Route 99, Once the I-5 of the West Coast

When you hear the word, "99″ today, you might be reminded of a popular song by the band, Toto, who wrote a song inspired by the George Lucas futurist movie, THX-1138. Long before that movie was released in 1971, portraying a imgstotalitarian state in which people (drones) were assigned numbers instead of names, or Toto's hit tune made the charts years later, 99 was a recognized moniker for a highway that served the West Coast as its fastest route north and south.

Although Route 99 is less recognized than the famed Route 66 that travels throughout the United States all the way to Santa Monica Pier where it ends on the West Coast, it played an important role in the growth of the U.S. and West Coast. It was the first inland route between the U.S. - Mexico border at Calexico, and Vancouver, Canada. Commissioned in 1926, the highway has been renamed in most places such as Burbank, where you'll see road markers commemorating it in the downtown shopping district (shown in photo.)

Fully decommissioned in 1968 and replaced by the shiny, new high-speed Interstate 5, California / US 99 highway was known for many things, including its role in carrying migrant farm workers of the 1930s through the San Joaquin Valley. Today the highway still exists as an important route for some areas of California, Oregon and Washington, though the name "99″ has disappeared in many cities that have transformed that highway into neighborhoods taking on local street names to reflect growth and change.

Places where you may see Highway 99 road signs in California include Calexico, Burbank, Bakersfield, Stockton, Sacramento, Roseville and Red Bluff. If you happen to come across the signs that say, "Historic Route 99″, you'll be amazed to discover you are standing on a spot that once was the main highway that ran 1,500 miles (approx.) between Mexico and Canada, carrying millions of people and paving the way for an entire lifestyle based on car travel.


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