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California State Route 33; US 101 north to I-5 in Santa Nella

This past week I drove a section of California State Route 33 from CA 198 north I-5 in Santa Nella.  CA 33 probably has been one of the more common rural routes that I've interacted with since moving to California.  That being the case I actually had a substantial amount of photo stock of CA 33 that I was able to cobble together into a road album from US 101 in Ventura north to I-5 in Santa Nella.

CA 33 is a 290 mile State Highway spanning from Ventura at US 101 north to I-5 near Tracy.  CA 33 is mostly known for running almost the entire length of western San Joaquin Valley although during the1964 California Highway Renumbering had the highway extended over a part of US 399.  When CA 33 was first signed in 1934 from US 399 in Taft north to US 50 near Tracy.  CA 33 was a rare Signed State Highway that was actually signed over portions of County Maintained roadways.  In the case of CA 33 it ran on County Maintained roadways in Fresno County north of CA 198 to Mendota which can be seen on the 1938 State Highway Map. 

From Taft to Mendota CA 33 ran on Legislative Route 138.  The CA 33 portion of LRN 138 from Taft to Coalinga was defined in 1933 according to

By 1940 all State Highway shields on County Maintained roadways seem to have been removed by the Division of Highways.  CA 33 had a large gap in the route from Coalinga to Mendota which can be seen on the 1940 State Highway Map.

By 1955 CAhighways states that LRN 138 was extended northward to Mendota which connected the gap in CA 33.  This section of LRN 138 and CA 33 can be seen added as a State Highway by comparing the 1955 State Highway Map to the 1956.

CA 33 north of Mendota to US 50 was part of a 1933 extension of LRN 41.   

As state above CA 33 was reassigned over a portion of US 399 from Taft south to Ventura during the 1964 California State Highway Renumbering.  Ironically this section of US 399 was also part of LRN and was adopted in 1933.  The change from US 399 to CA 33 can be seen by comparing the 1963 State Highway Map to the 1964.

Previously I touched on the history of the full-scope of US 399 on my CA 119 blog.

Back in 2016 I drove CA 33 north from Ventura to Taft.  US 399 would have met US 101 along Ventura Avenue at Thompson Boulevard.  I believe the earlier alignment of US 101 would have run on Main Street but the 1935 California Division of Highways Map shows the junction likely at Ventura/Thompson. 

By 1958 US 399 was moved to the Ojai Freeway west of Ventura Avenue.  The change can be seen by comparing the 1957 State Highway Map to the 1958.

In 2016 I was one something of a US 399 kick and took Ventura Avenue which largely is within sight of the Ojai Freeway.

North of Ventura CA 33 passes through the communities of Casitas Springs and Oak View before meeting CA 150 at Baldwin Road in Mira Monte.

CA 33 multiplexes CA 150 in Mira Monte before splitting away at Ojai Avenue.  CA 33 continues north into Los Padres National Forest along the course of the Ventura River to it's source at the confluence of Matilija Creek and the North Fork Matilija Creek near Ojala.  CA 33 passes through a couple tunnels as it begins to ascend into the Transverse Ranges.

CA 33 begins to gain serious elevation following the course of the North Fork Matilija Creek.  The alignment of CA 33 includes some long-switch backs on an incredibly fun roadway.  Near Road Valley Road there are a couple wide vistas of CA 33 wandering the canyons below.

CA 33 gradually ascends to Pine Mountain Pass at 5,160 feet in elevation.

CA 33 begins to lose elevation at Pine Mountain Summit.  Eventually CA 33 leaves Los Padres National Forest where it enters Cuyama Valley and Santa Barbra County near the community of Ventucopa. 

CA 33 meets CA 166 in Cuyama Valley.  Northbound CA 33 begins a easterly multiplex of CA 166 towards Taft which is signed as being 14 miles away.

Previously I wrote about the entire alignment of CA 166 which can be found here.

California State Route 166

Directly east of the CA 166 junction CA 33/CA 166 enters Kern County.

CA 33/166 has a somewhat significant junction at Soda Lake Road which continues northward to CA 58 through Carrizo Plain National Monument.  Soda Lake Road largely follows the general path of the San Andreas Fault.

CA 33/166 descends a 7% grade with San Joaquin Valley in sight to the east towards Maricopa.

CA 33 splits away from CA 166 on California Street in Maricopa.

CA 33 north another 7 miles to Taft where it meets CA 119 on the outskirts of the city.  CA 33 continues through Taft as West Side Highway whereas CA 119 heads east towards Bakersfield.  Originally CA 33 ended at US 399 at 6th Street when the latter highway ran through Taft as opposed to the modern bypass CA 119 takes to the east.

CA 33 generally follows a northwestern path from Taft in the foothills above San Joaquin Valley.  Really there isn't much practicality in taking CA 33 over I-5 aside from wanting a quiet route, avoiding winter Tule Fog, or to check out some oil infrastructure.

Approximately 15 miles north of Taft is the community of McKittrick.  CA 33 meets CA 58 in McKittrick and both routes continue through the community as 2nd Street before splitting away.

CA 58 west of Bakersfield was originally part of CA 178.  I wrote about an early alignment of CA 178 west of McKittrick which can seen here.

Old Signed State Highway 178

North of McKittrick to CA 46 in Blackwell's Corner there isn't much along CA 33 aside from the copious amounts of oil wells.  CA 33 does pass through two small communities known as; Missouri Triangle and North Belridge.  When I was returning home from Ventura in 2016 I began to encounter Tule Fog near Blackwell's Corner which is obvious in the photo below.

Blackwell's Corner was the last place James Dean was seen alive.  CA 46 was once part of US Route 466, I wrote about the highway previous here.

Legacy US 466 Part 1; California State Route 46

A couple miles north of Blackwell's Corner CA 33 enters Kings County.  Reef Station and CA 41 are located approximately 22 miles north of Blackwell's Corner on CA 33.

Previously I wrote about the former alignments of CA 41 in Kings County which can be found here.

Old California State Route 41 in Kings County

North of Reef Station CA 33 straddles a valley between the Kettleman Hills and the Diablo Range.  CA 269 in Avenal is located about 9 miles north of Reef Station on CA 33.

Previously I wrote about the routing of CA 269 north over the Kettleman Hills which can be found here.

California State Route 269

North of CA 269 the route of CA 33 enters Fresno County.  Coalinga is located 18 miles northwest of Avenal.  CA 33 continues north to Jayne Avenue where it turns west towards Coalinga.  CA 33 enters Coalinga at Warthan Creek where the road becomes Polk Street.

Previously CA 33 used Lost Hills road and Merced Avenue to reach Coalinga.  The alignment to Jayne Avenue first appears on the 1963 State Highway Map, the previous alignment can be seen by comparing to the 1962 edition.

1962 State Highway Map

1963 State Highway Map

CA 33 takes a swing towards CA 198 on 5th Street.  Polk Street can used to reach CA 198 as it is entering the Diablo Range.

Previously I wrote about CA 198 in the Diablo Range which at least in my opinion is one of the best driving routes in California.

Challenger Adventures in the Coast Ranges; California State Route 198 between US 101 to I-5

CA 33 follows 5th Street to CA 198 in front of Coalinga Plaza.

CA 33/198 exit Coalinga and ascend into the Kettleman Hills via Fresno-Coalinga Road, Mendota is signed as 46 miles to the north.  CA 198 splits away towards Harris Ranch and I-5 on Dorris Road while CA 33 continues north Fresno-Coalinga Road.

Mendota is signed as 38 miles north on CA 33 from the CA 198 split.

CA 33 continues north through the Kettleman Hills where it meets it's former alignment on Coalinga-Mendota Road.

Suffice to say Coalinga-Mendota Road has seen far better days.

A quick look southbound on CA 33 from the end of Coalinga-Mendota Road reveals a somewhat scenic view of a road through the rolling Kettleman Hills.

CA 33 used to follow Coalinga-Mendota Road north to Derrick Avenue.  When I-5 was completed the CA 33 was shifted east onto it from CA 145 to Derrick Avenue.  The change in CA 33 can be observed by comparing the 1970 State Highway Map to the 1975.

1970 State Highway Map

1975 State Highway Map

CA 33 descends sharply out of the Kettleman Hills to a junction with I-5 and CA 145.  As described above CA 33 joins I-5 whereas CA 145 continues on Coalinga-Fresno Road.

Previously I wrote about CA 145 which continues to CA 41, that blog article can be found here.

California State Route 145

CA 33 is signed fairly well on I-5, the multiplex ends as stated above at Derrick Avenue.

North of I-5 Three Rocks is signed 5 miles to the north and Mendota is signed as 24 miles away.

Three Rocks is located at CA 33 and Clarkson Avenue.  The community doesn't appear on any early era State Highway maps and given it is a single neighborhood I believe it has origins as a farming company town.  Alongside CA 33 there is only a couple abandoned commercial structures in Three Rocks.

Mendota is signed as 17 miles to the north on CA 33 from Clarkson Avenue in Three Rocks.

Between Three Rocks and Mendota CA 33 crosses the San Luis Canal.

On the outskirts of Mendota CA 33 meets Panoche Road which was likely signed as CA 180 west to CA 25 before 1940.

At Belmont Avenue CA 33 meets Signed County Route J1 at the City Limits of Mendota.  CR J1 is unsigned from CA 33 but continues west over the Diablo Range to CA 25.  Mendota dates back to the early 1890s as a rail siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad but is more well known for an unemployment rate that reached 45% in 2011.

Previously I wrote about CR J1 and the history of the ultimately failed western extension of CA 180.  The blog article on both subjects can be found here.

Signed County Route J1

CA 33 continues north through downtown Mendota and meets the western terminus of CA 180 at Oller Street.

I've written several blog articles on CA 180 east to Kings Canyon National Park which can be found below.

California State Route 180 from CA 99 west to CA 33

Old CA 180 and CA 41 surface alignments in Fresno

California State Route 180 east of Fresno to Cedar Grove

There is a nice button-copy CA 33 BGS just before a rail crossing in the northern extent of Mendota.


Traffic north of Mendota on CA 33 is directed towards Firebaugh which is signed as 8 miles away.

CA 33 reaches the City of Firebaugh near the Outside Canal.

Interestingly the original route of CA 33 actually was routed around the Outside Canal on Washoe Avenue to Nees Avenue.  CA 33 would have entered Firebaugh via 12th Street, the original alignment can be seen below on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Fresno County.

1935 Fresno County Highway Map

Topographical scans on historicaerials show the original alignment of CA 33 being replaced sometime between 1941 and 1947.  Today CA 33 continues directly north over the Outside Canal and the Main Canal into downtown Firebaugh. 

13th Street takes traffic east over the San Joaquin River into Madera County.

Firebaugh is one of the oldest cities in Fresno County and was the location of Firebaugh's Ferry which carried traffic across the San Joaquin River.  Previously I wrote a blog article on Firebaugh's Ferry which can be found here.

Firebaugh's Ferry

CA 33 runs on N Street through downtown Firebaugh.  At 12th Street traffic is ironically directed on the original alignment of CA 33 towards I-5.

Dos Palos is signed as 14 miles to the north of Firebaugh on CA 33.

CA 33 enters Merced County just south of Dos Palos.

CA 33 runs on Elgin Avenue through Dos Palos.

Los Banos is signed as 16 miles to the north of Dos Palos on CA 33.

After 4 miles CA 33 meets the CA 152 expressway and begins to multiplex it westward towards Los Banos.

Previously I wrote a blog article about CA 152 which can be found here.

California State Route 152

CA 33/152 enters Los Banos as Pacheco Boulevard and meets CA 165 at Mercey Springs Road.

Previously I wrote a blog article about CA 165 which can be found here.

California State Route 165

Originally CA 33 split from CA 152 in downtown Los Banos just ahead in the photo at H Street towards Volta.

The original alignment of CA 33 through Volta is pretty interesting and has multiple railroad crossings.  My previous blog article on the first CA 207 and the Volta alignment of CA 33 can be found here.

California State Route 2017 I & II

I-5 is 5 miles west of Los Banos on CA 33/152.

CA 33/152 continue westward.  CA 33 splits off of CA 152 at Santa Nella Boulevard.

CA 33 continues 3 miles north over the original CA 207 alignment and O'Neill Forebay to Santa Nella.  In Santa Nella CA 33 meets it's former alignment at Henry Miller Avenue.

I've actually driven CA 33 as far north as Newman and Signed County Route J18.  This blog post had by far the most articles I've written previous linked over.  Whenever I get the final portion of CA 33 north to I-5 near Tracy I'll likely update this blog out of simplicity.  


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