Since we can’t go on the road, at least for now, why not see it through photos? I have a large collection of photos I’ve taken of the road over the years and love to share. Tell us what your favorite point on the Ridge Route is? Mine is the section between Reservoir Summit and the Tumble Inn. It has some of the best concrete and views along the entire road. It is also far away from any other road, allowing for the ability to just stop and relax, hearing nothing but nature.
Due to the ongoing crisis, our events are on hold. We will resume our Clean Up The Ridge Route (CUTTR) events once things settle down. Hopefully, we can have one before the summer heat arrives. Our Ridge Route inspections will still continue unless there are further developments.
The Ridge Route itself is another issue. While the gates can be open on occasion for various reasons, the roadway is still officially closed. Once the roadway is officially open, we will make an announcement here, in addition to whatever the USFS does. As this is still the rainy season, please keep off the roadway during and after a rain storm. The roadway is fragile in places and driving it when the soils are wet can damage the roadway.
Thank you all for your continued support. We look forward to seeing you out there when we are able to hold an event again.
Things have been busy with the RRPO lately. Last month, I posted a request for a new RRPO Secretary. It didn’t take long to get a candidate. On Thursday, March 4, the board met to vote on this new secretary as well as a few other administrative issues.
So, we’d like to welcome our new RRPO Secretary – Richard Schwartz – to our board. We look forward to his help in keeping the Ridge Route in good repair and getting it fully open again.
We have also finally settled on a date for the next CUTTR. It will be held on April 25th, starting at 10 am. The meeting location is TBD as well as additional details regarding any requirements will be announced soon. If you’re interested in joining us, please let us know beforehand.
An event, which is also a fundraiser for the RRPO, is coming up this month. A trail race run, called the Ridge Route Ultra, will be held on Saturday, March 14. The event will go nearly the entire length of the roadway, from near Martin’s to near Neenach.
On Saturday, April 4 at 7 pm, I will be giving a presentation at the Ridge Route Communities Museum regarding the status of the Ridge Route and how others can help. For more information regarding the museum, click here!
As to the roadway itself, the gates are still closed, though the northern gate has been compromised. The USFS is aware of the problem and it will hopefully be fixed somewhat soon. The southern gate remains closed, so through travel is still not possible. A section of roadway, at the south end of the Reservoir Hill grade, has been undermined by pipeline work. Unfortunately, it is also a section which has nearly pristine concrete. We are working with the USFS to get this corrected as soon as possible. The northern end of the roadway, from the Liebre Maintenance Station to Sandbergs has sections of asphalt that are degrading. Hopefully, we will be able to get some patches repaired, which will go a long way to protecting the remaining sections.
We are presently seeking a new Secretary for our board of directors. The duties are fairly simple but are necessary to help fulfill our goals. We would need someone that can attend our board meetings (generally every two months and usually via teleconferencing with some in-person meetings), record minutes, keep records of RRPO membership, and assist where needed with other tasks. As we are now moving toward fairly regular events on the Ridge Route, this will be something we will need sooner than later.
If you are interested, let us know!
It has been an interesting time on the Ridge Route. So far, the monthly trips on the road have been quite productive. Over the weekend of January 18-19, I took a couple of trips up to the Ridge Route. On Saturday, I went by myself and took my motorcycle over the road as far as Reservoir Summit. It felt good to be back up on the Ridge. I used to spend many days up there just getting away from things. The road is quite peaceful and relaxing. Being able to stop anywhere to take photos was also nice. Few roadways of this caliber allow for this sort of privilege. Visibility was also good that day, which made for some nice photography.
Sunday, I took another trip over the road from Castaic to Gorman with a friend. We took his car which, despite some clearance issues, made it over the road with little problem. I hope that, in light of these trips demonstrating the ability for various vehicles to traverse the roadway, that the USFS will open the roadway sooner than later.
I was pleased to see that the road was holding up well, within the gates. I did find a few more culverts that were in need of clearing near the site of the largest 2005 landslide. Those will be dealt with later this year. Outside of the gates, particularly on the northern end between the Liebre Maintenance Station and Sandberg is a real mess to say the least. Some of the sections can be easily dealt with using a broom and a shovel. The parts that are more heavily damaged will be a lot tougher to deal with. Those sections, comprised of the 1920’s asphalt, are disintegrating and are in need of new asphalt to hold things together. We will be talking to the Forest Service on ways to do this.
On December 21, 2019, a small group of us took a drive over the Ridge Route. Unlike most trips since January 2005, this one wasn’t predicated upon the gate hopefully being open for us. This time, we had keys. As a part of our Volunteer Service Agreement, we were given a key so that we can access the roadway for our CUTTR projects. This trip, while also sightseeing and enjoyable, was also to survey the roadway and determine if there are any sections needing work first. We did find a few sections in need of repairs or clearing but overall the roadway was in pretty good condition.
We cleared a few rocks here and there along the roadway, mostly for clearance issues with our vehicle. The only place that required a bit more work for us to pass was at Swede’s Cut. It wasn’t unexpected as most trips along the Ridge Route involve clearing rocks there.
Overall, the trip was a success. We found the roadway to be traversable and in decent shape, under the circumstances it is in. Work is necessary at multiple locations and will be monitored regularly. Our first CUTTR event will be in late Spring of 2020 and we look forward to having you all join us.
In 2001, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution 98, declaring that a monument be placed to commemorate the Historic Ridge Route. This monument, in the form of a plaque, was placed at the I-5 / State 126 interchange at the southeast corner. We hope to expand this declaration by having them declare the entire roadway as historic, not just for a plaque at the south end.
BILL NUMBER: ACR 98 CHAPTERED BILL TEXT RESOLUTION CHAPTER 150 FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE OCTOBER 2, 2001 ADOPTED IN SENATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2001 ADOPTED IN ASSEMBLY SEPTEMBER 4, 2001 INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Runner JULY 20, 2001 Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 98--Relative to the 1915 Ridge Route Highway Historical Monument. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST ACR 98, Runner. 1915 Ridge Route Highway Historical Monument. This measure would request the Department of Transportation to grant, without charge, an encroachment permit authorizing an appropriate historical monument and plaque to commemorate the 1915 Ridge Route Highway, to be placed within the rights-of-way of State Highway Route 126 and Interstate Highway 5, where those highways converge. WHEREAS, Begun in 1914 and completed in late 1915, the Ridge Route Highway, officially named the "Castaic-Tejon Route," connected Castaic Junction in Los Angeles County to Bakersfield; and WHEREAS, The 1915 Ridge Route Highway was one of the first products of the newly formed State Bureau of Highways, paid for through the passage of a 1910 bond act; and WHEREAS, The 1915 Ridge Route Highway was considered an engineering marvel of its day and was the first mountain highway built in California; and WHEREAS, Many credit the 1915 Ridge Route Highway, which opened up travel and commerce between the Los Angeles basin and the San Joaquin Valley, with having prevented California from separating into two separate states; and WHEREAS, Workers carved out the original 20-foot wide roadway by using horse and mule drawn scrapers and graders, going from ridge top to ridge top across the western San Gabriel mountains; and WHEREAS, Originally completed as an oiled, graded gravel road, the 1915 Ridge Route Highway was paved in 1919; and WHEREAS, The 1915 Ridge Route Highway was well known for its 697 curves, the most notorious of which was Deadman's Curve near Tejon, that if added together, would make 110 complete circles; and WHEREAS, The 1915 Ridge Route Highway was replaced in 1933, by a straighter, three-lane highway, which was later widened and became State Highway 99; and WHEREAS, On September 25, 1997, 17.6 miles of the 1915 Ridge Route Highway south of Gorman, was accepted into the National Registry of Historic Places; and WHEREAS, The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus has proposed to construct and dedicate, at no cost to the public, a monument and plaque in honor of the historical significance of the 1915 Ridge Route Highway; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate concurring, That the Department of Transportation is requested to grant, without charge, the necessary encroachment permit authorizing an appropriate historical monument and plaque dedicated to commemorate the 1915 Ridge Route Highway, to be placed within the rights-of-way of State Highway Route 126 and Interstate Highway 5, where those highways converge; and be it further Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit a copy of this resolution to the Director of Transportation, the Director of Parks and Recreation, the Ridge Route Preservation Organization, and to the Platrix Chapter No. 2, Queen of the Cow Counties of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.
Finally, really good news. Last month was just “good news”. Now we’re on to really good news. Our Volunteer Service Agreement with the Angeles National Forest was finalized on December 11 and is now in effect. We will be getting a key to the gates within the next week.
Assuming weather and roadway conditions cooperate, I plan to make my first visit on the road, past the gates, on December 21st. The plan is to come from Sandberg and head to Castaic. It will be a lot of fun and an adventure. Yes, plenty of photos will be taken and posted. I haven’t fully traversed the road since about 2009 or 2010 at the latest.
With this agreement finally in place, we can begin to move forward with our portion of the physical preservation of the roadway. We are looking toward late Spring 2020, likely in early May, for our first volunteer event. Over the next few months, we will be making regular visits to the Ridge Route to assess what section we will work on first. I figure, as the road has been mostly inaccessible for so long, that a location within the closure would be best. As it gets closer, we will finalize a date for the first event on the road. All the information regarding these will be posted here as well as on RidgeRoute.com and SoCalRegion.com. Subscribe to this site, available on the right, to keep up to date with events and information on the Ridge Route.
Beyond getting the agreement and key, the roadway is still closed to motor vehicles between the gates. We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to open the road and get it properly maintained. Our maintenance events are meant to be supplementary, not primary. Our work will at least help keep the roadway in place as much as possible for the time being.
Finally, some good news! While it is not finalized at the time of this writing, our Volunteer Service Agreement is nearing completion. We got a copy today to review and so far, things look quite promising. We will also be getting a key to the gate, which means we will have access to the road. My first act, after getting the key, is to do a preliminary survey of the road to assess the general condition of the roadway and determine what needs to be worked on prior to the upcoming rainy season.
What this means is that we are planning to do work on the Ridge Route in late Spring 2020, after the rains have subsided. Details on this event will be posted once we get a bit more information together and work out what the event will entail. The agreement does have a few stipulations, mostly regarding how our events will be held and what we can do during them. One of those is that we need to give a list of all attendees prior to an event, as such we will be expecting all persons attending to let us know before they attend.
So, things are looking up for the Ridge Route. Work is still in progress regarding Forest Service maintenance, right-of-way, and land ownership issues. Those will take a while but I have confidence they will be resolved in due time. In the mean time, plan on going on the road in late Spring 2020 and prepare to work!
The Ridge Route, a roadway that is one of the most important to California in the 20th century, needs your help. How can you help? Write, or otherwise contact, your representative in Congress, California State Legislature, be they in the House, Senate, or Assembly. Contact the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as well. Tell any and all of them how you feel about the problems the roadway is undergoing. Once we get our volunteer agreement in place, you can also help with the roadway maintenance, which will help keep the road there for the future.
If you have additional questions, please contact us. We can use all the help we can get. The louder the voices, the more we will all be heard.