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California State Route 49, Just East of Downieville, California | by Ken Lund
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California State Route 49, Just East of Downieville, California

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 a portion of it is known as the Gold Country 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.


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, where gold was first discovered in 1848, sparking the gold rush. It is home of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. 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. SR 49 continues onto Lincoln Way before making a turn north and interchanging with I-80. SR 49 continues almost due north out of the Auburn city limits.

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. Empire Mine in Grass Valley was the richest hard-rock mine in California in its mining history of 106 years (1850–1956). 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.


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. Camptonville is a gold rush town where the Pelton wheel was invented and is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. 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 Bassets and Haskell Creek before running concurrently 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.

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Taken on June 23, 2007