Skip to main content

US Route 50 over Echo Summit

After traversing Lake Tahoe via Emerald Bay on California State Route 89 I approached the junction with US 50 in South Lake Tahoe.  My final crossing of the Sierras was westbound on US 50 over Echo Summit.



From Lake Tahoe Boulevard US 50 West/CA 89 South multiplex south past Lake Tahoe Airport and pass through an agriculture checkpoint.  CA 89 splits away southbound through Luther Pass while US 50 continues towards Echo Summit.





At the Upper Truckee River the guide sign states that Placerville is 54 miles to the west on US 50.  Originally US 50/CA 89 would have turned left ahead in the photo on Upper Truckee Road.  CA 89 continued south on Upper Truckee Road through Luther Pass while US 50 used Lincoln Highway on the Meyers Grade to cross the crest of the Sierras on Johnson Pass.  I'll detail the alignment shift of US 50 to the modern routing over Echo Summit towards the end of this blog.


US 50 begins to quickly make the climb towards Echo Summit.  About halfway up the climb to Echo Summit US 50 intersects it's old alignment on Lincoln Highway.  The lower portion of the Lincoln Highway is closed while the upper portion is still open to traffic over Johnson Pass.




The abandoned portion of the Lincoln Highway serves as a makeshift vista of Lake Tahoe to the north and Luther Pass below.




The final climb to Echo Summit at 7,382 feet above sea level is pretty tame compared to most passes in the Sierras.  US 50 begins to follow the South Fork American River and picks up the other end of the Johnson Pass route of the Lincoln Highway near the Echo Lake Snow Park.




The westbound drop of US 50 along the South Fork American River is fairly dramatic but often has passing areas for both directions of travel.  There are 6% grades posted for down hill traffic.








Gradually US 50 and the South Fork American River level out.  US 50 is largely a two lane road as it continues the South Fork American River.  I had to stop at the river to cool my brakes down again due to them still overheating from CA 89 at Lake Tahoe.








As US 50 begins to approach Signed County Route E16 it widens out to an expressway that continues in the same configuration to Placerville.  Given all the problems I was having with my brakes I decided to head onto E16 given there would be far less traffic than US 50 or even CA 49.





As mentioned above US 50 used the old alignment of the Johnson Pass Branch of the Lincoln Highway.  US 50 was realigned first over Echo Summit in 1940 followed by the lower portion of the Lincoln Highway on the Meers Grade in 1947.  I was provided with links to the California Highway and Public Works articles showing the alignment changes in US 50 which can be found here.

US 50 realignment over Echo Summit

US 50 realignment off of the Lincoln Highway

The original alignment of US 50 over Johnson pass can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of El Dorado County.

1935 El Dorado County Map 

The general route of US 50 from Placerville to the Nevada State Line was adopted from the Placerville Road which was a private toll road in 1895.  The Placerville Road was the first state highway in California, more details can be found at CAhighways.org.

CAhighways on US 50

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 190; a Trans-Sierra Highway that could have been

This past week I decided to take a small scale road trip on California State Route 190 from CA 99 east to the unbuilt section over the Sierra Nevada Range.  While I was in for what turned out to be a fun drive following the course of the Tule River watershed what I found researching the back story of CA 190 was one of the most complex and unusual stories of any California State Highway.  Given that I had a ton of older photos of the eastern segment of CA 190 in the Mojave Desert of Inyo County I thought it was time to put something together for the entire route. The simplified story of CA 190 is that it is a 231 mile state highway that has a 43 mile unbuilt gap in the Sierra Nevada Range.  CA 190 is an east/west State Highway running from CA 99 in Tulare County at Tipton east to CA 127 located in Death Valley Junction near the Nevada State Line in rural Inyo County.  The routing CA 190 was adopted into the State Highway system as Legislative Route 127 which was adopted in 1933 acc

Old US Route 40 on Donner Pass Road

While completing California State Route 89 between Lassen Volcanic National Park and US Route I took a detour in Truckee up the infamous Donner Pass Road. Generally I don't dispense with the history of a roadway before the route photos but the history of Donner Pass is steeped within California lore and western migration.  The first recorded Wagon Crossing of Donner Pass was back in 1844.  The infamous Donner Party saga occurred in the winter of 1846-47 in which only 48 of the 87 party members survived.  Although the Donner Party incident is largely attributed to poor planning and ill conceived Hastings Cutoff it largely led to the infamous reputation of Donner Pass. The first true road over the Sierra Nevada Range via the Donner Pass was known as the Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Road.  The Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Wagon Road was completed by 1864 to assist with construction of the Central Pacific build the First Trans-Continental Railroad over Donner Pass.  The websit

California State Route 159 (former California State Route 11 and US Route 66)

California State Route 159 was a post 1964-Renumbering State Route which was designated over former segments of California State Route 11 and US Route 66.  As originally defined California State Route 159 began at Interstate 5/US Route 99 at the Golden State Freeway in Los Angeles.  California State Route 159 followed Figueroa Street, Colorado Boulevard and Linda Vista Avenue to the planned Foothill Freeway.  California State Route 159 was truncated during 1965 to existing solely on Linda Vista Avenue where it remained until being relinquished during 1989.  California State Route 159 was formally deleted from the State Highway System during 1992.   The history of California State Route 159 Prior to 1933 the Division of Highways was not actively involved in maintaining urban highways outside of occasional cooperative projects.  The responsibility for signage of US Routes in cities was thusly given to the Automobile Club of Southern California in the Southern California region.  This bei