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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 Oregon, California, & Nevada Railroad Map


The Southern Pacific Railroad also laid out a road network which served as a frontage facility.  The ease of using the Southern Pacific in addition to it's frontage road rendered the Stockton-Los Angeles Road functionally obsolete to anything other than localized travel.  As the 19th Century gave way to the 20th Century the age of the automobile began.  The emergence of the automobile led to the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters during 1910.  The majority of the highways approved as part of the First State Highway Bond Act were largely well established routes of travel.  In the case of Goshen and Traver it was along the path of what would become Legislative Route 4 ("LRN 4").  According to CAhighways.org the original definition of LRN 4 was "Sacramento to Los Angeles."

Within San Joaquin Valley much of LRN 4 incorporated what was the Southern Pacific Railroad frontage roads.  A very early LRN 4 in through Goshen and Traver can be seen on the 1917 California State Automobile Association Map.


The original alignment of LRN 4 south through Traver and Goshen was as follows:

-  A western Southern Pacific frontage road roughly located where the northbound lanes of the Golden State Freeway are today from the Fresno County Line at the Kings River to Traver. 
-  6th Street through Traver.
-  A western Southern Pacific frontage road roughly located where the northbound lanes of the Golden State Freeway are today to a railroad crossing near what is now Road 68 to Camp Drive. 
-  Camp Drive through Goshen to the present location of the westbound lanes of the CA 198 freeway at what was known at the time as Visalia Highway.  Visalia Highway as of 1915 was also part of LRN 10 east of Goshen to Visalia.  LRN 10 was extended east from Visalia to Sequoia National Park as part of the 1919 Third State Highway Bond Act.
-  Visalia Highway east to Main Street in Visalia.  

The original alignment of LRN 4 by way of Traver, Goshen, and Visalia to Tulare can be seen on the 1924 Division of Highways State Map.


Tagus Ranch seems to have been the driver of why early LRN 4 was aligned through Visalia rather than directly south of Goshen to Tulare.  Tagus Ranch was established during 1912 by Hulett C. Merritt.  Tagus Ranch for a time was the largest fruit ranch in the world and was as large as 7,000 acres.  Tagus Ranch carried considerable political clout which seems to have been main driver of why LRN 4 shifted east to Visalia according to Scott Parker of the AAroads Forum.

An easement through Tagus Ranch to the Division of Highways seems to have been granted at some point during 1924.   The June 1924 California Highways & Public Works shows photos of a new alignment of LRN 4 from a maintenance station.  The maintenance station signage clearly shows that LRN 4 was now aligned through Tagus Ranch directly to Goshen. 



The new alignment of LRN 4 between Goshen to Tulare was on an eastern Southern Pacific frontage road to J Street can be seen on the 1926 Division of Highways State Map.


The new alignment of LRN 4 also appears on the 1924 Rand McNally Highway Map of California.  Notably LRN 4 through Traver and Gosehn is shown to be part of the National Park-to-Park Highway. 



The photo below is sourced from the Tulare County History Facebook page and shows eastbound Legislative Route 10 approaching Legislative Route 4.  The Plaza Garage can be seen on the right.


During November of 1926 the US Route System was approved by the AASHO.  US Route 99 was aligned over the entirety of LRN 4 between Los Angeles north to Sacramento thus making it the signed highway through Tipton, Tulare, and Tagus Ranch.  Note; the original route of LRN 4 in the planning phases of US Route System had US Route 99 aligned to Visalia.  More regarding the planned route of US Route 99 from Tulare north to Visalia can be found here:

US Route 99 to Visalia

The relocation of US Route 99/LRN 4 from Plaza Garage north through Goshen was announced in the January 1932 California Highways & Public Works.   


The June 1932 California Highways & Public Works announced that US Route 99/LRN 4 from Traver to Kingsburg had been widened to 36 feet.  


The realignment of US Route 99/LRN 4 and LRN 10 in Goshen was constructed throughout 1933 and early 1934 which oddly not covered in any California Highways & Public Works.  US Route 99/LRN 4 was relocated west of Goshen to grade separations over the Southern Pacific Railroad Main Freight Line and Visalia Spur.  The new alignment of US Route 99/LRN 4 would later be incorporated into the Golden State Freeway. 

These images below (Note; sourced as reduced photos from the far better originals posted on Michael J Semas Collection on Facebook) show westbound LRN 10 approaching it's new junction with US Route 99/LRN 4 in Goshen during 1934.  Again the Plaza Garage can be seen.


  
This photo sourced from the Historic US Route 99 Facebook Group is one of the Goshen Subways at an unknown date. 


The relocation of US Route 99/LRN 4 and LRN 10 in Goshen led to the abandonment of the previously utilized railroad crossings.  The abandonment of the railroad crossings was apparently a point of contention between the Division of Highways, California Highway Commission, and Tulare County.  In the April 1934 California Highways & Public Works it was announced that railroad crossings on former State Highways could be abandoned by the Division of Highways with the consent of the Railroad Commission of California.  


The new alignments of US Route 99/LRN 4 and LRN 10 can be seen on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Tulare County.


A December 1939 California Highways & Public Works discusses the incorporation of the 1915 Kingsburg Bridge over the Kings River into a modernized four lane expressway alignment of US Route 99/LRN 4.  The expressway project at the Kings River is cited to have an anticipated completion date in March 1940.  Further the 1915 Kingsburg Bridge is cited to have been the last two lane structure on US Route 99/LRN 4 between Sacramento and Los Angeles.  





A Division of Highways District 6 report in the September/November 1958 California Highways & Public Works cites that the US Route 99/LRN 4 freeway was extended from the interchange with CA 198 one mile north of Goshen during 1957.   A second report cites that US Route 99/LRN 4 was upgraded to freeway standards from Traver 5.7 miles north to the Kings River also during 1957.




The November/December 1962 California Highways & Public Works announced that 6 miles of US Route 99/LRN 4 between Goshen and Traver had been converted from an expressway to a freeway. 

During the 1964 Highway Renumbering all the Legislative Routes were dropped.  US Route 99 appears as a stand alone highway through Travel and Goshen on the 1964 Division of Highways State Map.


US Route 99 is shown to be replaced with California State Route 99 on the 1969 Division of Highways Map.



Part 2; mapping Old US Route 99 in Goshen, Traver, and the Warlow Rest Area

The below maps were custom drawn based off the information above to graphically depict the surface alignments of US Route 99 in Goshen, Traver, and the Warlow Rest Area.  The original alignment of Legislative Route 4 is referenced for historical clarity.




Part 3; former US Route 99 on Camp Drive in Goshen


Our first former segment of US Route 99 to explore is Camp Drive in Goshen.  Camp Drive is long cut-off from accessing the modern Golden State Freeway and must be approached via local roads.  I approached Camp Drive from Avenue 310 headed westbound.  Northbound US Route 99 and a Southern Pacific rail crossing would have been on the right where the overpass now lies.  I made a southbound left hand turn onto Camp Drive. 

Camp Drive southbound is aligned next to the Union Pacific Railroad Reservation and crosses over an east/west spur line at Goshen Avenue/Sign County Route J32. 







Camp Drive southbound continues towards the CA 198 freeway and gradually juts to the east.  US Route 99 would have met CA 198/Visalia Highway roughly where the eastbound lanes of the current CA 198 freeway now reside. 



Returning to northbound Camp Drive a handful of CA 99 shields can be found which direct traffic to the Golden State Freeway.  The shields appear to be a fairly recent installations and likely have been the first "99" shields of any kind on Camp Drive since the 1930s. 


Part 4; former US Route 99 on Sixth Street in Traver

Former US Route 99 on Sixth Street in Traver can be accessed directly from the northbound lanes of the Golden State Freeway via Exit 106A.  The US Route 99 theme is apparent even from the off ramp with the Cafe 99 marque coming into view. 


Bravo Farms is a noted attraction in Traver which can be found on Sixth Street.  

The 99 Smoke Shop can also be found on Sixth Street.  Amusingly the 99 Smoke Shop includes a custom made CA 99 shield.  


Sixth Street intersects Merritt Drive/Sign County Route J36 north of Bravo Farms and the 99 Smoke Shop.  

Sixth Street north of Merritt Drive continues to pass through Traver before merging back into Golden State Freeway via an on ramp.  





Part 5; former US Route 99 segments in the vicinity of the Warlow Rest Area

Approaching northbound Golden State Freeway Exit 109  a stray segment of former US Route 99 can be spied behind a billboard in the vicinity of the Warlow Rest Area.

As noted above the razed grade of former US Route 99 can be found next to Avenue 384/Sign County Route J38.


Roadhouse 99 can be found alongside Avenue 384/Sign County Route J38. 

The alignment of former US Route 99 once could be found through what is now the Warlow Rest Area.  

The grade of what was once former US Route 99 can be found north of the actual rest area building merging back into the northbound lanes Golden State Freeway. 



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