Skip to main content

Ghost Town Tuesday; Ben Hur Road/Road 613 to Raymond

While returning from the Mariposa Area this month I decided that I wanted to visit the quasi-ghost town of Raymond and take a "off the beaten path" roadway to get there.  I found just what I was looking for in Ben Hur Road in Mariposa County which reaches Raymond as Road 613 in Madera County.


Ben Hur Road begins on the outskirts of Mariposa near Mormon Bar at CA 49.  From CA 49 the route to Raymond is signed as being 23 miles to the south.


Interestingly Ben Hur Road isn't named after the famous 1959 movie but rather a ghost town along the roadway.  The community of Ben Hur has records showing it had a Post Office by said name in 1890 which obviously implies the community was named after the 1880 novel.  Unlike most roads of this kind the story of Ben Hur Road has been told previously by several newspapers in the 20th Century.

Oakland Tribune (September 1950) Trip to Mariposa via Ben Hur Road

Rock Fence is label of history on Quick Rance (Fresno Bee 1954)

The Oakland Tribune story details a trip leaving Mariposa via Ben Hur Road.  Ben Hur Road and the entire road network in Mariposa County is described rough which required a solid day to traverse.  The article describes the town site of Ben Hur and history of Quick Ranch which was created in 1859.  Quick Ranch apparently at the time was famed for the stone walls which were constructed circa 1862.  The Fresno Bee Article continues by describing the history of Quick Ranch and Ben Hur into the 20th Century.

The location of Ben Hur is shown on a 1935 Division of Highways Map of Mariposa County near Becknell Creek.  Ben Hur Road is shown on the map as a major county maintained roadway.

1935 Mariposa County Highway Map

Near Mormon Bar the route of Ben Hur Road is briefly signed as 25 MPH before opening up into a 55 MPH zone.



Ben Hur Road has a generally southwestward direction through the Sierra Nevada Mountains before taking a southerly turn at the junction for Buckeye Road.  From Buckeye Road the route of Ben Hur Road is signed as 20 miles from Raymond.




















Ben Hur Road continues southward through 13.5 miles of curved but mild terrain before approaching a bluff overlooking San Joaquin Valley.  Near the bluff traffic is advised that Ben Hur Road narrows and there are high grades.




















Southbound Ben Hur road approaches Becknell Creek and is advised there is 9 miles of curves ahead.  The stone walls of Quick Ranch can be seen east of Ben Hur Road and are the only trace of the community in modern times.


Ben Hur Road traverses a canyon grade alongside Becknell Creek.  At the bottom of the canyon grade there was once a community known as Stouts which appears on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Mariposa County linked above.


























Ben Hur Road continues south through the Sierra Foothills dipping through the terrain before taking a sudden eastern turn towards the Madera County Line.

















Ben Hur Road approaches the Madera County Line where Road 613 begins.






Road 613 continues eastward over Chapman Creek and the Chowchilla River to the Raymond Bridge Trailhead along Eastman Lake.





Eastman Lake was created when Buchanan Dam was completed in 1975 along the Chowchilla River.  Eastman Lake was built for flood control measures by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


There is an abandoned bridge structure north of the modern crossing of the Chowchilla River on Road 613.  I have been unable to locate the vintage of said bridge but the concrete design suggests it was from the early 20th Century.








Road 613 appears on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Madera County as Green Mountain Road.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

Road 613 continues southeast through the Sierra Foothills and terminates at Road 600 in Raymond.




















Raymond was founded as Wild Cat Station and was the north terminus of the San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Railroad which was opened by the Southern Pacific Railroad in February 1886.  The San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Railroad received it's first passengers by March of 1886 and the community of Wild Cat Station became a popular trailhead for stages heading to the Wawona Road of Yosemite National Park.  Postal Service was established in July of 1886 and the community name was changed to Raymond.  The name Raymond was chosen due to the community frequently being the used to ship materials from the nearby Raymond Granite Quarry.  In addition to the Yosemite Stage and Granite the community of Raymond also had a substantial lumber shipping industry sourced by nearby Fresno Flats (modern Oakhurst).  The 21 mile San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Railroad was shuttered in 1946.



The entire line of the San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Railroad can be seen on the above Division of Highways Map of Madera County.  There was a spur route of the San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Valley Railroad which ended in nearby Knowles.  The importance of Raymond to the development of the Wawona Road can't be understated and it's history can be found below.

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

The grade of the San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Railroad was situated between Road 600 and Road 608.  Road 600 was once known as Raymond Road and grade of the rails is obvious from Road 608.  Raymond was a dying community but has numerous structures from it's heyday.  The community of Raymond is now growing alongside the much larger nearby communities like Coarsegold and Oakhurst in modern times.








A small portion of the San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite Railroad is preserved by the Raymond Museum along Road 600.



Comments

Tony38 said…
Her chariot
went 80 per
they hauled away
what had Ben Hur
Burma-Shave
dees53090@gmail.com said…
There is an old Cemetery at the top of Canyon it os slightly visable from the north bound lane. The people laid to rest therr are some of the first white settlers

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 58/Old California State Route 178 west of CA 43

This past week I drove California State Route 58 west of CA 43 in Kern County over the Temblor Range and La Panza Range to US Route 101 near Santa Margarita of San Luis Obispo County.


CA 58 west of Bakersfield and CA 99 in general is a mostly two-lane highway that traverses some very remote territory of Central California.  I chose to cover CA 58 west of CA 43 specifically due to the changes in the alignment that are to come when the West Side Parkway connects to the Centennial Corridor project.  The Centennial Corridor will connect CA 58 west of CA 99 to the already completed segment of Freeway on the West Side Parkway.

Westside Parkway and the Centennial Corridor; Future California State Route 58

CA 58 from Barstow west to Bakersfield was carved out of what was US Route 466 during the 1964 State Highway Renumbering.  CA 58 west of Bakersfield to Santa Margarita was carved out of what was part of CA 178.  The change from CA 178 to CA 58 west of Bakersfield to Santa Margarita can be ob…

California State Route 118

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 118 from Ventura County east into Los Angeles County.


CA 118 is a major 47 mile State Highway which begins in the City in Ventura County and traverses east into Los Angeles County by way of Simi Valley and Santa Susana Pass.  From Santa Susana Pass CA 118 continues eastward through San Fernando Valley within the City of Los Angeles and terminates at Interstate 210.  CA 118 contains within it's right-of-way some of the most historic highway corridors in California history.

The precursor route of CA 118 was Legislative Route Number 9 which was first added to the State Highway System during the First State Highway Bond Act of 1909.  The original definition of LRN 9 was from San Bernardino westward to LRN 4 in San Fernando. LRN 9 was extended westward to LRN 2 near Montalvo (modern day Ventura) in 1933.

In a August 1934 Department of Public Works Guide the Signed State Highways were announced.  CA 118 was announced to be a…

California State Route 225; the Zombie Highway of Santa Barbara and presently shortest in California

This past month I visited the Santa Barbara Area and drove the many short State Highways located there.  The shortest and the strangest is the 0.081 mile California State Route 225.


As noted above CA 225 is presently only 0.081 miles in length and is located completely on Castillo Street in Santa Barbara between Montecito Street and US 101/CA 1.  Fortunately the Caltrans Post Mile Tool illustrates that CA 225 still exists despite almost being relinquished to death.



At present moment CA 225 is the shortest State Highway in California.  By the definition of actual field mileage the following State Highways are the five shortest in California:

1.  CA 225 at 0.081 miles
2.  CA 275 at 0.14 miles
3.  CA 283 at 0.36 miles
4.  CA 77 at 0.40 miles 
5.  CA 153/CA 265 at 0.50 miles each

The origin of CA 225 was back in 1933 when Legislative Route 150 was added to the State Highway system as a loop of US 101/LRN 2 between Santa Barbara east to near Montecito according to CAhighways.org.  As orig…