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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

THE SANTA SUSANA PASS CONNECTS TWO COUNTIES

CHERISHING OUR VALLEY                    2013


The Santa Susana Pass was a steep and scary trail, when it served as one of the few connection paths
joining the Chumash of Ventura County and the Native Tongva people of the San Fernando Valley. The pathway was one of the few travel alternatives for 8,000 years prior to the arrival of Spanish Europeans. 
Coastal trails coming up from San Diego disappeared when they met the high cliffs of the Malibu coast. And, because sea travel was very difficult for the Chumash with their small redwood log canoe, the rugged Santa Susanna Pass at the northwestern end of the San Fernando Valley was an important connection from pre-historic times. 
In the mid-1800s, the path was turned into a road by the new California state government. One of its early uses was for stage coaches and freight wagons. 
 When I first began teaching at Moorpark College, I had to use this narrow road through the Santa Susana Pass from my home in what is now West Hills. It took me a long, long time.



Santa Susana Pass - Vintage Postcard - Gift to The Museum of the San Fernando Valley from Gary Fredburg 2013 - (click on the image to enlarge it.) The Pass goes between the Santa Susana Mountains and the Simi Hills.

The Expedition of Gaspar de Portola entered the San Fernando Valley through the Sepulveda Pass on August 5th, 1769. The Expedition was seeking an inland pass to get around the impassible Malibu cliffs. There is no proof that scouts from that group found the Santa Susan Pass, but the name of the location may hold a clue. The feast of the Catholic saint, Saint Susana has long been celebrated on August 9th. This was four days after the Spaniard explorers arrived in the Valley.


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2 comments:

Steven Lester said...

Now I understand why the railroad tunneled under it. Straighter and cheaper that way.

Gerald R. Fecht said...

When it was a gravel / dirt road, they had to blind fold the horses and mules to get them to go down the steep inclines. wow.
Jerry