US 6 started out as a short route in Massachusetts in 1926 until it was slowly extended west to Colorado. In 1937, US 6 was finally extended to Long Beach, CA, making it a truly transcontinental route. This extension also made the highway the longest signed route in the United States, with a total of 3,652 miles from Provincetown, MA to Long Beach, CA. The roadway from Mojave to Bishop was known as El Camino Sierra, or The Sierra Highway. Before the advent of numbered routes, US 6 was known as the Midland Trail from the Newhall Pass to near Big Pine, CA in the Owens Valley. US 6 also had the name of “Grand Army of the Republic Highway”, a name which is still carries today.
The roadways that would become US 6 mostly developed as wagon trails which were later improved as State Highways in the early 1920’s. The route was developed as the best road from the Los Angeles area to the Eastern Sierra. As traffic increased, the roadway was gradually widened and realigned for safety and capacity. The section from the Newhall Pass north to near Mojave had enough traffic to eventually warrant a full freeway, albeit after US 6 was cut back to Bishop, CA following the opening of the first segment of the Antelope Valley Freeway on October 15, 1963.
The first signage along what would become US 6 in California came in 1934 in the form of a State Highway shield. SR-7, as it was known, would be signed along old US 6 from Bishop to Newhall Pass. In 1935, US 395 was extended along the US 6 corridor from Bishop to Inyokern. In 1937, US 6 was finally extended from its Denver, Colorado terminus to Long Beach, California. The routing it followed from Bishop, CA was along US 395, SR-14, I-5, SR-110, and SR-1, finally ending at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Atlantic Blvd (old Jct. SR-15). Upon completion of the first section of the Antelope Valley Freeway on October 15, 1963, US 6 was shortened to Bishop and was designated as SR-14 from Inyokern (Jct US 395) to Newhall Pass (Jct US 99). The only segment of old US 6 not to be signed as SR-14 was the segment of Sierra Highway from Solemint Junction, CA to Red Rover Mine Road near Acton, CA.
There was one alignment of US 6 that was planned, but only partially signed in the Los Angeles area. The Hollywood Freeway, signed currently as SR-170, was planned to be the US 6 freeway from current I-5 to US 101. US 6 would have diverged from US 99 in Arleta and then followed current SR-170 to US 101. It would have then followed US 101 to the Four Level Interchange, where it would rejoin its older routing down the Harbor Freeway. This routing was briefly signed in 1962 on the southern end of the (SR-170) Hollywood Freeway at US 101.
Maps and Documents
- 1938 Brochure of US 6 and US 395 from Los Angeles to Reno
Other US 6 Pages:
- Eastern End of US 6 on Cape Cod by Dale Sanderson
- Casey Cooper’s Finding US 6
- US Route 6 Tourist Association
Tour extends from the Newhall Pass
near Los Angeles, California to the Tonopah, Nevada.