May-June 2021 Newsletter

From the President
Michael F Ballard

With the arrival of Spring, we can declare the Ridge Route at least made it through another winter season with minimal damage. Between the threat of fires last year, such as the Lake Fire in August 2020, and the heavy “atmospheric river” storm in January 2020, the area has been through a lot. We know it can’t last without at least a basic amount of maintenance. Each winter brings rocks, mud, and the potential landslide. Each summer still brings the possibility of fires which can not only damage the roadway and burn what little wooden artifacts are left, but makes winters all the more troublesome.

On a somewhat regular basis, we travel the roadway and survey it for damage and potential problems, such as failing culverts and landslides. Some of the damage to the roadway isn’t from any of these, but from failure of the concrete itself. There are at least six instances of reinforcing bar sticking out of the roadway. All of them were marked over the weekend of April 24th during a recent survey. Some of them were large enough to potentially puncture a tire. These need to be repaired before larger amounts of traffic traverse the roadway. Some larger potholes also need to be tended to before they cause damage to the surrounding roadway. We intend to repair or have these repaired in the near future. With your support, we can make a difference and at least mitigate the damage from all these problems.

Spring on the Ridge Route
by Debbie Mallon

California Sunflower (Helianthus californicus)

Spring rains bring lushness back to the Ridge Route vegetation as well as blooms from flowering native plants. One cheerful example is the California Sunflower (Helianthus californicus) seen on the sunny slopes of the route. A common myth is that sunflowers always follow the sun. In reality, only the young flowers orient towards the sun throughout the day. However, upon maturity the flowers stop tracking the sun and blooms orient eastward. The phenomena of flowers following the sun is called heliotropism.

Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale)

Another vigorous plant found along the route is the Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale), which is a true native thistle and a member of the sunflower family. The plant has a two year lifespan producing blooms in the second year. You can expect to see them in bloom from March to July. Cobweb Thistle is an important source of pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies.

Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)

Last, Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), nature’s verdant ground cover, prefers cool and moist conditions. On the Ridge Route it is most often found on shady slopes or under tree canopies. Miner’s Lettuce is edible and so named because miners ate the plant as salad greens. Leaf, flowers and stems can be eaten raw or cooked and are a source of vitamins C and A as well as iron. The tiny flowers bloom from February through May.

Roadway Status

The Ridge Route is still closed between the Tumble Inn and Templin Highway. While we are working to get it open, always use caution if the gates are open. You can be locked in as the default position is for the gates to be closed. On the last trip over the roadway on the 24th, we saw that people had written on the gates notes regarding either being locked in or that the roadway wasn’t a “through road”. The road is marked at both ends as not going through. We are working with the USFS to increase signage but there is only so much that can be done.

The roadway, when open, is traversable by a standard clearance automobile, as we have found. Even with this in mind, don’t expect your car to clear that “small” rock in the middle of the roadway. The roadway is quite remote and the nearest service station is many miles away. Bring plenty of water and food for any trip over the Ridge Route as you never know what may happen up there.

Membership

Are you a member yet? If you aren’t, you should be. Our CUTRR events, for example, are a members-only event and we plan to get those going in the near future. Your membership dues help us get the road open and keep it maintained. Dues are also tax-deductible as we are a 501(c)3 organization. Join us and help keep the Ridge Route alive!

Events

It looks like events are finally coming back. Starting May 3, 2021, Volunteers will be allowed to start working again in the Angeles National Forest. We are working on a date for our “first” new CUTRR event this year. Depending on how the season goes, as well as other factors, there may be one in June. It is more likely there will be one in September, to allow for more people to be vaccinated and for the summer heat to subside. If you are interested in joining us or wish to contribute to an event, let us know. You must be a member of the Ridge Route Preservation Organization to go to a CUTRR event. If you aren’t a regular member, we do have daily memberships available.

We are also considering hosting another Zoom meeting in the near future. Once we establish a date and topic, it will be posted on our website. Let us know if you’d be interested and what topics would be good to cover. Please subscribe to this website, if you haven’t already, as you will be e-mailed updates.

Fundraising

As it is finally getting closer for us to hold events and cleanups on the Ridge Route, we will need your support. We plan to obtain some asphalt patching material to stabilize some of the 1920’s asphalt between the Liebre Maintenance Station and Sandberg where the pavement is rapidly degrading. We also may be repairing the Tumble Inn gate, which will potentially involve labor costs and materials. Your donations may be tax-deductible, so keep that in mind.

April 2021 Newsletter

Special Feature
Tracks of the Ridge Route

During the original paving of the Ridge Route from 1917-1920, various travelers left their marks on the road. While not intentional, they created a sort of “pseudo-fossil” and a window into the past. Tracks were left in the concrete from cars, people, and even animals. In one instance, you can see where the car tracks were poorly covered, creating a slightly bumpy surface and making the tire tracks even more apparent. These impressions are a part of the history of the Ridge Route and deserve to be preserved alongside the foundations of the cafes and gas stations along the way. They remain as one of the interesting aspects of the roadway. Next time you travel the Ridge Route, be on the lookout. Maybe you’ll spot a 100 year-old deer track?

Animal Tracks

Quite a few small mammals crossed here
Coyotes or wolves by the paw prints. Could have also been a contractors dog.

Human Tracks

Shoe prints left in the concrete.
Almost like a detective story. The prints and the tire tracks leaving the scene.
Here, someone did a three-point turn over the wet concrete and tried to cover it up.
Tracks, complete with treads, are still visible at the three-point turn location.

Road Updates

The roadway is still closed. The storms of January 2021 did some damage as did the trucks that traveled the roadway, mostly in the form of rock slides near Swede’s Cut and damage to the southern gate. These will take a bit of time to clear, so please use caution if you travel the roadway. Keep in mind the default position for the gates is to be closed. If one is open, don’t expect the other to be nor expect the gate to still be open when you return.

We have also received reports of rebar sticking out of the concrete near the Liebre Maintenance Station site. The rebar can and will puncture a tire. Issues like this are part of why we want a basic maintenance agreement with the USFS before it is reopened.

Rebar spike sticking out of the concrete near Culvert #24. Photo courtesy – Debbie Mallon

We are working with the USFS to have the gates open at least outside of the rainy season. This compromise would allow travel over the roadway while reducing the potential for damage. The long term goal of the RRPO has always been preservation of the roadway. It does come with a cost. That cost may include having the roadway closed when it is most vulnerable. Help us by doing your part to keep the road safe. The area between Sandberg and the Tumble Inn gate is deteriorating more than the rest of the roadway. Don’t travel over when it is raining, snowing, or muddy. It might be pretty, but you are likely damaging the roadway by going there at that time. During those times, it might be best to walk or take a bicycle.

Membership

We recently made some changes to our website to allow online membership applications. If you were a member in the past and would like to renew (memberships are annual), or you’d like to become a new member, it is a whole lot quicker and easier now. If you’d like to join or renew, please use our online membership form. We still have our mail-in method as well. Keep in mind your donation may be tax-deductible as we are a 501(c)3 organization.

Events / Projects

In-person events, such as a CUTRR or tours, are still on hold due to the pandemic. As things are improving, albeit slowly, we anticipate being able to hold some sort of event much later this year. An exact time is still uncertain. It doesn’t mean we can’t hold other events, such as online meetings. Our first online meeting had up to 15 people attend. It was a lot of fun and will be done again. We plan to hold more meetings like this in the future to help inform the public about what is going on with the roadway and the RRPO. Come join us!

We may also be helping to repair the gate at the Tumble Inn. If you are or know a welder / metal worker, let us know. We aren’t seeking estimates yet but would like to know who is out there.

Fundraising

Our online fundraising has been going rather well in March. We do wish to thank all those that have donated. We will need those funds in the near future for a few possible projects on the roadway, such as pothole repair and modifying the gate at the Tumble Inn. Your donations help ensure the roadway will continue on into the future.

Errata

We are moving the newsletter to a bimonthly timeline starting May 2021. You can find our previous newsletters and updates here. There will still be interim updates on the website as needed. Make sure you’re subscribed to keep up-to-date on the road.

March 2021 Newsletter

Lost section of roadway near the south end. All of the visible roadway from the middle car and below was destroyed in the early 2000’s.

THE 17 MILE DRIVE

Not the famous 17 Mile Drive in Monterey California, I’m referring to the historic 17.6 miles of the original 1915 Ridge Route that provided a direct north/south route over the barrier of the San Gabriel and Techachapi mountains.  This route provided a commercial conduit to connect northern and southern California.  Seventeen point six miles of the original highway lie entirely within the Angeles National Forest and are recorded on the National Register.

The sad thing is it is currently closed to any motorized vehicle. The only legal permitted entry currently is to hike, bicycle or horseback in, but I can assure you the adventure is worth it.   The focus of the Ridge Route Preservation Organization is to preserve this historical landmark and work with Angles National Forest to explore avenues to possibly acquire at least limited vehicle access for public enjoyment, especially for the disabled that depend on others to provide transportation.  For those worthy of the task, take ample water and a cell phone.  Cell service is spotty.  Be watchful of snakes during summer months.  Your reward will be spectacular views and how turn-of-the-century highways were built.

– Harrison Scott

Road Updates

Nothing much to report this month on the roadway. Things have quieted down a bit since the issues in January. We are still following up with CHP to find out what happened up there with the vehicles. It also seems the utility companies are the main culprits for the gates being open. Keep in mind, we are working toward having the gates open much more frequently, but only after we get a better handle on maintenance of the roadway. At present, the roadway is still considered closed and, should you pass the gates, you may well find yourself locked in. The plan we are working on with the USFS will likely be a winter closure of the roadway to reduce the possibility of damage to the paving by cars during storms.

Membership

We recently made some changes to our website to allow online membership applications. If you were a member in the past and would like to renew, or you’d like to become a new member, it is a whole lot quicker and easier now. If you’d like to join or renew, please use our online membership form. We still have our mail-in method as well. Keep in mind your donation may be tax-deductible as we are a 501(c)3 organization.

Events

In-person events, such as a CUTRR or tours, are still on hold due to the pandemic. As things are improving, albeit slowly, we anticipate being able to hold some sort of event much later this year. An exact time is still uncertain. It doesn’t mean we can’t hold other events, such as online meetings. Our first online meeting, using Zoom, will be held on Wednesday, March 3 from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. This meeting is open to the public and registration is required. We plan to hold more meetings like this in the future to help inform the public about what is going on with the roadway and the RRPO. Come join us! Use the link below to register.

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYqcuitqT8pHNP2d5qYGw3OmKdFfxy6h5p3

Fundraising

Our online fundraising has been going rather well. We recently changed our PayPal account and validated our non-profit status with them. As a result, they have reduced the fees they charge us and have an option to cover those fees during a donation. While it is a small change, every bit helps. We do wish to thank all those that have donated. We will need those funds in the near future for a few possible projects on the roadway, such as pothole repair and modifying the gate at the Tumble Inn (Fisher Springs gate). Your donations help ensure the roadway will continue on into the future.

December 2020 Update

2020 is nearly over. It has had its moments, but some good has been brought to the Ridge Route. Due to the Lake Fire in August, the roadway was mostly cleared of debris and brush from Sandberg to Templin Highway. A closure order, also resulting from that fire, was also lifted on December 8, 2020. To clarify, this order being lifted doesn’t change the status of the roadway. It is still closed. As the order is lifted, travel is now allowed over the roadway with the caveat of the gates still being closed at either end.

USFS Forest Order 05-01-20-09

In recent travels, the gates at either end have been open, but this doesn’t mean the roadway is open. It seems likely the USFS or a contractor working up there has left them open. We are still working with the USFS to resolve this problem, which isn’t easy. It also isn’t likely we will be able to hold a CUTRR event until the latter half of 2021 but we do hope to be able to. We are ready to do it pending clearance from the USFS and the State for such events, as are many other groups.

In early December, we held a small fundraiser through the website. We had set a goal of $300 to help cover operating costs. We ended up raising nearly $500 instead. We want to thank all those who donated, regardless of amount, and helped us get through 2020. We look forward to making good progress toward our goals in 2021. It will be a better year.

Fundraising Time

Greetings All!

It is that time of year again and we need your help. We are looking to raise some funds to cover basic operating expenses, such as our PO BOX and website. At this time, we would like to raise $300, which will cover us for a while. Once the current crisis is over, we will be able to do more fundraising through our CUTRR events, which will help not only keep those events going, but help with our fight to get the road open and maintained.

We are a 501c3 Tax-Exempt organization, so your donations will be tax deductible. Any amount helps. To donate, you may either:

A) Send a check payable to the RRPO to:

RRPO
P.O. Box 391
Torrance, CA 90508-0391

B) Paypal via:

C) Become a member!

Thank you for your time and your continued interest in the Ridge Route.