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Old California State Route 41 Kings County

Back in April I took some time to track down the original alignment of Signed State Route 41 in Kings County.


Surprisingly the original alignment of SSR 41 iskind of odd with various 90 degree turns and a weird loop through the Kettelman Hills.  The original alignment can be seen here on this 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Kings County:

1935 Kings County Highway Map

I didn't take my photos in order but sorted them later on.  The photos start at Elm Avenue at the Fresno County line which is the location of Camden and proceed southward.  Camden is one of the San Joaquin Valley towns that really isn't an inhabited place anymore.  Supposedly Camden had a post office for a couple years in the early 20th century but today there is nothing but a gas station and a couple abandoned houses:



41 ran south on Elm to Excelsior Avenue along the Kings County Line before making right turn to run west.


 The original alignment on Excelsior runs under the modern 41 expressway pictured here.


41 cut of Excelsior southward again on 19th 1/2 Avenue at a place called Hub.  Supposedly Hub is named after some bar that carries an identical name and for reason it is considered a "place" even back on the 1935 Kings County Map.  There was a railroad through Hub in the 1930s which might lend explanation to why it exists as it could have been a railroad siding.


About a half mile south of hub 19th 1/2 Ave ends at the modern 41 expressway, it appears the northbound lanes were the original alignment south to Lemoore.  It appears that Hub was bypassed by 1965 as the change in alignment can be seen from 1964 to 1965 on the state highway maps:

1964 State Highway Map

1965 State Highway Map




Modern 41 continues as expressway on the alignment of what was 19th 1/2 Avenue until Hanford/Armona Road (Old SSR 198) where it swings west to bypass Lemoore.  19th 1/2 Avenue still exists within Lemoore and has a really obvious cut-off stub on the right in this picture.


I'm not certain but I believe Lemoore was bypassed by the 41 expressway in 1967 as a stub bow of the highway can be seen on the state highway map that wasn't present in 1966.

1966 State Highway Map  

Update 6/19/18:  I had a look at bridgework in Lemoore on the CA 41 expressway.  All the bridges show completion dates of 1998 which suggests that CA 41 was realigned off of 19th 1/2 in Lemoore at that time. 

Which would explain the gas stations and abandoned motel on 19th 1/2 Avenue.


South of Lemoore the modern expressway ends and 41 merges back in with the alignment of 19th 1/2 Avenue.  Both SSR 41 and SSR 198 would have taken an western right hand turn at Jackson Avenue.


41 dropped off of 198 at 20th Avenue where it took a left turn to head south again.  Oddly this 90 degree turn wasn't bypassed until the early 1970s and the change can be seen from the 1970 State Highway Map to 1975:

1970 State Highway Map 

1975 State Highway Map  



Continuing south on 41 the original alignment used to run directly through Stratford and continued straight on 20th Avenue here. 


Suffice to say 20th Avenue has seen better days.


41 original took a right here to turn west on Laurel Avenue.


41 continued west into downtown Stratford where the southbound/northbound lanes bisected the town square on one-way Main Street before converging again.  At the town limits of Stratford Main Street becomes Laurel Avenue and 41 continued west.  Stratford was bypassed by the modern 41 alignment in what appears to be 1957 as a difference can be seen on the state highway map from 1956:

1956 State Highway Map

1957 State Highway Map





Originally 41 continued west past the modern highway alignment over the Kings River on this bridge.


41 took another sudden southward turn here left on 22nd Avenue.


41 originally ran south to what is still the current southwesterly alignment to Kettleman City. The bypass for Laurel Avenue and 22nd Avenue was opened between 1942 and 1944:

1942 State Highway Map

1944 State Highway Map



41 from 22nd Avenue through Kettleman City is essentially the same as it always been.  Interestingly if you are heading south and look to your left you can see the bed of Tulare Lake.  The Kettelman Hills and the Diablo Range can be seen directly ahead.



Kettleman City was settled in 1929 near the site of a ferry after Tulare Lake had largely dried out.  The big draw was the oil fields up in the Kettelman Hills.  Despite the name Kettleman City isn't an incorporated place and is an infamous speed trap for CA 41.


Originally 41 continued south on 25th Avenue here instead of directly straight towards I-5.


Really there isn't much to see the way of the old alignment of 41 as the roadway on 25th was apparently upgraded during the construction of I-5.  Later construction of the California Aqueduct led to the original alignment getting cut-off in the Kettelman Hills but I'll touch on that in a couple photos.


This photo is taken from behind the In-n-Out Burger in a parking lot.  The California Aquaduct can be seen in the distance and 41 would have followed 25th Avenue along side it.  Beyond that looking east in the low lying farm land was all once Tulare Lake which was once the largest fresh water lake west of the Great Lakes.  Apparently Tulare Lake was measured at 570 square miles in 1849 to a high or 690 square miles in 1879.  Tulare Lake was fed by the Kings, Kaweah, Tule, and Kern River basins which were largely engineered for irrigation or flood control.  As I said before the lake level was low enough by the 1920s that the previous ferry location was settled as Kettleman City and a portion of modern CA 41 actually was within in the high crest of the lake.  The last major flood of Tulare Lake was back in 1938 and it largely has remained farm land ever since.  The last state highway map to show Tulare Lake was in 1922 where it can be seen directly south of Stratford:

1922 State Highway Map

Incidentally the Great Western Divide at over 13,000 feet in elevation can be seen way off to the east.


Modern 41 basically is a direct southwest shot through the Kettelman Hills whereas the original alignment crossed the location of the California Aquaduct and curved through the terrain.  Most of the original alignment is inaccessible save for a small strip at the gate in this picture where I'm looking in the direction of the northbound lanes.  Apparently the original alignment of 41 still appears as "Old State Highway" on modern maps and can be easily seen from Google.  The original alignment appears to have always been dirt/gravel and was replaced in 1960.  Even the new alignment 41 uses today through the Kettleman Hills doesn't appear to have been paved along with the Kettleman Plain until 1962.

1960 State Highway Map 

1962 State Highway Map  


The original alignment of 41 crossed the modern highway at this point heading westward.


Then used the road occupied by the current Waste Management site and wrapped around the dump site.


Directly south of the Kettelman Hills 41 rejoined the more or less current alignment approaching CA 33.  I'm fairly certain looking north that the original alignment of 41 can been seen following the power lines to the Waste Management dump site.



South from here to CA 46 the alignment of CA 41 is largely the same as it always has been sans for one difference.  For whatever reason in this valley the original alignment was replaced with a new road directly to east of the old one.  The original 41 has been ground down by a grading machine in the somewhat recent past and has evidence of stray strips of asphalt.  The old alignment actually crosses a gas station parking lot and even CA 33 before it merges back in with the modern highway.




 

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