Highway 99

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1926 not only saw the birth of Route 66, but of Highway 99 as well.  Although 66 was to become the 'movie star' of the 1926 highway family, 99 had just as an important role in the growth and development of the west coast.  From the Canadian border to the Mexican, highway 99 became literally the backbone of north-south travel up and down the western states.  It is ironic then, that the very development that this road helped spur would eventually lead to the demand for Interstate 5 that would cause its demise.

 

Like 66, Highway 99 was originally a hodge-podge collection of existing roads that were brought together into the new highway network.  For example, in many locales in the Northwest, it is called by the familiar moniker of the Pacific Highway.  In Washington state, it overlaid not only the Pacific Highway, but parts of the Evergreen and Pioneer highways as well.  Further south in California, it was origianlly known as the Valley and Golden State routes around Sacramento while between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, the dreaded Ridge Route terrified truckers and families alike!

 

Regardless of the name, wherever old 99 went, gas stations, cafes and motels followed to service the empty gas tanks and the hungry, weary travelers that came with them.  What a sight that must have been!  Each cafe or motel trying to outdo its neighbor down the street.  From giant fiberglass statues to flashy neon, no gimmick was too outrageous to try at least once!  Although unique roadside architecture is now being overtaken by corporate 'branding' where everything is the same, thankfully there are some examples of vintage 99 left.

 

I have not had the opportunity to travel the highways entire length, but I have had the opportunity to see quite a bit of Washington State while working at Boeing Aircraft in Seattle back around 1998 - 2001.  Therefore, at this point, I can only post a smattering of pics from those film camera days from a few isolated areas in Oregon and California in addition to a few great postcards.  My loss, as most of the old road is a wonderful trip through the Cascades and farm/wine country - a terrific drive I've always hoped to get back to.  But in the mean time, feel free to send me a 99 shot of your own.  With your permission, I'll post them here!  I hope you enjoy. 

 

Synopsis:

  • Washington.  The Evergreen state.  From the Canadian border at Blaine, 99 was routed through the metro areas of Bellingham, Everett, Seattle and Tacoma.  In this lush part of the state,  99 overlaid parts of the Pacific, Pioneer and Evergreen highways.  South of Tacoma and Olympia, the old highway wandered southward to eventually span the mighty Columbia river between Vancouver, WA. and Portland, Or.

  • Oregon.  In Portland, just across the Columbia, Hwy 99 diverged into a 99E east and 99W west routing.  Both of these routes headed south to reconnect many miles later in the aptly named town of Junction City.  Paralleling the spine of the Cascades, old 99 through Oregon is a beautiful journey-meant to be taken and enjoyed in a leisurely manner.

  • California.  99 wound its way down from northern California to Mexico like a lazy river.  Meandering southward, 99 again split into two tributaries at Red Bluff.  Reconnecting at Sacramento and flowing southward through L.A. and on to the border, old 99 brought the rural gifts of food and goods to L.A. like no other.  From mountains to valleys, rural to megalopolis, 99 in California samples it all.

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