Skip to main content

Former US Routes 99/60/70 on the 1923 Whitewater Bridge

Recently while visiting the Palm Springs Area in Riverside County I stopped in Whitewater to see the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.


Modernized transportation around Whitewater dates back to the days of the Bradshaw Trail which was a wagon road through the Sonoran Desert east to the Colorado River.  During the California Gold Rush the Bradshaw Trail was plotted through the Sonoran Desert by William D. Bradshaw.  The Bradshaw Trail was plotted in 1862 through the Sonoran Desert east over the Colorado River to a new mining strike found in La Paz, Arizona.  Bradshaw consulted the Cahuilla Tribe who advised him of the best route east of the Salton Sink between the Orocopia Mountains and Chocolate Mountains.   The Bradshaw Trail despite it's elongated path essentially was the forerunner of what would become modern I-10 from Palm Springs to the City of Blythe.  More information regarding the Bradshaw Trail and where to find it can be found on desertusa.com.

One of the stage stations along the Bradshaw Trail was White River Station which was placed to take advantage of the waters of the White River.  White River Station morphed into a rail siding when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line through Coachella Valley in the 1870s and in time came to be known as Whitewater.  Given the close proximity of Whitewater to San Gorgonio Pass the future of the community as a hub transportation in the Sonoran Desert was ensured.

During the 1916 Second State Highway Bond Act Legislative Route 26 was added to the State Highway System as a route from San Bernardino southeast to El Centro.  LRN 26 was essentially a forerunner of what would become the earliest alignments of US Route 99.  The construction of LRN 26 included the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.  The 1924 Division of Highways State Map shows LRN 26 constructed and paved through Whitewater and much of Coachella Valley.


The 1923 Whitewater Bridge was host to several Auto Trails.  The 1924 Rand McNally Highway Map of California shows the Southern National Highway and the Atlantic & Pacific Highway crossing the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.


By late 1926 the US Route System was approved which led to US 99 being aligned over LRN 26 and the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.  In 1932 US 60 was extended into California which multiplexed US 99/LRN 26 from Mecca over the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.  US 99 and US 60 were joined by US 70 in 1934 when it was extended into California.   US 99/60/70 can be seen traversing Coachella and the 1923 Whitewater Bridge on the 1935 Goshua Highway Map of California.


State Highway Maintenance over the 1923 Whitewater Bridge can be seen on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Riverside County.  Note; the community of Whitewater is clearly shown still as a siding along the Southern Pacific Rails south of LRN 26.


As the 1930s and 1940s progressed traffic increased on US 99/60/70.  In the 1950s much of LRN 26 and US 99/60/70 in Coachella Valley was upgraded to an expressway more in line with the present alignment of I-10.  The July/August 1954 Department of Public Works Guide discusses the progress of building US 99/60/70 in Coachella Valley to an expressway.  On Page 57 the newly completed replacement spans over the Whitewater River are shown.






The 1954 route of US 99/60/70 was aligned more directly in an east/west orientation over the Whitewater Bridge compared to the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.  The original alignment of US 99/60/70 compared to modern I-10 can be observed below.


From modern I-10 westbound the freeway grade crosses the Whitewater River south of the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.  The original alignment of US 99/60/70 can be accessed from I-10 westbound Exit 114 onto Whitewater Cut-Off Road.





Former US 99/60/70 eastbound enters Whitewater and intersects Whitewater Canyon Road.  Whitewater Canyon Road is signed as access to Whitewater Preserve.  Presently the Whitewater Preserve is closed due to heavy flood damage on the White Water River this previous winter.



Most of Whitewater along former US 99/60/70 is abandoned and behind security fences.



The original alignment of US 99/60/70 is obvious approaching the 1923 Whitewater Bridge due to the narrow slabs of concrete still used as part of Whitewater Cut-Off Road.



At present moment traffic isn't allowed to cross the 1923 Whitewater Bridge.  I'm to understand that there was a drowning death earlier in 2019 which involved someone parking at the 1923 Whitewater Bridge to enter the White Water River.  This death apparently led Riverside County to close the 1923 Whitewater Bridge to traffic and post a security guard.  The 1923 Whitewater Bridge is a tee beam structure and is 434.1 feet in length, the photo is from the closest vantage point I could get to.


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

Former US Route 50 and the South Lincoln Highway from Folsom east to Placerville

The corridor of Folsom of Sacramento County east to Placerville of El Dorado County has been a long established corridor of overland travel dating back to the California Gold Rush.  The Folsom-Placerville corridor was once part of the path of the Lake Tahoe Wagon Road which became the first California State Highway and later the South Lincoln Highway.  In time the South Lincoln Highway's surface alignment was inherited by US Route 50.  The Folsom-Placerville corridor also includes the communities of; Clarksville, Shingle Springs and El Dorado. Part 1; the history of the Lake Tahoe Wagon Road, South Lincoln Highway and US Route 50 through Folsom-Placerville Folsom is located on the American River/Lake Natoma of eastern Sacramento County.  That lands now occupied by the City of Folsom were part of Rancho Rio de los Americanos prior to the finding of gold at Sutter's Mill during 1848.  During the California Gold Rush the lands of Rancho Rio de los Americanos were purchased by Jose

US Route 101 through Gaviota Pass

US Route 101 in the Santa Ynez Mountains of Santa Barbra County, California passes through Gaviota Pass.  Gaviota Pass is most well known for being part of El Camino Real and the namesake Gaviota Tunnel which opened during 1953.  Since 1964 Gaviota Pass and US Route 101 have also carried a multiplex of California State Route 1.   Part 1; the history of the Gaviota Pass corridor Gaviota Pass is historic path of travel through the Santa Ynez Mountains of Santa Barbra County.  Gavoita Pass was a known route through the Santa Ynez Mountains which was utilized by the Chumash tribes before the arrival of Europeans.  Gaviota Pass was first explored by Spanish during the 1769 Portola Expedition of Las Californias.  The Portola Expedition opted to follow the coastline northward fearing that the established Chumash path through Gaviota Pass was too narrow to traverse.  In time Gaviota Pass became a favored established path of Spanish travel which bypassed the hazardous coastline as part of El C