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Former US Route 99 in Mount Shasta City


Former US Route 99 in Mount Shasta City of southern Siskiyou County, California was located on Mount Shasta Boulevard.  Pictured above is photo from the September/October 1951 California Highways & Public Works of former US Route 99 facing south from Black Butte towards Mount Shasta City.  Below is a image from the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Siskiyou County which depicts US Route 99 on Mount Shasta Boulevard.




Part 1; the history of US Route 99 in Mount Shasta City

Mount Shasta City lies within Strawberry Valley immediately north of the Sacramento River Canyon west of the namesake volcanic Mount Shasta.  The first documented European travel through the present site of Mount Shasta City and Sacramento River Canyon came in 1828 when it was explored by Hudson Bay trapper Alexander McLeod.  The travels of Alexander McLeod through Alta California established what came to be known as the "Siskiyou Trail" between what is now Oregon and California by way of the Sacramento River Canyon.  The present site of Mount Shasta City later became part of a major 1837 cattle drive to Oregon along the Sacramento River Canyon via the Siskiyou Trail.  The 1837 cattle drive was followed by a 1841 mapping survey of the Sacramento River Canyon which documented much of the path of the Siskiyou Trail.  The Siskiyou Trail would become a major path of emigrant travel following the finding of Gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 and the emergence of the State of California during the California Gold Rush.  

Gold was discovered at what became the City of Yreka in 1851 which was followed by numerous other claims in Scott Valley.  The formation of the California-Oregon Trail saw much of the Siskiyou Trail in the Sacramento River Canyon bypassed to the west via; Scott Valley, Scott Mountain and the town of Shasta.  Nonetheless the Sacramento River Canyon and Siskiyou Trail remained an established path of travel.  In 1855 a tolled bridge over the Sacramento River was built at Upper Soda Springs immediately north of modern Dunsmuir by settlers Ross and Mary McLeod.  The McLeod's also constructed a sawmill and stage hotel at what is now the present site of the Mount Shasta Sisson Museum.  The Siskiyou Trail would be improved by 1860 to a road capable of handing Stage Travel from Upper Soda Springs to Yreka and southward through the Sacramento River Canyon by 1870.  

A small community known as "Strawberry Valley" began to develop around the Sisson Hotel and would come to be known as "Berryvale" when it was assigned Post Office Service in 1870.  In 1886 local businessman Justin Sisson donated land to the Southern Pacific Railroad to construct a railroad depot on it's new line through the Sacramento River Canyon.  Following the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad line through the Sacramento River Canyon in 1887 the community of Berryvale began to grow east from the Siskiyou Trail towards it's new depot.  Sisson (renamed from Berryvale in 1888) can be seen on the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 1892 Rand McNally Map of California.  On May 31st, 1905 the City of Sisson incorporated and the name of "Mount Shasta" would be assumed by the Post Office on May 1st, 1924.  

The emergence of the automobile in the early 20th Century in California led to the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters during 1910.  The majority of the highways approved as part of the First State Highway Bond Act were largely well established routes of travel.  One such highway was Legislative Route Number 3 ("LRN 3") which was defined as a highway from "Sacramento to the Oregon Line." 

By 1913 the Pacific Highway was created as a major Auto Trail between San Diego and Vancouver, British Columbia.  The January 1915 California Highway Bulletin notes LRN 3 from the Siskiyou County Line 20.7 miles north to Weed as having an awarded contract for construction of a 18 foot wide road.  LRN 3 and the Pacific Highway were shifted onto a new alignment between Dunsmuir and Weed in 1915 replacing what is now known as Old Stage Road (the Siskiyou Trail) with what now known as Mount Shasta Boulevard.

The 1917 California State Automobile Association Map shows Pacific Highway/LRN 3 in error still on Old Stage Road bypassing downtown Sisson. 


The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925.  The US Route System within California was approved by California Highway Commission ("CHC") with no changes recommended by January 1926.  The initial alignment of US Route 99 ("US 99") was largely planned to follow the Pacific Highway from the Oregon State Line south to Sacramento Valley.  US 99 is shown on a map published in the 1926 California Highways & Public Works following LRN 3 through Mount Shasta Boulevard in Mount Shasta City.


Thusly US 99 appears on the 1925 Rand McNally Map of California as being routed through Mount Shasta City (shown as Sisson) on Mount Shasta Boulevard.  


During November of 1926 the US Route System was approved by the AASHO.  US 99 can seen aligned through Mount Shasta City (shown as Sisson) on the 1927 National Map Company Sectional Map

Plowing operation scenes on US 99/LRN 3 near Mount Shasta City appear on the cover of the February 1927 California Highways & Public Works.

The October 1929 California Highways & Public Works notes a contract had been awarded to pave a new 0.65 mile segment of US 99/LRN 3 north of Mount Shasta City at Spring Hill.  US 99/LRN 3 was moved to a new alignment near Spring Hill to avoid a sharp curve at a steep incline.  The Spring Hill realignment of US 99/LRN 3 involved relocating the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.  

The January 1930 California Highways & Public Works notes the Spring Hill realignment paving project of US 99/LRN 3 north of Mount Shasta City was opened to traffic on December 8th, 1929. 

As noted in the intro the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Siskiyou County which depicts US Route 99 on Mount Shasta Boulevard.


The September/October 1951 California Highways & Public Works describes the upcoming 4.92 mile realignment of US 99/LRN 3 off Florence Avenue at Spring Street north of downtown Dunsmuir to Big Canyon Creek near Mount Shasta City onto a new freeway grade.  Much of the history of the highway corridor in Dunsmuir is discussed in detail including the construction of the 1915 Sacramento River Bridge north of downtown. 








The October/November 1951 California Highways & Public Works also notes a new 8 mile alignment of US 99/LRN 3 from Spring Hill on the outskirts of Mount Shasta City to Weed as having opened on September 17th, 1951.  The previous alignment of US 99/LRN 3 is cited to have been constructed in 1923 and had a 18 foot wide concrete surface.  A new railroad overhead at Black Butte is described as having replaced an older structure which had a wide approach angle.  The new alignment of US 99/LRN 3 is cited to be 0.37 miles shorter and have 36 less curves than it's 1923 iteration.  







The May/June 1953 California Highways & Public Works depicts the progress of the freeway conversion of US 99/LRN 3 between Dunsmuir and Big Canyon Creek near Mount Shasta City.  Work on grading the freeway conversion of US 99/LRN 3 is stated to have begun during May of 1952 which ran continuously until being shut down for winter during the following December.  The antiquated 1915 Sacramento River Bridge at the north entrance to Dunsmuir is depicted in several photos.  







On June 29th, 1956 the Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 was signed into law on the Federal Level.  The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 was the genesis point of the Interstate Highway System which would in the coming decade sew the demise via of US 99 north of Redding Bluff to the Oregon State Line via replacement by Interstate 5.  

The November/December 1962 California Highways & Public Works notes a 6.8 mile freeway realignment of US 99/Interstate 5/LRN 3 had broken ground on preliminary construction.  


The January/February 1963 California Highways & Public Works notes a contract had been awarded to grade the 6.8 Mount Shasta City freeway realignment of US 99/Interstate 5/LRN 3.  The freeway bypass structures are noted to have been in the process of construction since October 1962.  


On New Year 1964 the California State Highway Renumbering took effect.  The California State Highway Renumbering sought to eliminate all the Legislative Route Number designations in favor field signage, renumber certain highways to avoid duplication with the Interstates, eliminate suffixed routes and trim US Routes that did not cross the State Line.  US 99 was initially retained upon the California State Highway Renumbering taking effect.  

The March/April 1965 California Highways & Public Works features the opening of the 6.8 mile Mount Shasta City freeway bypass of Interstate 5.  The Mount Shasta City freeway bypass is cited to have been dedicated October 17th, 1964.  The former surface alignment of US 99 on Mount Shasta Boulevard is shown in comparison to the new alignment of Interstate 5.  





The AASHO database shows that US 99 was approved to be truncated out of California by the AASHO Executive Committee on June 29th, 1965.  This measure would have become effective on New Years Day 1966 and made the corridor of Mount Shasta City part of Interstate 5.  







Interstate 5 was rebuilt to freeway standards near Spring Hill to the outskirts of Weed during the early 1970s.  The Mount Shasta City-Weed segment of Interstate 5 tied into a freeway bypass of Weed which was announced as having opened in the January/February 1963 California Highways & Public Works.  Interstate 5 can be seen as completed between Mount Shasta City-Weed on the 1975 Caltrans Map




Part 2; a drive on former US Route 99 on Mount Shasta Boulevard in Mount Shasta City

From modern Interstate 5 northbound former US Route 99 on Mount Shasta Boulevard can be accessed via Exit 737.  Mount Shasta Boulevard is co-signed as Historic US Route 99 and Interstate 5 Business. 



Mount Shasta Boulevard northbound directs traffic northward into downtown Mount Shasta City.  As Mount Shasta Boulevard intersects Lake Street in downtown Mount Shasta City it picks up Siskiyou County Route A10.  















Siskiyou County Route A10 briefly follows former US 99 on Mount Shasta Boulevard northward before it splits away eastward at Alma Street towards the Panther Meadows Trail on Mount Shasta.  



Former US 99 northbound on Mount Shasta Boulevard departs downtown Mount Shasta City and loops back to Interstate 5.  






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