Skip to main content

Parkfield Grade/Parkfield-Coalinga Road

Back in 2016 I was out on a day trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument.  Conventional travel would have been a pretty mundane drive on California State Route 41 over the Diablo Range but wasn't in the mood for truck traffic.  I swung west from Coalinga into the Diablo Range west on CA 198 to the Parkfield Grade instead.


The Parkfield Grade is an approximately 9.5 mile narrow paved road south from CA 198 in rural Fresno County over the crest of the Diablo Range to the Monterey County Line.  At the Monterey County line the roadway becomes Parkfield-Coalinga Road and continues another approximate 9.5 miles to the village of Parkfield located on the San Andreas Fault.


CA 198 junctions the Parkfield Grade at Postmile 12.50 located approximately 1,200 feet above sea level.


The Parkfield grade quickly crosses Warthan Creek and begins to rise into the high ridges of the Diablo Range.



The roadway is very narrow but plenty wide enough for two vehicles.  The biggest issue I observed ascending the Monterey County Line was there as a large amount of rockfall.





At the Monterey County line the Parkfield Grade becomes Parkfield-Coalinga Road and drops to a high quality gravel surface.  The County Line marks a high point on Parkfield Grade/Parkfield-Coalinga Road at approximately 3,600 feet above sea level.


Near the Fresno/Monterey County Line there is a small monument detailing the history of the Motte family.  The monument goes on to describe that Marcellin Roberts a French migrant came to California in 1891 and had a hand in building the Parkfield Grade.  The monument does not go into detail when the Parkfield Grade or Parkfield-Coalinga Road was built.  The Motte Family monument can be viewed on this link below.

https://www.discover-central-california.com/parkfield-coalinga-road.html#gallery[pageGallery]/18/

The Parkfield Grade does show up on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map as a Fresno County maintained road as does Parkfield-Coalinga Road on the counterpart Monterey County Map.



The descent on Parkfield-Coalinga Road is very steep but is well graded.  I found myself mostly using 2nd gear largely due to the good gravel surface.  If I had to speculate the grade is approximately 10-15% in places.





Parkfield-Coalinga Road levels out at a small bridge over a creek and gains an asphalt surface.


Parkfield-Coalinga Road crosses a couple additional small creeks on varying types of bridge crossings. 



At Little Cholame Creek the alignment of Parkfield-Coalinga Road crosses via the 1915 Little Cholame Creek Truss Bridge.



More information on the Little Cholame Creek Truss Bridge can be found on bridgehunter.com.

bridgehunter.com on the 1915 Little Cholame Creek Truss Bridge

Parkfield-Coalinga Road south of the Little Cholame Creek Truss Bridge enters the village of Parkfield which is located 1,530 feet above sea level.


Parkfield was settled as "Russleville" in 1854 and has a claimed population of 18.  The modern name of Parkfield comes from the Post Office rejecting Russelville as the community name in 1884.  Post Office service operated in Parkfield until 1954.  Reportedly there was minor silver and coal mining boom in the late 19th century which raised the population of Parkfield apparently to approximately 900.

Today Parkfield is mostly known for being on top of the San Andreas Fault and having regular earthquakes of 6.0 in magnitude occurring roughly every 22 years.  Most of the population in Parkfield is USGS employees living in somewhat modern housing.  Cattle ranching surrounding Parkfield otherwise is the only real industry in the community.







On the southern outskirts of Parkfield the alignment of Parkfield-Coalinga Road crosses Little Cholame Creek over the San Andreas Fault and terminates at Cholame Road.  There is a small placard denoting that Parkfield-Coalinga Road is crossing Little Cholame Creek over the San Andreas Fault to the Pacific Plate.



Comments

mGONZO2u said…
Nice work. One of the nicer backroads for certain that we drive at least 1x annually.

Signed,
Happy explorers of Atascadero, CA

Popular posts from this blog

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Ghost Town Tuesday; Vineland, Florida; the town killed by Disney

Vineland is a small ghost town located in southwest Orange County, Florida near the junction of Florida State Road 535 and Interstate 4.  Vineland is somewhat unique due to it largely being squeezed out of existence by Lake Buena Vista which is the company town where Disney World is located. Vineland was founded in the late 1800s as Englewood.  The town name of Englewood changed to Orange Center in 1911 before finally assuming the name Vineland in 1924.  Much like the rest of Orange County the community of Vineland was centered around Citrus Grove.  In the case of Vineland said orange groves were centered around Ruby Lake. The end of Vineland came as the Disney Corporation began purchasing parcels of citrus grove land to build Lake Buena Vista.  Vineland fell into a sharp decline in the 1960s but the community managed to continue to exist to modern times.  Much of the street grid of Vineland still exists east of FL 535 but most of the original structures are either gone or falle

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del