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Thursday, October 24, 2013



For those who are inventing new curse words while trying to get into the San Fernando Valley after a hard day's work, access to the region can (and, has long been) a real adventure. Only a few transportation arteries are available in the 21st century. Can you image what it was like in the early decades of the 20th century?
Here are three romantic images of Highways 5 and 101 from early days of automobiles in California.  Can you imagine what these roads were like in the eras of horses and buggies?

Vintage postcard of the Ridge Route c. 1920 - Gift to The Museum of the San Fernandno Valley from Gary Fredburg 2013. (click on images to enlarge them.)  "The climb to Swede's Cut, 'Ridge Route'. Los Angeles to Bakersfield, California."
Modern vehicles, unless they are facing snow or high winds, have little difficulty climbing over the "Grape Vine". Imagine however, what these roads were like 90 years ago?  Think about the conditions the "arkies" and "oakies" faced when they fled the Dust Bowl into California in old and over loaded cars? The conditions described in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath were real for the ancestors of many modern Valley residents.

The Ridge Route - vintage postcard -  Gift to The Museum of the San Fernandno Valley from Gary Fredburg 2013. Interstate Highway 5 now serves this area.

Pacific Coast Highway at the "Rincon" - Gift to The Museum of the San Fernandno Valley from Gary Fredburg 2013. Interstate Highway 101  now serves this area. 

Between Santa Barbara and Ventura, Highway 101 this area still called today "the Rincon" (Spanish for corner), the area was once the site of a major Chumash Indian village. In the 1920s this major access road to the San Fernando Valley was an unpredictable experience.

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The Museum of the San Fernando Valley
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Steven Lester said...

One can still drive on portions of the old Ridge Route, leading from Castiac or from Highway 138 a mile or two east of where it comes off of Interstate 5. From Gorman is a nice stretch that follows from Gorman along the two lane highway on its way to Highway 138. Much of the original pavement remains all along the route, especially on the long section over the mountains.

At one time a person could drive over it all, from Castiac to Gorman, as I did several times, but apparently some of the land on which it rests has been sold to private owners, who have put up several locked gates to keep out evil history buffs, such as myself.

And finally, there is a short straight section located at the first (or last depending on your direction) off ramp before the freeway enters the Grapevine Climb. It is located right in the middle in between the two freeway causeways leading up to some sort of water plant, or something like that. It is completely open to all.

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