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Keep the Show on the Road!

1925 Ridge Route & 1896 Newhall Cut

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Darthvader (AKA Kevin), our Southern California on-the-spot Ridge Route scout, advised us of a September 16, 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times about old 99, the Ridge Route, the Newhall/ Beale’s Cut and the Grapevine. Great reading, and highly recommended!

 

Ole Great Grandfather Keep-the-Show-on-the-Road (not his real name! :blink: ) pulled the old Newhall grade through Beale’s Cut with his horses and wagon on the way to his homestead in the Lockwood Valley in 1896, and left his account of the trip in his memoirs. He had no map, but I have in my collection the 1925 Automobile Club of Southern California strip maps of the old Ridge Route, to complement the article in the LA Times for those interested (see below).

 

In 1896 Grandfather Keep (as a boy) and Great Grandfather and Grandmother Keep loaded their earthy possessions into a wagon and headed for the Lockwood Valley, now a community near the old Ridge Route where great grandfather was claiming his homestead rights as a Civil War vet.

 

He was chasing the American Dream on the American Road a bit before automobiles, but along old routes well known here on the forum. He took US101 through the Cahuenga Pass, and old US 99 along San Fernando Road, then over the Newhall Pass through Beales Cut. Of course they weren’t auto roads then, let along numbered US highways! Even the legendary Ridge Route was still 18 years away. The pioneer route took them through San Fransisco Canyon, back past Lake Elizabeth and finally to the Lockwood Valley, but I will end this story at the Newhall Cut.

Grandfather Keep writes as they leave their home in LA….

"We started at noon and went by way of Cahuenga Pass, then a one track mountain road. On the left at the foot of the pass, by a row of eucalyptus trees was a tavern and out in front they had a bear chained to a post. He stood up and waved as we went past."

 

It is almost impossible today to imagine that scene on the old El Camino Real, later US 101 over Cahuenga Pass. Today the Hollywood Freeway (US 101) crosses the Pass in a multi lane Freeway. Looking up on the surrounding hills you see multi million dollar homes all around you. The pass today provides a brief respite in the otherwise continuous commercial development and din that envelops you along the freeways in the LA basin. But most who travel this road today are not even aware that they are crossing a well know pass on the old Kings Highway (US 101)

 

Grandfather Keep goes on....

"We camped the first night at what is now Lankershim Blvd and the river. The river was a pleasant little stream flowing between grassy willow lined banks. To a city boy the air was fragment with baccharis, water cress, and fresh willow".

 

They are now on what today is Lankershim Boulevard, headed for the village of San Fernando and San Fernando road, Old US 99. They have left the El Camino Real and are moving northward. The “river” is the Los Angeles River, once the primary source of water for Los Angeles, but today so changed by development it often does not appear on modern road maps. Today it runs in a concrete channel here, and the “fragrance” is not of baccharis and fresh willow. Incidentally, this is where a huge old movie studio now sits.

 

After an early start next morning we drove across the empty San Fernando Valley through the little Mexican town of San Fernando and up toward the Newhall Mountains. We crossed the railroad and started up the canyon where Highway 14 is now and went up the steep ravine leading up to the man made road cut known locally as Newhall Pass....All the way up the canyon the road was quite steep and got steeper the nearer we came to the top.

 

Can anyone in the Los Angeles area today image an empty San Fernando Valley? The famed Newhall Cut (or Beale’s Cut as it later was called) was opened in 1854 and as the LA Times story says:

 

“Beale's Cut, as it came to be called, created a narrow, steep passage for horses, stagecoaches and foot traffic, and is credited with spurring the development of Los Angeles.”

I believe the cut still exists, no doubt significantly reduced by time and weather, but maybe Kevin can catch a photo of it for all of us to see. I believe it is only a few miles from his home.

 

Grandfather Keep continues

 

"On the last few hundred feet of the pass the horses had to be rested frequently. All of us were out of the wagon and mother was handling the chock block, a sizable chunk of wood about a foot long with a sort with a sort of handle piece nailed on at an angle. As the team stopped this was put back of one rear wheel to hold the wagon while the team rested."

 

It is interesting that the same method was reported used in 1902 when the first automobiles started over the pass. It was common for the gas tank to be mounted up front, and on steep hills gasoline would not flow to the engine, so automobilists backed up steep grades. If the engine stalled, the passenger leapt out to block the wheel and prevent a runaway.

 

Grandfather Keep continues....

 

"[Finally].....the team just could not get us moving. This was late afternoon and in that narrow, deep cut it was gloomy and windy and cold. [After a bit of praying....Great Grandfather Keep was a minister]...on the next try the horses had the strength to get the load started and over the top we went."

 

The cut is pictured in this photo from the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

 

BealesSouthSide.jpg

 

Old Road through Newhall/Beale’s Cut

 

ARRidge1WM.jpg

ARRidge2WM.jpg

 

1925 Ridge Route ACSC maps Beale’s cut has been replaced by the Newhall Tunnel.

 

 

Gotta Keep the Show on the Road!

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How neat to have your grandfather's memoir. Not many people have anything like that.

 

And that cut is something else. I can't imagine what it must have been like trying to get from south to north, or vice versa, even with it.

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How neat to have your grandfather's memoir. Not many people have anything like that.

 

And that cut is something else. I can't imagine what it must have been like trying to get from south to north, or vice versa, even with it.

 

It is neat to have the description, and I am hoping that Kevin will get a photo of what it looks like today, long after it was abandoned for auto travel.

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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It is neat to have the description, and I am hoping that Kevin will get a photo of what it looks like today, long after it was abandoned for auto travel.

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

That was the best description of any type of travel through that area and over the cut that I have ever read. When I saw you write that your grandfather lived in Lockwood Valley I immediately had the image in my mind of a couple of freestanding chimneys I know along Lockwood Valley Road. I've spent a lot of time in that area. Even honeymooned in Lockwood Valley. Funny story there. Thanks for the fascinating reference! I'm going through Newhall maybe next week, maybe I'll snap a shot of the cut, now that it won't be so muddy!

Edited by Boy Named Sioux

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That was the best description of any type of travel through that area and over the cut that I have ever read. When I saw you write that your grandfather lived in Lockwood Valley I immediately had the image in my mind of a couple of freestanding chimneys I know along Lockwood Valley Road. I've spent a lot of time in that area. Even honeymooned in Lockwood Valley. Funny story there. Thanks for the fascinating reference! I'm going through Newhall maybe next week, maybe I'll snap a shot of the cut, now that it won't be so muddy!

 

 

Suey,

 

Wow, talk about your coincidences! Now I will have to pull out grandfather’s memoirs and read again what he said about Lockwood Valley. If it is at all interesting, I’ll share it.

 

After the Civil War, great grandfather was a mid west preacher but suffered a throat hemorrhage and moved west to recover. They settled in LA and my grandfather was raised there. The Lockwood adventure was short lived as Great Grandmother was not a homesteader! But I had a female cousin who owned a tavern in the general area until maybe 10 years ago.

 

I would definitely appreciate a modern photo of the cut.

 

Thanks for the great reply!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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Suey,

 

Wow, talk about your coincidences! Now I will have to pull out grandfather’s memoirs and read again what he said about Lockwood Valley. If it is at all interesting, I’ll share it.

 

After the Civil War, great grandfather was a mid west preacher but suffered a throat hemorrhage and moved west to recover. They settled in LA and my grandfather was raised there. The Lockwood adventure was short lived as Great Grandmother was not a homesteader! But I had a female cousin who owned a tavern in the general area until maybe 10 years ago.

 

I would definitely appreciate a modern photo of the cut.

 

Thanks for the great reply!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave,

 

You are freaking me out! The only tavern I know of on Lockwood Valley Road was the Owl's Barn. I could never go near it in my youth but when I was old enough...

 

A friend of mine and I went up there to do some black powder shooting and we stopped at the Owl's Barn for a beer. It had a screen door like on a home when you went in. I almost want to say it was a mobile home or trailer sitting on the ground. When we went in it felt like we entered someone's home. There were a few guy just sitting around inside and everyone was friendly enough but it was claustrophobic so we got the hell out! Not a bad experience, cept where we come from outsiders in a bar like that end up getting their asses kicked. Years later a few young cowpokes in Yreka decided I had too many teeth when I was at the Rex Club and I learned about the expensive world of dental implants!

 

Good times. Loved the Owl's Barn then. Right across the road from a chimney if I remember right.

 

Suuuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeey!

 

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Suey,

 

Wow, talk about your coincidences! Now I will have to pull out grandfather’s memoirs and read again what he said about Lockwood Valley. If it is at all interesting, I’ll share it.

 

After the Civil War, great grandfather was a mid west preacher but suffered a throat hemorrhage and moved west to recover. They settled in LA and my grandfather was raised there. The Lockwood adventure was short lived as Great Grandmother was not a homesteader! But I had a female cousin who owned a tavern in the general area until maybe 10 years ago.

 

I would definitely appreciate a modern photo of the cut.

 

Thanks for the great reply!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave,

 

The Cut has taken a beating in the last 15 years or so. Landslides on the north side have really filled it in. I have read that it was 90 ft. deep back in the day but now 25 ft. is the max. The cool part was when I was leaving a man was taking his two young girls up to see it and I was amazed that in the tiny slice of time that I was there others were coming to see this old passage. Now it is hard to tell that a road even went through there except for some smaller cuts leading up to it on the west side. While I was there a thunderstorm was rolling in so I beat feet out there.

 

GrandmaFuneral140.jpg

Looking west from the top of the cut.

 

GrandmaFuneral139.jpg

Looking up the grade into the cut from the west to the east.

 

 

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Dave,

 

The Cut has taken a beating in the last 15 years or so. Landslides on the north side have really filled it in. I have read that it was 90 ft. deep back in the day but now 25 ft. is the max. The cool part was when I was leaving a man was taking his two young girls up to see it and I was amazed that in the tiny slice of time that I was there others were coming to see this old passage. Now it is hard to tell that a road even went through there except for some smaller cuts leading up to it on the west side. While I was there a thunderstorm was rolling in so I beat feet out there.

 

GrandmaFuneral140.jpg

Looking west from the top of the cut.

 

GrandmaFuneral139.jpg

Looking up the grade into the cut from the west to the east.

 

 

Suey,

 

Thanks so much!!! I know its a little corney, but the sight of that old cut brought tears to my eyes. To think that my great grandparents and my grandfather as a boy struggled through that cut in a horse and wagon with all their life posessions was really moving to me.

 

If I can get a good wifi signal at the hospitial I'll show it to Mom, and I know my sister will be amazed.

 

 

Thanks a lot!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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