[US 399: Ventura-Ojai-Maricopa-Taft-Bakersfield]
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An obscure highway, a fabulous drive

If you try to talk to someone about US Highway 399, they'll probably think you typed the number wrong. And in a state like California where US highways are a curiosity and in many places a relic, a particularly small and long-gone highway like old US 399 won't be remembered even by the people that drove it long ago.

 That's a shame, because US 399 was once a vital continuous link from the California coast to the communities of the southern San Joaquin Valley and California's rich agricultural areas. Along the way US 399 literally tunneled through mountains, darted along cliffs and ran with creeks, carrying the great human commodities of food and oil with the vehicles trundling over its asphalt from field to ocean. Miles away from any other arterial, the old routing of US 399 remains in use today by the state highways that succeeded it because no other routing serves the region better than the one it pioneered. Despite the route's decommissioning in the 1964 California Great Renumbering, there is more traffic than ever on this historic highway even if no one remembers the number it used to carry.

In this eight-part photoessay, we'll follow old US 399 all the way from the coast in Ventura, then through the mountains to Ojai and along the historic Maricopa Highway to the Cuyama Valley and Maricopa. Not only will we look at the former alignment through old town Ventura, but also the modern Ojai Freeway that US 399 inaugurated and that remains very much in use today. From Maricopa, we proceed through the amazing Kern oil fields to Taft, hub city of the local oil industry, and then through the old Kern River plain to Bakersfield, the southern San Joaquin Valley's centre for agriculture and petroleum. Along the way we'll visit the rangey Carrizo Plain National Monument, home of the San Andreas Fault, point out old alignments, and take a couple bonus spins on the modern highways. I promise you a rarely seen comprehensive look at an area most Californians will only glance over on their maps, and I guarantee you'll want to drive it yourself when we're done. I hope you enjoy this exhibit as much as I did traveling it. Please take a second to drop me a line when you're done. -- Cameron Kaiser

Photography completed during April 2005, May 2006, February 2007, June, July and August 2007 and November 2009, with writeups completed in November and December 2009.


For reasons of alignment continuity, San Luis Obispo county and Kern county overlap in Part 5.

Historic US 399 in Ventura County

This section covers old US 399 along the Ojai Fwy and old Ventura along the historic Maricopa Highway to the county line south of Ventucopa, travelling on modern CA 33 (and parts CA 150).

Historic US 399 in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties

This section covers old US 399 from the Ventura county line through the very brief portions in Santa Barbara county and San Luis Obispo county along the Cuyama River and Cuyama Valley, travelling on modern CA 33 (and parts CA 166).

Historic US 399 in Kern County

This section covers old US 399 from the San Luis Obispo county line into the San Joaquin Valley to its various termini in Bakersfield, travelling on modern CA 33, modern CA 119, modern BUSINESS 99 and modern CA 204.


Fellow roadgeeks' US 399 pages

Other US 399 resources

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[Main page] All images, photographs and multimedia, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © 2004-2010 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. All writeups are copyright © 2004-2010 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or duplication without express consent of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited. Please contact the sitemaster to request permission if you wish to use items from this page.

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