Skip to main content

California State Route 89 through Luther Pass

This pasts weekend I took California State Route 89 over the 12 mile routing from CA 88 in Alpine County over the 7,740 foot Lurther Pass to US 50 in El Dorado County.


CA 89 through Luther Pass was first proposed as a State Highway in 1909 on a bond measure that was approved in 1910.  Eventually the State Highway through Luther Pass was assigned to Legislative Route Number 23.  More information can be found here regarding the actual legislative acts on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org Early Highway History

CAhighways.org on CA 89

LRN 23 can be observed south of Lake Tahoe on the 1918 State Highway Map over Luther Pass as a special appropriations road.

1918 State Highway Map

The original alignment of LRN 23 and CA 89 through Luther Pass was on Upper Truckee Road.  The original alignment through Luther Pass used part of the modern CA 89 alignment but was on the west bank of the Upper Truckee River as opposed to the east bank.  This alignment can be seen clearly on the 1935 California Division of Highways Maps of Alpine and El Dorado Counties.

1935 Alpine County Highway Map

1935 El Dorado County Highway Map 

I prepared the below graphical illustration showing the original alignment of CA 89 through Luther Pass.  The map also includes the original alignments of US 50 over the south route of the Lincoln Highway over Johnson Pass and the original south terminus of CA 89 at CA 8/89 which was located at Picketts Junction.


CA 89 wasn't signed south of CA 88 until 1957 which can be observed by comparing the 1956 and 1957 State Highway Maps.

1956 State Highway Map

1957 State Highway Map

By 1960 CA 89 was shifted east of the Upper Truckee River.

1960 State Highway Map 

By 1961 the modern route CA 89 takes over Luther Pass to CA 88 was complete.

1961 State Highway Map

From the West Fork Carson River at CA 88 the routing CA 89 northbound over Luther Pass has an ominous appearance but is actually a fairly tame grade.


Heading northbound on CA 89 the El Dorado County Line is quickly encountered at Luther Pass.




Most of Upper Truckee Road is still maintained but the grade south of Luther Pass to CA 88 has been abandoned.  The abandoned portion of Upper Truckee Road is easily found at Luther Pass and is generally known as a local hiking trail.


As noted above in the Luther Pass photo the downhill grade on CA 89 is 6% downhill for the next 6 northbound miles.  Upper Truckee Road is encountered again twice on the downhill descent.




As CA 89 is descending from Luther Pass US Route 50 can be seen above descending Echo Summit.


CA 89 soon enters Meyers where it meets US 50.  CA 89 multiplexes US 50 to South Lake Tahoe before splitting away towards the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

Interstate 40 and the H-Bomb

Interstate 40 within California is entirely contained to San Bernandio County over a course of 155 miles from Interstate 15 in Barstow east to the Arizona State Line at the Colorado River.  Interstate 40 is aligned entirely in the Mojave Desert over the same general corridor established by US Route 66 and the National Old Trails Road.   Interstate 40 is known as the Needles Freeway and has an interesting backstory which included the prospect of the Bristol Mountains being excavated by way of nuclear blasts as part of Operation Carryall.   Part 1; the history of Interstate 40 in California The focus on this blog will be primarily centered around the construction of Interstate 40 ("I-40") within California.  That being said the corridor of automotive travel east of Barstow to the Arizona State Line was largely pioneered by the National Old Trails Road ("NOTR")   In April of 1912 the NOTR was organized with the goal of signing a trans-continental highway between Baltim

Interstate 15 Exit 239 to Zzyzx Road; intersecting the Mojave Road and Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad

    Interstate 15 Exit 239 in the Mojave Desert of northern San Bernardino County, California accesses the well known oddity of Zzyzx Road.  Zzyzx Road connects 4.5 miles from Interstate 15 to a small community of the same name which is located on the shore of the dry Soda Lake.  "Zzyzx" was coined in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer as what he promoted as to be last word in the English Language.  On the surface Zzyzx appears to be something of a modern invention but the area has significant overall historical importance as part of a transportation corridor through the Mojave Desert.  Zzyzx lies at a point which was the intersection of the Mojave Road of the 19th Century the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad of the early 20th Century.   The backstory of Soda Springs, the Mojave Road, Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad and Zzyzx The present site of Zzyzx is located upon a natural spring along the western shore of Soda Dry Lake.  This spring has historically been known as "Soda S