[Back to the main US 395 page] Floodgap Roadgap presents Old Highway 395

[Historic Route 395 signage in San Diego county.]

A lost highway, brought back to life

You can never hide your roots, and that goes double for my Mother Route. However, it wasn't until later in life that I realized US Highway 395 had always been the Mother Route for me in another big way -- it was the last US highway remaining to feed San Diego, California, my hometown since I was six years old. When we left town and traveled on I-15 up north -- unwittingly, for several years, on what was left of US 395 while the Interstate was being built -- and then crossed through San Bernardino on the I-215, we were still on the Mother Route, just under a different name; and it would still get us there and back home again.

Thus, this attempt to reconstruct the lost portions of US 395 up to its modern terminus is not just dutiful roadgeek homage to a mighty highway; it's also me reliving my childhood. Many family trips and good times were reached by 395 asphalt, and I remember almost every mile of it. Yes, many people got their kicks on Route 66. But US 395 is the open road I grew up with, and this original homage to US 395, created in stages over four years and literally thousands of total road miles (and now a part of my full US 395 exhibit), is my way of making sure my own Mother Route will never be lost.

For reasons of clarity and expediency, this photoessay primarily concentrates on the 1969 alignment, US 395's last full form before legislative truncation. Nevertheless, important and significant changes in its routing occurred during the 1940s and 1950s and where possible or documented, we will also try to traverse those alignments. US 395's history is somewhat difficult to ascertain in its early days due to poorer documentation, archival availability and lack of map coverage of some of its lonelier stretches. Please be advised that this is always under upgrade. I make liberal use of map insets. Please see my fair use guidelines.

Photography completed between December 2004 and May 2005, with additional photography and writeups between February and March 2006, and additional photography and writeups between October 2006 and September 2008.

[US 395 sign still showing mileage to San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego, south of CA 18.]


Although the sections below are grouped into counties, San Diego county and Riverside county overlap for reasons of alignment continuity in Part 9.

Old US Highway 395 in San Diego County

This section covers the entirety and history of old US 395 in San Diego city and county, including its southernmost termini, its former routings through downtown San Diego and Balboa Park, its routing on Fairmount Avenue, its earliest routing in Murphy Canyon, the Cabrillo Parkway (now CA 163, the Cabrillo Freeway), Pomerado Road in Poway, the modern I-15 freeway built on the former US 395 freeway to Escondido, Escondido Blvd and the old west routing through Vista and Fallbrook, Centre City Parkway and the later eastern routing along what is Old Highway 395 now, and the twin routings through Rainbow up to the Temecula Valley. Portions of these routings are co-signed with former US Highway 80.

Old US Highway 395 in Riverside County

This section covers the entirety and history of old US 395 in Riverside county in two broad divisions: first, the westernmost and earlier routing through old town Temecula and Murrieta to Lake Elsinore and Perris along old CA 71 and modern CA 74; then second, the eastern routing traversed now by Interstate 215 through Menifee to Perris. From there, we also cover the freeway to Riverside and the various routings to and through downtown Riverside including University Avenue (former Eighth Street), Main Street, Market Street, the La Cadena Freeway, the Moreno Valley Freeway, the La Cadena Freeway and finally the Riverside Freeway. Portions of these routings are co-signed with former US Highway 60, former US Highway 91 and the old routing of CA 18.

Old US Highway 395 in San Bernardino County

This section covers the entirety and history of old US 395 in San Bernardino county in two broad divisions: first, its surface street routings through Colton and San Bernardino represented by La Cadena Drive, multiple small routings through Colton, Mount Vernon Avenue and Cajon Boulevard; and second, its freeway routing on the Riverside Freeway and Barstow Freeway with modern Interstate 215 to the Cajon Pass. Finally, we look at the Cajon Pass in detail and take a small preview of modern US 395's current southern terminus in preparation for the main exhibit. All of this section is co-signed with former US Highway 91 and partially with former US Highway 66 and the old routing of CA 18.
[Some shameless Photoshop glorification out of my photo archives.]

Official recognition of Historic U.S. Highway 395, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 98, 2008

   WHEREAS, Former U.S. Highway 395 was a scenic stretch of highway that ran through historic areas of the County of Riverside and provided the only direct route from San Diego to the Lake Tahoe region and northern Nevada, before heading back into California on its way north to Oregon and all the way into Canada; and
   WHEREAS, While former U.S. Highway 395 remains largely intact through the Counties of Inyo, Mono, Sierra, Lassen, and Modoc, only sections of former U.S. Highway 395 still exist in portions of the County of San Diego and the high desert area of the County of San Bernardino; and
   WHEREAS, Most of the former highway route through southern California has been replaced by Interstate Highways 15 and 215 in the Counties of San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino; and
   WHEREAS, Former U.S. Highway 395, which remains as Interstate Highways 15 and 215, was the major and most significant connection between San Diego, the Inland Empire, and the eastern Sierra Nevada region; and
   WHEREAS, When former U.S. Highway 395 was known as the Cabrillo Parkway (and later the Cabrillo Freeway) in San Diego, now State Route 163, it was the first freeway to be constructed in San Diego and opened to traffic in 1948; and
   WHEREAS, Part of the original routing of former U.S. Highway 395 in northern San Diego County includes the old Bonsall Bridge, one of the earliest automotive crossings over the San Luis Rey River, later becoming part of State Highway Route 76; and
   WHEREAS, The portion of former U.S. Highway 395 between Temecula and Lake Elsinore was part of the Butterfield Overland Mail route, the first major overland delivery service to southern California, established September 16, 1858; and
   WHEREAS, After its realignment eastward, former U.S. Highway 395 became the first major expressway and freeway system in the southern portion of the County of Riverside in the early 1950s, servicing the Cities of Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Sun City, and Perris. Today this is State Highway Route 215; and
   WHEREAS, The portion of former U.S. Highway 395 between the Cities of San Bernardino and Hesperia, near modern State Highway Route 395, traverses the Cajon Pass with old State Highway Route 66 and old State Highway Route 91, most famously used by the Mormons in 1851 in their crossing into the valley where they subsequently founded the modern City of San Bernardino; and
   WHEREAS, The heritage in the regions through which former U.S. Highway 395 passed was greatly diminished when the former highway was replaced by suburban streets and Interstate Highways 15 and 215; and
   WHEREAS, Recognizing existing highway and road segments that formerly comprised U.S. Highway 395 would help preserve the history of the regions through which that highway passed and would also increase tourism and business in those regions; now, therefore, be it
   Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature hereby recognizes the original U.S. Highway 395 for its historical significance and importance in the development of California; and be it further
   Resolved, That the Department of Transportation is requested, upon application by a private entity or by an appropriate local government agency or agencies, to identify any section of former U.S. Highway 395 that is still a publicly maintained highway and that is of interest to the applicant, and to designate that section of highway as "Historic U.S. Highway 395"; and be it further
   Resolved, That the designation of Historic U.S. Highway 395 pursuant to this resolution shall have no impact upon the future planning or development of adjacent private or public properties; and be it further
   Resolved, That the Department of Transportation is requested to determine the cost of erecting the appropriate signs, consistent with the signing requirements for the state highway system, showing this special designation and, upon receiving donations from nonstate sources covering that cost, to erect those signs; and be it further
   Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

(Authored 2/14/2008, chaptered 7/8/2008, introduced by Assembly Member Jeffries, principal coauthor Assembly Member Maze, coauthors Assembly Members Benoit, Cook, Garrick, Sharon Runner, Salas and Senators Ashburn, Battin and Runner)

Cameron, We appreciated your help very much with the 395 effort and your website was an invaluable resource as we moved through the legislature and added co-authors from throughout the route. -- Jeff Greene, Chief of Staff, Assembly Member Kevin Jeffries (R-66th)

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