Saturday, July 18, 2009

US Highway 466

It began in Kingman, Arizona, where Route 66 and Route 93 met. From Kingman, it followed Route 93 to Las Vegas, Nevada. From there, it went south down Route 91. Just before Route 91 got to Barstow, California, it went off on its own way into Bakersfield. It went up Route 99 to Famoso and then took a turn westward to Shandon, and west to Paso Robles. It then went south on Route 101, took a turn west at Atascadero, then ending at Morro Bay (according to my 1936 map of California...)

Probably the most famous thing that ever happened on the road was on September 30, 1955, when actor James Dean (1930-55) was killed in an accident with his Porsche Spyder. It's ironic that he had just done a TV safety spot with Gig Young just prior to that occurrence. He warned young drivers not to speed... "...the life you save may be my own!" But it was his own speed that killed him.

When John Steinbeck's novel (and later the motion picture) The Grapes of Wrath appeared, the Joad family took Route 466 to get from Barstow to Bakersfield. It should be pointed out that 466 only met Route 66 at one point, its terminus in Kingman. At Barstow, Route 466 was two miles north of town. In real life during the Depression, it was no problem to find the road... there were people on the highway 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

California's Department of Transportation (Caltrans) decommissioned Route 466 in 1964. It had served the state as a major thoroughfare for 32 years. Route 58 went from Barstow to Bakersfield, then went elsewhere. From Famoso to Paso Robles it became Route 46. And between Atascadero to Morro Bay it was Route 41. (Actually, it was colabeled with Route 41 around Shandon and between Atascadero and Morro Bay.)

When Caltrans built a new freeway for Route 58 to the SOUTH of Barstow a few years ago, the exit for the old highway was listed as OLD HWY 58. Route 466 was completely forgotten.

However, the LoyalTubist has not forgotten the road. And here is your chance to own a piece of history. Click on this link to buy your own Route 466 hooded sweatshirt. It's available in white or gray. It shows the California version of the highway shield.

Did you know California is the only state that cuts out its US highway shields in the shape of a shield and not a rectangle? Perhaps this is the reason, in 1964, that Caltrans eliminated all but six US highways: 6, 50, 95, 101, 199, and 395.