1931 map showing US 48
If Route 66 is the best known historic highway in California, then US 48 is by far the least known. This is with good reason. First, it was a short highway, going from US 101E near Hayward in the Bay Area to US 99 near Manteca. More important is that it only existed for a very brief time, from 1926 to around 1934. While it does show up on old maps, it is doubtful that it was signed for more than a few years, contributing further to its obscurity. Interestingly, in the 1970s, US 48 was reincarnated in eastern Maryland along what is now I-68. Like its predecessor, it was decommissioned rather quickly.
US 48 was a road in the Bay Area which went from San Jose to Manteca. It basically followed the route of its successor, US 50. Its western terminus was near the present location of I-238 and I-880 interchange and it generally followed the route of current I-580 to the I-205 junction. It continued east on I-205, then followed Old Highway 50 (BR-205) through Tracy, thence to I-5. It followed I-5 to SR-120, then followed SR-120 to the vicinity of the SR-99/SR-120 interchange, which marked its eastern terminus. Note: A 1925 article published in California Highways, the publication of the California Division of Highways, states that the western terminus of US 48 was in San Jose. At some point between then and 1930, the terminus may have been set back to Hayward.
US 48 was the first highway to be decommissioned in California (as well as one of the first anywhere), having been eliminated around 1934. Interestingly, this was also around the same time that the California State Highway System was implemented and a renumbering of some other US highways occurred.
|US 48 appeared again in the early 1970s in West Virginia and western Maryland. To my
knowledge, this is the only US highway that was commissioned after being "dead"
for many years. Its routing basically coincided with the present routing of I-68 from
Morgantown, WV to Cumberland, MD. Mark Eisner gave me some great information about the
disposition of this incarnation of US 48.
I-68 was built in stages during the 1980s through mountainous Maryland and West Virginia. Completed sections carried the US-48 designation at the time, and the highway was called the National Freeway, a name that harks back to "National Pike" which was and remains US-40. The day the road was complete, the US-48 signs came down and the I-68 signs went up. Something about federal funding.
Go to the Historic California US Highways Main Page
The "modern" US 48 shield is adapted from the US 40 shield on James Lin's Highway Signs page.