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

Michael Ballard

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Everything posted by Michael Ballard

  1. Michael Ballard

    Calexico Signs

    On March 24, 2021, we finally posted new signs in Calexico, California. The original Historic Route signs, posted about 1995, were badly faded and in need of a refresh. In cooperation with the City of Calexico, we replaced the old signs with new larger signs. We plan to replace all the signs in Calexico in the near future. This was our first project as well and a big break for the Historic Highway 99 Association of California. https://historic99.org/calexico-signs-posted/
  2. One of my favorite stops on old US 80 in San Diego County passed a huge milestone last weekend. The Wisteria Candy Cottage, which really has the best fudge and chocolates in the County, turned 100 years old. They've been hand making chocolates since before US 80 even existed. Not many businesses survived along the road since it was bypassed about 1972. This one remains and can get quite busy. http://wisteriacandycottage.com/ Like Schatt's Bakery in Bishop on US 395, this is a "must stop".
  3. Thursday, February 18, was a big day for the Association. Our first project, 04IMP21001 – the Calexico sign replacement project, is going forward. I have been in contact with the Public Works Manager for the city regarding our proposal. Yesterday, they accepted and asked us to proceed with the sign order. On Friday, February 19, I ordered two 24×36 Historic Route 99 signs for the City of Calexico. We are all really excited about this, even though it is “just a replacement”. This is a big thing for us. The city could well have said no but they didn’t. We saw this as an opportunity to help present a better image for the highway and their city. Having faded signs, to the point you don’t really know what they read, isn’t helpful to anyone. Having a nice new sign helps and shows that people care about it. We’d like to put up new signs in new places, but those projects do take a lot longer. We will be successful in those over time. At this point, we are anticipating this project to be complete in the next month. The signs take, on average, about two weeks to make and deliver. Once we get them, we will coordinate with the City for delivery and placement. Optimally, we’d like to have a small ceremony with photos taken. As this is our first project, it is something we’d like to memorialize. We will keep everyone updated as the timeline gets more firm. One thing is certain, this will be done before summer heat sets in! We wish to thank all those that have supported us and this project. We couldn’t have done it without you! We’d also like to extend a special thanks to the City of Calexico and their Public Works Manager, Liliana Falomir, who has been very helpful to us in this venture. Starting March 1, 2021, we are finally starting memberships! All memberships this started this month will be effective March 1, 2021. We are still waiting for our 501(c)3 status to come through, but it should be sometime in March. Your contributions will allow us to continue projects like ours in Calexico, to help promote the highway as well as the towns and businesses along it, and preserve what is left of former US Highway 99. We are moving forward!
  4. Greetings all, I am currently working to create a new organization for the benefit of US 99, at least in California if not Washington and Oregon. More details will follow, but so far it is likely to be called the Historic Highway 99 Association of California. I am currently working on the paperwork for the various aspects of the organization. Our website, https://historic99.org , is a work in progress but is functional. If you are interested in helping with any of this, please let us know!
  5. Michael Ballard

    Historic Highway 99 Association of California

    We now have a PO BOX and are setting up some projects across the state. Hoping to hear back from Calexico soon, but am expecting delays due to the holidays and such. 2021 will be the Year of US 99 if we can help it!
  6. Michael Ballard

    Historic Highway 99 Association of California

    The Historic Highway 99 Association of California is now official! Our incorporation paperwork cleared this morning, 12/8/2020, and we are now a California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation. Really excited about getting things going!
  7. Michael Ballard

    Still alive? Been A While!

    I'll make sure there is a link to the forum on my website. Might help get some traffic this way.
  8. Michael Ballard

    Still alive? Been A While!

    The forums have indeed slowed. Not quite sure why. They have been a great resource of information. I know I've been busy with the new Historic Highway 99 Association of California. Looking forward to the days when we can be more active with the public. So much to do!
  9. 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!
  10. Michael Ballard

    Original Pacific Highway Identified

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

    Us 99 News?

    Does anyone have any updates on US 99 through California, Oregon, or Washington? Plenty is going on here in California. A section of the highway near Fresno is being realigned to accommodate the new high speed rail. A portion of old alignment is also being removed as well, bypassed about 1960. In Southern California, there has been much work on the section of US 99 in the San Fernando Valley. A pipeline replacement project has partially torn up San Fernando Road in the north end of Glendale, a section which also had old curbing. Burbank is also doing a lot of resurfacing along their stretch, with Caltrans replacing the former North Burbank Underpass with a re-realigned (going back to the original alignment actually) San Fernando Blvd. What's new in other areas along US 99?
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. 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/
  17. Michael Ballard

    Us 99 Tour - Extended

    My US 99 tour, in Southern California, is expanding. A couple years ago, I finally extended the tour south from Newhall Pass to near downtown Los Angeles. Now it is going north. From its former end at the Kern River in Bakersfield, I'm extending the tour further north to Delano, for now. I am working to extend the tour to at least the Pine and the Palm north of Fresno, California. In time, it may cover the whole valley, but one step at a time. I need a lot more photos for a tour and that will take a few more trips through the Valley. http://socalregion.com/highways/us_99/
  18. 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/
  19. Michael Ballard

    Welcome - Please Introduce Yourself!

    Welcome, Bill and Tina, to the forums
  20. 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
  21. 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.
  22. Michael Ballard

    Ridge Route Update

    From our ridgeroute.org website - On Monday, June 10, Michael Ballard (myself), Harrison Scott, Dave Omieczynski, and Richard Valot had a meeting with representatives from the Angeles National Forest. They included Jerry Perez – Forest Supervisor, Justin Seastrand – Environmental Coordinator, Ricardo Lopez – Road Engineer, and Jamahl Butler – District Ranger. Our meeting, which was held on the Ridge Route near the southern end, was to discuss a range of topics regarding the road. We initially met at the Ridge Route and Templin Highway where we made introductions and briefly went over the meeting details. From there, I led the group with my sportbike up the road to the southern gate. At that point, we discussed the land ownership problems and the 2010 paving, which we believe will help us with our goal of getting the road reopened. After our discussion, they opened the gate and I led the group on a tour of the Ridge Route from the southern gate to Reservoir Summit. The initial plan, however, was to only go about four miles north to see the recently reconstructed section of road. Each stop, the USFS people decided to go a bit further. We didn’t mind this at all! Along the way, we made stops at some of the sections of the roadway that had been repaired as well as some of the historic sites along the road, such as the National Forest Inn site. At each major stop, Scotty brought out his books and showed photos of the sites. Once we got to Reservoir Summit, we had another discussion regarding the state of the roadway. Overall, it was in very good shape with only a few areas needing more immediate attention. Many sections had been resurfaced and we did make it clear that we didn’t want to see a wholesale repaving of the roadway for the sake of preservation. They seemed to understand this. After our discussion and hike to the reservoir, we all headed back to the southern gate to finalize our meeting. The meeting was productive and positive. There is still a lot of work to be done, but they were willing to help and to work with us. Instead of a Memorandum of Understanding, we may be entering into a Volunteer Agreement regarding cleaning drains and such along the roadway. They also stated they would do additional research regarding the land ownership issue at the southern end of the roadway. In regards to opening the roadway, there is still no estimate on when it will reopen. Another concern is roadway maintenance, which we may be able to help defray with volunteer effort. There are still additional issues that need to be addressed but we at least have a better understanding of what the Forest Service sees as the problems. One of them, overall condition of the roadway and ability for vehicles to travel safely, I tried to prove by using my sportbike. If I can go on the roadway using that vehicle, most everyone should be able to pass over it safely as well. Only time will tell if this meeting was truly successful, but I believe it was. I will give additional updates when we hear back from the USFS in the near future.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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