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 77; the real "Shortest Signed" State Highway

Over the last two weeks I visited almost every State Highway in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The shortest State Highway by a large margin in the Bay Area is California State Route 77.


CA 77 is presently only 0.45 miles in length and is located entirely within the City of Oakland.  CA 77 begins at Interstate 880 and heads eastward on 42nd Avenue to CA 185 on 14th Street.  As presently completed CA 77 would rank as the third shortest State Highway only behind CA 275 and CA 283.

CAhighways.org list of Shortest State Highways

CA 77 presently has a 13.4 mile portion that has not been constructed.  CA 77 as originally envisioned would have continued northeast towards Concord and would have junctions with; I-580, unbuilt CA 93, CA 24, I-680 and CA 242.  According to CAhighways.org the present route of CA 77 was designated as Legislative Route Number 233 which was approved by the State Legislature in 1953.  The legislative description of LRN 233 was changed to LRN 235 by 1957.

CAhighways.org on…

Local Sign Find - Georgia Route 280 found in Sutersville, PA?

Sign errors happen - a US shield in place of a state highway shield or vice versa.  It's interesting to some and a pet peeve to others.  But when Mike Natale found a Georgia 280 shield in Sutersville, Pennsylvania, you have to think something must be up.
And in this case, there's a reason for it.  It's a prop for a television series.  Netflix's popular TV series "Mindhunter" is shot in the Pittsburgh area.   Mike came across the GA 280 sign in October 2018 and it is possible that the scenes involving Georgia 280 should be in Episode 6 or 7.

Georgia State Highway 280 is located in northwestern and western Atlanta.  That's a far cry from the Mon Valley.  It is common for television or movie scenes to be shot elsewhere than where they are set at.  However, it is very rare to see a sign prop out in the wild while production is on going.  This is a great find by Mike!

The strange evolution of Interstate 280 in San Francisco

Recently while in the San Francisco Bay Area I wanted to check out the north terminus of Interstate 280 in downtown San Francisco.  I-280 as currently aligned diverges significantly from what was originally planned in the City of San Francisco.


Much of the finalized planning of the Interstate Highway System in the San Francisco Bay Area was largely plotted out by 1956.  Between CA 17 in Los Gatos and CA 1 in San Francisco the path of I-280 ultimately followed Legislative Route Number 239 which was designated by the State Legislature in 1957.

CAhighways.org on LRN 239

LRN 239 can be seen appearing on the State Highway Map City Insert of San Francisco connecting to CA 1 by 1958.

1958 State Highway Map City Insert

I-280 was to take a far different route than it currently does in San Francisco.  The original plan for I-280 was to follow CA 1 on LRN 56 towards the Golden Gate Bridge where it would terminate at I-480/LRN 224 and US 101.  The original planned alignment of I-280 becomes apparen…