California State Route 139: Wikis


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State Route 139 shield
State Route 139
Defined by S&HC § 439, maintained by Caltrans
Length: 121.836 mi[1] (196.076 km)
(plus about 21 mi (34 km) on SR 299)
History: State highway in ca. 1940 and 1959; numbered by 1946
South end: SR 36 in Susanville
SR 299 at Adin
SR 299 at Canby
North end: OR 39 at Oregon state line
State highways in California (list - pre-1964)
< SR 138 SR 140 >
History - Unconstructed - Deleted - Freeway - Scenic

State Route 139 (SR 139) is a state highway in the U.S. state of California. Running from Susanville north to Oregon Route 39, it forms part of the shortest route between Reno, Nevada and Klamath Falls, Oregon. The entire route is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System, but is a two-lane road. North of the SR 299 overlap, SR 139 is an eligible State Scenic Highway, but has not been designated as such;[2] the short piece north of Tulelake is however part of the federal Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. The portion north of SR 299 is also in the Interregional Road System as a High Emphasis Route and in the National Highway System. North of SR 299, the highway was built by the federal government and turned over to the state in about 1940; the remainder was built by a joint highway district of Lassen and Modoc Counties, completed in 1956, and given to the state in 1959.


Route description

SR 139 through the Modoc National Forest

State Route 139 begins at SR 36 in Susanville, and heads northeast up Antelope Mountain before turning north and descending into the Eagle Lake Basin. The highway continues north and northwest through valleys and over hills and through a part of the Modoc National Forest, and then enters the east end of the Big Valley, where it begins to overlap SR 299 through Adin. The combined routes continue northerly through another part of the forest and over Adin Pass into the Warm Springs Valley, where SR 139 splits to the northwest near Canby. SR 139 runs northwest and north over mostly flat terrain through the center of the national forest before turning northwest and cutting across the intermittent Tule Lake, through the city of Tulelake, to the Oregon state line at Hatfield. At an intersection right on the state line, SR 161 begins to the west, and Oregon Route 39 continues northwest towards Klamath Falls.[3]


In 1925, a state-created "California Highway Advisory Committee" recommended a number of additions to the state highway system; among these was a route from Susanville to the Oregon state line towards Klamath Falls, via Bieber. This would be part of a road connecting Reno, Nevada and Klamath Falls east of the Sierra Nevada, which would attract heavy traffic and improve access to Crater Lake and Lassen Volcanic National Parks.[4] A local county road already followed this path, but it was unpaved, mostly dirt and gravel but with sections of rock and bad sand. This was close to the present SR 139, with notable deviations via Hayden Hill, via Bieber and Lookout, and via Malin, Oregon (as Tule Lake covered SR 139's current location).[5]

By the mid-1920s, the main road southeast from Klamath Falls, still unimproved in California, headed southeast to State Highway Route 28 (now SR 299) at Canby rather than south to Bieber. There travelers could head east on Route 28 to Alturas and south on the present US 395 (not a state highway north of Susanville until 1933) towards Reno.[6][7] The California state legislature passed a law in 1939, providing for state takeover of the Canby-Oregon road if the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Public Roads were to construct and pave it.[8] The road was in fact mostly paved by mid-1939,[9] and under construction or completed by mid-1940, when Oregon Route 58 opened, continuing the corridor northwest from Klamath Falls.[10] In 1943 the legislature gave it the Route 210 designation;[11] Oregon had added the short connecting Hatfield Highway to its state highway system in 1937.[12]

Lassen and Modoc Counties organized Joint Highway District No. 14 on December 21, 1929 to construct and maintain a road from Susanville via Adin to Oregon. However, since the state took over the part north of Adin, the district's scope was narrowed to Susanville-Adin.[13] It finally completed work in 1956, and held a ceremony on August 26, in which it placed a monument at a point near Eagle Lake.[14] The legislature added the road to the state highway system as Route 216 in 1959.[15] (The portion south of Horse Lake Road became an extension of Route 20 instead;[16] this route from Susanville to Ravendale (later Termo) was never constructed by the state, and was deleted from SR 36 in 1998.) Also in 1959, a spur of Route 210 west to Dorris was added; this became SR 161 in 1964.[17]

By 1946, the Canby-Oregon portion had been marked as Sign Route 139, connecting with Oregon Route 39;[18] it was extended south over US 299 to Adin and Routes 216 and 20 to Susanville by 1960.[19] The number was legislatively adopted, replacing Routes 210 and 216, in the 1964 renumbering.[20] It has remained a two-lane road,[3] despite being added to the California Freeway and Expressway System in 1959 (Canby to Oregon) and 1965 (Susanville to Adin).[21][22]

Major intersections

Note: Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured in 1964, based on the alignment as it existed at that time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.
County Location Postmile
Destinations Notes
LAS 0.00-66.64
Susanville 0.00 SR 36 (Main Street) – Reno, Red Bluff
CR A1 (Eagle Lake Road)
43.27 Termo-Grasshopper Road – Termo
61.46 CR A2 (Susanville Road) – Bieber, Mount Shasta
MOD 0.00-50.68
Adin 0.23
299 0.33
SR 299 west – Redding South end of SR 299 overlap
Canby 299 21.75
SR 299 east – Alturas North end of SR 299 overlap
17.35 Lookout-Hackamore Road – Lookout, Bieber
40.45 County Road 114
SIS 0.00-5.04
Tulelake 1.04 East West Road, E Street (Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway), Osborne Road
5.04 SR 161 (State Line Road, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway) – Dorris, Malin
5.04 Oregon state line
5.04 OR 39Klamath Falls Continuation beyond SR 161 and the Oregon state line


  1. ^ a b California Department of Transportation, State Truck Route List (XLS file), accessed February 2008
  2. ^ California Department of Transportation, Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways, accessed February 2008
  3. ^ a b Google Maps street maps and USGS topographic maps, accessed January 2008 via ACME Mapper
  4. ^ California Highway Advisory Committee and Arthur Hastings Breed, Report of a Study of the State Highway System of California, California State Printing Office, 1925, p. 98
  5. ^ Official Automobile Blue Book, Volume Eight, 1918, pp. 266-268
  6. ^ Clason Map Company, Touring Atlas of the United States, 1925
  7. ^ Rand McNally & Company, Auto Road Atlas, 1926
  8. ^ "An act to add section 653 to the Streets and Highways Code, relating to State highways.", 1939 chapter 338, p. 1677
  9. ^ Nevada State Journal, June 30, 1939: "A one-mile stretch at the Modoc-Siskiyou county line is gravel surfaced and from Tule Lake to the Oregon state line the oiled surface is broken and somewhat rough."
  10. ^ Reno Evening Gazette, August 2, 1940: "With the opening of the new Willamette highway in Oregon, connecting U. S. 99 with U. S. 97, a new avenue for direct travel is available to motorists between Reno and points in the Pacific Northwest...Short stretches are being oiled, with flagmen controlling traffic and caution is required. The balance of this route is entirely paved and in excellent condition."
  11. ^ "An act...relating to the State highway routes and adding a new route.", 1943 chapter 964, p. 2849: "Route 210 is from Route 28 near Canby to the Oregon line near Merrill."
  12. ^ Oregon Department of Transportation, History of State Highways in Oregon, January 2007, p. 677
  13. ^ Division of Highways, Sixth Annual Report to the Governor on the Activities of the Division of Highways for the Year July 1, 1951 to June 30, 1952, p. 124
  14. ^ Reno Evening Gazette, Lassen Highway Dedication Held, September 4, 1956
  15. ^ "An act to add Section 516 to the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highways.", 1959 chapter 1853, p. 4409: "Route 216 is from Route 20 north of Susanville to Route 28 near Adin."
  16. ^ "An act to amend...the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highways, providing for a California Freeway and Expressway System...", 1959 chapter 1062, p. 3116: "Route 20 is from:...(c) Route 29 near Susanville to Route 73 near Ravendale."
  17. ^ "An act to amend...the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highways, providing for a California Freeway and Expressway System...", 1959 chapter 1062, p. 3118: "Route 210 is from: (a) Route 28 near Canby to the Oregon line near Hatfield. (b) A point on the highway specified in subdivision (a) of this section near Hatfield to Route 72 near Dorris."
  18. ^ Rand McNally & Company, Road Atlas, 1946
  19. ^ Oakland Tribune, May 31, 1960: "Nichols was killed when his car missed a turn yesterday morning and overturned on State Highway 139, two miles north of Susanville."
  20. ^ "An act...relating to routes on the state highway system.", 1963 chapter 385, p. 1182: "Route 139 is from: (a) Route 36 near Susanville to Route 299 near Adin. (b) Route 299 near Canby to the Oregon state line near Hatfield."
  21. ^ "An act to amend...the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highways, providing for a California Freeway and Expressway System...", 1959 chapter 1062, p. 3115
  22. ^ "An act...relating to state highways.", 1965 chapter 1372, p. 3269
  23. ^ California Department of Transportation, Log of Bridges on State Highways, July 2007
  24. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006

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