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

The Grapevine or the Ridge Route

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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.

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