Sometime in 1934, the planners of the American Association of State Highway Officials (today's AASHTO) decided that US Highway 99, then a major north-south route in California, should have a third branch. Thus was created US Highway 399, a regional highway designed to provide a through route from the lower central valley into the Los Angeles area.
US 399 began its trek in Bakersfield, California, birthplace of the legendary country artist Buck Owens. There, at a junction with US 99 and US Highway 466 (itself a branch of the famous Route 66), the highway proceeded west out of the city. At Buttonwillow, US 399 continued along a long, sweeping curve of nearly thirty miles and entered the city of Taft.
Taft is situated in California's oil and natural gas-producing region and was originally called “Moron”, perhaps not an endearing name for what became a prosperous little city. After a devastating fire in the 1920s, it was renamed in honor of US President William Howard Taft. It remains today an important center of petroleum production.
Leaving Taft, US 399 headed due south (following the route of today's California highway 33) through the Los Padres National Forest, with its many campsites and recreation areas. Near the south end of the forest, the highway passed near Pine Mountain and arrived at Ojai. A city famous for its art colonies, golf resorts, and architecture, Ojai is a popular vacation spot for southern Californians and a pleasant destination for any traveller.
After just a few miles, US 399 reached its southern terminus in Ventura, at a junction with US Highway 101 and California highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. Ventura, celebrated in movies, television, and by The Beach Boys, features miles of coastal beaches, the usual botiques, and trips through Mission San Buenaventura. Some fourteen miles offshore, the Channel Islands National Park awaits the traveller as well.
US 399's existence came to an end in 1964 when California renumbered and eliminated many of its existing US highway routes. California state highways 58 and 33 took over all of US 399's routing, but together they remain an important route in the state.
Droz, Robert V., "Sequential List of US Highways", US Highways From US 1 to US 830
. July 2003. <http://www.us-highways.com/us1830.htm> (June 2006)
Sanderson, Dale, “US Highway Ends”, End of historic U.S. highway 399
. June 2005. <http://www.geocities.com/usend9099/End399/end399.htm> (June 2006)
, entry for Taft, California. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taft,_California> (June 2006)