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US Route 199

I was planning on driving US Route 199 for the third time this weekend.  However "external factors" have pushed my visit to US Route 199 back for the time being.  While I can't do a driving log for US Route 199 at the moment I can still write about it's history.

This blog will be slightly different from the usual flair for Gribblenation.  Generally I have a stockpile of my own road photos from which to draw from.  In the case of US Route 199 I was far more focused on hiking photos during my first two visits in 2014 and 2016 than the actual highway.  At some point I will add a series of modern driving log photos but for the time being I will draw from numerous other sources to illustrate US Route 199.

Part 1; the History of US Route 199

Present US Route 199 is a 80.05 mile highway which connects US Route 101 in Crescent City of Del Norte, California northeast to Interstate 5 in Grants Pass of Josephine County, Oregon.  US Route 199 is one of the original US Routes and came into being during November 1926.  US Route 199 is the only surviving spur of it's parent; US Route 99.

The history of what became US Route 199 begins in the 1854 when the City of Crescent City incorporated.  The incorporation of Crescent City drove the need for a Stage Route to be built inland to Oregon.  In June of 1854 the Crescent City & Yreka Plank Turnpike Company (CCYPTC) formed with the goal of building a wagon road through the Klamath Mountains to Oregon via Oregon Mountain.  To that the CCYPTC surveyed a route to Oregon by October of 1854 but no work began as a recession hit during 1855.  The CCYPTC began construction of a planked wagon road in 1857 and completed it during May of 1858.  Below is a printed share of the CCYPTC from teh Del Norte County History website:

Upon reaching Oregon Mountain the CCYPTC wagon road turned east straddling the State Line via Wilmer Road before turning north towards via what is now Lone Mountain Road.  The CCYPTC wagon road followed modern US 199 through O'Brien, Waldo, Kerby, and Wilderville.  From Wilderville the CCYPTC route turned east via what is now Fish Hatchery Road, the Applegate River, and OR 238 towards the mining City of Jacksonville.  More information on the CCYPTC plank road can be found at the Del Notre County History website:

History of Crescent City and Del Norte County

At some point in the ensuing decades Horace Gasquet purchased a tract of trees at what is now modern day Gasquet.  In 1881 the Gasquet Toll Road began to be constructed to Oregon Mountain where it crossed the Oregon State Line and met the existing CCYPTC plank road.  The Gasquet Toll Road was a log surface design and would be completed by 1887.  The Gasquet Toll Road was connected from Gasquet to Crescent City via the Smith River, Mill Creek, and Howland Summit.  The general path of the Gasquet Toll Road included a new suspension bridge at the confluence of the Smith River and South Fork Smith River.  The path of Gasquet Toll Road generally follows the path of the following roads from Crescent City northeast to the Oregon State Line:

-  Elk Valley Road/Sign County Route D2.
-  Howland Hill Road
-  Douglas Park Road
-  South Fork Road
-  US Route 199
-  Gasquet Flat Road
-  Gasquet Middle Fork Road
-  Old Gasquet Toll Road
-  Patrick Creek Road

Below a link to a National Park Service article on the Gasquet Toll Road can be found:; Gasquet Toll Road

The future route of US Route 199 was added to the Oregon State Route System during 1917 when it was added as Oregon Highway 25 between Grants Pass southwest to the California State Line.  Within California the future route of US 199 was added to the State Highway System during the 1919 Third State Highway Bond Act when Legislative Route 1 was extended to the Oregon State Line.

LRN 1 can be seen aligned over the Gasquet Toll Road on the 1920 Division of Highways Map of California.  The Gasquet Toll Road is noted to be added as part of a 1919 Legislative Amendment.

LRN 1 and Oregon Highway 25 are not shown to have carried any Auto Trails on the 1924 Rand McNally Regional Map.  Oregon Highway 25 is shown as the Grants Pass-Crescent City Highway.

The 1925 Rand McNally Highway Map of Oregon/Washington shows in much greater detail the alignment of Oregon Highway 25 and LRN 1.  LRN 1 is shown be on unimproved road following the path of Gasquet Toll Road.  Oregon Highway 25 is shown to be improved from Waldo north east to Grants Pass. 

The January 1925 California Highway & Public Works guide ("CHPW") details the nearly completed realignment of the LRN 1 on the "Redwood Highway" as part of the Smith River Forest Project.  The new Red Highway is cited to be an average of 22 feet wide and is stated to be a direct replacement for the Gasquet Toll Road.  The new Redwood Highway is cited to have an anticipated opening during the summer of 1926. 

The April 1925 CHPW guide goes into detail regarding the new Redwood Highway/Smith River Highway alignment of LRN 1 being opened to traffic.  The Redwood Highway is described as a river level replacement of the Gasquet Toll Road (the latter is amusingly described as "The Terror").  The new Redwood Highway was opened without a paved surface which is cited to be scheduled to have an anticipated completion in 1926.

The 1926 Division of Highways Map of California shows the new Redwood Highway/Smith River Highway in full detail.  The Gasquet Toll Road can be seen bypassed with a shallower alignment of LRN 1 to the east.  LRN 1 would approached the Oregon State Line via what is now Oregon Mountain Road.

A January 1926 CHPW guide article discusses the California Highway Commission's approval of the anticipated US Route System.  US Route 199 is cited to be a planned signed route from Crescent City to Grants Pass.

The US Route System was approved by the AASHO on November 11th, 1926.  This in turn was the official starting point for the existence of US Route 199.  US Route 199 can be seen plotted between Crescent City and Grants Pass on the 1927 Rand McNally Map of California and Oregon.

The US Route System in California along with US Route 199 are detailed in the January 1928 CHPW guide.  Most documented sources tend to agree that the US Routes in California were not signed by the California State Automobile Association ("CSAA") and Automobile Club of Southern California ("ACSC") until 1928.

The January 1928 CHPW guide also details a new authorized bridge over the Smith River on US 199/LRN 1.

The September/October 1928 CHPW guide details the progress of the construction of the new Smith River Bridge.

A progress report from the March/April 1929 CHPW guide states that the structure of the new Smith River Bridge was three quarters complete.

The May/June 1929 CHPW guide cites the new Smith River Bridge frame as being completed and road deck installation as underway.

The July/August 1929 CHPW guide details the completed new Smith River Bridge (Hiouchi Bridge) as it's leading story.   The Hiouchi Bridge opening ceremony took place on June 22nd 1929.

Below is an assortment of pictures of the Hiouchi Bridge from the bridgehunter website.

The original alignment of US 199 can be seen on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Del Norte County.  US 199 is shown departing US 101 in Crescent City via Parkway Drive.  US 199's initial alignment over Oregon Mountain Road can be seen at the Oregon State Line.  Of note; the Old Gasquet Toll Road can be seen north of US 199 beginning at Adams Station.

By 1956 US Route 101 had been moved off of Northcrest Drive in Crescent City and onto Parkway Drive.  US Route 199's western terminus was moved a couple miles eastward on Parkway Drive near what is now Cookie Street.  This new alignment of US Route 101 and new western terminus of US Route 199 can be seen on the 1956 California Division of Highways Map.  Former US Route 101 on Northcrest Drive would later become Sign County Route D2 by 1966.

US Route 199 east of Gasquet east to the Oregon State Line is discussed in the July/August 1958 CHPW as needing substantial upgrades..  Hazel View Summit on the Oregon Mountain Grade near the State Line is cited as specifically problematic.  The US Route 199 portion of LRN 1 was added to the Freeway & Expressway System in 1959 according to CAhighways.

The groundbreaking ceremony for what was called the "Hazelview Tunnel" is discussed in the September/October 1960 CHPW guide.  The CHPW guide goes into great detail of the then present alignment of US Route 199 over Oregon Mountain and the planned realignment via the Hazelview Tunnel.  Interestingly in the second photo below the phrase "California-Oregon-Nevada" can be seen.

The "California-Oregon-Nevada" is likely referring to the planned Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway.  The Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway was conceived as US Route 140 (which was already existing at the time and lasted until 1979) which would have begun at US Route 101 in Crescent City, CA and ended in Winnemucca, NV at I-80.  The Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway was set to utilize the following highways but was never approved:

-  US 199 from Crescent City, CA to Grants Pass, OR
-  I-5 to OR 62 in Medford.
-  OR 62 to OR 140 near Medford
-  OR 140 to the Nevada State Line and NV 140
-  NV 140 to US Route 95
-  Co-Signed with US Route 95 to I-80 in Winnemucca, NV

Had US Route 140 been the number selected for the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway it likely would have ended at Medford.  California has never allowed route number duplication and CA 140 was a well established main road into Yosemite National Park.  Doug featured the entire 494 mile route of what would have been the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway in April 2020.

Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway 

Ongoing construction of the Hazelview Tunnel is discussed in the May/June 1961 CHPW guide

In the November/December 1963 CHPW article the now named "Randolph Collier Tunnel" on US Route 199 through Oregon Mountain is stated to have opened on July 27th.

Strangely the Gasquet Toll Road is discussed in the May/June 1964 CHPW.

During the 1964 California State Highway Renumbering all Legislative Route Numbers were dropped.  US 199 survived being demoted to a State Highway due to it's route crossing the Oregon State Line.  US 199 as a stand alone route can be seen on the 1964 Division of Highways State Map.

A partially destroyed Hiouchi Bridge is featured in the March/April 1965 CHPW after floods during December 1964.

The planned freeway route of US 199 in California appears on the 1967 Division of Highways Map.  This freeway alignment of US 199 would ultimately never be constructed. 

According to the eastern terminus of US Route 199 was extended to I-5 during 1965.  US 199 originally had an eastern terminus at US 99/6th Street via Redwood Avenue in downtown Grants Pass.  During 1965 US 199 was extended on a dual one-way alignment on 6th Street and 7th Street to a part of one-way alignments on E Street and F Street.  US 199 converged at E Street where it met I-5.

Regarding Grants Pass the initial alignment of US 199 utilized Redwood Avenue westward towards the Applegate River.  The 1967 California Division of Highways Map shows US 199 using the modern Redwood Highway expressway configuration.  It appears that the modern US 199 expressway in Grants Pass was constructed west of US 99 sometime after 1956.  US 199 appears on Redwood Avenue on the 1956 Shell Highway Map of Oregon.

In recent decades there has been minimal changes to US Route 199.  In 1989 the Hiouchi Bridge was damaged beyond repaired by an overloaded truck.  According to US 199 in Grants Pass was shifted to a new eastern terminus at I-5 via the Grants Pass Parkway.

Part 2; a "Virtual" Drive on US Route 199

Lets see how this substitute Google Street images works out as a "virtual tour."  Our virtual tour of US 199 eastbound begins at US 101 northbound.  US 199 begins at US 101 north Exit 794, traffic is immediately advised the former route is not intended for trucks.

US 199 east intersects Elk Valley Crossings at Post Mile DN T0.802.  The "T" Post Mile designation denotes that US 199 is on a temporary alignment immediately east of US 101 and probably is a reference to the never officially cancelled freeway.

At Post Mile DN T1.024 US 199 east intersects it's former alignment on Parkway Drive.  There is a historic marker indicating Camp Lincoln can be found on Kings Valley Road.

From Parkway Drive US 199 eastbound is signed as 78 miles from Grants Pass in Oregon.

At Post Mile DN 0.980 US 199 eastbound enters the Mary Lee Kellis Grove.

US 199 is aligned directly through the Coastal Redwoods of the Mary Lee Kellis Grove.

US 199 east crosses the new Hiouchi Bridge over the Smith River and intersects CA 197 at Post Mile DN 4.367.

At Post Mile DN 5.143 passes the entrance to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is co-managed by the Redwood National Park/State Park System.

US 199 east emerges from Jedediah Redwoods State Park into the community of Hiouchi at Post Mile DN 5.538.

At Post Mile DN 7.191 US 199 east intersects South Fork Road.  South Fork Road is signed as access to the Scout Grove via the former Gasquet Toll Road at Howland Hill.

At Post Mile DN R11.976 US 199 east crosses the Smith River via the Mary Peacock Memorial Bridge.

US 199 east enters Gasquet and intersects Gasquet Flat Road at Post Mile DN 13.038.

At Post Mile DN 14.441 US 199 east in Gasquet passes by the Six Rivers National Recreation Area headquarters.

East of Gasquet US 199 expands to a four-lane expressway and is signed as 63 miles from Grants Pass.

At Post Mile DN R17.072 US 199 east crosses over the Middle Fork Smith River.

At Post Mile DN R19.200 US 199 east crosses the Middle Fork Smith River again.

At Post Mile DN 20.000 US 199 east drops to a conventional two-lane highway again and crosses the Middle Fork Smith River an additional time.   Upon dropping to a two-lane road US 199 begins to mostly turn northeast towards the Oregon State Line.

At Post Mile DN R22.0.80 US 199 east crosses Patrick Creek.

At Post Mile DN 24.080 US 199 eastbound crosses the Middle Fork Smith River again.

Another crossing of the Middle Fork Smith River on US 199 eastbound is encountered at Post Mile DN R24.883.

At Post Mile DN 27.900 US 199 east passes through the community of Idlewild which essentially is just a Caltrans maintenance yard.  US 199 in Idlewild is signed as 50 miles from Grants Pass.

US 199 east splits from the Middle Fork Smith Creek and begins to follow Griffin Creek.  At Post Mile DN 31.31 US 199 eastbound intersects it's former alignment at Oregon Mountain Road.

At Post Mile 33.410 US 199 east passes by the Collier Tunnel Rest Area.

At Post Mile DN 35.520 US 199 east enters the south portal of the Collier Tunnel.

US 199 east emerges from the Collier Tunnel and intersects the back end of Oregon Mountain Road at Post Mile 34.950.

At Post Mile 36.408 US 199 east enters Josephine County Oregon.  From the State Line the Mile Makers on US 199 descend eastbound in Oregon. 

US 199 eastbound crosses the West Fork Illinois River upon entering O'Brien.

Within O'Brien US 199 intersects Lone Mountain Road.

Incidentally the old patrol car is a nice touch in front of O'Brien Groceries.

US 199 beyond O'Brien enters the Illinois River Valley.  US 199 east crosses Rough & Ready Creek and passes by the Rough & Ready Botanical Wayside.

US 199 eastbound crosses the North Fork Illinois River a second time.

Approaching Cave Junction US 199 eastbound crosses the East Fork Illinois River.

Within Cave Junction US 199 intersects OR 46/Caves Highway which is the access road to Oregon Caves National Monument.  Recent Google images don't show OR 46 on any of the junction signs from US 199.

US 199 east of Cave Junction passes through the community of Kerby.

US 199 east of Kerby passes through the community of Selma.

US 199 is signed as 20 miles from Grants Pass.  What's up with the OR 199 shield?

US 199 eastbound bypasses Wilderville and the Old Redwood Highway.

Approaching the Applegate River US 199 eastbound intersects OR 260.

US 199 east crosses the Applegate River and expands to a four lane expressway.

US 199 east crosses over it's original alignment on Redwood Avenue.

US 199 enters the City of Grants Pass and intersects OR 238 in addition to OR 99.

US 199 east of OR 99 transitions on the Grants Pass Parkway.

US 199 east crosses the Rogue River on the Grants Pass Parkway.

US 199 east terminates without much fanfare at I-5 in Grants Pass.


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