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I am hosting a tour of a portion of the Cajon Pass on August 12, 2017. It will cover the highway from the San Bernardino train station to Cajon Summit. The tour will be in a caravan with designated stops. If anyone is interested in this, please let me know. More details will follow soon.

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Plans are getting a bit more set for the Cajon Pass tour. The start location has changed to Devore. More details can be found at : http://socalregion.com/august-12-2017-cajon-pass-highway-tour/

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Mike,

 

Great plan!! I would be there but 1100 miles from Olympia is a long drive for a day trip!! :)

 

In 1916 the Old National Trails Road route over the pass was described in the TIB Automobile Route Book west bound, starting at Cajon Pass as:

 

From this point on extreme care should be used in rounding turns and fording streams. Beware of burning out brake linings. Low speed should be used in ascending and descending these grades.

 

You probably have a period map handy, but for others Archive.org has the 1916 strip map set at:

 

https://archive.org/stream/nationaloldtrail00autorich#page/n9/mode/2up

 

And I can photograph my 1916 TIB strip map on request. I no doubt have other maps of the route, but the above are quite useful as contemporary descriptions (pre US66).

 

Dave

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My 1913-14 Automobile Tour Book – California by the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company shows the route on one of its strip maps. The particular map covers San Bernadeno to Ludlow so it isn’t very detailed. But the comments are interesting.

 

Between San Bernadeno and Ludlow there is gas and oil available only at Victorville. And the grades between Verdemont and Hesperia, in other words, Cajon Pass, reach 18%!!

 

I wondered when the Automobile Blue Book folks recognized the National Old Trails Road as an important transcontinental route. It was not until the 1915 Mississippi River to Pacific Coast edition. Prior editions 1911-1914 did not note the route.

 

I photographed the route turn by turns from the 1915 edition, probably a bit “esoteric” for most, but it might add a touch of history nonetheless.

 

Note how sharp the curves must have been (see second scanned page below). Long wheel based automobiles had to back up to make the turns!!

 

Given the 1915 description, will you be sounding the horn frequently? :)

 

Dave

Mike1093a.jpg

 

Mike1093b.jpg

 

Mike1247.jpg

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It is hard to put ourselves in our imaginations in a 1915 automobile crossing the desert on a dirt and sand road, and then navigating grades and turns so severe you had to back up to move ahead! By the 1920’s that experience was in the past on Cajon Pass.

 

The 1921 Automobile Blue Book T (Transcontinental) edition describes “descending on easy winding grades over splendid roadway.” The road was paved between San Bernadino and the summit. It was still the National Old Trails Road and the Santa Fe Trail, but it wasn’t the rugged experience it had been just a few years before.

 

My father and uncle used to race trains on the downhill segment in the 30’s, but that is in the Route 66 days, and years later.

 

As an aside, using ArcGIS last evening I overlaid vintage maps on modern base maps and identified a couple of spots where the 1915 road still appears to exist. I’m not sure because I can’t visit it on the ground. Will your tour include any segment of the original automobile route in addition to the later versions? Wish I could be along on the tour!

 

Dave

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The tour will include as much of the original roadway as possible as well as the last pre-freeway alignment. There are sections remaining, that will be viewed, of the 1916 macadam paving.

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Hi Mike,

 

Please be share here about your Cajon Pass tour and let us know how it goes. We of course would love a couple photos too!
Good luck on your adventure.

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Hi Dave,

Thank you so much for sharing the interesting history on the Cajon Pass area in California! Many of us do try to imagine what travel was like in the early days of travel when roadways were newly paved. The excerpt from your 1921 travel book certainly provides something to get our imaginations going.

 

Thanks again,

Sue
Communications Director
American Road Magazine

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While it looks like it will be a low turnout (still no real idea until I show up that morning), I still intend to make the best of it. It should be a lot of fun, despite the heat predicted.

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Mike,

 

It may be that having only one participant was a disappointment, but that is actually encouraging. It would have been double that if I lived anywhere within 100 miles!

 

If I may make a suggestion to consider for your next tour. Link with a worthy non profit, collect a modest donation, and give most or all of it to the non profit. Suppose your next tour is on US99. Choose a non profit. Perhaps one along the route or with some affiliation of some kind with US99. Historical societies, Boy Scouts, car club, churches, etc.

 

Have them handle registrations and promotion to their members. You can still promote it yourself, but channel the details through them.

 

The obvious benefit is that they do the promotion to their members and handle the registrations in return for proceeds. Participants are making a donation to a worthy cause, have some reason to participate, and you are a good guy helping them.

 

There are lots of variations. One I like is the production of a tour guide that you might enjoy developing, and the provision of it to the non profit for their sale. That works especially well with historical societies for their gift shops.

 

Anyway, good luck with the next one.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I finally posted a followup to the tour. http://socalregion.com/cajon-pass-tour-august-12-2017-review/

 

The next tour will be advertised a bit more, but I still will just do it myself. I don't intend to collect monies for the tours just yet. Having some other group handling it wouldn't quite fit what I do.

 

My next tour will either be on US 80 or US 99 (what section is still being looked into).

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