Part 1; the history of Alfred Harrell Highway
The oldest component of what is now Alfred Harrell Highway is what is now known as the China Grade up the Kern River Bluff. The China Grade was once part of the stage route known as the Stockton-Los Angeles Road. The Stockton-Los Angeles Road came into use after the 1853 Kern River Gold Rush began. The Stockton-Los Angeles Road was a replacement of the earlier El Camino Viejo. Unlike the El Camino Viejo the Stockton-Los Angeles Road avoided the dense Tule Marches in San Joaquin Valley. The Stockton-Los Angles Road stayed close to the Sierra Nevada Mountain foothills near the new claims on the Kern River watershed.
The China Grade specifically was used by the Stockton-Los Angeles Road to descend the Kern River Bluff to Gordon's Ferry at the Kern River. The Stockton-Los Angeles Road can be seen utilizing China Grade and Gordon's Ferry on the 1857 Britton & Rey's map of California.