Approximately 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Redwood Creek Bridge below Berry Summit on Nov. 20, 1965. The observance also marked the completion of a road realignment project that eliminated many of the dangerous curves along that part of state Route 299.
Following the Redwood Creek dedication, many attending drove their vehicles to Mad River Bridge in Arcata, where Sam Helwer, district engineer of the state Division of Highways, dedicated a new four-mile stretch of freeway linking U.S. Highway 101 in Arcata to the city of Blue Lake. That ceremony had a crowd of more than 500 people strong.
The new Blue Lake freeway section created a bypass for the old 18-to-20-foot wide road built by Humboldt County in 1926, according to an article in the Humboldt Standard newspaper on Nov. 22, 1965.
The two road projects, completed by Granite Construction Co. over 230 days, marked major advances in the push for a four-lane highway eastward to Redding. The cost of both projects was about $8.7 million, the Humboldt Standard reported.
Moon Lee of Weaverville, a past president of the Route 299 Association, cut the ribbon at Redwood Creek. Jim Nickolas, at the helm of a Simpson Timber Co. truck, was selected by lottery to drive through the ribbon at Mad River Bridge, celebrating the start of official freeway travel in the area.
Also participating in the Redwood Creek Bridge ceremony with Lee were Humboldt County Supervisors William Landis and Norman Robertson as well as Harold Hunt, an Arcata developer and the Route 299 Association president 54 years ago.
In his dedication speech, Lee noted he “never dreamed the completed projects would come so soon.”
Wesley Hotelling, former supervisor of Six Rivers National Forest, also spoke at the ceremony at Redwood Creek, predicting a greater flow of tourists between the Humboldt Bay area and the east as well as further economic development along the route.
Others attending one or both of the ceremonies in November 1965 were Fred Bagshaw, assistant director of public works for the state of California; Silas Van Zee, representing the Willow Creek Chamber of Commerce; Max Rowley of the Lower Trinity Chapter of the Western Mining Council; and Velma Shull, mayor of Blue Lake. The Arcata High School band furnished music at the dedication ceremonies.
Heather Shelton can be reached at 707-441-0516.