US Route 95 within California exists within San Bernardino County and Riverside County. US Route 95 within California is approximately 130 miles factoring multiplexes along Interstate 10 and Interstate 40. US Route 95 in California begins at the Arizona state line along the Colorado River near Blythe in Riverside County. US Route 95 follows the general course of the Colorado River north through the Sonoran Desert to the Mojave Desert towards Needles of San Bernadino County. US Route 95 enters Nevada north of Interstate 40 and the historic alignment of US Route 66. US Route 95 was extended to Blythe, California during July 1939. Upon US Route 95 entering California during 1939 it overlapped and deleted much of the original California State Route 195. US Route 95 was extended from Blythe into Arizona during June 1960.
During the drafting phases of the US Route System in 1925 the Joint Board on Interstate Highways ultimately decided several facets of what would become the system numbering convention:
- Odd one or two-digit numbers would denote a north/south route.
- Even one or two-digit numbers would denote an east/west route.
- X1 numbers would denote major north/south routes.
- X0 numbers would denote major east/west routes.
- Spur highways of one or two-digit routes would be assigned a third digit.
- Odd numbers would begin at 1 on the East Coast and ascend westward.
- Even numbers would begin at near the Canadian Border at 2 and ascend southward.
- The numbering of the US Route System would ultimately infer a position within the country to aid navigation.
By October of 1925 the Joint Board on Interstate Highways submitted a final report to the Secretary of the Department Agriculture. Part of the final report regarding the US Route System would be a list of routing points for all purposed US Routes. The full list of the US Routes originally submitted in October of 1925 can be viewed on the link below:
Report of Joint Board on Interstate Highways; October 30th, 1925
While the US Route System submitted in October of 1925 were fairly close to what was implemented officially in November of 1926 there was some significant differences. Regarding US Route 91 the routing points were clear aside from the southern terminus in the Mojave Desert of California. In the October 1925 report submitted by the Joint Board on Interstate Highways US Route 91 is shown simply as ending at US Route 60 (US Route 66 in the final US Route System).
The US Route System within California was approved by California Highway Commission with no changes recommended which can be seen in the January 1926 California Highways & Public Works. US Route 91 was stated to enter California and end near Needles. This corridor would in time be established as a component of US Route 95.
The planned route of US Route 91 south from Great Falls, Montana to Las Vegas, Nevada is very clear in the 1925 Report. South of Las Vegas the routing of US Route 91 was at best open to interpretation. Ultimately two existing roads south of Las Vegas to what was planned as US Route 60 were immediately available; the Los Angeles-Salt Lake Road towards Daggett or the Arrowhead Trail which was aligned directly south into California to Bannock. The Arrowhead Trail was multiplexed with the National Park-to-Park Highway and Evergreen National Highway which can be seen on the 1924 Rand McNally Map of California. Below the Arrowhead Trail is listed as "18," the National Park-to-Park Highway as "64" and Evergreen National Highway as "20."
The Arrowhead Trail was an Auto Trail which was plotted out in 1915 when Charles H. Bigelow (race car driver and promoter) drove the entire route planned route between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The Arrowhead Trails Association would incorporate as an Auto Trail organizer based out of Los Angeles in December of 1916. The Arrowhead Trail largely followed the path of the Los Angeles-Salt Lake Road but detoured significantly south of Las Vegas via Nevada State Route 5 ("NV 5") towards Bannock. By 1920 the "Silver Lake Cutoff" of the Arrowhead Trail was proposed as a means of to saving 90 miles by connecting the highway from Las Vegas directly southwest to Daggett. The Silver Lake Cutoff was similar to the previous Los Angeles-Salt Lake Road but followed a more northern path to utilize the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad sidings of Silver Lake as a waypoint. This new routing of the Arrowhead Trail via the Silver Lake Cutoff was ultimately paved with oiled earth in 1925 by San Bernardino County.
As the early US Route System was still in the works it appeared that US Route 91 would ultimately follow Nevada State Route 5 via the National Park-to-Park Highway and Evergreen National Highway to US Route 60 near Bannock. This 1925 Rand McNally Highway Map shows the projected route of US Route 91 entering California via Nevada State Route 5 on the National Park-to-Park Highway and Evergreen National Highway to a southern terminus at US Route 60 in Bannock.
Ultimately what drove the decision to route US Route 91 via the Arrowhead Trail to Daggett appears to be the extension of Legislative Route 31 ("LRN 31") by the California Legislature. According to CAhighways.org LRN 31 was first adopted as a State Highway during the 1916 Second State Highway Bond Act between the San Bernardino County line northeast to Barstow. In 1925 the Legislature approved an extension of LRN 31 from Barstow to the Nevada State Line.
The new extension of LRN 31 from Barstow to the Nevada State Line appears as a planned Legislative Act Road on the 1926 California Highway Commission Map.
The 1927 National Map Company Sectional Map shows US Route 91 entering California via Nevada State Route 6 southwest over what had been the Arrowhead Trail. US Route 91 is shown traversing through the Mojave Desert via; Francis Springs, Silver Lake, and Bitter Spring headed southwest to Daggett and US Route 66.
During 1933 the future corridor of US Route 95 in California was added to the State Highway System as LRN 146. LRN 146 given the following definition:
- The Imperial/Riverside County line near Palo Verde to LRN 64 (US Route 60) near Blythe
- LRN 64 near Blythe to LRN 58 (US Route 66) near Needles
- LRN 58 W of Needles northerly to the California-Nevada state line
LRN 146 can be seen for the first time on the 1934 Division of Highways Map.
A letter dated June 2, 1939, from the AASHO Executive Secretary to the State Highway engineers of; California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho noted the proposed alignment of US Route 95 south to Blythe, California. A separate letter to the Nevada State Highway Engineer notes that a last-minute request was made to extend US Route 93 south of Las Vegas to the California State Line via Searchlight over Nevada State Route 5 instead of US Route 95.