California State Route 49

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State Route 49 marker

State Route 49

Golden Chain Highway
SR 49 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length295.065 mi[1] (474.861 km)
SR 49 has three route breaks, and the length given above does not include the SR 120, SR 20, and SR 89 overlap mileages.
National Forest Scenic Byway.svgCalifornia Scenic State.svg Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway
Major junctions
South end SR 41 at Oakhurst
Major intersections
North end SR 70 at Vinton
CountryUnited States
CountiesMadera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Nevada, Yuba, Sierra, Plumas
Highway system
US 48 US 50

State Route 49 (SR 49) is a north–south state highway in the U.S. state of California that passes through many historic mining communities of the 1849 California gold rush. Highway 49 is numbered after the "49ers", the waves of immigrants who swept into the area looking for gold, and it is known as the Golden Chain Highway. This roadway begins at Oakhurst, Madera County, in the Sierra Nevada, where it diverges from State Route 41. It continues in a generally northwest direction, weaving through the communities of Goldside and Ahwahnee, before crossing into Mariposa County. State Route 49 then continues northward through the counties of Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Nevada, Yuba, Sierra, and Plumas, where it reaches its northern terminus at State Route 70, in Vinton.

Route description[edit]

SR 49 crossing the American River North/Middle Fork, as seen from Foresthill Bridge (the SR 49 bridge is not visible)
The South Fork of the Yuba River as it intersects with SR 49
SR 49 in Tuolumne County
North end of SR 49, at intersection with SR 70 in Vinton

SR 49 starts at an intersection with SR 41 near Oakhurst. The road heads west before turning north before the town of Ahwahnee near the Wassama Roundhouse State Historic Park. SR 49 continues north, passing through Nipinnswassee before entering Mariposa County and the Sierra National Forest. Continuing to the west, SR 49 passes through Mormon Bar before running concurrently with SR 140 briefly through the town of Mariposa. Near the town of Mount Bullion, SR 49 passes by Mariposa-Yosemite Airport before turning northwest and going through Bear Valley and the intersection with CR J16. The highway passes by the southern edge of Lake McClure and intersects SR 132 in Coulterville before passing into Tuolumne County.[2]

SR 49 continues north through the town of Moccasin, where SR 120 runs concurrently for several miles to the town of Chinese Camp. SR 49 then turns northeast and runs concurrently with SR 108, intersecting CR E5, into the city of Sonora. SR 49 splits from SR 108 and enters downtown Sonora as Stockton Street, turning north onto Washington Street before leaving the Sonora city limits. SR 49 intersects the north end of CR E5 before passing through Tuttletown and crossing into Calaveras County at the bridge over the Stanislaus River.[2]

SR 49 passes by Robinson's Ferry, a ferry across the Stanislaus River established in 1848. Next is the Birthplace of Archie Stevenot, who helped found the California State Chamber of Commerce and was officially named "Mr. Mother Lode" by the California legislature.[citation needed] SR 49 then enters Carson Hill,[2] where the largest gold nugget in California (195 pounds troy) was found.[citation needed] Passing by New Melones Lake, SR 49 briefly runs concurrently with SR 4 in the city of Angels Camp,[2] which lies in one of the richest quartz mining sections of the Mother Lode and is home of "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County".[citation needed]

SR 49 continues through Altaville, which was an important foundry town. Fourth Crossing was an important stagecoach and freighting depot that served the Southern Mines until after the turn of the 20th century.[citation needed] The highway continues into San Andreas, where SR 12 terminates.[2] This is where Charles Bolles, also known as "Black Bart", was tried and sentenced. Chili Gulch is the site of the Chilean War.[citation needed] SR 49 continues into Mokelumne Hill, where it intersects with SR 26;[2] Mokelumne Hill was the richest placer mining section of Calaveras County and one of the principal mining towns of California in its heyday.[citation needed]

SR 49 then passes through Big Bar, which is located on the county line between Amador County and Calaveras County. The Mokelumne River was mined at this point in 1848. Established in 1849, the "Whale Boat Ferry" operated until the first bridge was built, about 1852. The Butte Store is the only structure remaining of Butte City, prosperous mining town of the 1850s. Argonaut and Kennedy Mines were two of the highest-yielding gold mines in the state.[citation needed] SR 49 runs concurrently with SR 88 briefly through the town of Martell before intersecting the eastern terminus of SR 104 and passing near (a bypass around Sutter Creek and Amador City was constructed in 2009 [3])first the city of Sutter Creek and then Drytown.[2] Drytown is the oldest town in Amador County and the first in the county in which gold was discovered.[citation needed]

SR 49 then intersects the eastern end of SR 16 before passing through the city of Plymouth. The highway continues through Enterprise before crossing into El Dorado County and passing through the towns of Nashville, El Dorado, and Diamond Springs (the latter two as Pleasant Valley Road) before entering Placerville. SR 49 traverses downtown on Pacific Street and Main Street before continuing onto Spring Street, where it intersects the US 50 expressway at-grade before continuing north as Georgetown Road.[2]

As it leaves the Placerville city limits, SR 49 intersects the southern terminus of SR 193 before continuing northwest as Coloma Road into the town of Coloma,[2] where gold was first discovered in 1848, sparking the gold rush. It is home of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.[citation needed] The highway continues through Lotus before turning north at Pilot Hill and intersecting the northern terminus of SR 193 at Cool. SR 49 continues through the Auburn State Recreation Area before crossing into Placer County and entering the city of Auburn as High Street for a very short distance before turning west on Elm Avenue. SR 49 continues onto I-80 west at an interchange for a very short distance until the interchange at exit 119B where SR 49 departs from I-80. SR 49 then continues almost due north out of the Auburn city limits.[2]

SR 49 continues north, crossing into Nevada County and passing through Higgins Corner and Forest Springs. SR 49 becomes a freeway and enters the city of Grass Valley, where it runs concurrently with SR 20 and interchanges with the northern end of SR 174.[2] Empire Mine in Grass Valley was the richest hard-rock mine in California in its mining history of 106 years (1850–1956).[citation needed] SR 49 and SR 20 continue into Nevada City, where SR 49 exits from the freeway and heads due west out of the Nevada City city limits.[2]

SR 49 continues through the towns of Sweetland and North San Juan, where it crosses into Yuba County and enters Tahoe National Forest. The route goes through Log Cabin and Camptonville.[2] Camptonville is a gold rush town where the Pelton wheel was invented and is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.[citation needed] SR 49 then crosses into Sierra County, where it passes through Goodyears Bar, Downieville, and Sierra City on its forest journey. After passing near Kentucky Mine Historic Park, SR 49 goes through Bassetts and Haskell Creek, then shares a wrong-way concurrency with SR 89 briefly through Sattley and Sierraville. SR 49 then leaves the forest as Loyalton Road, passing through the city of Loyalton and intersecting CR A24 before crossing into Plumas County as Vinton Loyalton Road, where SR 49 ends at SR 70 in the town of Vinton.[2]

SR 49 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[4] and from SR 140 to a point north of SR 88 as well as from I-80 to SR 20 is part of the National Highway System,[5] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[6] SR 49 is eligible to be included in the State Scenic Highway System,[7] and from the Sierra-Yuba county line to Yuba Summit is officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation.[8] The segment of SR 49 from SR 20 in Nevada City to SR 89 in Sierraville also forms part of the Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway, a National Forest Scenic Byway.[9]

SR 49 is known as the Golden Chain Highway for the entire route. SR 49 is known as the John C. Begovich Memorial Highway from Jackson to SR 88 (honoring the California legislator and U.S. Marshal), and the Mother Lode Highway from Sonora to Auburn.[10]


Major intersections[edit]

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers to an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see California postmile § Official postmile definitions).[1] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

MAD 0.00-9.28
Oakhurst0.00 SR 41 – Yosemite, FresnoSouthern terminus
MPA 0.33-48.84
21.22[N 1]

SR 140 west – Merced
South end of SR 140 overlap
22.00[N 1]

SR 140 east / Jones Street – Yosemite
North end of SR 140 overlap
SR 132 west – La Grange, Modesto
TUO 0.00-R27.52
R23.90[N 2]

SR 120 east – Yosemite
South end of SR 120 overlap
Tuolumne River / Don Pedro ReservoirR19.61[N 2]James E. Roberts Bridge
Chinese Camp15.52[N 2]

SR 120 west – Oakdale
North end of SR 120 overlap
SR 108 west – Modesto
South end of SR 108 overlap
SR 108 Bus. begins / SR 108 east – Pinecrest
North end of SR 108 overlap; south end of SR 108 Bus. overlap
17.97Washington Street (SR 108 Bus. east) – Sonora Pass, Twain HarteFormer SR 108 east; north end of SR 108 Bus. overlap
New Melones LakeR27.52
Archie Stevenot Bridge
CAL R0.00-30.87
Angels Camp7.21
Vallecito Road (SR 4 Bus. east) to SR 4 – Murphys, Arnold, Bear Valley, Markleeville
South end of SR 4 Bus. overlap; former SR 4 east
8.67 SR 4 Bus. ends / SR 4 – Murphys, StocktonNorth end of SR 4 Bus. overlap
San Andreas19.41

Historic SR 49 north (Main Street)
Former SR 49 north
SR 12 west – Valley Springs, Stockton

Historic SR 49 south (Gold Strike Road)
Former SR 49 south
Mokelumne Hill27.61 SR 26 – Valley Springs, West Point
North Fork Mokelumne River30.87
Mokelumne River Bridge
AMA 0.00-22.12
SR 88 east – Pine Grove, Lake Tahoe
South end of SR 88 overlap
SR 88 west – Stockton
North end of SR 88 overlap
Sutter Creek6.98 SR 104 (Ridge Road)SR 49 bypass was constructed around Sutter Creek in 2009.
Central House14.72
SR 16 west – Sacramento
Cosumnes River22.12
Cosumnes River Bridge
El Dorado
ED 0.00-38.23
Placerville14.90 US 50 – Lake Tahoe, Sacramento
SR 193 north – Georgetown
Clockwise terminus of SR 193
Coloma22.87Cold Springs Road (SR 153) – Gold Hill
SR 193 east – Greenwood, Georgetown
South end of SR 193 overlap
North Fork American River38.23
Tall Green Bridge
PLA 0.00-11.37
Auburn2.36Lincoln Way (Historic US 40 east)South end of Hist. US 40 overlap
 High Street south (Historic US 40 west)North end of Hist. US 40 overlap
17.83[N 3]
I-80 east – Reno
South end of I-80 overlap; I-80 exit 119C
17.54[N 3]

I-80 west (SR 193 west) – Sacramento
North end of I-80/SR 193 overlap; former SR 49 south; I-80 exit 119B
North Auburn6.38
Bell Road to I-80 – Auburn Municipal Airport, Reno, Sacramento
Bear River11.37
Bear River Bridge
NEV 0.00-R32.64
Grass ValleyR13.66South end of freeway
McKnight Way / Auburn Street
R12.30[N 4]

SR 20 west / Empire Street – Marysville
South end of SR 20 overlap
R12.92[N 4]182A SR 174 – Colfax, Grass ValleyExit numbers based on SR 20 mileage
R13.61[N 4]182BIdaho Maryland RoadNorthbound signage
E. Main StreetSouthbound signage
R14.27[N 4]183ADorsey Drive
R14.80[N 4]183BBrunswick Road
Nevada CityR15.92[N 4]185AGold Flat Road / Ridge RoadSigned as exit 185 southbound
R16.74[N 4]185BSacramento Street – Nevada CityNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
R16.99[N 4]186Broad StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
R17.24[N 4]Coyote Street – Historical DistrictNo northbound exit
North end of freeway
R17.40[N 4]

SR 20 east – Truckee
North end of SR 20 overlap
Yuba RiverR32.64
Yuba River Bridge
YUB 0.00-9.37
No major junctions
SIE 0.00-64.05
41.19[14]Yuba Pass, elevation 6,701 feet (2,042 m)[14]
19.96[N 5]

SR 89 north – Calpine, Graeagle, Blairsden, Quincy
West end of SR 89 overlap
Sierraville15.06[N 5]

SR 89 south (Lincoln Street) – Truckee
East end of SR 89 overlap
PLU 0.00-7.50
Vinton7.50 SR 70 – Beckwourth, Quincy, RenoNorthern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ a b Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 140 rather than SR 49.
  2. ^ a b c Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 120 rather than SR 49.
  3. ^ a b Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along I-80 rather than SR 49.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 20 rather than SR 49.
  5. ^ a b Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 89 rather than SR 49.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n California Road Atlas (Map). Thomas Brothers. 2008.
  3. ^ "Amador Celebrates New Bypass".
  4. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: California (North) (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  6. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  8. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  9. ^ Federal Highway Administration (n.d.). "Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway". America's Byways. Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  10. ^ California Department of Transportation; California State Transportation Agency (January 2015). 2014 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California. Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. pp. 43, 44, 207. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 30, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  11. ^ California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  12. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006
  13. ^ California Department of Transportation, California Numbered Exit Uniform System, State Route 20 Freeway Interchanges, Retrieved on 2009-02-05.
  14. ^ a b "Elevation and Location of Summits and Passes in California". California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata