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Caliente-Bodfish Road/Kern County Road 483

Back in 2016 I took Caliente-Bodfish Road south towards California State Route 58 while leaving the Sierra Nevada Range after looking for the town site of Old Kernville.


Caliente-Bodfish Road is also known as Kern County Road 483 which I believe is an internal designation for mountainous roadways within the Sierra Nevada Range.  Caliente-Bodfish Road begins at Kern Canyon Road (Old California State Route 178) at the southern extent of Bodfish and climbs over the southern most extent of the Sierra Nevada Range approximately 35 miles to Bena Road near Caliente.  Caliente-Bodfish Road is a full two-lane road despite traversing some narrow terrain in the Sierras.  The high point on Caliente-Bodfish Road appeared to be near 4,000 feet above sea-level and I would estimate that there grades as high as 10% in places.

South of Bodfish Caliente-Bodfish Road ascends quickly above the community on a series of switchbacks.  There is no official overlook but there is a hell of a view of Bodfish and Lake Isabella to the northeast.



Approximately 7 miles south of Bodfish on Caliente-Bodfish Road is the community of Havilah at 3,136 feet above sea level.  Havilah dates back to 1864 after gold claims were struck near Clear Creek.  Havilah was selected as the first County Seat of Kern County in 1866 but lost the seat to Bakersfield in 1874 when the mining claims sputtered out.  I'm to understand that Havilah had a population as high as 2,000 people and the community had Post Office Service until 1918.  All that remains of Havilah today are a couple rooms and a replica of the 1860s courthouse and schoolhouse.



South of Havilah the alignment of Caliente-Bodfish Road ascends to Windy Point before descending into Dead Horse Canyon.  There are numerous sudden switchbacks descending through Dead Horse Canyon but Caliente-Bodfish Road surprisingly maintains two-lanes.




As Caliente-Bodfish Road descends out of the Sierras it enters the community of Caliente in Telephone Canyon west of Caliente Creek Road.  Caliente is located at approximately 1,300 feet above sea level and appears to have popped up as a staging camp for the mines to the Sierras sometime in the 1870s.  Originally the community was known as "Allens Camp," then "Agua Caliente" before simply known as "Caliente" by 1875 when the Southern Pacific Railroad line through Tehachapi Pass was built.  My understanding is that the staging route used by the miners is the modern Caliente-Bodfish Road.






On a side note there was a small rail siding known as Bealville which was also founded in the 1870s approximately one mile south of Caliente along Bealville Road at the Southern Pacific rails.  There isn't much left in Bealville today.


Caliente-Bodfish Road ends at Bena Road approximately 5 miles west of Caliente.  Bena Road was original alignment of US Route 466/Legislative Route 58.  Caliente-Bodfish Road can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Kern County.

1935 Kern County Highway Map

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