Skip to main content

US Route 50 over Echo Summit

After traversing Lake Tahoe via Emerald Bay on California State Route 89 I approached the junction with US 50 in South Lake Tahoe.  My final crossing of the Sierras was westbound on US 50 over Echo Summit.



From Lake Tahoe Boulevard US 50 West/CA 89 South multiplex south past Lake Tahoe Airport and pass through an agriculture checkpoint.  CA 89 splits away southbound through Luther Pass while US 50 continues towards Echo Summit.





At the Upper Truckee River the guide sign states that Placerville is 54 miles to the west on US 50.  Originally US 50/CA 89 would have turned left ahead in the photo on Upper Truckee Road.  CA 89 continued south on Upper Truckee Road through Luther Pass while US 50 used Lincoln Highway on the Meyers Grade to cross the crest of the Sierras on Johnson Pass.  I'll detail the alignment shift of US 50 to the modern routing over Echo Summit towards the end of this blog.


US 50 begins to quickly make the climb towards Echo Summit.  About halfway up the climb to Echo Summit US 50 intersects it's old alignment on Lincoln Highway.  The lower portion of the Lincoln Highway is closed while the upper portion is still open to traffic over Johnson Pass.




The abandoned portion of the Lincoln Highway serves as a makeshift vista of Lake Tahoe to the north and Luther Pass below.




The final climb to Echo Summit at 7,382 feet above sea level is pretty tame compared to most passes in the Sierras.  US 50 begins to follow the South Fork American River and picks up the other end of the Johnson Pass route of the Lincoln Highway near the Echo Lake Snow Park.




The westbound drop of US 50 along the South Fork American River is fairly dramatic but often has passing areas for both directions of travel.  There are 6% grades posted for down hill traffic.








Gradually US 50 and the South Fork American River level out.  US 50 is largely a two lane road as it continues the South Fork American River.  I had to stop at the river to cool my brakes down again due to them still overheating from CA 89 at Lake Tahoe.








As US 50 begins to approach Signed County Route E16 it widens out to an expressway that continues in the same configuration to Placerville.  Given all the problems I was having with my brakes I decided to head onto E16 given there would be far less traffic than US 50 or even CA 49.





As mentioned above US 50 used the old alignment of the Johnson Pass Branch of the Lincoln Highway.  US 50 was realigned first over Echo Summit in 1940 followed by the lower portion of the Lincoln Highway on the Meers Grade in 1947.  I was provided with links to the California Highway and Public Works articles showing the alignment changes in US 50 which can be found here.

US 50 realignment over Echo Summit

US 50 realignment off of the Lincoln Highway

The original alignment of US 50 over Johnson pass can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of El Dorado County.

1935 El Dorado County Map 

The general route of US 50 from Placerville to the Nevada State Line was adopted from the Placerville Road which was a private toll road in 1895.  The Placerville Road was the first state highway in California, more details can be found at CAhighways.org.

CAhighways on US 50

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interstate 40 and the H-Bomb

Interstate 40 within California is entirely contained to San Bernandio County over a course of 155 miles from Interstate 15 in Barstow east to the Arizona State Line at the Colorado River.  Interstate 40 is aligned entirely in the Mojave Desert over the same general corridor established by US Route 66 and the National Old Trails Road.   Interstate 40 is known as the Needles Freeway and has an interesting backstory which included the prospect of the Bristol Mountains being excavated by way of nuclear blasts as part of Operation Carryall.   Part 1; the history of Interstate 40 in California The focus on this blog will be primarily centered around the construction of Interstate 40 ("I-40") within California.  That being said the corridor of automotive travel east of Barstow to the Arizona State Line was largely pioneered by the National Old Trails Road ("NOTR")   In April of 1912 the NOTR was organized with the goal of signing a trans-continental highway between Baltim

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

California State Route 128

California State Route 128 is a 121 mile State Highway which spans from California State Route 1 at the mouth Navarro River eastward to Interstate 505 near Winters.  California State Route 128 is one of California's most underrated scenic State Highways which traverses; Mendocino County, Solano County, Napa County and Yolo County.  Presently California State Route 128 has 11 unconstructed miles which would connect it from Interstate 505 east to California State Route 113 in Davis.   Part 1; the history of the original California State Route 28 and California State Route 128 What became California State Route 128 ("CA 128") was announced in the   August 1934 California Highways & Public Works  as the original CA 28.    CA 28 in it's original definition was aligned from CA 1 near Albion east to US 40 near Davis.   CA 28 as originally defined was comprised of numerous Legislative Route Numbers ("LRN") which were adopted as follows: -  LRN 1  between McDona