November 2019 Update

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!

October 2019 Update

Greetings all. I know it has been a while since there has been an update. Things are progressing, slowly. We are actively working with the Angeles National Forest in obtaining a Volunteer Agreement, which will allow us to get back up there and work on the road. Details of the agreement are still in the works but we should be getting some details in the next couple of weeks. We would have had them last week, but the Tick Fire, Tick Branch 10 Fire, Saddleridge Fire, Val Verde Fire, and a few others have been distracting the forest service as of late.

With these fires in mind, so far the Ridge Route has been unaffected for the most part. Two fires, started along I-5 by cars, did burn toward the Ridge Route a mile or two north of Templin Highway. These were thankfully not during a high wind event, which allowed them to be put out sooner. Please use extra caution in ANY portion of the forest or wild lands during this time of year. We haven’t had any real rains yet, the vegetation is very dry, and the winds can be strong. Gusts today were recorded at over 60 mph at the top of the San Gabriel Mountains above Santa Clarita. Winds in the past have been recorded at near 100 mph at Whitaker Peak, which is just north of Violin Summit where Templin Highway crosses I-5.

Once we get our agreement in place, after this devastating fire season is over, I am hoping to get things going again on the road. Depending on what the agreement allows, I am looking to do a survey of the state of the roadway between the gates. Photos and information will be posted as soon as they can. Ridge Route work parties will also commence, hopefully sometime in 2020.

Opening the roadway is still a work in progress. Many steps need to be taken before it can happen, unfortunately. Funding for maintenance, getting the road back on the maintenance schedule, land ownership issues, and personnel issues all need to be resolved prior to opening the road. All of them are surmountable and many have the support needed. We will keep fighting to achieve our goal of getting the road back open to travel, even if it means the road is open in a limited capacity.

August 2019 Update

Well, its August 2019. The concrete on the Ridge Route is at or over its 100 year anniversary. For its age and all its gone through, it is still in pretty good shape in many places. Others, not so much. Those, at least south of Reservoir Summit, have been mostly corrected. I haven’t had an opportunity to traverse the roadway from there to the Tumble Inn, but reports from others and a review of aerial and satellite photography seems to give good news on that front.

We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to solve any right-of-way issues and to work toward getting the road opened. One of those items is via volunteer work. When we reach that point and start to plan work parties on the road, we will need your help and support. More information on that work, as well as how to join us, will be posted here when the time comes.

In April, we received the information we had requested from the Forest Service regarding the 2010 paving at the southern end of the roadway. What we got was quite helpful and explained a few things. The paving was done, for better or worse, in an attempt to help preserve the original paving. A long section of concrete was also poured, using the original specifications, to replace a section of roadway that had been lost to landslides in the recent past. While we applaud the Forest Service for doing this, we can only do so with apprehension. The Ridge Route paving is a large part of the historic aspect of the road. Rarely is the roadway itself the piece of history. A wholesale repaving of the roadway would destroy what is there and leave little for the public to enjoy in the future. Repairing and repaving small sections, when necessary, is acceptable to a point. We plan to work more closely with the Forest Service to make sure such paving is done with the proper care and understanding this road needs.

Below are some photos of the road work from 2010, taken by the Forest Service and the contractor. A link to the contract itself can be found here – 2010 Forest Service Rehabilitation Contract.

Paving at the northern end of county maintenance where the original Warm Springs Road intersects.
At the southern Forest Service gate
Repairing the dike and drainage pipe north of the Forest Service gate
Paving over 1919 concrete

June 2019 Update

On Monday, June 10, Michael Ballard (myself), Harrison Scott, Dave Omieczynski, and Richard Valot had a meeting with representatives from the Angeles National Forest. They included Jerry Perez – Forest Supervisor, Justin Seastrand – Environmental Coordinator, Ricardo Lopez – Road Engineer, and Jamahl Butler – District Ranger. Our meeting, which was held on the Ridge Route near the southern end, was to discuss a range of topics regarding the road. We initially met at the Ridge Route and Templin Highway where we made introductions and briefly went over the meeting details. From there, I led the group with my sportbike up the road to the southern gate. At that point, we discussed the land ownership problems and the 2010 paving, which we believe will help us with our goal of getting the road reopened.

After our discussion, they opened the gate and I led the group on a tour of the Ridge Route from the southern gate to Reservoir Summit. The initial plan, however, was to only go about four miles north to see the recently reconstructed section of road. Each stop, the USFS people decided to go a bit further. We didn’t mind this at all! Along the way, we made stops at some of the sections of the roadway that had been repaired as well as some of the historic sites along the road, such as the National Forest Inn site. At each major stop, Scotty brought out his books and showed photos of the sites.

Section recently reconstructed about 4 miles north of the south gate. Looking northerly.
Looking southerly near the end of the reconstructed section.

Once we got to Reservoir Summit, we had another discussion regarding the state of the roadway. Overall, it was in very good shape with only a few areas needing more immediate attention. Many sections had been resurfaced and we did make it clear that we didn’t want to see a wholesale repaving of the roadway for the sake of preservation. They seemed to understand this. After our discussion and hike to the reservoir, we all headed back to the southern gate to finalize our meeting.

Just south of Reservoir Summit.

The meeting was productive and positive. There is still a lot of work to be done, but they were willing to help and to work with us. Instead of a Memorandum of Understanding, we may be entering into a Volunteer Agreement regarding cleaning drains and such along the roadway. They also stated they would do additional research regarding the land ownership issue at the southern end of the roadway. In regards to opening the roadway, there is still no estimate on when it will reopen. Another concern is roadway maintenance, which we may be able to help defray with volunteer effort. There are still additional issues that need to be addressed but we at least have a better understanding of what the Forest Service sees as the problems. One of them, overall condition of the roadway and ability for vehicles to travel safely, I tried to prove by using my sportbike. If I can go on the roadway using that vehicle, most everyone should be able to pass over it safely as well.

Only time will tell if this meeting was truly successful, but I believe it was. I will give additional updates when we hear back from the USFS in the near future.

May 2019 Update

There has been some positive movement regarding progress on the Ridge Route lately. We are presently working with the USFS to update and renegotiate our Memorandum of Understanding, so that we can go back up on the road to clear the drains and remove rocks from the road. We also have a meeting coming up with USFS Forest Supervisor with the Angeles National Forest in early June. I am looking forward to this meeting, which I think will be productive and good learning experience for all.

We also recently received the documents requested regarding the 2010 roadway paving, which has been quite enlightening. I plan to post that information in the near future.

The roadway remains closed at this time. As stated in the past, if you find either gate open, you pass at your own risk. The gate may be locked behind you. Always use caution along any portion of the road, as there may be rocks, animals, other people, reinforcing bar, and other hazards.

I will post another update after the meeting with the Forest Supervisor.

Road Reports – 1/2/2019

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.

What is Civil Code Section 1008?

As stated on the State of California Legislature website:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=1008

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. )
1008.
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.

1934 Ridge Route Relinquishment

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.

1934 Ridge Route Relinquishment

Right of Way issues along the road

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.

Illegal signage declaring a portion of the Ridge Route as a “private” roadway.

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.

Repaving a portion of the Ridge Route

After a trip on the Ridge Route a few years ago, I noticed a section was repaved. The section repaved was the southernmost section of the “National Register” section, about 3/4 mile north of Templin Highway. This paving covered a few sections of the highway which showed the difference between the 1919 paving and the mid 1920’s realignments. I wondered why it was done, but at the time, didn’t know who did it or why.

Fast forwarding to present, however, the paving of the roadway seems to mean a bit more. Since the Ridge Route, including the section that was repaved, was vacated by the County of Los Angeles as a Public Highway in 2005, this paving is of interest. The paving was done in 2010 by the Angeles National Forest using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds (ARRA). It was done under contract with William Kanayan Construction. Nothing against this company, just that it was the one that did the work.

Now, with that in mind, here is where it gets interesting. With the Ridge Route officially vacated by the County, it begs the question – Who Owns The Ridge Route? Local land owners seem to claim it is theirs. However, as PUBLIC monies went to repaving a portion, specifically by the Angeles National Forest, it would seem that the PUBLIC, as in the Federal Government, owns the road. Rarely, if ever, does a public agency pave a roadway that is privately owned. Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be going to such things, as most would probably agree. This is what we, the Ridge Route Preservation Organization, are fighting for. We want the roadway under PUBLIC hands and under public maintenance. The roadway has been public since 1915, possibly since the late 1800’s. The repaving of a portion of the roadway by a public agency, at least to us, shows the admission of ownership of the roadway by the Forest Service. This admission helps the road and hurts the local landowners that claim the roadway as theirs.

All of what we do, and what those we deal with do, is under the public domain. We need your help in this venture. Please donate and/or join our organization.