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Madera County Road 211

Madera County Road 211 is an approximately eight-mile highway located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains north of Lake Millerton.  Road 211 connects the community of O'Neals at Road 200 south to Road 145 near the former Minarets & Western Railway siding of Bellview.  What is now Road 211 was constructed as a stage road during the California Gold Rush era which connected the original Fresno County seat of Millerton to the Fine Gold Gulch Mine District.  

Part 1; the history of Madera County Road 211

What is now Madera County Road 211 was constructed during the California Gold Rush era of what was then the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern Fresno County.  Specifically, it was constructed as a highway connecting from the original Fresno County seat of Millerton (at the San Joaquin River) to the community of Find Gold Gulch.  The highway was part of larger corridor which connected to Fresno Flats (now Oakhurst) to the north and the city of Fresno to the south.  The highway between Millerton and Find Gold Gulch can be seen on the 1882 Bancroft's Map of California.  

The Fine Gold Gulch Mining District had been first staked in 1850 near the vicinity of the namesake Fine Gold Creek.  It isn't fully clear when the community near the mine obtained Post Office Service (as noted on the above map).  Charles O'Neal would establish a store at Willow Creek in the Fine Gold Mining District which would obtain Post Office Service in 1887 as "O'Neals." Much of what is now Road 211 came to be known as "O'Neals Road." 

O'Neals Road between Millerton and O'Neals appears on the 1891 Thompson Map of Fresno County.  Madera County would split from what was Fresno County north of the San Joaquin River in May 1893.  

O'Neals Road can be seen connecting Friant at the Fresno County line north to O'Neals on the 1914 Madera County Surveyor Map.  

During 1921 Bellview siding of the Minarets & Western Railroad would be established on O'Neals Road approximately where modern Road 211 and Road 208 intersect.  The Minarets & Western Railroad was a 53-mile standard gauge line between Pinedale (modern River Park in Fresno) of Fresno County north to Wishon at Crane Valley Dam in Madera County.  The Minarets & Western Railroad was owned by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company and operated from 1921 to 1933 when it was shuttered for not being profitable.  

Bellview siding can be seen immediately west of O'Neals Road on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Madera County.    

During the middle of the twentieth century Madera County would drop road names in favor of Road Number designations.  What was O'Neals Road between North Fork Road (now Road 200) south to Road 145 was assigned as Road 211.  Modern Road 211 can be seen in detail on the 1965 Millerton Lake West United States Geological Survey Map.  

Part 2; a drive on Madera County Road 211

Southbound Road 211 begins at the Spring Valley School along Road 200 in O'Neals.  Friant is displayed as 11 miles away.  

Road 211 breaks from the course of Willow Creek at Road 210. 

Road 211 descends south through the Sierra Nevada Mountains towards the San Joaquin River.  As the highway intersects Road 208 it passes the site of Bellview siding.  

Road 211 continues south and terminates at Road 145.  Eastbound Road 145 accesses the northern grounds of the Lake Millerton State Recreation Area.  Turning west the highway becomes California State Route 145 at the intersection of California State Route 41.  


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