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.
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.
The Saugus Cafe, which has been in business for 132 years, is in danger of closing. With the ongoing crisis, business has slowed and restrictions are in place making it tougher than ever. This restaurant is a part of the history of Santa Clarita and US 99. It is located at 25861 Railroad Avenue (formerly San Fernando Road) in Santa Clarita, California. As a kid, I always enjoyed going there and getting a seat near the window so I could watch the trains go by. I was last able to stop there in January 2020. It isn’t truly a Ridge Route trip without it, as it is the LAST place that is still around that dates to that era AND is along the route.
If you’d like to help save this historic restaurant and learn more, KHTS radio has a detailed article here. The Saugus Cafe has also started a “GoFundMe” account. If you are in the area, please stop by the restaurant and show your support! We need places like this to keep going, as without we lose a part of our heritage and a connection to the past.
2020 is rapidly passing us by, it seems. We had hoped to be at our 3rd CUTRR by this point, preparing for another. Those are still on hold. Hoping now for early 2021, depending on many factors. The biggest is the closure on the Ridge Route until December 31, 2020. Please keep this in mind before traveling up there at this time. The roadway is closed at this time regardless of the gates being open or not.
As a part of the Lake Fire preparations, the Ridge Route was used as a contingency fire line. This resulted in brush and rocks being cleared from the entire roadway from Sandberg to Templin Highway. Much additional work is needed to be done, such as clearing drains and a whole lot of other debris from the roadway. One culvert, just south of Kelly’s Halfway Inn, is badly damaged and the roadway is washing out at that point. This is the reason we need to get up there and do our work. Hopefully the Forest Service allows us to at least get some work done prior to the rainy season. Being a La Nina year could at least be advantageous for us in that regard.
In other news, one initiative I’d like to get started is getting Historic US 99 signage along Ridge Route Road and Castaic Road in Castaic. Having that signage there would attract more interest in the roadway and promote the town. This is still very early in the planning stages, and doesn’t supersede our efforts to get the road open.
Remember, if you’re interested in following our work, just click on the “Subscribe” link to the right side of the screen to get updates from this site. You can follow us on Twitter (@ridgeroute99) and Instagram (@ridgerouteorg) as well.
The Ridge Route, from State 138 to Templin Highway is now under a Forest Closure Order due to the Lake Fire, which is set to expire on December 31, 2020. As such, travel along the roadway and any activities along it are prohibited. Please take heed of this as the fines can be pretty steep.
For further information and specific details, please use the link below.
Currently, the Lake Fire is at 31,089 acres and 70% containment. Unless something dramatically changes, it looks like the Ridge Route will be safe from this fire. There is, however, another issue which we will have to clarify with the USFS. The area is now under a Forest Closure Order, which is set to expire at the end of December 2020. As such, the roadway and any activities along it may be prohibited. For further information, please use the link below.