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California State Route 63

Today's featured California highway is one with a really strange and elusive history; California State Route 63. 


CA 63 is a 38 mile north/south route running from CA 137 in Tulare in Tulare County to CA 180 in Fresno County.  CA 63 is a good mix of urban highway and rural country roads in the Sierra Nevada Foot Hills.



A drive on California State Route 63 and it's history

I started my journey on CA 63 out from the southern terminus in Tulare.  Originally CA 63 reached US 99 in Tulare along Tulare Avenue which is now CA 137.  According CAhighways.org CA 63 was cut back to the current terminus at CA 137 back in 1965.  It would seem that CA 63 multiplexed CA 137 to US 99 when it was renumbered from unsigned Legislative Route Number 134 in 1964:

CAhighways.org on CA 63

A quick view east on Tulare Avenue/CA 137 east to the southern terminus of CA 63 at Mooney Boulevard.



Mooney Boulevard runs north five miles to the city limit of Visalia as an expressway with an odd speed limit of 60 MPH.


CA 63 north follows Mooney Boulevard north another four miles to Noble Avenue where it multiplexes onto the CA 198 freeway for about half a mile.  CA 63 exits immediately back onto Noble Avenue and turns north into downtown Visalia as a one-way highway on Court Street.







CA 63 north follows Court Street to Oval Park where it uses a large roundabout to exit onto Northwest 3rd Avenue.  CA 63 north meets CA 63 south at Dinuba Boulevard which it uses to exit the northern city limits of Visalia near the St. John's River.  For reference CA 63 south uses West Street, Northwest 2nd Avenue, Locust Street, and Mineral King Avenue to reach the CA 63 freeway.







At Avenue 328 CA 63 meets the unsigned County Route J34.

 
Tulare County is infamously bad at signing designated County Routes, in fact the only one I ever found that was signed in the field was J37:

Yokohl Valley Drive/Mountain Route 296 and CR J37 on AAroads

Between Visalia and Cutler CA 63 is a two-lane road which briefly multiplexes CA 201.  CA 201 splits west towards Kingsburg just south of the Cutler CDP line.







CA 63 becomes a four-lane road in Cutler which continues north to Orosi.



At the intersection of Avenue 416/El Monte Way is the junction with unsigned County Route J40 on the left westbound.  Eastbound on El Monte Way was once LRN 130 and likely once CA 63 into the Sierras to a terminus at CA 65.  The road north was once an extension of LRN 132 to Orange Cove.


The junction above is where the history of CA 63 gets murky.  From my own map research CA 63 first appears over what was LRN 132 from US 99 north to Orosi in 1950:

1950 Division of Highways Map 


The 1950 State Highway Map doesn't show a signed state highway on LRN 130.  However, NE2 from the AAroads Forum pointed out that a Topographical map from 1950 showing CA 63 running east of Orosi to CA 65.  This topographical map can be viewed on historicaerials.com.  In my own research I located a 1956 Shell Highway Map of California showing CA 63 running east of Orosi to CA 65.

1956 Shell Highway Map


In 1964 during the California Highway Renumbering LRN 132 north of Orosi was reassigned as CA 226 but was never apparently signed in the field.

1964 Division of Highways Map


The 1966 State Highway Map shows CA 226 renumbered as CA 63 which a new un-built extension to CA 180.  CA 63 is also still shown running east out of Orosi to what was once CA 65 renumbered to CA 69.

1966 Division of Highways Map


Interestingly the planned route of CA 63 north of Orange Cove was part of the original alignment of Signed County Route J19.  J19 was created in 1964 according to CAhighways and is shown terminating at CA 180 on the 1966 Goshua Highway Map of California.


By 1967 the State Highway Map shows what was LRN 130/CA 63 east of Orosi removed as a state highway.  The road north to Orange Cove with the un-built segment of CA 63 to CA 180 is still not complete.

1967 Division of Highways Map


By the 1969 Division of Highways Map CA 63 is shown running north from Orosi to CA 180 in the Sierra Foothills.

1969 Division of Highways Map


So, with all that in mind the road north of Orosi is rural and quickly drops to two-lanes.  CA 63 runs north on Road 128 before taking a western turn on Avenue 460.  At Park Boulevard CA 63 meets the limits of Orange Cove, the Fresno County Line, and County Route J19.  J19 runs south from Orange Cove on Hill Valley Road and is signed given it is in Fresno County.  Odd to think that this small section of road was once the full extent CA 226.












North of Orange Cover CA 63 runs on Hills Valley Road which quickly approaches the Sierra Foothills.



The grade uphill in the last two/three miles of CA 63 is deceptively huge and gains about 1,000 feet in elevation before meeting CA 180.  Last year I warped my left front brake rotor descending to San Joaquin Valley on this grade given that I hit my brakes so hard to slow down after being caught off guard by the grade.  I would speculate this section of CA 63 is a 10% grade in places but I could be wrong.  Caltrans is horrible at publishing information on grade percentages, I often use cycling websites for grade information in California.  CA 63 ends without and "end" placard but has a decent overlook down into San Joaquin Valley.







Update 11/9/19:  During map research this year I noticed that US Route 99 may have been planned to be signed on current CA 63 on Mooney Boulevard from Visalia south to Tulare.   US 99 appears on Mooney Bouelvard on a 1925 Rand McNally Junior Highway Map of California.  Said Rand McNally Map has several early US Route System draft items like US 60 in place of US 66 and US 91 ending near Bannock instead of Dagget.  LRN 4 likely was aligned through Visalia and Tulare via Mooney Boulevard but it is likely US 99 never was.





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