wagon route which is about 2 miles long and has a sustained 17% grade.  The new Priest Grade was completed in 1915  is 5 miles long and has a 4% sustained grade.  Both Priest Grades meet at Priest Station which was established in 1849.






Northwest of Moccasin CA 49/CA 120 runs along the south bank of Lake Don Pedro.  Immediately west of the James E. Roberts Memorial Bridge there is an overlook of Don Pedro Lake which faces the former site of the community of Jacksonville.  Jacksonville was founded in 1849 along the Tuolumne River, the community survived well into towards the latter half of the 20th Century.  Jacksonville was flooded over by the New Don Pedro embankment dam project in 1970.  The New Don Pedro Dam project took place from 1967 to 1971 which expanded the Don Pedro Reservoir by replacing the 1924 concrete Don Pedro Dam.






Interestingly it would appear that the expanded Don Pedro Reservoir was not allowed to reach maximum capacity until CA 120 was moved.   According to the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Tuolumne County it would appear that CA 120 split from CA 49 approximately where Jacksonville Road is located now.  CA 120 appears to have crossed the Tuolumne River roughly where the Moccasin Point Marina is located to Grizzly Road where it would have met the New Priest Grade.

1935 Tuolumne County Highway Map

It appears that CA 120 was moved onto a multiplex of CA 49 all the way to Moccasin by 1982.  The alignment change in CA 120 can be observed by comparing the 1981 and 1982 state highway map.

1981 State Highway Map

1982 State Highway Map

Northwest of the Don Pedro Reservoir CA 49/CA 120 enter Chinese Camp.  Chinese Camp dates back to 1849 and was founded Englishmen who hired a large number of Chinese miners.  Chinese Camp reportedly once had a population near 5,000 residents at one point during the height of the mining boom. 










CA 49/CA 120 likely used Curry Street and Red Hills Road originally through Chinese Camp, but I can't find a map showing enough detail to conclusively prove it.  What is certain, the split in CA 49/CA 120 was substantially different than it is during modern times.  CA 49 now splits from CA 120 immediately north of Chinese Camp whereas originally it would have continued on a multiplex to CA 108 at Yosemite Junction.  The modern alignment of CA 49 north of Chinese Camp to CA 108 appears on the 1966 State Highway map as a proposed route.  By 1967 the alignment shift in CA 49 north of Chinese Camp to CA 108 was complete.

1966 State Highway Map

1967 State Highway Map

CA 49/CA 108 continue north into Jamestown.  Jamestown is named after Colonial George F. James who set out to stake claims in the area following the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848.  Jamestown along Main Street largely appears much as it did during the height of the Gold Rush.  I believe was Main Street likely the original alignment of CA 49/CA 108 through Jamestown.  Some of the notable structures I looked on Main Street at were; the 1898 Branch Jail, the 1897 Emporium, and the 1880 Jamestown Hotel. 







Jamestown is the location of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Railtown 1897 preserves a section of the narrow gauge Sierra Railroad which operated until the 1960s by the West Side Lumber Company.   The State Historic Park features various real steam locomotive and a functional locomotive repair shop.  The Sierra Railroad actually is featured on the 1935 Tuolumne County Map linked above, more information can be found on the Railtown 1897 State Park website

Railtown 1897

North of downtown Jamestown CA 49/CA 108 meets CR E5 which splits away on Jamestown Road.  CA 49/CA 108 continue multiplexed approaching Sonora.  Modern CA 108 crosses Woods Creek on a bypass south of Sonora while CA 49 follows Woods Creek into the city.  CA 108 continues east to Sonora Pass which lies at an elevation of 9,624 feet and has the highest highway grade in California with a 26% drop approaching US 395.


CA 49 follows Stockton Street into downtown Sonora and continues north on Washington Street.  Originally CA 108 followed CA 49 into Sonora where it would have used Washington Street south to Mono Way to exit the city.





The modern bypass CA 108 takes south of Sonora is relatively modern having been completed sometime between 1986 and 1988 which is evidenced by the two maps below.

1986 State Highway Map

1988 State Highway Map 

This is a quick visual look south on Washington Street which was once CA 108.

 
Sonora is the county seat of Tuolumne County which is one of the original 1850 California Counties.  Sonora was settled by Mexican miners who named it after the Mexican State of the same name.  Reportedly Sonora once reached a population of approximately 14,000 residents at the height of the Gold Rush boom.  Sonora retains much of it's original character and still boasts a population close to 5,000 people.  Personally I find Sonora to be the most visually appealing of all the Gold Rush era towns, although Jackson and Placerville somewhat close in terms of charm.  Washington Street/CA 49 is lined wall-to-wall with historic structures.












North of downtown Sonora CA 49 likely once used Columbia Way and Old Sonora-Columbia Road.  Much as with Main Street in Jamestown, I cannot find any vintage maps displaying enough detail to conclusively prove it.

North of Sonora CA 49 meets CR E18 at Parrots Ferry Road.  CR E18 continues north to Columbia State Historic Park.


Columbia State Historic Park preserves the historic downtown section of Columbia.  Columbia dates back to 1850 and was once incorporated.  The population of Columbia at the height of the Gold Rush apparently ranged from 2,000-5,000 people depending on the productivity of mining in the area.  Main Street was declared a State Historic Park in 1946 and presently over 30 structures preserved from the height of the Gold Rush.

















From CR E18 the routing of CA 49 takes a western jog towards New Melones Lake.  CA 49 meets CR E5 again at Rawhide Road.

 
At Tuttletown Road CA 49 meets what was once the community of Tuttletown.  Tuttletown was founded in 1848 and was named after a judge who built a log cabin in the area.  Tuttletown was mostly known for being frequented by Mark Twain.


CA 49 swings north again after entering Calaveras County via crossing New Melones Lake.  New Melones Lake is a reservoir along the Stanislaus River which was originally created when the first Melones Dam was completed in 1926.  The modern New Melones Dam was completed in 1980 which raised the level of the reservoir and flooded out the community of Melones.  Melones was originally founded as Robinson's Ferry in 1848 which operated a ferry of the same name during the Gold Rush era.  I'm fairly certain that CA 49 originally used Melones Court to cross the Stanislaus River to Melones and would have emerged close to the modern crossing.  The original alignment of CA 49 can be seen crossing the Stanislaus River in close proximity to Melones on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Calaveras County.

1935 Calaveras County Map 

There is a small overlook of CA 49 and New Melones Lake on the Calaveras County side.





North of New Melones along Carson Creek CA 49 approaches the town site of Carson Hill.  Carson Hill was the location of a 1850 gold strike and was named after Army Sergeant James Carson.  Carson Hill once claimed the largest gold nugget found in California back in 1854 which weighed 195 pounds.  All that is really left of the former site of Carson Hill is a small monument, the area is still actively mined to this day.






North of Carson Hill along Angel Creek is Angeles Camp.  Reportedly Angles Camp was named after Henry Angell and originally established as a mining camp in 1848 but quickly grew to a substantial town site.  By the peak of the Gold Rush mining boom Angels Camp apparently had close to 15,000 people living in the community.  Angels Camp is largely known for the 1865 Mark Twain short story called "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" which has led to the community nickname of "Frogtown."  Main Street of Angeles Camp is lined with various structures from the mining heyday and is signed as CA 49 in addition to the CA 4 Business Loop.











CA 4 once was routed on a multiplex with CA 49 to Vallecito Road which can be seen on the 1935 Calaveras County Highway Map above.  Modern CA 4 uses the Angeles Camp bypass which I don't have an exact construction time frame for but I believe was after 1990.   CA 4 continues east towards Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass.  Ebbetts Pass is probably the most infamous state highway pass in the Sierras due to the single-lane roadway and grades of 24%.











As CA 49 passes directly north of CA 4 it crosses through Angels Camp neighborhood of Altaville.  Altaville used to be a separate community to Angels Camp and was established in 1852.  The Altaville Grammar School still stands on the west side of CA 49 and was built in 1858 and was apparently in use until the early 1950s.





CA 49 continues north to San Andreas where it crosses through the community on Charles Street.  The eastern terminus of CA 12 is located on the north side of San Andreas near the confluence of the North Fork Calaveras River and Murray Creek.  San Andreas was founded as a mining camp in 1848 and became the Calaveras County seat in 1866.  San Andreas has nothing to do with the fault of the same name far to the west and was named after a Catholic Parish.  San Andreas is somewhat notable being the location where Black Bart was convicted for stage robberies.  The majority of historic structures are on an old alignment of CA 49 which is on Main Street.







Originally CA 49 used Main Street and Gold Strike Road to traverse through downtown San Andreas, the alignment can be seen on the 1935 Calaveras Highway map noted above.  The original alignment of CA 12 would have entered San Andreas on Charles Street and met CA 49 at the intersection of Main Street.  I'm not certain when the alignment change of CA 49 and CA 12 to the modern routing was made but there does appear to be a shift comparing the 1966 to 1967 state highway maps.

1966 State Highway Map

1967 State Highway Map

North of San Andreas CA 49 has a junction with CA 26 in Mokelumne Hill.  CA 49 has a historic routing signed along Main Street and Center Street through downtown Mokelumne Hill.  Originally CA 49 would have entered Mokelumne Hill on Church Street and used it to reach Main Street.  CA 49 would have met CA 8 at Campo Seco Turnpike in Mokelumne Hill and multiplexed north to Jackson.  The original alignment can be seen on the 1935 Calaveras County Highway map above along with the original multiplex of CA 8 on the 1938 State Highway Map below. 

1938 State Highway Map

I'm uncertain of when the modern bypass CA 49 and CA 26 was built due to lack of detailed Calaveras County maps.  However looking at the state highway maps I've been able to determine the alignment changes of CA 8 and CA 26 through Mokelumne Hill.  Sometime between 1938 and 1940 CA 8 was cut back to CA 49 in Mokelumne Hill whereas the newly created CA 88 was routed over Carson Pass.

1940 State Highway Map

In 1964 CA 8 was changed to CA 26 to avoid a numbering conflict with Interstate 8.  CA 26 was extended east of Mokelumne Hill to West Point.

1964 State Highway Map 

Sometime between 1970 and 1975 CA 26 was routed from West Point to CA 88.

1970 State Highway Map

1975 State Highway Map

Mokelumne Hill was founded by Oregon miners in 1848 along the at the rim of Butte Canyon above south bank of the North Fork Mokelumne River.  Mokelumne Hill once had a population possibly as high as 15,000 and was selected as the Calaveras County Seat in 1852.  Easy gold from the placer claims on the North Fork Mokelumne River began to run out in the 1860s which led to the county seat being shifted to San Andreas in 1866.  Some of the more notable structures in Mokelumne Hill I observed were; the three story Black Smith Shop, the 1874 Hotel Leger, and the 1854 Mayer & Son Store.











North of Mokelumne Hill CA 49 descends Butte Canyon to the North Fork Mokelumne River and the Amador County Line.  From the Amador County Line CA 49 descends Butte Canyon where it enters what was Butte City.  Butte City at one point had over 100 structures, today there is only left standing ; the Butte Store.  The Butte Store apparently was constructed in 1857 but I've seen other accounts dating it back to 1854. 







Approaching Jackson CA 49 enters the city on Sutter Street and meets CA 88.

 
CA 88 westbound multiplexes CA 49 into downtown Jackson.  To the east CA 88 continues over the Sierras via to Carson Pass to the Nevada State Line.





Originally CA 49/CA 8 would have entered Jackson via Broadway.  At Water Street CA 49 turned towards downtown Jackson and Main Street while CA 8 continued east over Carson Pass. CA 49 appears to have used Main Street and Jackson Gate Road to reach Martell north of downtown Jackson.  The original alignment of CA 49 and CA 8 in Jackson can be seen on the 1935 California Divisions Highway Map of Amador County.

1935 Amador County

By 1940 CA 8 was cut back to Mokelumne Hill as described above and CA 88 was routed over Carson Pass.  CA 88 would have entered downtown Jackson multiplexed with CA 49 on; Jackson Gate Road, Main Street, and Water Street.  I'm not certain when the modern bypass route of CA 49/CA 88 was built as state highway maps do not provide the detail necessary to determine an accurate time frame. 

Jackson was founded in 1848 and is the only County Seat Amador County has ever since it was created in 1854.  Jackson was named after Colonial Alden Jackson and was one of the longest lasting mining communities in California due major mines being open until World War II.  Two of the more notable mines around Jackson were the Kennedy Mine and Argonaut Mine.  The Kennedy Mine once had the deepest mine shaft in North America at approximately 5,900 feet.  The Argonaut Mine reached a depth of approximately 5,500 feet but was more well known for a 1922 fire which killed over 40 miners.  Both the Kennedy Mine and Argonaut Mine closed in 1942 when gold was determined not to be a metal essential during World War II.

Most of the historic structures in Jackson are along Main Street north of Jackson Creek.







North of Jackson modern CA 49 turns north in Martell whereas CA 88 splits west towards Stockton.  At Ridge Road CA 49 has a junction with CA 104 which was intended to continue east on Ridge Road to CA 88.  According to CAhighways.org this extension of CA 104 was defined in 1970 and it appears on the 1975 State Highway Map. 

CAhighways.org on CA 104

1975 State Highway Map

Modern CA 49 bypasses downtown Sutter Creek and Amador City to the west.  Old Route 49 is signed as a historic routing of CA 49 through downtown Sutter Creek and Amador City.  Interestingly this bypass of Sutter Creek and Amador City is fairly modern as it only appears as a proposed route on the 1990 state highway map which also happens to be the most recent I have a link for.

1990 State Highway Map

Sutter Creek is named after a nearby creek which takes it's name from John Sutter.  Sutter Creek was founded as a mining camp in 1848 and eventually would become incorporated in the 1910s.  Much like Jackson, mining was active in the area until 1942 when the Eureka Mine shuttered.  The Eureka Mine reopened after World War II but shuttered for good in the 1950s.



Amador City is located directly north of downtown Sutter Creek.  Amador Creek was apparently settled in 1849 slightly to the east of the present location at the junction of Amador Creek Road and Turner Road.  Both Amador Creek Road and Turner Creek Road were apparently part of a stage route to Drytown via New Chicago.  I'm to understand more substantial mining claims were found westward on Amador Creek in 1851 which is why the community migrated to the present downtown area.  Amador City has actually been incorporated since 1915 despite having less than 200 residents today. 







Directly west of Amador City, Old Route 49 rejoins modern CA 49,  From Amador City CA 49 continues north to Drytown which is located at the intersection with New Chicago Road.  Drytown is reportedly the oldest community in Amador County but I can't corroborate that is the case.  Drytown apparently was anything but "dry" as it had almost 30 saloons in it's heyday.  Apparently mining in Drytown took a sharp decline in the 1860s and a large fire during the same decade destroyed most of the structures. 







North of Drytown CA 49 meets the eastern terminus of CA 16.





As noted above I already created a blog entry on CA 49 previously north to Sierraville and CA 89.  In case you made it this far and missed the link earlier it can be found here.

California State Route 49; The Golden Chain Highway (CA 16 north to CA 89)

I should note that as of 4/29/18 I don't exactly have highway photos of the southern segment of CA 49 that I would say were up to the standards of the first blog to Sierraville.  Given that CA 49 is largely washed out in the Merced River Canyon I'm presently waiting until the roadway reopens to get more in-depth photos.  At present time CA 49 is slated to reopen on 6/1/18 in the Merced River Canyon.  Once I have the photos that I am looking for I will revamp this blog substantially.

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