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California State Route 155

This past week I needed a reprieve from all the smoke from the recent Californian fires.  Looking at the state fire maps I noticed that California State Route 155 and the southern Sierra Range didn't have any ongoing fires.  That being the case I decided to take the route over Greenhorn Summit to see if I could find some clear outdoor weather.


CA 155 is a 63 mile state highway entirely located within Kern County running from CA 99 in Delano to CA 178 in Lake Isabella.  While CA 155 doesn't traverse the entirety of the Sierras it is a reasonable alternate CA 178 out of Bakersfield to reach Walker Pass.

The history of CA 155 is strange given the odd shape the route took when Legislative Route Number 142 was renumbered in 1964.  Previously I visited a portion of the original alignment of CA 155, the blog article can be found here:

Old California State Route 155 between Bakersfield and Woody

As noted previously on the above blog regarding the history of CA 155:

"The CA 155 was a designation that was applied to Legislative Route Number 142 in 1964.  LRN 142 was an unsigned state highway arching from Bakerfield in a 180 degree north/south configuration to Isabella on the Kern River.  LRN 142 was apparently adopted in 1933 according to CAhighways.org.

CAhighways on LRN 142 

On the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Kern County the original alignment of LRN 142 and CA 155 can be seen north of Bakersfield to Woody on; Chester Avenue, Granite Road, and Woody Road.

1935 Kern County Highway Map  

On the 1964 State Highway Map the initial alignment of CA 155 from Bakersfield to Woody can be seen.  Interestingly CA 211 is listed directly east out of Delano and curving northeast to Ducor at the time.  The prior year CA 211 would have been LRN 136.

1964 State Highway Map 

By 1967 the alignment of CA 155 from Bakersfield to Woody was relinquished as a state highway.  Part of CA 211 east out of Delano on the Graces Highway was absorbed into the new CA 155 alignment.  The realigned CA 155 continued on the Graces Highway to Woody exactly as it does today.

1967 State Highway Map "

It should be noted that the first CA 211 ran from CA 99 in Delano east on Garces Highway and swung northeast to Ducor in Tulare County on Famoso-Porterville Highway and Richgrove Drive.  When the first CA 211 was absorbed into CA 155 the section of Garces Highway east to Woody was the section that was added as a new state maintained roadway.  The Famoso-Porterville Highway and Richgrove Drive pf CA 211 were decomissioned but later Richgrove Drive became part of Signed County Route J35 in Tulare County. 

CAhighways.org on Signed County Route J35

Famoso-Porterville Highway and Richgrove Drive were part of the original routing of CA 65.  CA 65 originally had a southern terminus at US 99/US 466 in Famoso but was later shifted to Oildale sometime between 1946 and 1948. 
   
1946 State Highway Map

1948 State Highway Map

Approaching CA 155 from CA 99 southbound traffic is directed onto a right-on/right-off ramp at Ellington Street.



Traffic is directed south on Ellington Street to the beginning of CA 155 at Garces Highway.




CA 155 eastbound crosses over the CA 99 freeway and enters downtown Delano.




CA 155 crosses over the rails in downtown Delano and quickly exits the city.



At the eastern city limit of Delano there is a new roundabout at CA 155 at Browning Road.





East of Browning Road a guide sign shows Wofford Heights 56 miles away on the shore of Lake Isabella. 



East of Delano CA 155 crosses the Kern-Friant Canal.



East of the Kern-Friant Canal CA 155 meets Famoso-Porterville Highway.  The first CA 211 would have turned left here to head northbound towards CA 65 in Ducor.



In spite of the haze from the recent forest fires the Sierra Foothills began to come into view east of Famoso-Porterville Highway.  CA 155 meets a junction with CA 65 just as the terrain is beginning to rise. 





East of CA 65 traffic on CA 155 is advised against taking 30 foot trailers on the highway, the next gas is 55 miles away, and there are steep grades 25 miles ahead.  Lake Isabella is listed as 56 miles away on the guide sign.





CA 155 eastbound begins to gain some curves approaching 1,000 feet above sea level.  The grade being relatively new is very tame and easy to traverse. 








Approaching Woody the elevation in the Sierra Foothills begins to rise.  The higher ridges of the Greenhorn sub-range could be seen faintly to the east through the smokey haze.




CA 155 ascends to a ridge above the community of Woody.




CA 155 descends slightly into Woody taking two curves before meeting it's former alignment at Woody Road.





Woody lies at an approximate elevation of 1,650 feet above sea level.  The area was settled in the early 1860s and became host to mining claims in the 1890s mostly out of nearby Blue Mountain.  Copper and Gold were both once mined in the vicinity of Woody.  




Exiting Woody CA 155 eastbound traffic is warned that snow plows don't operate ahead at night and that Lake Isabella is 42 miles away.




CA 155 east of Woody runs on Bakersfield-Glennville Road and begins to ascend rapidly eastward over the next 8 miles.  CA 155 has a junction with Blue Mountain Road which heads north into the former mining areas.  CA 155 flattens back out after climbing over a ridge 3,000 feet above sea level.









On the outskirts of Glennville CA 155 meets Granite Road and crosses path with the rural Mountain Market. 




CA 155 crosses Poso Creek and enters Glennville.




Glennville lies at an approximate elevation of 3,200 feet above sea level.  Glennville was first settled in the mid-1850s just before the Kern County Gold Rush which occurred in 1858.  Glennville was originally known Linn Valley when it received a Post Office in 1860.  The name Linn Valley comes from one of the first settlers in the area.  By 1872 the community was renamed to Glennville after James Madison Glenn who was a local blacksmith and owner of the first hotel in the community. 

In 1860 a stage route from Glennville to over Greenhorn Summit to Kernville on the Kern River was plotted out by Thomas Baker.  The route CA 155 takes east over Greenhorn Summit largely takes still follows the stage route plotted by Baker.  Thomas Baker was more well known for having a hand in founding the city that bears his name in the 1860s; Bakersfield.

Truck Traffic on eastbound CA 155 is given another warning against trailers 30 feet or longer in Glennville.



There is an interesting business sign in the shape of a US Route Shield showing the Route 155 Market & Cafe.  I recall this sign being present in 2016, it seems the market never got off the ground.



Lake Isabella is signed as 23 miles east of Glennville on CA 155 eastbound.  Traffic is warned that the next 20 miles has steep mountain grades.




Traffic is also advised there are 18 miles of curves ahead.



CA 155 largely follows the course of Fulton Creek eastward towards Greenhorn Summit.  Sequoia National Forest has a work station along CA 155 on Fulton Creek.



The eastward climb to Greenhorn Summit has a somewhat shallow grade to Greenhorn Summit.  The only issue is that there is hardly a single straight stretch of roadway starting at the climb above 4,000 feet above sea level.





The eastward climb follows what was obviously Baker's Wagon Route along a abrupt mountain grade cut.  Near the top of the cut CA 155 enters Sequoia National Forest and enters open range territory.







CA 155 eventually climbs high above Fulton Creek onto a large vista.



The grade of CA 155 follows largely a natural cut through the mountains above Fulton Creek.




CA 155 starts one final climb to the thick forests of the Sierras located 5,000 feet above sea level. 




The smoke line can be seen from CA 155 looking below to approximately 4,000 feet above sea level.



Given that CA 155 runs through open range in Sequoia National Forest it is common to see cows along the roadway.



Approaching Greenhorn Summit traffic is warned about the high downhill grades the next 8 eastward miles.



CA 155 reaches Greenhorn Summit in Alta Sierra at 6,102 feet above sea level.  I don't know much about Alta Sierra but it does appear have once gone by the name of Ice House according to the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Kern County linked above.



CA 155 begins to descend towards Lake Isabella on a fast downhill slope.  Traffic is quickly warned about the 13% grades ahead.




CA 155 meets a former alignment on Old State Road near a Cal Fire Station in Alta Sierra.



Old State Road was one of the last section of dirt surfaced state highway and was replaced with the modern grade sometime between 1966 and 1967.

1966 State Highway Map

1967 State Highway Map

Traffic is advised one more time east of Old State Road of the 13% downhill grade.  The grade eventually reduces to 11% approaching a vista of Lake Isabella.  I found the road difficult to find an appropriate gear given the grade of CA 155 is enough to take at 45-50 MPH in places.  I mostly used 3rd to descend downhill.  







CA 155 continues to descend where it exits Sequoia National Forest and enters Wofford Heights around 3,000 feet above sea level.





CA 155 descends to about 2,600 feet above sea level in Wofford Heights before turning south on Wofford Boulevard.




The original town site of Kernville is located about one mile northeast of CA 155 in Wofford Heights at the bottom of Lake Isabella.  Kernville dates back to the 1858 Kern Gold Rush when claims were set up along the Kern River.  Originally Kernville was known as; Rogersville, Williamsburg, and Whiskey Flat before being renamed Kernville in 1864.

The end for the original Kernville came in 1948 when the Isabella Dam project began.  Kernville was moved a couple miles northward on the Kern River where the present community now resides, the Lake Isabella Reservoir was formed in 1953 flooding the original town site.  When Lake Isabella is low the original town site of Kernville can be accessed via Mars Landing off of Old Cemetery Road.  

Back in 2016 I visited Old Kernville when the waters of Lake Isabella was low enough.  Surprisingly enough there are still various building foundations and paved roadways located in Old Kernville which are still apparent to this day.













Heading southward towards Lake Isabella CA 155 meets the opposite end of Old State Road.



CA 155 runs along the shore of Lake Isabella.  There are plenty of places to pull over and hike at the bottom of the reservoir which is almost never close to full.  Surprisingly it is very easy to get close to the earth based Isabella Dam.







CA 155 crosses French Gulch and the Kern River before terminating at CA 178 in Lake Isabella.








I should note that from Glennville east to Wofford Heights I only encountered two vehicles heading west on CA 155.  Compared to CA 178 there is virtually no traffic on CA 155 getting to Lake Isabella.  CA 155 definitely isn't a faster route given it travels over a wagon alignment but does make for a nice quiet alternate. 

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