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Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 89 over Monitor Pass

After completing California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass I found myself at the junction with CA 89.  Since I was headed towards CA 108 and Sonora Pass I turned south on CA 89 to cross Monitor Pass.


Previously I touched on the extension of CA 89 over Monitor Pass on my blog about CA 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass:

CA 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass

Interestingly it appears that before CA 89 over Monitor Pass was built that CA 4 likely extended to the Carson Pass Highway and even the Nevada State Line for a time.  On the 1938 State Highway Map there is no evidence to suggest any other route than CA 4 continued through Markleeville to CA 8, although an implied proposed route over Monitor Pass is observable.

1938 State Highway Map

By 1948 CA 4 appears to have been extended to the Nevada State Line on a multiplex with CA 88.

1948 State Highway Map

By 1953 the extension of LRN 23 over Monitor Pass is shown complete but it is unclear if it was signed as CA 89.  CA 4 is still shown multiplexing CA 89 to the Nevada State Line.

1953 State Highway Map

The 1958 State Highway Map shows CA 89 being signed over Monitor Pass and CA 4 still multiplexing CA 88 to the Nevada State Line.

1958 State Highway Map

CA 4 was cut back to it's current eastern terminus at CA 89 during the 1964 Highway Renumbering.

1963 State Highway Map

1964 State Highway Map" 

Interestingly LRN 23 from 1911 was planned to cross Monitor Pass according to CAhighways.org only two years after it was adopted as it was defined to end in Bridgeport.

CAhighways.org on LRN 23

The first State Highway Map I can find showing a proposed highway over Monitor Pass is in 1918.

1918 State Highway Map

LRN 23 would later be signed as parts of US 395 and US 6 which is a hell of a long route considering the origin point was at US 50 at Lake Tahoe.  This can be seen on the 1963 State Highway Map above.

Regarding CA 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass that blog can be found here:

Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass

As state above from the eastern terminus of CA 4 in Alpine County at the East Carson River.  From there I pulled onto CA 89 southbound to approach Monitor Pass.



CA 89 over Monitor Pass essentially is the boundary point between the High Sierras and the Great Basin Desert.  This photo is looking back northward towards the East Carson River and Ebbetts Pass which puts into relief how quickly the tree growth disappears.


The ascent to Monitor Pass is fairly tame and on a shallow grade.  Monitor Pass lies at 8,314 feet above sea level and likely was part of the route the Jedediah Smith expedition used leaving California in 1827.


South of Monitor Pass CA 89 enters Mono County.  This photo is looking back north towards Alpine County with a guide sign showing Lake Tahoe 48 miles away.



The Great Basin Desert can be seen below from the Mono County Line along CA 89.  Topaz Lake wasn't visible from the highway but is located to left of the photo below.


Another nearby vista with Topaz Lake is located just to the south.


CA 89 descending southward from Monitor Pass has an 8% grade.  There are switchbacks but I was able to hold my car in 3rd gear fairly easily without really having to use much brake.  Soon I found myself at the southern terminus of CA 89 at US 395 where I turned south for CA 108.



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