Henness Pass, California

  Located in the Tahoe National Forest, Henness Pass Road was thought to have been laid out around 1849 and construction began in 1852 as a wagon toll road from Nevada to the gold fields of California. The road starts on Highway 49 at either Camptonville or a south fork at Oregon Creek where a covered bridge built in the 1860's is still in use. The Henness Pass Road ends in Verdi Nevada.

  By 1859 the California gold rush was dying down and with the discovery of silver in the Nevada Comstock, a mass exodus of miners from California to Nevada began. The Henness Pass road with it's established mining towns and stage stops became one of the primary routes to the Comstock second to the Placerville-Carson route to the south. So plans to improve the road began.  

  In 1859, the Truckee Turnpike Company was organized to build a road from Marysville to North San Juan in order to connect up with the Henness Pass Road. Not to be left out, in Nevada City the Henness Pass Turnpike Company was formed to hook up Nevada City to the Henness Pass Road at Eureka. The two company's joined forces and, using the old emigrant route, built a road all the way to Virginia City.

  Between 1860 and 1868, the road was extremely busy, kind of like the Riverside freeway on a Friday! The traffic was so bad that in order to regulate traffic, freight wagons ran during the day and stages ran at night. Even though there was considerable traffic on the Henness Pass Road, it was still second in use to the Placerville-Carson Route. When the Central Pacific Railroad was completed in 1868, the use of  the Henness Pass route came to an end.

  The Henness Pass Road is one of the last trans-Sierra backroads that can still be driven today. The road is pretty much a high clearance two wheel drive dirt road with a few rough spots along the way. Part of the original road has been bypassed with a paved road near Jackson Meadows Reservoir and Weber Lake. I used the GPS and Topo on the laptop to try and stay on the original road, but we found that bridges were washed out and finally when we got near the 89 crossing, we hit our second washed out bridge and had to turn around and take the paved road to the 89. After crossing the 89, Henness Pass Road was a good dirt road all the way to Verdi Nevada where we lost it in a newer housing track.

  As far as historical sites off of the road, we saw none! We did find a few plaques hidden here and there about the sites which are now long gone. The road was pretty boring just winding thru the forest which included some clear cut areas. I think I'd have to pass if someone were to invite me to again take a trip down the Henness Pass.

Rachael takes a break from driving near Weber Lake.

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