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American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

Michael Ballard

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Michael Ballard last won the day on May 26

Michael Ballard had the most liked content!

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About Michael Ballard

  • Rank
    Weekend Traveler
  • Birthday 08/22/1978

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  • Website URL
    https://www.socalregion.com

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    San Diego, CA
  • Interests
    Mostly US highways, focusing on California. I follow the geology as well as the history of the roadways. I have online tours of US 6, US 99, and the Ridge Route from Los Angeles to Famoso (US 6 from Los Angeles to the NV / UT state line) on my website - socalregion.com. I am also the President of the Ridge Route Preservation Organization - http://ridgeroute.org.

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  1. One of the things I've been pondering is how to get the public more aware of not only the historic Ridge Route, but the Ridge Route Preservation Organization itself. An idea I came up with is to get Historic Route US 99 signs posted in Castaic, along that section of the Ridge Route. Optimally, this signage would also be posted along Castaic Road (1933-1951) and at the northern end from State 138. I know it will be a long process but I am willing to put the time in. If anyone has any suggestions or advice in this regard, I'd love to hear it!
  2. Michael Ballard

    Original Pacific Highway Identified

    That section of Jackson Highway was one of the highlights of that day of my 2009 bicycle tour.
  3. Michael Ballard

    Us 99 News?

    Fires are "in season" again. US 99 in Southern California has been getting hit as well. So far, one has more directly impacted the road near Gorman along Gorman Post Road. The current one, known as the Lake Fire, could go west directly toward the Ridge Route if the winds shift. Onshore winds have blown it more toward the desert, almost to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. I had hoped to head up to the Ridge Route on August 22, but that will likely be delayed. Hopefully it doesn't burn to the road as there are some flammable items up there that date to the era when the Ridge Route was the main highway.
  4. Michael Ballard

    Mystery City On The Yellowstone Trail Rediscovered

    Very cool finds! Makes me want to get a detector and go over parts of the Ridge Route.
  5. Michael Ballard

    The Origin of Ford Jokes

    The test for cars, such as those, at the time was to take it over Newhall Pass. Prior to 1910, you would have gone through Beale's Cut with 18% grades on either side. Fun times!
  6. Michael Ballard

    Fort Vancouver to Fort Steilacoom Military Road

    Very nice work! Your site was quite helpful on my 2009 bicycle tour of US 99 through Washington state.
  7. For those not familiar, the Ridge Route was realigned quite a bit in the mid-1920's. In the process, many sections of wooden railing and concrete curbing were lost. Still, the road did need it. One of the more "famous" realignments was known as the "Callahan Line Change" where multiple reversing curves were replaced in a somewhat dramatic fashion with one long curve. As it happens, this section was yet again realigned when I-5 was built, almost completely obliterating any trace of it. Almost, that is. https://socalregion.com/highways/ridge_route/rrt003/
  8. Michael Ballard

    Us 99 Tour - Extended

    Well, the tour has been extended yet again. Now the northern terminus is just south of Tulare, where a pre-1931 alignment with bridges can be found. https://socalregion.com/highways/us_99/
  9. Michael Ballard

    Welcome - Please Introduce Yourself!

    Welcome, Bill and Tina, to the forums
  10. Michael Ballard

    Clean Up The Ridge Route - Coming Soon!

    Just an update. Our Ridge Route events have been postponed until June (hopefully no later). It depends on how things go with the current crisis. The road still needs our help and will get that help. Stay tuned.
  11. Greetings all! The Ridge Route Preservation Organization will be holding an event to help clean up the Ridge Route in late April. This event will involve physical labor (clearing drains, moving rocks and earth). It will also involve an informal tour of the roadway (being allowed to drive between the gates). A date isn't set as yet but it will be soon. If you're interested in joining us, please let us know. More information will be posted once we have a date set. http://ridgeroute.org
  12. Michael Ballard

    Ridge Route Update

    Greetings all, Finally, really good news. Last month was just “good news”. Now we’re on to really good news. Our Volunteer Service Agreement with the Angeles National Forest was finalized on December 11 and is now in effect. We will be getting a key to the gates within the next week. Assuming weather and roadway conditions cooperate, I plan to make my first visit on the road, past the gates, on December 21st. The plan is to come from Sandberg and head to Castaic. It will be a lot of fun and an adventure. Yes, plenty of photos will be taken and posted. I haven’t fully traversed the road since about 2009 or 2010 at the latest. With this agreement finally in place, we can begin to move forward with our portion of the physical preservation of the roadway. We are looking toward late Spring 2020, likely in early May, for our first volunteer event. Over the next few months, we will be making regular visits to the Ridge Route to assess what section we will work on first. I figure, as the road has been mostly inaccessible for so long, that a location within the closure would be best. As it gets closer, we will finalize a date for the first event on the road. All the information regarding these will be posted here as well as on RidgeRoute.com and SoCalRegion.com. Subscribe to this site, available on the right, to keep up to date with events and information on the Ridge Route. Beyond getting the agreement and key, the roadway is still closed to motor vehicles between the gates. We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to open the road and get it properly maintained. Our maintenance events are meant to be supplementary, not primary. Our work will at least help keep the roadway in place as much as possible for the time being.
  13. I-5 is commonly referred to as "The Grapevine" by locals and traffic reporters. Most assume the name derives from the twisty nature of the original roadway - the Ridge Route. That road was indeed very twisty, much like a grapevine. However, that is still not the reason. The name Grapevine actually comes from Grapevine Canyon, where old US 99 and I-5 come down from the mountains and into the San Joaquin Valley. The canyon is called such as wild grapes grow along the canyon walls. It was formerly known as Canada De Las Uvas which is Spanish for Canyon of the Grapes. The name Tejon Pass is also a "new" addition to the area. The current Tejon Pass was known as Grapevine Pass or Badger Pass until the 1850's. Old Tejon Pass, much farther to the east, was a very treacherous route. That pass was eventually abandoned in favor of the current Tejon Pass. The name was just shifted to the new route. After the 1933 bypass of the original road to as late as the 1970's, the roadway over the mountains was still referred to as "The Ridge Route". It wasn't until the 1980's that the name "The Grapevine" was extended to the entire roadway. Why this was done is still unclear. Even Caltrans called it the "Ridge Route". So, if you want to call it proper - call it Tejon Pass, when being specific to the actual pass, and the Ridge Route when referring to I-5 from Castaic to Grapevine. While you're passing through Grapevine Canyon, be sure to spot the wild grapevines that still grow in the canyon.
  14. Michael Ballard

    Ridge Route Update

    Big update coming soon. It looks like we may well have our volunteer agreement in place by early December. With this agreement comes a very important thing, a key. We will finally have full access to the Ridge Route. Right now we are anticipating having some sort of event, likely a road work type event, in late Spring 2020. I'll be going up on the road as soon as possible, after I get the key, to evaluate what is needed to be done.
  15. Michael Ballard

    Ridge Route Update

    Perseverance is key with these things. We will succeed, it just may take a while.
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