Skip to main content

Old US Route 99 through Herndon, CA

While researching the earliest routings of US Route 99 in California recently I found a very old alignment through Herndon of Fresno County, California north over the San Joaquin River.


This blog is not meant to cover the entire route of US 99 and CA 99 in Central California.  I covered the current route of CA 99/Old CA 99 on the Golden State Freeway in these two previous blog entries which can be found below.

California State Route 99/Old US 99 Freeway Part 1; I-5 north to CA 145

California State Route 99/Old US 99 Freeway Part 2; US Route 50/CA 51 south to CA 145

Herndon now exists as a neighborhood in the north extent of the City of Fresno.  The historical blog below covers the route of US 99 through Fresno leading up to the Golden State Freeway.

Hunting for forgotten history; US 99 in Fresno

Herndon dates back to the 1860s when it was founded as a ferry landing on the San Joaquin River.  Said ferry landing was used to supply the first Fresno County seat of Millerton which was located upstream near the present location of Friant Dam.  In 1872 the Central Pacific Railroad organized a community known as "Sycamore" and built a roadway bridge east of the railroad tracks along what is now Weber Avenue.  The modern name of Herndon apparently dates back to a Post Office name change in 1887.  The original 1872 Herndon Bridge would be replaced by truss span in 1903 at the same location.

The earliest alignments of Legislative Route 4 were incorporated into the State Highway network by 1910 when the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act was approved by voters.  By proxy the original "Herndon Bridge" along Weber Avenue was incorporated as the highway crossing for LRN 4 over the San Joaquin River.  Said route of LRN 4 over the Herndon Bridge can be seen on the 1914 Fresno County Map below.

1914 Fresno County Map

In late 1926 the US Route system was finalized and US 99 was selected to run over the alignment of LRN 4 in San Joaquin Valley.  As a result the Herndon Bridge was incorporated into the earliest alignment of US 99.  This alignment didn't last long as a replacement span was built west of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks and Herndon at the San Joaquin River which was completed by 1928.  The 1928 bridge is still in use as part of modern CA 99 but has been heavily modified to serve modern traffic.  Various photos showing the older truss structure of the 1928 bridge can be found on Bridgehunter.com.

Bridgehunter.com; 1928 San Joaquin River Bridge

Update 4/17/19:  I was provided a link by AAroads forum user Kniwt regarding the Herndon Bridge crossings from a 1927 California Highway and Public Works publication.  Said volume details the history of the 1903 Herndon Bridge on page 555 and an overview of the 1928 replacement span project on page 552.

California Highway and Public Works 1927 Volume

The 1903 Herndon Bridge still appears on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Fresno County.  I'm uncertain when the Herndon Bridge was demolished.

1935 California Division of Highways Map of Fresno County

This custom map below shows the differences between the original alignment of US 99 through Herndon compared to the 1928 alignment.


From Belmont Avenue near downtown Fresno the route of US 99 would have originally followed what is now Golden State Boulevard to Herndon Avenue.  US 99 would have crossed the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks on Herndon Avenue before swinging north on Weber Avenue into Herndon.





Weber Avenue through Herndon north to Cattern Avenue doesn't resemble an early US Route in the slightest.



North of Cattern Avenue traffic on Weber Avenue is advised there is no outlet to the north.  After a quick turn Weber Avenue changes drastically dropping down to a single lane of concrete top layered in dirt.




Weber Avenue continues north to the location of the Herndon Bridge at the San Joaquin River.  The San Joaquin River Viaduct which is part of the current High Speed Rail construction can be seen in the background.










The San Joaquin River can no longer be accessed via Weber Avenue but the location of the Herndon Bridge can be seen at the end of the concrete in the photo below.


Doubling back to Golden State Boulevard north of Herndon Avenue the 1928 alignment of US 99 over the San Joaquin River Bridge is much straighter and far more direct.  To the east of the 1928 alignment of US 99 the Union Pacific tracks (formerly Central Pacific and Southern Pacific) can be seen along with the not fully completed High Speed Rail San Joaquin River Viaduct.


The 1928 alignment of US 99 merges onto the CA 99 freeway and crosses the San Joaquin River as the northbound lanes.  It is virtually impossible to tell from the CA 99 freeway that the northbound lanes are traveling on a bridge from 1928.  Mid-way through the 1928 San Joaquin River Bridge US 99 would have entered Madera County.









From the Exit 144 sign for Avenue 7 the older alignment of US 99 can be seen near the UP tracks.  The original alignment of US 99 would have come in from the left and crossed the rails.


From the Avenue 7 overpass a remaining portion of Road 33 can be seen looking southward towards the San Joaquin River Viaduct.  The derelict curve is where the original alignment of US 99 met the 1928 alignment.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Long closed California State Route 39 at Islip Saddle

Back in 2016 I visited the long closed segment of California State Route 39 in the Islip Saddle of the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County.


Islip Saddle is a mountain pass in the San Gabriel Mountains located at 6,680 feet above sea level.  Islip Saddle serves as the junction of CA 2/Angeles Crest Highway at the north terminus of CA 39/San Gabriel Canyon Road.  While the junction of CA 2/CA 39 unto itself is noteworthy due to the striking views from Islip Saddle southward through San Gabriel Canyon it has been become far more known for the long standing closure on the latter route since 1978.

CA 39 was one of the original 1934 State Highways and was made up of Legislative Route Number 171 south of what was US Route 101 in Buena Park and LRN 62 north of it.  In the case of LRN 62 it was created during the 1919 Third State Highway Bond Act.  The original legislative definition of LRN 62 had it running north from Azuza to Pine Flats in the San Gabriel Mountains to LRN 61 (which b…

Old US Route 60/70 through Hell (Chuckwall Valley Road and Ragsdale Road)

Back in 2016 I explored some of the derelict roadways of the Sonoran Desert of Riverside County which were part of US Route 60/70; Chuckwalla Valley Road and Ragsdale Road.


US 60 and US 70 were not part of the original run of US Routes in California.  According to USends.com US 60 was extended into California by 1932.  US 60 doesn't appear on the California State Highway Map until the 1934 edition.

USends.com on US 60 endpoints

1934 State Highway Map

Conversely US 70 was extended into California by 1934, it first appears on the 1936 State Highway Map.

USends.com on US 70 endpoints

1936 State Highway Map

When US 60 and US 70 were extended into California they both utilized what was Legislative Route Number 64 from the Arizona State Line west to Coachella Valley.  LRN 64 was part of the 1919 Third State Highway Bond Act routes.  The original definition of LRN 64 routed between Mecca in Blythe and wasn't extended to the Arizona State Line until 1931 according to CAhighways.org.

CAh…

Interstate 375 in Detroit; a doomed freeway?

Recently while visiting the City of Detroit I drove the entirety of Interstate 375.


I-375 is a short 1.147 mile spur of I-75 in downtown Detroit which connects to the unsigned I-375 Business Spur on Jefferson Avenue.  I-375 is the southernmost segment of the Walter P. Chrysler Freeway which carried largely by I-75 in the City of Detroit.  Construction of I-375 began in 1959 and the freeway was open to traffic by late 1964 according to michiganhighways.org.

michiganhighways.org on I-375

The average traffic count on I-375 ranges between approximately 14,000 vehicles at Jefferson Avenue and approximately 54,000 vehicles at I-75.  The low traffic counts on I-375 has recently led to proposals to put the freeway on a "road diet."  In 2013 the Michigan Department of Transportation announced that it may at some point in the future remove I-375.  In 2014 MDOT announced six proposals for I-375 which were eventually reduced to only two boulevard alternatives by 2017.  In late 2018 a six…