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Disaster Tourism Road Trip Part 7; The Black Hole of Lake Berryessa (CA 37, CA 121, CA 128 and unbuilt CA 179))

From Point Reyes my next destination was to the east at the Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument which was the last I had not visited in California. I had special occasion given the Monticello Dam glory hole spillway was actually active after all the heavy winter rains.


After making my way back to California State Route 1 from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard I turned north towards Point Reyes Station.  Point Reyes Station has been around since 1875 when it was called Olema Station.  CA 1 is configured through town in Point Reyes Station and has the feel of an old rural California highway.






I turned east on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, I was trying to avoid floods on CA 37 to the east.  Point Reyes-Petaluma Road follows Nicasio Creek and crosses it on a painted mid-20th century bridge.



I stopped at the Nicasio Reservoir given it was full from the rains.  Apparently the earthen reservoir was constructed in 1961 when the Seeger Dam was completed.  I'm to understand that Point Reyes-Petaluma Road used to be at the bottom of the reservoir and I believe Dam Road was part of the original alignment.




I turned on Novato Boulevard and followed it into the city bearing the same name.


To get around the flood on CA 37 I took San Marin Drive and Atherton Avenue to get through Navato.  There was actually an "end" US 101 Business sign assembly that could be seen on Redwood Boulevard.




After entering Sonoma County on CA 37 I took CA 121 towards Sonoma and Napa Valley.  CA 121 is designated as a Safety Corridor given it is largely a two-lane highway.



I stayed on CA 121 past the junction with CA 116.  East of CA 116 the alignment of CA 121 multiplexes CA 12 and enters Napa County.





South of Napa CA 121 junctions CA 29 which runs north/south.  CA 121 continues north on CA 29 north while CA 12 splits south.  CA 121 splits off of CA 29 on Imola Avenue.



CA 121 turns north through Napa on Soscol Avenue at a junction with CA 221.


CA 121 takes a northeast turn on Silverado Trail and then Monticello Road where it begins to ascend into the Vaca Range.



CA 121 travels over a small summit before descending into a valley where it terminates at CA 128.




I followed CA 128 north to Knoxville Road.  From Knoxville Road I drove the shoreline of Lake Berryessa.  Lake Berryessa was created when after the Monticello Dam project which was completed in 1958.  CA 128 originally was CA 28 and used to run through what is now Lake Berryessa partially on Knoxville Road before the dam was completed (I'll touch on that more at the end of this blog).  The town of Monticello was located under the waters of Lake Berryessa from 1866 to 1953 when it was evacuated due to the dam construction.  Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument was created back in 2015 out of the mountains surrounding the lake.

The waters in Lake Berryessa were high enough that they actually covered a bunch of shore line trees and parking areas.  Apparently Lake Berryessa was the second largest reservoir in California only behind Lake Shasta when it was formed. 




After leaving Lake Berryessa I made my way back to CA 128 and headed towards the Monticello Dam.





The Monticello Dam is located at the divide for Napa County to the west and Solano County to the east.  Monticello Dam is slightly over 300 feet high and has a catchment area of over 500 square miles.  The glory hole spillway located at the south end of the dam along CA 128 and can apparently process 48,000 cubic feet of water per second.  The glory hole spillway had not been active since the late 1990s when someone actually was sucked in and killed after swimming too close.  The overlook for the glory hole spillway was a mob scene and I had to create my own row of parking to get a look.





At the bottom of Monticello Dam CA 128 enters Yolo County crossing Putah Creek.


I turned south on Pleasant Valley Road (which is part of unbuilt CA 179) crossing Putah Creek and entering Solano County.


Pleasant Valley Road crosses Pleasant Creek on the one-lane Thurber Bridge.


I stayed on Pleasant Valley Road and used it to access I-80 via Cherry Glen Road.  I stayed down in Fairfield for the evening and I was able to find some of the Historic US 40 signage on Texas Street.






Rather than re-writing all my highway research that I've already done I'll just quote what I posted on AAroads back on 2/26/17:

"Notes on CA 37, CA 48, CA 121, SSR 28, CA 128, and Lake Berryessa

Originally CA 37 was much longer in length in 1934 and included all of what is now CA 121 to what was CA 28 (now 128).   In 1940 SSR 48 appears on State Highway maps running from CA 37 from Sears Point to Vallejo, CA 37 would later inhabit this alignment....Cahighways.org says 48 was there by 1935.   In 1964 CA 37 was shifted to Vallejo on the former CA 48 alignment and CA 121 was created out of the former alignment north to CA 128.
 
 CA 128 was originally SSR 28 in 1934 but this was changed in to 128 so that that the number could be used to match NV 28 at Lake Tahoe.  Cahighways has this happening in 1952 but it doesn't appear on state highway maps until 1954.   Really SSR 28/CA 128 has inhabited the roughly same alignment since the inception of the route.  There was a major realignment in Napa County 1956 due to the construction of the Monticello Dam which was completed in 1957.  The construction of the Monticello Dam led to the razing of the town Monticello which was inhabited from 1866 to 1953.  Monticello was flooded over along with Berryessa Valley when the Dam and Reservoir were completed.  The old alignment of SSR 128/28 can be seen on the 1935 Napa County Map which would have been on Knoxville-Berryessa Road roughly to the Spanish Flat Resort.  SSR 128/28 would have followed Berryessa Valley through the modern reservoir out to the foot of Monticello Dam.  SSR 37 went further north than CA 121 does along Steele Canyon Road to meet SSR 128/28.

1935 Napa County Map

1938 State Highway Map

1953 State Highway Map

1954 State Highway Map

1955 State Highway Map

1956 State Highway Map

1957 State Highway Map

1963 State Highway Map

1964 State Highway Map

Cahighways.org on CA 37

Cahighways.org on SSR 48

Cahighways.org on CA 121

Cahighways.org on CA 128

End quotation"

Seriously that would have taken me hours to retype everything above.  Kind of some twisted history with CA 28 becoming CA 128 back when the Division of Highways cared about multi-state route continuity.   

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