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.
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.
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.
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.
The Ridge Route in Southern California needs your help. The Ridge Route Preservation Organization has put together an online petition to help get the roadway back open and in working order. It has not been fully open to traffic since 2005 and is in need of your support. Please sign this petition to get the legislators and the Angeles National Forest to fix what they did wrong. More details are on the site for the petition. The petition was posted a while ago, but has not yet been posted on this site.
Thank you for your time and efforts!
Many ask why the Ridge Route is closed. The reasons are many, however, the roadway being traversable is not among those. Prior to January 2005, the roadway had three gates. One near the Tumble Inn, another near Reservoir Summit, and a gate about 3/4 mile north of Templin Highway. These gates would usually get closed during periods of inclement weather to protect the roadway. The January 2005 storm changed that and we are still dealing with those effects.
Resulting from the immense amount of rainfall, unstable geology, and lack of maintenance, a few sections of roadway gave way, making the road impassable for a time. Other landslides in the area also caused problems for the oil and gas pipelines that cross the mountains on a similar path to the Ridge Route. One such pipeline broke near Pyramid Lake, which came close to spilling oil into the lake, which is a major source of drinking water for Los Angeles. The US Forest Service closed the roadway at that point for an indefinite period of time. Initially, the roadway between the north (Tumble Inn) and south (Templin Highway) gates was under a “forest closure order”, which meant that the public was not only not allowed into that area, but could be heavily fined as well. This was done to allow the pipeline companies the ability to repair their lines without interference. The roadway was at least partly protected during this period, where the pipeline companies were limited as to how large a truck could traverse the road, how long they could stand in one spot, loads were limited, and portions of roadway were also temporarily covered to reduce damage.
In addition to the pipeline repairs, the roadway itself got some needed work done. Using funds and support from the US Department of Transportation, the sections of the Ridge Route that had slid were repaired and repaved using the original methods and specifications. New concrete was poured, which was 4 1/2″ thick, 20′ wide, and reinforced with steel. These repairs, in addition to other work along the road, made the road passable again by a standard automobile. Still, with this work done, the roadway was not opened to the public.
It took a few years, but the pipeline crews finished their work. The forest closure order was lifted, allowing people to traverse the roadway again. The gates, however, were still not opened. The gates remain closed, despite the roadway being repaired. The road is still closed because of land ownership issues resulting from the County of Los Angeles vacating the roadway in 2005. Once these issues are cleared, mostly regarding a land owner on the south end of the road that is claiming the road as their own, the roadway should be opened again.
So, for those that wish to travel on the Ridge Route between the gates, it is open, but not for motor vehicles. Bicycles, horses, and pedestrians are the only ones allowed, for now.
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.