“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Gorman in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

The “Ridge Route”

California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark


— Constructed 1914-1915 —

The Ridge Route Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, June 29, 2018
1. The Ridge Route Marker
Inscription.  In front of you in the hills, high above freeway Interstate 5, is a portion of the historic 1915 two-lane “Ridge Route". The power lines follow it.

The original Ridge Route was constructed in 1914-1915 by pick, shovel and mule drawn Fresno scrapers. Placed on the ridge to avoid drainage problems and reduce earthwork, the ridge portion of the road was almost a continuous set of short radius reversing curves, 697 curves in 36 miles. This was the first highway crossing of a major mountain range by the newly formed California State Department of Highways. In 1933, the opening of Highway 99 to the west relocated the original roadway off the ridge.

This significant highway was the first primary highway connecting Northern and Southern California. It was a major factor in keeping the state from dividing into two states with the Tehachapi Mountains as the border between them. As traffic increased, upgrades and additions in 1933, 1952 and 1968 created the 8-lane divided freeway, Interstate 5, you see below you. The 1933 and 1952 roadways are beneath the waters of Pyramid Lake behind you.

The "Ridge Route” has progressed considerably

The Ridge Route Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, June 29, 2018
2. The Ridge Route Marker
The power lines on the ridge follow the Ridge Route.
since 1915. Starting as a 2-lane gravel road with a 15 M.P.H. speed limit in 1915, today it is an 8-lane concrete paved full freeway with a 65 to 70 M.P.H. speed lmit. The trip between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, which originally took about 10 hours, now takes less than 2 hours.

This plaque is dedicated to the men and women who planned, designed, constructed and now maintain this historic civil engineering masterpiece.
Erected 2008 by American Society of Civil Engineers.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Man-Made FeaturesRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks series list.
Location. 34° 39.774′ N, 118° 45.604′ W. Marker is near Gorman, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Vista Del Lago Road and Interstate 5. Located in the parking lot of the Vista Del Lago Visitor Center, open daily 9-5. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 38500 Vista Del Lago Rd, Lebec CA 93243, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Reservoir Summit (approx. 2 miles away); Kelly’s Halfway Inn (approx. 2.2 miles away); Swede’s Cut (approx. 2.6 miles away); Tumble Inn

Ridge Route Map Detail image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, June 29, 2018
3. Ridge Route Map Detail
The road from Gorman to Castaic is about 40 miles.
(approx. 3.8 miles away); Liebre State Highway Camp (approx. 4½ miles away); National Forest Inn (approx. 4.6 miles away); Liebre Summit (approx. 5.4 miles away); Sandberg’s Summit Hotel (approx. 6.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gorman.
More about this marker. This marker is only accessible when the parking lot is open, daily from 9 to 5.
Regarding The “Ridge Route”. This road was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The road is currently closed to vehicles, from one mile north of Templin Hwy which is above Castaic Lake, to six miles south of Hwy 138. Efforts to reopen it are ongoing.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .  Ridge Route Preservation Organization. Working to reopen the road. (Submitted on August 16, 2018.) 
The Ridge Route Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, June 29, 2018
4. The Ridge Route Marker
View of Pyramid Lake image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, June 29, 2018
5. View of Pyramid Lake
Highway 99 is at the bottom of the lake.
<i>Original Ridge Route</i> image. Click for full size.
Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library, circa 1914
6. Original Ridge Route
"In this overview of the hills in the northern portion of Los Angeles County can be seen the building and carving out of the original Ridge Route. It was built between 1913 and 1915. The road ran from Castaic to Gorman and opened a path to the San Joaquin Valley via Tejon Pass on the northern end. It was replaced in 1933 by an Alternate Ridge Route which was shorter, and even later by Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway). " - Los Angeles Public Library
Credits. This page was last revised on June 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 1, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 133 times since then and 74 times this year. Last updated on June 29, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 1, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.   4. submitted on July 2, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.   5. submitted on July 1, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.   6. submitted on July 3, 2018. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement
Aug. 10, 2020