Category Archives: California

Historic Highways: Old US 99, Weed, CA

I spent an hour or so this afternoon exploring a small section of Edgewood Road going north out of Weed. This used to be US Route 99, before Interstate 5 was built and replaced Highway 99.  I concentrated my efforts on one curved section of the road, examining old wooden guard rails, and looking for “C-blocks”, which are old California Division of Highways survey monuments. I did not find any, but I’ll return and spend a little more time in the brush looking for any that might exist.

The general location of my efforts was 41.43049, -122.39933

1954 USGS 15 minute topographic map showing the US 99 alignment.
2010 USGS 7.5 minute topographic map showing the US 99 alignment next to Interstate 5.
Heading north into the curve. Broken wood guard rail is on the right.

Reflector bracket.

Railroad property line markers delineate the old highway right of way on east side. These should assist in locating any “C-blocks”.
The rail is actually comprised of three pieces of layered lumber.
Bolt head.
Retaining nut.

Guard rail at the north end of the curve (looking south).

Dog Creek Bridge

An accessible, historic, and photogenic bridge worth exploring

Trip dates: November 24 & 25, 2017

The Harlan D Miller Memorial Bridge, known also as the Dog Creek Bridge, is an abandoned concrete arch bridge completed in 1927 as part of US Route 99 just north of Lakehead, Shasta County, California. After Route 99 was replaced by Interstate 5, it carried traffic as part of Interstate 5 until a bridge to the northwest was expanded to accommodate both directions of traffic in 1974. It was abandoned and slated for demolition, until saved due to efforts of concerned citizens, and is now managed by the US Forest Service.

According to Bridgehunter.com,

Harlan D Miller (1880-1926) was the State Bridge Engineer for the California Highway Department from 1923 until his untimely death in 1926. During his short tenure as State Bridge Engineer he made radical changes to the way California designed bridges. These changes included requiring all highway bridges in the state be designed by the state and designing bridges that matched the geometry of the roadway. The latter often complicated design fork but the final result (skewed or curved bridges) justified the efforts in drivability.

Miller’s most visible effect on California bridges was the consideration given to design aesthetics. His designs were recognized in their own periods as possessing beauty and boldness. Many fine details can be seen on Miller designed bridges including rail and end post details, as well as clean lines and details of the superstructure design.

When my family relocated to the Bar Area in 1963, I remember driving across this bridge as we traveled to the Mount Shasta region to visit relatives several times per year. After the bridge was decommissioned, it had always been my desire to explore the now abandoned structure. I finally had a chance to do so this past week.

Looking west at the span. Photo taken from bridge that crosses the Sacramento River. A short railroad bridge is visible to the left which also spans Dog Creek.
Looking south down the bridge deck.
Looking south along the west side of the bridge. Notice the blue tiles in the deck wall pillars.
Curb details.

The view south looking down the Sacramento River.
Looking north up the Sacramento River.

At several places benched areas were provided for travelers to stop, enjoy the views, and rest a bit.

Stone retaining on the northern approach to the span.

Dog Creek.
Looking north. The Interstate 5 span can be seen near the center.
DIRECTIONS & ACCESS

Off Interstate 5, take the Vollmers/Delta exit. Proceed west about a quarter mile and turning left onto Fenders Ferry Road. Drive down along the Dog Creek watershed for about a mile, crossing the creek twice and underneath the I5 span until reaching the historic bridge. Park just before the railroad tracks, and climb up the east side of northern end of the bridge.

According to a couple of other websites, there is supposedly access at the northern end of the bridge from the top, at end of a private road where a Forest Service begins. I checked it out and I’m not comfortable at this time on recommending its use. The adjoining property owners have posted a lot of onerous signage, and have tried to unsuccessfully block the easement. I would be nervous parking my vehicle here. Check this post for updates, as I will attempt to get clarification from the Forest Service regarding use of this easement.

FURTHER READING

redding.com (Redding Searchlight newspaper website) article Travelin’ in Time: Dog Creek Bridge, a work of art, was almost demolished,  posted June 26, 2008

CalTrans Digital Collections, Historic Bridges and Tunnels: Dog Creek

 

Deadfall Lakes, Siskiyou County, CA

A string of lakes located in the Trinity Mountains
Trip date: August 11, 2017
The trailhead is 19 miles west of Weed on Forest Service Road 17/42N17.
One of several meadows that the trail passes through.
The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Deadfall Lakes Trail just east of the lowermost lake.
Lake 7259 (it’s noted elevation on topo maps) is the largest lake of the 5 lakes.
The uppermost of the Deadfalls lake. Mount Eddy is the peak in the background.
Looking north across the uppermost Deadfall Lakes.
Wildflowers were abundant along the trail.

Yellow Butte, Siskiyou County, CA

Looking south to Mount Shasta from the Yellow Butte high point. The middle and south peaks of the ridge line can be seen in the center.
Trip date: May 4, 2017

Yellow Butte is a hill on the north side of US Highway 97 about 12 miles northeast of Weed. Unlike other nearby peaks which are some kind of volcanic feature (dome, cinder cone or shield volcano), Yellow Butte is an uplifted complex of intrusive igneous and metamorphic rocks. This makes for some interesting quartzite outcrops on the top of the hill, and the unexpected diorite pluton along the first third of this route I hiked today.

Yellow Butte is actually more of a ridge, with three distinct peaks, the northernmost being the highest.  The route I’ve seen described elsewhere is a 3 mile round trip starting inside a Forest Service gate alongside Highway 97 that traverses the west side of the hill. Because my available time was short, I chose a shorter route on the east side of the hill on Yellow Butte Road, a narrow, dusty two-track off of 97.  This route proceeds up to saddle area between the middle and north peaks. Truth be told, both routes to the peak are old two tracks themselves – in fact, one could drive to the summit in a 4WD high clearance vehicle. But, as I got near the top, I encountered a guy camping in a beat-up, 30 year old, 2WD, low clearance Chevy van at the top – so don’t I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Summit area of Yellow Butte high point.
Quartzite outcrop atop Yellow Butte.
Looking west at Haystack (left) and cinder cone 3924 (right).
Thistle along the trail.

 

I could not locate a survey triangulation mark indicated on some older topo maps. Neither could I find a summit log, so I left a new one behind.

NOTES:

Trip time is about 25 to 30 minutes each way.

For an excellent discussion of the geology of the lower Shasta Valley, see a masters thesis by Joseph Holliday, “The bedrock geology of the southeastern Shasta Valley, Siskiyou County, California”

 

Haystack

No needles involved, just a great little hike
Trip date: April 21, 2017

Haystack is a volcanic feature rising above US Route 97 11 miles northeast of Weed. The peak offers wonderful views of Mount Shasta to the south,  the Trinity Mountains to the east, and the Mount Shasta Valley to the north. The trail is an overgrown 4WD trail to the top. Good parking is just off the highway inside a Forest Service gate. One walks about .4 mile before reaching the actual trail that starts the climb up the east flank of Haystack. The short climb takes a moderate effort to reach the top. The trail circles the rather flat, open top. Vegetation is typical high desert scrub with the scattered juniper tree. There is a high point marked with a cairn with a survey mark underneath and a summit log. The summit log revealed that Haystack is visited every few days by hikers. The distance from the parking area to the high point is about one mile.

Haystack as seen from US Route 97.
My hiking partner & daughter, Claudia, on the trail as it climbs the east flank of Haystack.
Old growth juniper dots Haystack.
Summit cairn with benchmark and summit log.
Panorama from east to west, with Mount Shasta to the south. The Whaleback is to the left of Mount Shasta, and Mount Eddy is to the right. Click on the photo for a larger view.
Mount Shasta as seen from Haystack.

Black Butte, Siskiyou County, California

Trip date: 10/16/14

Black Butte is a dacite dome volcano that is just north of the city of Mount Shasta, sitting alongside Interstate 5. The summit tops out at 6,358 feet. Having been born in Mount Shasta and lived in Weed for the first five years of my life, and spending time over the years with various relatives still in the area (my parents moved back to area 10 years ago), I have always wanted to climb Black Butte. Frankly, I don’t know what took me so long.

Black Butte topo map
Topo map of Black Butte. As seen from the contours, Black Butte is a classic cone shaped volcano.

The trailhead is on the east side of the mountain. Driving north out Mount Shasta up the Everett Memorial you come to sign directing you west to the Black Butte trailhead. It’s a 3.3 mile drive on a decently maintained Forest Service road to the trailhead. I got there about 7:15 am. No one else there. It was 44 degrees outside, with a 10 mph gusts of wind. All in all, not a bad morning to make the hike. The first quarter mile of the hike is in trees, but when you pop out, and look up at the side of the mountain, it’s imposing. The slope is chunks of broken dacite, at a 45 degree angle. Basically you loop around the mountain counterclockwise from east to west side of the mountain, then the trail turns and goes back east until you come to a few little switchbacks near the top. A lot of the trail is scree, but you can move fast. Once you get near the top, it flattens out somewhat. The last 50 feet or so to the summit, where the foundation of the old fire lookout is, is a scramble. It was a bit windy on top, but still breathtaking. Mount Shasta looms to east and Mount Eddy to the west. It was cloudy and cold on top, so I didn’t linger too long. I couldn’t find a summit register, and I didn’t bring anything up to use as one.

  • DSCN0118 web DSCN0118 web Trailhead and parking.
  • DSCN0119 web DSCN0119 web The trail starts out amongst tall pines and cedars.
  • DSCN0121 web DSCN0121 web After about a quarter mile, the trail breaks out of the trees and the scree mountainside is clearly visible.
  • DSCN0122 web DSCN0122 web Looking east at Mount Shasta.
  • DSCN0126 web DSCN0126 web Looking down at Interstate 5 just south of Weed.
  • DSCN0127 web DSCN0127 web Looking east at Mount Eddy
  • DSCN0128 web DSCN0128 web About half way up you encounter this sign. Duh!
  • DSCN0132 web DSCN0132 web Black Butte is formed by a series of dacite eruptions, which push below the older plugs, breaking through them, and pushing them aside. As you get nearer the top, you are climbing a younger event. The wall of rocks in this photo is the remains of an older eruption.
  • DSCN0134 web DSCN0134 web Wire mesh screen to hold back a rockfall along the trail.
  • DSCN0140 web DSCN0140 web Looking down on lower peaks formed by older eruptive events.
  • DSCN0141 web DSCN0141 web The foundation of the Forest Service fire lookout tower that once stood on the summit.
  • DSCN0145 web DSCN0145 web Mount Shasta from the top of Black Butte.
  • DSCN0160 web DSCN0160 web Looking upslope towards the summit. The slop must approach 50 degrees.
     

I made the trip up in 2 hours, and back done in 1 1/2. My elevation gain going up was 1,807 feet.  I met a lone hiker on the way down, but that was it for human contact.

Geology facts: Dacite is a gooey form of lava that generally flows very slowly.

The word dacite comes from Dacia, a province of the Roman Empire which lay between the Danube River and Carpathian Mountains (now modern Romania and Moldova) where the rock was first described. Lassen Peak is made of dacite, and is one of the largest plug domes in the world. The famous plug of Mount Saint Helens is also dacite, as are most of the lavas of Kīlauea.

References & further reading

Wikipedia: Black Butte (Siskiyou County, California)

summitpost.org: Black Butte (CA)

 

 

California Road Trip, October 2014

Trip date: 10/11/14-10/21/14

Eloise and I hit the open road to see family in Mount Shasta and Sacramento, California. In those 11 days, we drove 2,444.2 miles, with stops in:

  • Casa Grande, Arizona
    • We started the trip out with a delightful meal at the highly rated Feli’s Cuban Kitchen in Casa Grande. Eloise’s dinner was especially tasteful and artfully presented (flounder with mango and pineapple)
  • Palm Desert, California
  • Merced, California
  • Weed/Mount Shasta, California (3 nights)
    • I hiked to the top of Black Butte, an extinct dacite dome volcano just north of the City of Mount Shasta on the east side of Interstate 5. A trip report and photoset for the hike is posted on this site, as well as at hikearizona.com
    • Culinary highlights included Mom’s cooking, a nice family dinner at the Best Western Tree House Inn in Mount Shasta, a late night snack at the Black Bear Diner (Mount Shasta), and Hi-Lo Café in Weed for breakfast
  • Folsom, California (2 nights)
    • We had dinner with our son and one of Eloise’s brothers at a wonderful restaurant in Auburn, California, Carpe Vino. Among us we had fresh popcorn in melted black truffle butter, muscovy duck breast (farro, butternut squash, purslane, seared onion, huckleberry), niman ranch bistro filet (chanterelles, pole beans, fingerling potato, black garlic soubise), and skuna bay salmon (sunchokes, fuji apple, brussels sprouts, dill, apple must brown butter). For dessert, 3 out of 4 of us had chocolate profiteroles,  which were walnut ice cream balls wrapped in caramel and walnut streusel.  Simply unbelievable. The service was outstanding.
    • I bagged a couple of highpoints in the area: Carpenter Hill, which is the Sacramento County highpoint, and a small hill in neighboring El Dorado Hills, Peak 1161. Click on the names to go to trip reports at hikearizona.com
  • Monrovia, California
    2014-10-19 15.16.01 web
    Nectar of the gods
    • The drive from Folsom to Monrovia included a stop in Atwater at the Foster’s Freeze. Those of you unfamiliar with California drive-in cuisine, Foster’s is a DQ-like chain. I had been saving my calorie budget for an extra larger chocolate malt, with extra malt. Later I found out that this Foster’s Freeze was featured in Pulp Fiction(which I have not seen), where apparently Bruce Willis runs Ving Rhames over in the parking lot.
  • Yuma, Arizona
    • An easy day’s drive with a couple of stops along the Salton Sea, where we had never been. It’s an impressive body of water, dramatic with it’s sea to desert interface. I would consider camping here sometime during the offseason – none of the campgrounds along any campers in them, save one or two here or there. Solitude abounded. We stopped at the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club along State Route 111, a county recreation facility that once was a marina and resort for Hollywood types. There we watched pelicans, egrets and other birds, while enjoying the pleasant autumn sun and sound o the water lapping the shore.
    •  I spent a couple hours of the morning before we drove to Tucson exploring Yuma and taking pictures of trains crossing the Colorado River next to Interstate 8. We hit the road about noon, stopping in Dateland to buy dates. I’ve always been fascinated by abandoned places, especially abandoned airfields, so I remembered that there were several old WWII training fields in the area. One was back west a couple of miles on the south side of the interstate. So we headed there, and as we crossed the adjacent railroad tracks, we came across signs proclaiming “Barry M Goldwater Firing Range : Do Not Enter : Live Fire Range, yada, yada, yada”. I pondered ignoring the sign for a few moments, I mean the airfield was just another quarter mile down the road, and not an A-10 or F-35 to be seen. Well, wisdom prevailed, and I turned around – only to see a Border Patrol agent coming from the direction of the airfield 30 seconds later. An encounter with any federal agent would not have been good. But that’s ok, because just on the other side of Interstate 8 is Dateland Field, another abandoned WWII training field, so I was able to stop there. Passing Gila Bend, I got a good look at the Sand Tank Mountains, part of the Sonora Desert National Monument. It looks like a fascinating area to explore, and I’ve put it on my bucket list. There’s a great series of trip reports about this area by Desert Mountaineer.
  • DSCN0042 web DSCN0042 web The Tom Mix Memorial on Arizona State Route 79 north of Oracle Junction
  • DSCN0049 web DSCN0049 web Farmland near Florence, Arizona
  • DSCN0046 web DSCN0046 web Cotton fields, Florence, Arizona
  • DSCN0050 web DSCN0050 web Feli's Cuban Kitchen, Casa Grande, Arizona
  • DSCN0052 web DSCN0052 web Feli's Cuban Kitchen
  • DSCN0057 web DSCN0057 web Flounder with mango and pineapple, Feli's Cuban Kitchen
  • DSCN0064 web DSCN0064 web Heading west out of the Phoenix metroplex at sunset
  • DSCN0070 web DSCN0070 web Wind turbines outside of Palm Springs, California
  • DSCN0074 web DSCN0074 web Cottonwoods along California State Route 138
  • DSCN0077 web 2 DSCN0077 web 2
  • DSCN0078 web DSCN0078 web Amtrak cab car "Mount Shasta" heading north, Merced, California
  • DSCN0080 web DSCN0080 web Southbound freight on the BNSF line, Merced, California
  • DSCN0083 web DSCN0083 web Local BNSF crew setting out freight cars
  • DSCN0092 web DSCN0092 web SW1200 switch engine at the Foster Farms Collier Road plant
  • DSCN0117 web DSCN0117 web City of Mount Shasta below its namesake
  • DSCN0101 web DSCN0101 web Mount Shasta from the northwest side
  • DSCN0155 web DSCN0155 web The Shastina cone of Mount Shasta
  • DSCN0110 web DSCN0110 web Weed, California
  • DSCN0105 web DSCN0105 web Switch engine at Roseburg Lumber Products in Weed, California
  • DSCN0115 web DSCN0115 web The Sacramento River, Dunsmuir, California
  • DSCN0161 web DSCN0161 web Black Butte, just north of Mount Shasta. Black Butte is an extinct dacite dome volcano.
  • DSCN0207 web DSCN0207 web Locomotive turntable replica, downtown Folsom, California
  • DSCN0211 web DSCN0211 web A bar sign in Auburn, California
  • IMG_1852 A web IMG_1852 A web On the east side of the Salton Sea, California, looking west
  • IMG_1856 web IMG_1856 web Pelicans, Salton Sea
  • DSCN0223 web DSCN0223 web An eastbound freight train crosses the Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona
  • DSCN0224 web DSCN0224 web Balwin steam locomotive SP 2521 on display in Yuma.
  • DSCN0227 web DSCN0227 web Inside of the cab of SP 2521
  • DSCN0218 bw web DSCN0218 bw web Abandoned train station, Fort Yuma-Quechan Indian Reservation, which straddles the California/Arizona state line at Yuma.
  • DSCN0233 web DSCN0233 web One of the former runways of the WWII Army Air Corps training field Dateland Field, Dateland, Arizona
  • DSCN0231 web DSCN0231 web Abandoned water tower, used for steam locomotives along the former Southern Pacific Railroad line, just east of Dateland, Arizona