Skip to main content

Old California State 178, Legislative Route 137, and the 1914 Salinas River Bridge

Generally I try to string together a couple different things to go see on a road trip.  That being the case the real reason I took Bitterwater Road through the Temblor Range to California State Route 58 was to check out an old alignment of California State Route 178 along Pozo Road.


The history of both CA 58 and CA 178 is strange to say the least.  Before the Signed State Highway program became effective in 1934 Legislative Route Number 58 ran from LRN 2/US 101 in Santa Margarita east all the way to the Arizona State Line.  LRN 58 was unique because it's route was eventually occupied several signed routes by 1934, namely; CA 178 from Santa Margarita to Bakersfield, US 466 from Bakersfield to Barstow, and US 66 from Barstow to the Arizona State Line.  If anything LRNs like LRN 58 were part of the reason the 1964 California State Highway renumbering was actually done to simplify the system.

So with all that said, LRN 58 from Santa Margarita east to Bakersfield was once CA 178.  Oddly this was switched to CA 58 in 1964 during the Highway Renumbering.  This can be seen by comparing the 1963 and 1964 California State Highway Maps.

1963 State Highway Map

1964 State Highway Map

What is apparent on both above maps above is that CA 178/LRN 58/CA 58 ran north of Pozo Road, but that wasn't the case originally.  From 1934 to 1956 CA 178/LRN 58 had an alignment along Pozo Road through the La Panza Range.  This routing along Pozo Road is observable on the 1938 and 1955 California State Highway Maps with the modern alignment to the north appearing on the 1956 Map.

1938 State Highway Map

1955 State Highway Map

1956 State Highway Map

If the alignment switch off of Pozo Road along CA 178 coupled with the switch to CA 58 wasn't confusing enough for you, don't worry it only gets more confusing to the west near Santa Margarita.  Pulling onto Pozo Road itself heading westward it was very apparent that it had seen much better days.






Entering the La Panza Range there is advisory sign stating that the road is rough for the next 12 miles.  The pavement actually ends about one mile west and doesn't resume for another 11 miles.


Pozo Road climbs a narrow ridge up to a small plateau.



 Where the pavement ends in a ghost town known as La Panza.


La Panza was the site of a placer gold claim during 1878.  La Panza had Postal Service until 1908 and last appears on 1932 State Highway Map.

1932 State Highway Map

All that is left of La Panza today is one brick building which has been incorporated into part of a small ranch.




I wasn't willing to take the chance on the dirt segment of Pozo Road given the terrain was still soaked from the winter rains.  I backtracked east to CA 58 and took the post 1956 highway west.



My understanding is that the dirt section of Pozo Road is fairly well maintained and "should" be passable by car in dry weather.  I did find a Youtube video from the Faultline 500 which seems to corroborate that this is the case.

Dirt Section of Pozo Road

Really I think think that the modern alignment of CA 58 west of Bakersfield gets a bad rap.  The terrain the modern highway takes is actually pretty gentle and easy to maintain a good 50-60 MPH.  I think that most folks are intimidated by the 70 plus miles of no service along the route through the La Panza and Temblor Range.  Heading west along CA 58 I eventually met the junction of CA 229.


Prior to 1956 the road ahead in both directions would have been part of LRN 137.  Starting in 1956 CA 178 continued to the left while LRN 137's southern terminus was on the right.


Of course by 1956 LRN 137 still ended in Creston at US 466/LRN 125, but that's a tale for another day.  In 1964 CA 229 was created and used what was left of LRN 137 north to Creston along with part of LRN 125 to CA 41.  CA 229 is one of the infamous remaining single lane California State Highways.

Continuing west to the Salinas River I encountered the 1914 Salinas River Bridge.



The 1914 Salinas River Bridge is a single-lane span that was in service until 1997.  The old bridge saw service along LRN 137 from 1933 when it was adopted until 1956 when it became part of CA 178.  The bridge changed routes again in 1964 when it became part of CA 58.  There truss seems to be in good shape to this very day aside from the very obvious shotgun blast on the height sign.








Continuing west from the 1914 Salinas River Bridge I encountered the western end of Pozo Road.  LRN 137 would have terminated at this location while CA 178 continued in both directions prior to 1956.


Originally CA 178 would have ended at US 101 on the El Camino Real in Santa Margarita after passing the railroad tracks.  When US 101 was improved to expressway in 1957 CA 178 west extended through Santa Margarita to meet it.



The change which can be seen on the 1957 State Highway Map.

1957 State Highway Map

Really the change from CA 178 to CA 58 west of Bakersfield vexes me.  CA 178 was on a perfect direct line exiting downtown Bakersfield while the newly created CA 58 had to take an odd turn through the city.  It wasn't like there was much continuity considering that "58" only existed only on paper prior to the 1964 State Highway renumbering.  The character of the highway is more rural while the lower number seems to imply it is more of a primary route, but that's my opinion...  Either way the back story of LRN 58 is interesting considering how many times it was extended to cross the entire state.  CAhighways has an excellent stub on CA 58/LRN 58.

 CAhighways.org on CA 58/LRN 58

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Niagara Falls

  Arguably the world's most famous waterfall, or rather a set of waterfalls, Niagara Falls may not need much of an introduction, as it is a very popular tourist attraction in both New York State and the Province of Ontario, a destination of plenty of honeymooning couples, vacationing families and college students out for a good time for a weekend. Niagara Falls is also the site of many daredevil activities over the years, such as tightrope walking and going over the falls in a barrel. It is always nice to have a bit of a refresher, of course. Niagara Falls is made up of two main waterfalls, American Falls (also known as Rainbow Falls), which is on the American side of the border and Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls), where the border between the United States and Canada crosses. There is also a smaller waterfall on the New York side of the border, which is Bridal Veil Falls. The height of the waterfalls are impressive, with Horseshoe Falls measuring at

The Smithtown Bull in Smithtown, New York

  Before I moved to Upstate New York as a young man, I grew up in the Long Island town of Smithtown during the 1980s and 1990s. The recognizable symbol of Smithtown is a bronze statue of a bull named Whisper, located at the junction of NY Route 25 and NY Route 25A near the bridge over the Nissequogue River. Why a bull, you may ask. The bull is a symbol of a legend related to the town's founding in 1665 by Richard "Bull" Smythe, with a modernized name of Richard Smith. It also so happens that there is a story behind the legend, one that involves ancient land right transfers and some modern day roads as well. So the story goes that Smythe made an agreement with a local Indian tribe where Smythe could keep whatever land he circled around in a day's time riding atop his trusty bull. Choosing the longest day of the year for his ride, he set out with his bull Whisper and went about riding around the borders of the Town of Smithtown. As legend has it, Smythe t

Route 75 Tunnel - Ironton, Ohio

In the Ohio River community of Ironton, Ohio, there is a former road tunnel that has a haunted legend to it. This tunnel was formerly numbered OH 75 (hence the name Route 75 Tunnel), which was renumbered as OH 93 due to I-75 being built in the state. Built in 1866, it is 165 feet long and once served as the northern entrance into Ironton, originally for horses and buggies and later for cars. As the tunnel predated the motor vehicle era, it was too narrow for cars to be traveling in both directions. But once US 52 was built in the area, OH 93 was realigned to go around the tunnel instead of through the tunnel, so the tunnel was closed to traffic in 1960. The legend of the haunted tunnel states that since there were so many accidents that took place inside the tunnel's narrow walls, the tunnel was cursed. The haunted legend states that there was an accident between a tanker truck and a school bus coming home after a high school football game on a cold, foggy Halloween night in 1