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Old Highway 395, Part 11: US 395/CA 74 from Lake Elsinore to Perris (1934-1953)

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[Riverside Co US 395, 1947 -- 39K] Between Lake Elsinore and Perris, most of old US 395 traveled with route CA 74, which maintains the routing today. This was originally defined as the northern part of LRN 78 (1931). At the other end we will connect with Interstate 215, inhabiting the eastern US 395 roadbed, and complete the connection of our two large forks in southern Riverside county. Click the thumbnail at left for the 1947 map (36K) we saw in the last Part to see the routing we will cover this time around.

In this Part we will enter the City of Perris. Perris is named for founder Frederick T. Perris, chief engineer of the California Southern Railroad. In the earliest days of Spanish settlement, the valley (which is now the Perris Valley) was the San Jacinto Valley; originally a quiet Indian range, the hills grew busy when gold was found by Spanish and Mexican miners and other strikes turned up tin and coal. Some of these prospectors and later American settlers founded a small outpost that would become the little town of Pinacate. Settlement in the region grew sizable enough to merit rail service and in 1881, the CSRR started laying tracks through the valley towards the Santa Fe Railway and San Diego. When completed in 1882, settlers shot into the region and bought as much abutting land as the market would bear in around the tracks and Pinacate itself. Local discussion, however, determined that a more convenient town location was better advised; a committee was formed and land acquired from the Southern Pacific Railroad for design. Perris himself returned to study the proposal, and agreed to route the railroad (now part of the Santa Fe) through the town in return for additional land, water access and a depot constructed by the town. Service lasted through Perris until the 1890s when rain washed out the tracks in Temecula and the route was abandoned. Fortunately, a new local industry had arisen -- agriculture -- and the former railway town survived to incorporate itself in 1911. Farming is still a significant local economic pillar, although the city has been hit particularly hard by the recent home foreclosure wave that has gripped the Inland Empire economy in general (referred to on an ABC Nightline feature as the 'epicenter'). The local lake (Lake Perris) was constructed in the early 1970s, though I can't imagine why people still swim in it; however, the town has been a filming site for a number of recent movies such as Eagle Eye, Calendar Girl and most prominently The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, which even had a phony County of Riverside council chamber and several mentions of the city including the famous skydiving scene. Today, its population is 36,189 [2000], although the estimated present population is closer to 42,000.

Business Loop 15/Main Street (cont'd)

But first, it's back to Lake Elsinore, where we continue north into the downtown from Graham St, carrying old CA 74 with us and leaving old CA 71 on its former routing of LRN 77 north to Corona (at least initially -- more on this in a second).

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The local cultural centre, originally built as a Methodist Episcopal church in 1923.

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There are no Business Route shields or Business Loop shields anywhere on the northbound routing; to find a BL 15, you have to look southbound such as this one just before the Main Street exit on Interstate 15, where BL 15 ends.

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However, old US 395/old CA 74 never made it quite as far as where the Interstate runs today. Instead, we come to this stub just west of the I-15 Main St exit (cut off from Main St by the interchange's construction) at the end of Minthorn St. We turn around and head northwest along Minthorn ...

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Collier Avenue

... to Collier Avenue and continue the routing, paralleling the freeway.

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[Temporary I-15 and CA 71 in Lake Elsinore, 1974.] Collier Ave for a period of time was even signed as "Interstate" although it's unclear if it was along this actual piece of road or the roadbed where the Interstate sits now (probably the latter), but the name did appear as Temporary Interstate 15 on many period maps including the 1974 inset at right. Recall that in 1974 CA 71 was cut down to its modern terminus at CA 91 west of Corona, although signs remained up, like US 395 shields did along TEMP I-15 in northern San Diego county in Parts 8 and 9, until the Interstate was finally completed.

I mentioned above that LRN 77 took CA 71 and CA 74 out of Elsinore along modern Graham Avenue and Lakeshore Drive originally (former CA 71 then splitting off at Lakeshore, and continuing on Lakeshore Drive and Lake St up to Temescal Canyon Rd near Alberhill), and this is still true of the 1947 map at top, reproduced for your convenience from the previous Part. However, notice that US 395 follows Collier, and always did, and it was not until US 395 was moved from this routing east to the later I-215 corridor that CA 71 (and we presume LRN 77 with it) was routed here on US 395's old alignment entirely along Collier, although it was probably not done at the same time US 395 vacated. It seems that the Collier Avenue bypass north of CA 74, which was first signed as CA 71 (never part of US 395) and is now partially overrun by I-15, was not incorporated into the route until the 1960s and later expanded into I-15 in 1980.

Also notice that CA 74 is approaching CA 71/TEMP I-15 on the 1974 inset on "Rice Street," which based on its location seems to have been yet another morph of Graham. CA 74's relocation along Riverside Drive to the corner of Central Avenue and Collier Avenue probably occurred in 1980, when the modern CA 74 interchange was built. Most of the section of I-15 between the I-215 split and CA 74 was built in stages, the portion near Railroad Canyon last, between 1977 and 1982. The reason for I-15 being routed here is explained in Part 12.

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Through the commercial/industrial zone bordering the freeway (to our right).

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Approaching Central Avenue and modern CA 74.

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Junction CA 74, which continues straight ahead and to the right. We turn right to continue northeasterly towards Perris.

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CA 74

Junction Interstate 15 as we leave the city limits of Lake Elsinore.

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Dexter Street, the first intersection past the interchange.

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Our first CA 74 shield, and postmile (PM 17.5).

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Ascending the grade towards the southern end of the Perris Valley.

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CA 74, and old US 395, has had some of the curves on the ascent realigned in recent years, including this old stretch of road near the El Toro Cutoff Rd (which has nothing to do with El Toro in Orange county).

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This section is simply signed as Frontage Rd, but NAVTEQ helpfully marks it as Old CA-74. It ends very abruptly.

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Coming over the lip towards Meadowbrook. The Central Avenue designation seems to end as we enter unincorporated area.

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Entering the small community of Meadowbrook. The four lane alignment is a new innovation, constructed 2005-6 and replacing the old twisty one-lane-per-direction road that was fraught with congestion and accidents.

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Greenwal Avenue and Meadowbrook Avenue as we begin our descent.

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PM 21.5.

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Large sweeping curves characterize this rebuilt alignment with ample passing lanes.

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A defaced PM 25.0 at Ellis Avenue as we approach Perris.

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City limits, where we change names to 4th St.

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Entering downtown Perris.

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Crossing the railroad tracks.

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The old Santa Fe depot, which is still being renovated as of this writing. More photographs later when they're complete. It is the home of the Perris Valley Historical and Museum Association.

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[Routes 71, 74, 740 and 79 in the Inland Empire, 1934.] CA 74 continues on towards I-215, where it intersects at the south end of town and joins it south towards Romoland where it branches off again (we'll see both of these exits in Part 12). However, its original terminus as signed in 1934 was here, at D Street, where it intersected (and ended at) the mysterious old route CA 740 as shown in the 1934 inset map at right.

As originally designated in 1934, CA 740 ran between US 60 in Riverside and CA 111 near Indian Wells (the continuation of LRN 78 between Perris and Riverside, 1935, and LRN 64 from Perris to CA 111, 1933). In Perris, it ran along D Street (the north portion to be shown in a second); on the south side, it left town as D and 11th Sts to exit as Case Rd down to the modern southern I-215/CA 74 interchange, where it continued along the route of modern CA 74 towards Indio.

It seems CA 740 probably lasted only a year at most as-was, as it was split shortly thereafter by the new US 395 which took over all of LRN 78 and continued on to Riverside over the north leg of CA 740, leaving the rest to be added onto CA 74 as an extension. We leave CA 74 here and turn left onto D St, former CA 740 and former US 395.

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As we make the turn, this sign used to greet us until 2007 when it was a casualty of a civic redevelopment project. Temporary Route 15E ("RTE TEMP 15E") is the old designator for Interstate 215 during its construction, which is something we will explain in more detail in Part 12. This was the last known sign in the field using the old name until it was destroyed by the thoughtless City of Perris Department of Public Works, and if they still have it in their scrap yard, I would gratefully take down this complaint as an equitable trade.

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D Street

D St is Perris' old downtown, characterized by attractive restored period architecture such as this old theatre facade.

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The street is also lit by these charmingly quaint overhead lamps which give it a retro feel.

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After a couple blocks of narrow street, D St turns into a four-lane boulevard. (Beer on tap, Y-Not? Because you're driving, dummy.)

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D Street also parallels the civic centre and a number of municipal buildings before we get to its end at I-215.

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Such as, you guessed, it, another City Hall.

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Finally Interstate 215, signed only for northbound. We will come back to this in the next Part, but first we need to cover the modern freeway and for that we'll rewind all the way back to Temecula.

Continue to Part 12

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