Skip to main content

California State Route 89 through Luther Pass

This pasts weekend I took California State Route 89 over the 12 mile routing from CA 88 in Alpine County over the 7,740 foot Lurther Pass to US 50 in El Dorado County.


CA 89 through Luther Pass was first proposed as a State Highway in 1909 on a bond measure that was approved in 1910.  Eventually the State Highway through Luther Pass was assigned to Legislative Route Number 23.  More information can be found here regarding the actual legislative acts on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org Early Highway History

CAhighways.org on CA 89

LRN 23 can be observed south of Lake Tahoe on the 1918 State Highway Map over Luther Pass as a special appropriations road.

1918 State Highway Map

The original alignment of LRN 23 and CA 89 through Luther Pass was on Upper Truckee Road.  The original alignment through Luther Pass used part of the modern CA 89 alignment but was on the west bank of the Upper Truckee River as opposed to the east bank.  This alignment can be seen clearly on the 1935 California Division of Highways Maps of Alpine and El Dorado Counties.

1935 Alpine County Highway Map

1935 El Dorado County Highway Map 

I prepared the below graphical illustration showing the original alignment of CA 89 through Luther Pass.  The map also includes the original alignments of US 50 over the south route of the Lincoln Highway over Johnson Pass and the original south terminus of CA 89 at CA 8/89 which was located at Picketts Junction.


CA 89 wasn't signed south of CA 88 until 1957 which can be observed by comparing the 1956 and 1957 State Highway Maps.

1956 State Highway Map

1957 State Highway Map

By 1960 CA 89 was shifted east of the Upper Truckee River.

1960 State Highway Map 

By 1961 the modern route CA 89 takes over Luther Pass to CA 88 was complete.

1961 State Highway Map

From the West Fork Carson River at CA 88 the routing CA 89 northbound over Luther Pass has an ominous appearance but is actually a fairly tame grade.


Heading northbound on CA 89 the El Dorado County Line is quickly encountered at Luther Pass.




Most of Upper Truckee Road is still maintained but the grade south of Luther Pass to CA 88 has been abandoned.  The abandoned portion of Upper Truckee Road is easily found at Luther Pass and is generally known as a local hiking trail.


As noted above in the Luther Pass photo the downhill grade on CA 89 is 6% downhill for the next 6 northbound miles.  Upper Truckee Road is encountered again twice on the downhill descent.




As CA 89 is descending from Luther Pass US Route 50 can be seen above descending Echo Summit.


CA 89 soon enters Meyers where it meets US 50.  CA 89 multiplexes US 50 to South Lake Tahoe before splitting away towards the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Breezewood - The Rise and Decline of a Highway Rest Stop

It's the Pennsylvania Turnpike Interchange most people hate - and with a passion.  The Breezewood Interchange - a junction of two Interstates (70 & 76) that became complicated due to archaic rules, rural politics and power, and an unwillingness to change.  At its romanticized best, this small unincorporated community of under 100 residents is a reminder of travel days of the 1950s-1970s; at its worst, it is a gradually dying relic of old motels and services that drivers are forced to slow down and drive through on their way to bigger and more modern destinations.

The Breezewood Interchange is an exception to the rule in the Interstate Highway System.  Depending on your direction, Interstate 70 joins or leaves the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) here.  However, unlike nearly every Interstate junction in the United States - Interstate 70 must traverse on a roughly 1/4 mile stretch of US 30.  A four lane highway complete with traffic lights, center turn lanes to cross traffi…

Old US Route 99 in Goshen, Traver, and the Warlow Rest Area

This summer I had a look into the alignment history of US Route 99 through the Tulare County communities of Traver and Goshen.  The photo below is take from Camp Drive northbound in Goshen on what was US Route 99 until the early 1930s.



Part 1; the history of US Route 99 in Goshen and Traver

Goshen and Traver were both founded in 1872 as sidings of the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The Southern Pacific Railroad laid the groundwork for development of southern San Joaquin Valley.  Previous to the Southern Pacific Railroad travel via wagon or foot in Central California tended to avoid San Joaquin Valley in favor of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road.  The Stockton Los Angeles Road lied to the east of San Joaquin Valley in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and was less subject flooding.  Before the Southern Pacific Railroad most of San Joaquin Valley was a sparsely inhabited wetland which made travel by road difficult.  Goshen and Traver can along the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 1873 Ore…

California State Route 283; former US Route 101 over the Rio Dell Bridge

This week we examine one of California's shortest State Highways; California State Route 283.  California State Route 283 includes the 1941 Rio Dell Bridge and is a former segment of US Route 101.  The photo below is the Rio Dell Bridge after the 1964 Christmas Floods which wiped out the northern approach span. 


California State Route 283 ("CA 283") is a 0.36 Mile State Highway between modern US Route 101/Redwood Highway and the community of Rio Dell in Humboldt County.  The key feature of CA 283 is the 1941 Rio Dell Bridge which was the second alignment of US Route 101.  The Rio Dell Bridge connected Scotia north over the Eel River via Wildwood Avenue to Rio Dell.  The Rio Dell Bridge is a steel truss design which 1,643.1 feet in length.  The Rio Dell Bridge is also known as; North Scotia Bridge, Eel River Bridge, Scotia-Rio Dell Bridge, Albert Stanwood Murphy Memorial Bridge, and the Eagle Prairie Bridge.  CA 283 is unsigned presently ranks as the second shortest State…