Historic Ukiah-Tahoe Highway Association

Historic US 99W "The Forgotten Road"

Introduction:

You can set your GPS to drive from Sacramento, CA to Red Bluff, CA and it will likely take you on route of Interstate 80 & Interstate 5. What you will miss is the original 1920’s route that has almost been entirely replace by Interstate Highways. You will also miss many of the points of Interest that are included in this book. You also will by-pass some of the more interesting towns along the way.


The original route of US Highway 99W is approximately 160 miles long on mostly 2 lane back road, only a few miles near Sacramento are freeway. The highway starts in Sacramento County and crosses Yolo County then comes Colusa and Glenn Counties before ending in Tehama County. The entire trip is through the Sacramento Valley. This drive is a great way to see one of the very historic back roads of California and visit small town America. So get in your car, RV, motorcycle or collector car and take a ride. This route is suitable for a drive any time of the year.


Historic US Highway 99W, crosses the Historic Ukiah-Tahoe Highway at Williams, near the midpoint of the US Highway 99W trip. 


History of US Highway 99, 99E & 99W:

US Highway 99 was built between 1920 and 1933 running approximately 1467 miles between Calexio, CA (near the US/Mexico Boarder) and Blaine WA (near the US/Canada Boarder). Connecting the towns and cities of central California, central Oregon and central Washington. In Northern California, between Sacramento and Red Bluff, US 99 split into US 99E known as the East Side Highway and US 99W known as the West Side Highway. US 99E running along the eastern side of the Sacramento Valley connected Sacramento, Marysville, Chico and Red Bluff. US 99W running along the western side of the Sacramento Valley connected Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, Williams and Red Bluff where the two routes came together again and reformed as US 99.


During the 1960’s interstate highway construction was in full force and when finished Interstate 5 would replace US 99, US 99E and US 99W. In 1973, Interstate 5 was complete and the US Highway 99 System was decommissioned and the highway was turned over to the states. By that time must of US 99 South of Bakersfield, CA no longer existed. The remainder of US 99 and US 99E in California became CA 99. US 99W became county roads and was nearly forgotten.


Today, Historic US 99W goes by many different names, in some locations it is County Road 99 or 99W, other places it is called I-5 Business Route and in still other places it has normal road names like West Street in Woodland or Capitol Ave in Sacramento.


Overall Route Map



The Counties:

Sacramento County:

Sacramento County History:

Sacramento County was one of the original counties of California created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Sacramento County was well known in the gold rush days. It was also known for agriculture and the railroad. Sacramento became the capital of California in 1879.


Today Sacramento County is still known for agriculture and is the center of state government.


The City of Sacramento is the county seat and the state capital.


Lincoln Highway (US Highway 40):

The Lincoln Highway was one of the earliest transcontinental highways for automobiles across the United States of America. Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913. Most of the construction was finished in the late 1920’s and the Lincoln Highway ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.


In 1915, the "Colorado Loop" was removed, and in 1928, realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. The first officially recorded length of the entire Lincoln Highway in 1913 was 3,389 miles. Over the years, the road was improved and numerous realignments were made and by 1924 the highway had been shortened to 3,142 miles.


The Lincoln Highway was gradually replaced with numbered designations after the establishment of the U.S. Numbered Highway System in 1926, with most of the route becoming part of U.S. Route 30 from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, and US Routes 40 and 50 in the west. After the Interstate Highway System was formed in the 1950s, the former alignments of the Lincoln Highway were largely superseded by Interstate 80 as the primary coast-to-coast route from the New York City area to San Francisco.


West of Fallon NV, the Lincoln Highway split into 2 different routes to San Francisco. The southern route roughly followed what is now US Route 50 through Carson City, NV, Sacramento, CA and on to San Francisco.


The northern route from Fallon NV, mostly followed what is now Interstate 80 and US Route 40 through Reno, NV, Sacramento, CA, Oakland, CA and San Francisco. You will be following several miles of the northern route between the starting point in Sacramento to Woodland, where the Lincoln Highway continues west to San Francisco and US 99W turns north to Red Bluff

.

Sacramento County - The Drive: 

Only a few miles of Historic CA 99W is in Sacramento County, all of it is the original route, that was both US 99W and the Lincoln Highway. Much of the route has bicycles paths.


Sacramento County – Things To Do & Places to Stay:

• Motels and Hotels in Sacramento

• Restaurants and Bars in Sacramento

• Old Town Sacramento Historic District, located just north of Historic US 99W along the Sacramento River.

• California State Railroad Museum located in the Old Town Sacramento Historic District

• Also see county website, shown above


Sacramento County – Original Route:

Historic US 99W starts in Sacramento on Capitol Ave at 29th St. This intersection was where US 99, changed to US 99E, and US 99W turned towards the west. Start by facing westbound on Capitol Ave, and continue west to 16th St. Turn right (north) and drive 1 block to L St. turning left (west) onto L St. Continue west on L St. to 9th St. Turn left (south) onto 9th St. for 1 block, then turn right (west) onto Capitol Mall. Continue west passing Old Sacramento and onto the Historic Tower Bridge and into Yolo County. The original route of US 99W, went down N St. instead of L St, but N St. is now one way eastbound.


Yolo County:

Yolo County History:

Yolo County originally called Yola was one of the original counties of California created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Yolo County has been known for agriculture and the railroad.


Today Yolo County is still known for agriculture and is the home of the University of California at Davis.


The City of Woodland is the county seat.


Yolo County - The Drive:

At the middle of Tower Bridge you will be entering Yolo County, continue through West Sacramento on the original route until you have to enter Interstate 80 and cross the Yolo Causeway on the Modern Realignments. At the west end of the causeway, you will exit back onto the original route through Davis and Woodland then into agricultural lands and small towns. Continue through Dunnigan and onto Colusa County. Much of the route through Davis and Woodland has bicycles paths.


Yolo County – Things To Do & Places to Stay:

• Motels and Hotels in Davis or Woodland

• Restaurants and Bars in Davis or Woodland

• US Bicycle Hall of Fame, 303 3rd St, Davis

• Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland

• Reiff’s Gas Station Museum, 52 Jefferson St, Woodland

• Yolo County Historical Museum, 512 Gibson Rd, Woodland

• Sacramento River Train, Woodland

• Also see county website, shown above.


Yolo County – Original Route:

Starting on Tower Bridge, as you are leaving Sacramento, the name of the road will change to Tower Bridge Gateway for a short distance, then turn right on Grand St, then onto W. Capitol Ave. You are now in West Sacramento, follow W. Capitol Ave until you have to enter Interstate 80 westbound to cross the Yolo Causeway on the Modern Realignment. The original route across the Causeway was just north of the realignment, but no longer exists. Follow I-80 across the realignment and take the Exit # 78 for Road 32A. Follow Road 32A to Mace Blvd and turn left, then back onto I-80 westbound for a short distance. At Exit 73, take Olive Dr until you get to Richards Blvd and turn right, continue a few blocks and turn left on 1st St. Turn right on B St and continue onto Russell Blvd, where you turn left. At Lake Blvd, turn right (north). Up to this point, your drive has been on Historic US 99W, Historic US 40 and the Lincoln Highway, but here is where they split up. Historic US 40 and The Lincoln Highway continues straight on Russell Blvd. The original US 99W was just east of Lake Blvd, and no longer exists, so you will have to take the Modern Realignment (Lake Blvd) for a short distance before getting back onto the original route.


After a few blocks on Lake St, you will cross W. Covell Blvd and the street name will change to Road 99, now you are back on the original route. Continue on Road 99 and into Woodland, the name will change to West St. Follow West St (north) until you get to Main St and turn left (west). Follow Main St a few blocks and turn right (north) on Road 98. Just after the onramp to I-5, turn left on Road 99W (also called Cacheville Rd. on some maps). Follow this road through Zamora and Dunningan and north to the Colusa County line. 


Colusa County:

Colusa County History:

Colusa County originally spelled Colusi, was one of the original counties of California created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the county were given to Tehama County and Glenn County at a later date. Colusa County was known for cattle, sheep ranching and the railroad.


Today Colusa County is known for agriculture.


The City of Colusa is the county seat.


Sutter Buttes:

Looking to the east from Historic US 99W, between Arbuckle and Williams, you will see the Sutter Buttes in Sutter County several miles away. The Sutter Buttes have always been a point of reference in the Sacramento Valley. The Sutter Buttes are sometimes called the smallest mountain range in the world.


History of the Ukiah-Tahoe Highway:

In November of 1920, a new road was proposed from Ukiah, CA to Tahoe City, CA. This new road would be called the Ukiah-Tahoe Highway. By the mid 1920’s, most of the road was completed. In 1934, this highway became part of the state and federal highway system and was assigned the following numbers starting at the west end. US 101, CA 20, US 40 and CA 89. In the 1960’s, the CA 40 portion of the highway was realigned to the new Interstate 80. You will cross this highway at Williams.


Colusa County - The Drive: 

You will now be driving through much less populated areas of California. As you enter Colusa County on Historic US 99W the first town of any size will be Arbuckle. Continue on through Williams and Maxwell to the Glenn County line just north of Delevan. The entire route through Colusa County is on the Original Route. At Williams, you will cross the Historic Ukiah-Tahoe Highway


Colusa County – Things To Do & Places to Stay:

• Motels in Williams

• Restaurants and Bars in Williams

• Granzella’s Inn & Restaurant, 391 6th St, Williams, CA. Much of the original building was destroyed by fire on Oct. 11, 2007 and has been rebuilt.

• Sacramento Valley Museum, 1491 E St., Williams, CA

• Williams Town Square

• Also see county website, shown above.


Colusa County – Original Route:

The route follows the original highway all the way through the county closely following Interstate 5 and crossing it a couple of times. You will go through Arbuckle, Williams, Maxwell and several other small towns along the way.


Glenn County:

Glenn County History:

Glenn County was formed in 1891 from parts of Colusa County and named after wheat farmer Dr. Hugh J. Glenn. Glenn County was known for wheat farming and the railroad.


Today Glenn County is known for agriculture.


The City of Willows is the county seat


Glenn County - The Drive: 

You will enter Glenn County near the town of Norman on Historic US 99W and follow it through Willows and Orland to the Tehama County line just north of the town of Wyo. The entire route through Colusa County is on the Original Route.


Glenn County – Things To Do & Places to Stay:

• Motels and Hotels in Willows and Orland

• Restaurants and Bars in Willows and Orland

• Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 752 County Road 99W, Willows, CA

• Also see county website, shown above.


Glenn County – Original Route:

The route follows the original highway all the way through the county closely following Interstate 5. You will go through Willows, Orland and several other small towns along the way.


Tehama County:

Tehama County History:

Tehama County was formed from parts of Butte, Colusa, and Shasta Counties in 1856. Tehama County was known for mining, agriculture and the railroad.


Today Tehama County is known for agriculture.


The City of Red Bluff is the county seat.


Site of Woodson Land Office and the Maywood Colony in Corning: 

In the 1880’s, Warren Woodson met Charles Foster and they purchased 3107 acres of land just east of the town of Corning. They named this development The Maywood Colony and sold 10 acre lots, mostly to people living in the east. As these lots sold, they bought more land, eventually nearly surrounding the town of Corning. This was one of the largest real estate speculations of its time, totaling more than 40,000 acres. That is large considering that the original town of Corning was only a 161 acre railroad town.


The Woodson Land Office for the Maywood Colony was build across the street from the Hotel Maywood in 1903 and had a 75 foot tall tower, so that prospective buyers could view the town and surrounding area. In the late 1960’s, the land office was torn down to make way for a car lot.


Site of the Hotel Maywood in Corning: 

Charles Foster, a former Sheriff of Tehama County and Warren Woodson built the Hotel Maywood in 1899. It was one of the finest hotels in Northern California. The upper floor was destroyed by fire in August of 1917. Today, the lower floor remains and houses the Corning City Hall, Police Department and Museum.


Tragedy at Proberta:

On November 30, 1921 at 10:25 am, the worst School Bus/Train accident in the US history up to that time occurred in Proberta, just a couple of 100 feet from US 99W. School Bus #17 that was already late due to mechanical problems, had completed picking up 14 student of Red Bluff High School from the communities of Dairyville and Gerber. The driver was also a 16 year old student.


A few miles from Red Bluff High School, where San Benito Ave crosses the rail road tracks in Proberta, a South Bound Southern Pacific Train #15, traveling at 45 to 50 MPH collided with the school bus that had not stopped for the train. The bus driver who survived until the next day, said that he did not see the train because of fog in the area. In all, 14 students died either at the accident site or within the next few days at the hospital, only one girl survived.


A search of the internet will provide much information on this horrible accident including a timeline of the morning that through several innocent circumstances caused the train and bus to meet at just the wrong time.


There are no signs or any memorial at the location today and most of the people that live and working in the area probably don’t even know of the horrible accident.


Red Bluff’s Chinatown:

The Chinese started arriving in Tehama County in the early days of mining and by the 1860’s, Red Bluff’s Chinatown covered approximately four blocks between Main Street and Rio Street from Oak Street to Cedar Street. During the 1860’s or 1870’s, the Chinese started digging tunnels under the buildings. Between the 1920’s and 1950’s, more tunnels were found during construction in the area.


There is much speculation about what the tunnels were used for, such as smoking opium and burning incense, however it is most likely that they were used for food storage and a place to stay cool during the very hot summers that Red Bluff gets.


Tehama County - The Drive: 

You will enter Tehama County on Historic US 99W just north of the town of Wyo. Then pass through Corning, then Proberta, and on to the end of Historic US 99W in downtown Red Bluff. The entire route through Tehama County is on the Original Route.


Tehama County – Things To Do & Places to Stay:

• Motels and Hotels in Corning or Red Bluff

• Restaurants and Bars in Corning or Red Bluff

• Visit Old Downtown in Corning

• Visit the Old Chinatown in Red Bluff

• Visit Old Downtown in Red Bluff

• Boating/Camping/Swimming/Fishing on the Sacramento River at Red Bluff

• Also see county website, shown above.


Tehama County – Original Route:

The route follows the original highway all the way through the county closely following Interstate 5 in some locations. You will go through Corning and several other small towns. You will enter Red Bluff on Main St. At the intersection of Main St, Oak St and Antelope Blvd, you will be at the intersection where old US Highway 99, 99E and 99W all come back together. You will be at the end of Historic US 99W. To the right on Antelope Blvd will be the end of old US 99E (currently CA 99). Following Main St across the intersection will take you onto old US 99 (currently CA 99) for a few miles, before in end on Interstate 5.