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California State Route 191

One of the State Highways I intended to complete in 2017 was California State Route 191.  After a day spent mostly on CA 49 and CA 70 I decided to skip out on CA 191 which turned out to be a regrettable decision in retrospect.


CA 191 is an 11 mile north/south State Highway entirely located in Butte County.  CA 191 starts at CA 70 near Wicks Corner runs entirely on Clark Road  northward to a terminus at Pearson Road in Town of Paradise.  Unfortunately the Town of Paradise was largely destroyed by the Camp Fire in November of 2018.

The history regarding CA 191 is brief.  Prior to the 1964 State Highway Renumbering the route of CA 191 was approved by the State Legislature in 1961 as Legislative Route Number 295.

CAhighways.org on CA 191

The implied path of LRN 295 appears on the 1962 State Highway Map connecting to the projected path of the new Feather River Highway which was LRN 21.

1962 State Highway Map 

Interestingly Clark Road does appear to be quite old as it appears on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Butte County.

1935 Butte County Highway Map

In 1964 LRN 295 was assigned CA 191 and the actual highway was completed to the new Feather River Highway (which switched from US 40A to CA 70).  The conversion to and completion of CA 191 can be seen by comparing the 1963 State Highway Map to the 1964 edition. 

1963 State Highway Map 

1964 State Highway Map

CA 191 first appears on 1969 State Highway Map as a signed highway.

1969 State Highway Map

My approach to CA 191 was from CA 149 southbound.  The Wicks Corner interchange where CA 149 terminates shows the junction for CA 70 east connecting to CA 191.




From CA 70 east traffic is quickly advised via overhead signage that CA 191 is nearby.



The first reassurance shield on CA 191 northbound is near the junction with CA 70.


I wasn't really sure how to approach CA 191 given the large scale destruction of the Town of Paradise just a couple months prior.  I had zero intention of traveling into Paradise given the destruction (and really it would have been tacky as all hell) and thought about turning around 10 miles into the highway.  However the pervasive smell of burnt buildings was still lingering in the air at the south terminus of CA 191.  That being the case I decided to capture the guide sign showing downtown Paradise being 13 miles to the north. I found it somewhat interesting that the guide sign on CA 191 was actually 2 miles longer than the actual route.


The "end truck route" signage although displayed the correct 11 miles of CA 191.


The south terminus of CA 191 is well signed with an "end" placard and accompanying CA 70 BGS.


Regarding Paradise the community dates back to the 1870s with Post Office Service opening in 1877.  Paradise was apparently known by several prior names; Leonards Mill, Poverty Ridge, Pair-o-Dice and Paradice.  The name of "Pair-o-Dice" and "Paradice" apparently comes from a saloon of the same name which was located in the community.

Paradise didn't gain much importance until the Butte County Railroad was opened in 1903.  The Butte County Railroad was a standard gauge line spanning from Chico 31.5 miles to Stirling City.  Paradise was one of the communities along the route of the Butte County Railroad.  The Paradise Depot was opened in 1904 and actually survived the recent Camp Fire.  The Butte County Railroad was sold to the Southern Pacific in 1915 and the line continued to operate until 1974.  The tracks along what was the Butte County Railroad were removed in 1979.  More information regarding the Butte County Railroad can be found on abandonedrails.com.

abandonedrails.com on Stirling City Branch/Butte County Railroad

1979 was an important year for Paradise as the community incorporated.  The Town of Paradise survived several nearby fires in 2008 but the same could not be said of 2018 Camp Fire.

The Camp Fire began on November 8th of 2018 near Poe Dam in the vicinity of Camp Creek.  The Camp Fire was likely caused (PG&E announced such a finding today) by to some sort of utility failure in the early morning hours.  Over the course of the next several hours Camp Fire progressed westward through Pulga and Concow before entering Paradise.  Paradise as stated above was largely destroyed by the Camp Fire which resulted in at least 86 deaths (as of this blog being published, unfortunately the total may rise).

The Camp Fire wasn't fully contained until November 25th.  In total the Camp Fire destroyed close to 20,000 structures and burned over 153,000 acres.  The Camp Fire was the deadliest wildfire in California.

There really isn't much more that I can add regarding the Camp Fire, the destruction and loss of life attests to how awful of an event it was.  Since CA 191 essentially solely exists to service Paradise I didn't feel the history of the roadway couldn't be stated without also addressing that Camp Fire is still an ongoing disaster.

Regarding infrastructure in and around Paradise, as stated above the 1904 Paradise Depot survived the Camp Fire and presently is a museum.  Paradise Depot was part of the Gold Nugget Museum which was largely destroyed by the Camp Fire.  Paradise Depot was set to reopen sometime in February, I'm not certain if it has since the website has not updated.

Depot Museum/Gold Nugget Museum

The Honey Run Covered Bridge was located on Butte Creek west of downtown Paradise, the structure did not survive the Camp Fire.  The Honey Run Covered Bridge opened in 1887 but wasn;'t actually covered until 1901.  The Honey Run Covered Bridge remained in use as an active crossing until it was heavily damaged by a truck accident in 1965.   The Honey Run Covered Bridge was restored and became part of a local park.  A local group is attempting to rebuild a replica of the Honey Run Covered Bridge.

hrcoveredbridge.org

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