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Adventure US Route 299; California State Route 299 from US 101 east to Interstate 5

Back in 2016 I was seeking a way back from the Northern California/Southern Oregon Coast back to the Central Valley that I had not taken previously.  That being the case I decided on California State Route 299 from US 101 in Arcata eastward approximately 135 miles to Interstate 5 in Redding.


CA 299 is best known for once being signed as US Route 299 from US 101 east to US 395.  US 299 was first signed in 1934 according USends.com

USends.com on US 299

Interestingly all of US 299 was originally to be signed as part of CA 44 in 1934 according to CAhighways.org.  The current routing of CA 44 was originally signed as CA 440 which swapped signage once US 299 was approved in 1935.

CAhighways.org on US 299/CA 299

CAhighways.org on CA 440

US 299 first appears on the 1936-37 edition of the California State Highway Map.

1936-37 State Highway Map

US 299 was just slightly under 300 miles and thus was assigned CA 299 during the 1964 State Highway Renumbering.  The newly created CA 299 was extended east of US 395 along what was an unsigned segment of Legislative Route Number 28 to the Nevada State Line at Nevada State Route 8A.  This change resulted in the current 307 mile length of CA 299 compared to the approximately 270 miles of US 299.  These changes can be observed by comparing the 1963 State Highway Map to the 1964 Edition.

1963 State Highway Map

1964 State Highway Map 

From Arcata east to US 395 the routing of US 299 was assigned to the following LRNs.

-  LRN 20 from US 101/LRN 1 in Arcata east to US 99/LRN 3 in Redding.  What would become LRN 20 was partially defined in 1903 when the legislature ordered a survey from North Fork (Helena) west of Weaverville along the Trinity River likely to the modern junction with CA 96.  LRN 20 was properly defined from Redding west to Weaverville as part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond and was further extended to Arcata in 1915.

CAhighways.org Highway History Chapter 1

CAhighways.org on LRN 20

-  LRN 3 in Redding to LRN 28.

-  LRN 28 east to US 395/LRN 73 in Alturas.  LRN 28 also dates back to the 1909 First State Highway Bond running from Redding to Alturas.  LRN 28 was extended by the legislature to the Nevada State Line in 1915 according to CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 28 

From US 101 in Arcata I turned east on CA 299 towards Blue Lake.  The routing of CA 299 from Arcata east to Blue Lake in Humboldt County is very different than the original US 299 alignment.  The modern CA 299 alignment uses a freeway grade over the Mad River where it meets a junction with CA 200 where it drops to a two-lane configuration east of Blue Lake.  The original routing of US 299 from Arcata east through Blue Lake used the following alignment:

-  From US 101 in Arcata; West End Road to a crossing of the Mad River to a junction with unsigned LRN 85 (modern CA 200).
-  Glendale Drive through Essex into Blue Lake.
-  Blue Lake Boulevard east through Blue Lake to the modern expressway grade roughly located at the confluence of the North Fork Mad River and Bald Mountain Creek.

The alignment described above can be observed on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Humboldt County.

1935 Humboldt County Highway Map 

The new alignment of CA 299 appears as a proposed route east of Blue Lake on the 1969 State Highway Map.  The modern freeway bypass of Blue Lake on CA 299 appears by the 1975 Edition of the State Highway Map.

1969 State Highway Map

1975 State Highway Map

Modern Blue Lake is made up of several consolidated town sites; Old Blue Lake, Powersville, and Scottsville.  Blue Lake is named after a small lake that formed from flooding from the Mad River which disappeared for good in the 1920s.  Scottsville was founded 1866, Powersville in 1869, and Mad River in 1870 which would later become Old Blue Lake. In 1910 all three towns were consolidated into what is modern Blue Lake.

Blue Lake was located along the Arcata and Mad River Railroad which ran from Arcata to Korbel.  The Arcata and Mad River Railroad was a narrow gauge line which was first constructed in 1853 to transport lumber from the Klamath Mountains to shipping yards on the Pacific Ocean.  The Arcata and Mad River Railroad was converted to standard gauge in 1925 and was in continuous service until 1983 making it one of the longest lived railroads in U.S. history.  Service on the Arcata and Mad River Railroad permanently shuttered in 1992, the tracks were removed in 1997.  When the Arcata and Mad River Railroad was decomissioned it was the longest active railroad in California.

As I was passing through Blue Lake I pulled off the CA 299 freeway to check out some of the sights on Railroad Avenue which would have been on the Arcata and Mad River Railroad.










East of Blue Lake modern CA 299 drops down to a two-lane highway as it begins to ascend into the Klamath Range.  Much of the current alignment of CA 299 is identical to US 299 but there has been minor improvements through the years.  Regardless CA 299 east of Blue Lake to Weaverville probably is one of the curviest State Highways in California.  CA 299 follows Willow Creek into the community of the same name where it meets CA 96 and the Trinity River.  A couple miles east of Willow Creek CA 299 enters Trinity County.  I passed through the tiny communities of; Sayler, Trinity Village, Burnt Ranch, Del Loma, and Big Bar before stopping along the Trinity River for a brief break among the swift moving waters.



At the confluence of the Trinity River and the North Fork Trinity River CA 299 passes through the ghost town of Helena.  Much of the ruins of Helena are surprisingly intact and can be located just off CA 299 on Fork Road.










Helena was apparently settled in 1851 and was the town known as "North Fork" in the 1903 state highway survey listed above.  Helena apparently also was known as Bagdad and Cove, I'm not certain when it came to be known by it's modern name but it did have Post Office Service by 1891.

East of Helena CA 299 enters Junction City where it breaks away from the Trinity River eastward towards Weaverville.  CA 299 enters downtown Weaverville on Main Street where it meets CA 3 at Trinity Lake Boulevard.  CA 299 and CA 3 multiplex through downtown Weaverville on Main Street.


Weaverville is the Trinity County seat and by far the largest community in said county with a population approaching 3,600.  Weaverville and the Klamath Mountains were the site of a large gold rush which seems obtuse considering most Californian mining towns were located in the Sierra Nevada Range.  Weaverville was founded in 1850 and incredibly remote for the time.  Access to Weaverville by stage route did not come until 1853.







CA 299 and CA 3 multiplex southward to Douglas City where both routes meet the Trinity River.  CA 3 splits south while CA 299 continues eastward gradually breaking away from the Trinity River near the Shasta County Line.

In Shasta County CA 299 descends to Whiskeytown Lake which is located along Clear Creek.  Whiskeytown Lake is formed by the earthen Whiskeytown Dam which was completed in 1963.  Previously the site was the location of the community of Whiskeytown which dated back to 1849.  Whiskeytown apparently had a peak population of 1,000 residents by 1855 but the community managed to survive into the 1960s when it was razed for the Whiskeytown Lake project.  There was an older general store on Whiskey Creek Road which I'm assuming was destroyed in the massive fires in the area this year.



The Whiskeytown Lake project required moving US 299 which ran through downtown Whiskeytown.  US 299 was relocated to the north shore of Whiskeytown Lake which is now occupied by CA 299.  The 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Shasta County shows in detail the routing of US 299 through Whiskeytown.

1935 Shasta County Highway Map

East of Whiskeytown Lake CA 299 enters Shasta on Eureka Way.   While the community of Shasta is not a ghost town much of the older district resembles one along CA 299 and is part of Shasta State Historic Park.  Shasta was founded in 1848 when Gold Claims were discovered nearby in the Klamath Mountains.  Shasta was mainly used as stopping point for expeditions westward towards Weaverville, Whiskeytown, French Gulch, and Helena.  Shasta had a population apparently as high as 3,500 residents before declining in the 1880s when the Central Pacific Railroad bypassed the community in favor of Redding. Much of CA 299 on Eureka Way in Shasta consists of crumbling Gold Rush era buildings.











CA 299 continues into Redding on Eureka Way where it meets CA 273 and CA 44 at Market Street.  CA 273 is a segmented part of the former US 99 surface alignment through Redding on Market Street which US 299 used to multiplex over the Sacramento River to Lake Boulevard.  I followed CA 299/CA 273 over the Sacramento River to Lake Boulevard where I split east on CA 299 to I-5 south towards Sacramento.

Concerning the rest of CA 299 and the US 299 alignment east to US 395; I've driven most of it but don't have many photographs from the roadway.  I did acquire a CA 299 shield a couple years ago which I thought was a nice addition to my garage.  While CA 299 is a long route it isn't too hard to see the logic of backing it down to a State Highway during the 1964 Renumbering.  Much of CA 299 from US 101 to I-5 is incredibly remote and sparsely drive.  In the case of US 199 the route not only crosses the Oregon State Line but is also the major through-way back Crescent City to Grants Pass.  To me it is somewhat surprising the 299 number was kept when US 399 and US 466 were sectioned up into various new State Highway Numbers. 




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