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Madera County Road 407 and the Stockton-Los Angeles Road

Madera County Road 407 is an approximately 3.8-mile highway located near Hensley Lake in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Road 407 historically was a component of the 1850s era stage route known as the Stockton-Los Angeles Road.  The Stockton-Los Angeles Road crossed the Fresno River near the land holdings of John Jackson Hensley.  The highway came to be known as Hensley Road and once hosted a bridge at the Fresno River called "Hensley Bridge."  Madera County would redesignate all county highways with numeric designations during mid-twentieth century and the highway would come to be known as "Road 407."  Much of Road 407 was realigned in 1974 to make way for Hidden Dam and the Hensley Lake Reservoir.  




Part 1; the history of Madera County Road 407

What is now Road 407 was a component of the larger Stockton-Los Angeles Road. The Stockton-Los Angeles Road came into use after the 1853 Kern River Gold Rush began.  The Stockton-Los Angeles Road was a replacement of the earlier El Camino Viejo.  Unlike El Camino Viejo the Stockton-Los Angeles Road avoided the dense Tule Marches in San Joaquin Valley.  The Stockton-Los Angles Road stayed close to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to avoid flood prone terrain.  

At the Fresno River the Stockton-Los Angeles Road utilized Fresno Crossing to pass the watershed.  Fresno Crossing had once been part of Jim Savage's Fresno River Trading Post during the era of the Mariposa War.  The Fresno River can be seen as part of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road between the original Fresno County seat of Millerton at the San Joaquin River and Newton's Crossing on the 1857 Britton & Reys Map of California


The Stockton-Los Angeles Road at the Fresno River would in time come to be known as Hensley Road which is a reference to gold rush settler John Jackson Hensley. Hensley settled along the Fresno River (then in northern Fresno County) during the 1860s when it was part of Fresno County and had a hand in the formation of the nearby mountain community of Dennis. John Jackson Hensley was born in Franklin County, Missouri in 1816 and died at Dennis during 1902. At some unknown point the Hensley family installed a bridge at the Fresno River along the Stockton-Los Angeles Road.

The popularity of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road began to decline rapidly as the Central Pacific Railroad was constructed through San Joaquin Valley during the 1870s.  Farm diversions for irrigation in San Joaquin Valley and the presence of various rail sidings along the Central Pacific Railroad spurred infrastructure development which made development through previous wetlands easier.  Eventually this development led to Legislative Route Number 4 being routed next to the rails in 1909 which became part of US Route 99.

Hensley Road can be seen connecting River Road (then the Yosemite Stage Road) northwest to Newton's Crossing at the Chowchilla River on the 1882 Bancroft's Map of California.  A bridge crossing likely was in place as at the Fresno River by 1882.  


Madera County would split from what was Fresno County north of the San Joaquin River during 1893.  Hensley Road can be seen connecting from River Road near Denis northwest to Raymond Road via the Fresno River on the 1914 Madera County Surveyor's Map.  Hensley Road is shown to no longer to be directly connected to the San Joaquin River or Chowchilla River.


Henley Road can be seen as a major county highway between River Road and Raymond Road on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Madera County.  


Hensley Road between River Road and Raymond Road can be seen in detail on the 1944 United States Geological Survey Map of Raymond.  The Hensley Bridge is shown to located at the Fresno River at an elevation of 453 feet above sea level.  Jim Savage's Monument can be seen located approximately a mile north of the Hensley Bridge along the Fresno River.  


During the mid-twentieth century Madera County would drop their name conventions for roads and replace them with numeric designations.  Hensley Road can be seen renamed as Road 407 on the 1962 United States Geological Map of Raymond.  


During 1974 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed Hidden Dam along the Fresno River.  The site of the dam was located approximately where Road 407 once crossed the Fresno River via the Hensley Bridge.  The southeast corner of the reservoir would flood portions of existing Road 400 between what now Road 603 and the Hensley Lake Vista.  The modern alignment of Road 400 was relocated uphill with the original being abandoned.  Road 407 west realigned to west of the Fresno River and now begins at Road 603 south of Hidden Dam.  

The modern southern terminus of Road 407 below Hidden Dam can be seen on the 2012 United States Geological Survey Map of Daulton.  The site of Hensley Bridge still appears noted in the Hensley Lake Reservoir.


Below the abandoned portion of Road 400 approaching what was once Road 407 can be observed.  The site of the Hensley Bridge now lies underwater.  










The former junction of Road 400 and Road 407 can be observed facing south from the Hensley Lake Vista.  


The original alignment of Road 407 can be seen as part of a boat landing looking northwest from the Hensley Lake Reservoir.  




Part 2; a drive on Madera County Road 407

Modern Road 407 northbound begins at Road 603 west of the Fresno River south of Hidden Dam.  





Road 407 climbs above Hidden Dam and intersects the original alignment of the highway at what is now the west entry to the Hensley Lake Recreation Area. 









Road 407 continues north and terminates at Road 600 near Raymond.  











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