Reports are coming in that the Ridge Route is undergoing construction work. It seems to be taking place about 4 miles north of the southern gate. The construction, thus far, has been patchwork as well as possibly new concrete. The work is being done by Granite Construction Company, which has done work on the road in the past. So far, we don’t know who initiated the work or who is paying for it. Assuming the work is being done to proper standards, set out by the Ridge Route being on the National Register of Historic Places, this is a good sign. As the Federal Government is presently shut down, getting information from them has been a bit difficult. As soon as we find out, we will post the information here.
While the RRPO is dedicated to preserving and protecting the Ridge Route, we don’t always have a chance to get onto the road. We strongly encourage you to send us reports as to road conditions along the route. I live in San Diego, another of our board members live in the Bakersfield area.
So, if you have traveled the road recently, send us a report of conditions. We want to know what you saw, what the road was like, and if the gates were open. Did you see any signs that were new? Perhaps there was some vandalism? Please let us know. We intend to include this information in our reports to the Forest Service to help us get this road open and in better repair.
Many people ask us what is going on with the road. Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. At least not by its appearance.
First, due to health issues, Harrison Scott has stepped down as President of the RRPO. He is still very much a part of the organization and will continue to be a great resource for the road for a long time to come. As such, we held an emergency board election where I, Michael Ballard, became the new President. I have been studying the road since I was around 12 when I first got a chance to take the road. I have since done a great deal of research on the road, as well as the later alignments of US 99. I’ve had a website covering US 99 since 1995 and it may well be the first site to do so.
We are presently working with the Angeles National Forest to rectify the right-of-way and land ownership issues at the southern end of the Ridge Route. This process will take a while, but we will see it through. We have a lot of data to back up our claims regarding the land ownership and look forward to a positive response.
While there is no date or venue set yet, I do plan to host a public meeting in the near future, most likely March or April, in either the Bakersfield area or the Santa Clarita area, regarding the roadway. Topics may include updates on our progress, items for sale, history of the road, and more depending on what we are able to arrange. If you are interested in such a meeting, let us know.
We will need funds to further our cause, getting the road open, and to repair or replace the markers along the Ridge Route. So far, we are looking at potentially selling Ridge Route related novelty items and are presently in the design phase. There is no time frame yet, however, as to when this will be done.
As to the road itself, it is still closed. Reports are coming in from travelers that the gates are sometimes open. While you could travel the roadway by motor vehicle during those periods, they are not official. Don’t count on the gate staying open if you do go past it and we do not recommend it either. As winter is fast approaching, and storms are already coming in, travel over the roadway during or after a storm is highly discouraged. Doing so can damage the roadway further, particularly if the vehicle is heavy, such as an SUV or large truck.
There have been some changes recently regarding the Ridge Route Preservation Organization. Due to some unexpected circumstances, we have a new president. I, Michael Ballard, was elected to become the new president of the RRPO. I look forward to leading the group and will continue our struggle to preserve and protect the roadway. I plan to be meeting with many different groups in the near future to help further our cause and get more people involved. Harrison Scott, the former president of the group, will still be involved. We do thank him for all he has done and his continuing contributions to our collective effort are always welcomed and appreciated.
As stated on the State of California Legislature website:
DIVISION 2. PROPERTY [654 – 1422] ( Heading of Division 2 amended by Stats. 1988, Ch. 160, Sec. 13. )
PART 4. ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY [1000 – 1422] ( Part 4 enacted 1872. )
TITLE 2. OCCUPANCY [1006 – 1009] ( Title 2 enacted 1872. )
No use by any person or persons, no matter how long continued, of any land, shall ever ripen into an easement by prescription, if the owner of such property posts at each entrance to the property or at intervals of not more than 200 feet along the boundary a sign reading substantially as follows: “Right to pass by permission, and subject to control, of owner: Section 1008, Civil Code.”
(Added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 926.)
This code can be used when someone owns a property but does not limit access, per se. In the case of the Ridge Route, the person posting these signs does not own the roadway and cannot legally post nor enforce these signs.
One of the projects we are presently working on, and an important one at that, is to have this situation corrected. The Ridge Route is a public highway on public land. Once this problem is resolved, it will be a lot easier to convince the proper authorities to reopen the roadway.
Video from November 2015 showing the condition of the roadway
from the Tumble Inn to State 138.
On October 29, 1933, four years after the 1929 stock market crash, the Ridge Route Alternate was opened. This new roadway was intended originally to be an alternate to the Ridge Route, a roadway for those wanting to go faster. Instead, all traffic diverted onto the new roadway. Due to this and the roadway itself being bypassed, the state no longer wanted to maintain the Ridge Route. On August 3, 1934, the California Highway Commission formally relinquished the whole of the Ridge Route, from State 138 to Castaic, to the County of Los Angeles. The document was finally recorded on October 2, 1934 as OR 12996-210.
This relinquishment would be in doubt, however, many years later when there was dispute between the County and the Forest Service as to who would pay for maintenance of the roadway. The County did little to maintain the road, the Forest Service did about as much. The discovery of this document at the Caltrans District 7 office temporarily settled the dispute, or so it would have seemed. The County, in their effort to offload the roadway to the Forest Service, chose the quickest, albeit the most negligent and improper, method to do so. Instead of doing what the State did in 1934, they vacated the roadway in 2005, akin to abandoning it.
This is what we fight. Any and all help is gladly appreciated.
Really, what is so special about this road? What makes it worthy of such preservation efforts? The Ridge Route is more than just a scenic path through the northern Angeles National Forest. It is more than a roadway that helped bring together, and keep together, the state of California. The roadway is a time capsule, from really no later than 1930, showing how roads were first built in the modern age. This roadway was the first of its kind, still using manual labor and some steam shovels, to build a brand new roadway across open terrain. No other roadway in California, and possibly even the US, has such a long section of paving intact from such an early period. No other roadway retains the methods of construction as the Ridge Route does. Other roads were upgraded, with curves or short sections bypassed. Other roads may have even been obliterated with the advent of freeways.
The Ridge Route represents so much to so many. It is that which makes it more than worthy for the efforts to preserve it. We have the ability to save it. We need your support to do it. Without that support, this roadway could well be lost to time and development, depriving those in the future of an opportunity to see where things came from.
All roadways, regardless of their designation, have some sort of right-of-way. Before things got to be a bit more standard and better documented, these could change at the whim of, well, most anyone. Modern roads have designated paths, carved through other properties. Depending on circumstances, these paths can be either an easement, owned lands, or some other method.
Roads such as the Ridge Route were granted an easement through existing public, in this case federal, lands. Such easements were quite common during the period. Even today, not all the land along a roadway is owned by the agency that maintains the road. An example of this is State 39 – San Gabriel Canyon Road – in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Azusa. Caltrans maintains the right-of-way through the forest, but does not own the right-of-way. The highway was granted an easement through the forest, with the provision that, should the roadway be abandoned, the road would be returned to its “natural state”. This particular issue has been a problem for Caltrans as they have wanted to abandon a section of 39 that has been closed since 1978. To return it to a natural state would well exceed any costs to rehabilitate the roadway and open it.
The Ridge Route, however, is a different animal. While, at present, the County of Los Angeles has vacated the roadway (a nice way to say abandoned), the Angeles National Forest does wish to keep the roadway available for their use. Where our issue lies is with the easement itself. As the easement was granted before the landowner on the south end obtained their land, their land has this easement. As the roadway was illegally vacated and the easements not properly maintained, they are using that as an opportunity to claim the road as their own.
Previously, we posted that the Angeles National Forest is actively maintaining the roadway, at least by 2009, by performing an AC (Asphaltic Concrete) overlay on the southern end of the Ridge Route. This overlay shows unquestionably that the Forest Service is maintaining the roadway. No monies for this maintenance came from the landowner.
We need your help to fight this. We are demanding the County of Los Angeles rescind their road vacation and quitclaim the road to the Forest Service. This would properly transfer any and all easements for the road and allow the PUBLIC to enjoy this historic treasure.
On the right hand side of our website, we have added a new donation button to allow people to donate to our organization. We do need your support to get the road reopened and maintained. Your donations are tax deductible as well.