There’s a lot more to California’s Route 99 than its ominous name: it could rightly be called one of the most important roads in American history.
And while the road’s original iteration was retired several decades ago, Route 99 continues to be an important part of America’s heritage and many of its pieces remain in use to this day. The old Route 99 runs south to I-10 that continues across the US from Los Angeles to Texas all the way to Florida. Many incredible local businesses were started along Route 99 and I-10.
Route 99’s origins
Those who aren’t history buffs probably won’t know that Route 99 came about thanks to a landmark path called Siskiyou Trail which in turn comes from a system of paths made by Native Americans – therefore, one could say that we owe the Natives our thanks for clearing out the way for what would eventually became an all-important road.
And while the ‘road’ was used since the early 19th century, it was only paved around a century later thanks to breakthroughs in the automotive industry.
Eventually, the very same advancements saw the road officially decommissioned in 1972. Again, only history buffs will be privy to the fact that the road was being split up as early as the mid-1960s because state heads believed California’s highway system could be simpler.
Due to the sheer size of Route 99, no small number of states was able to hold onto a piece and rename it in accordance with traffic regulations. California – the state many consider Route 99’s home – kept over 400 miles of the original stretch and the road still ranks among California’s longest. On top of this, California also introduced a nostalgic stretch of the same highway called Historic U.S. Route 99, starting from Indio and meant to give visitors and residents a taste of the old.
Of course, Indio is only one out of many quaint and historic towns you’ll encounter by sticking to the once-highway: following the attached I-10 will land you on the fun side of many unique places across the country such as Texas’ own great little town called Boerne.
These days, Route 99’s original body is split into more pieces than anyone except the most seasoned drivers can count. If you ever drove through California, Washington or Oregon, there’s a good chance you spent some time on America’s storied road – in its heyday, Route 99 also had important sections at our borders with both Canada and Mexico, making it equally as important to tourists as it was to the natives. If you get a chance, take a breather on the side of the road and think about how many people earned their bread and reconnected with their loved ones thanks to it – keep the traffic in mind while reminiscing, though!
No doubt, the splitting up of Route 99 into many pieces helped simplify traffic and paved the way for easier travels across America’s great length. Still, no matter the amount of changes we introduce, the old and sturdy doesn’t go away easily – many parts of Route 99 are still used in present day with minimal alterations done to the road’s construction, which only goes to show that things really were built to last back in the day.