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Old Highway 395, Part 12: US 395 Expwy/Interstate 15 in Temecula (1949-1969) and US 395 Expwy/Interstate 215, Temecula to Riverside (1953-1969)

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[Stages of US 395 construction in the Inland Empire, 1954, 99K.] After awhile it became clear no one was happy with the zigzag routing in western Riverside county, just as suboptimal as the Fallbrook routing to the south in San Diego county (Part 6), and just like New Highway 395 (now Old Highway 395, Part 8) replaced the Fallbrook routing, a new and direct eastern routing to Perris via Menifee Valley was constructed instead.

What became the new US 395 in southern Riverside county was built up in several phases, as shown in the large 1954 Inland Empire planning map at left (click for a 99K enlargement in a new window). US 395 north of Perris to Riverside had always run on the same basic routing, but was expanded in 1942 to service March Air Force Base in Moreno Valley north to Riverside and US 60, which was an active military post during World War II and continued to service as a Strategic Air Command base during the Cold War. (More about the history of March AFB and modern March Air Reserve Base when we get there.) Nevertheless, this was the extent of the highway as it stood after World War II, as during the War little upgrades were done to any highway save those of military import due to the wartime economy.


[Temecula US 395 bypass (1949), photographed 1952.] After World War II, the California Division of Highways resumed their interest in improving routes to and from the growing Inland Empire, making US 395 their chief objective as it was the only major north-south artery at that time (recall that US 91 still ended in Barstow in those days and was not extended to Long Beach, its longest routing, until 1947). The first of the improvements to US 395 started in the south with the 1949 Temecula bypass, shown at right; this bypass avoided the chaotic and narrow Rainbow Canyon Road alignment (Part 9) and constructed a divided highway with two lanes per direction down the grade into the Temecula Valley around the town (see Part 10). Denizens of modern Interstate 15 will recognize the picture as the Temecula grade north of the Border Patrol checkpoint; most of this is now either buried or was repurposed as I-15's northbound roadbed. In 1951, this bypass was extended up to Murrieta and is also part of the modern Interstate's northbound lanes.

[Southern Riverside County in 1933, ACSC map, 111K.] To reduce the amount of new alignment construction, the old Antelope Road through the southern Menifee Valley (refer again to the 1933 map, reproduced for your convenience at left [111K]) was adopted as part of the routing, but no road existed directly between Temecula and Menifee to use it and this first connecting piece was constructed in 1952 (now under I-15 and I-215). Antelope Road itself was upgraded for the new traffic but was kept one lane per direction due to its lower traffic counts, with right-of-way reserved for future upgrades (do tell).

As with Temecula to the south, no direct route connected Antelope Rd to Perris either and so two alternatives presented themselves: either route west and north along Newport and Murrietta Rds [sic] towards CA 74, or cross the hills near Romoland and join CA 74 there. Rather than introduce yet another dogleg to be bypassed later, the decision was to go ahead and build the more direct hill crossing alignment now, but reduce the grade with blasting to make it easier for cars and heavier traffic. Thus was the 1952 Big Cut born, which is the characteristic divot in the hills still seen today when crossing into Sun City along Interstate 215 (shown below). We will see the modern Big Cut in a moment after it was widened for the Interstate in 1979.

[Blasting the Big Cut in Menifee, 1952.] Parallel to the US 395 construction south of Big Cut was not only the 1952 connection to CA 74, but a new 1953 expressway alignment bypassing the old CA 74 and CA 740 roadbed (today Case Rd) to the north into northern Perris where it connected to the former US 395 alignment, and additional expressway from there to the 1942 March Air Force Base alignment up to US 60 in Moreno Valley; this divided highway was incorporated virtually whole cloth into the modern Interstate, with later grade separations added at the interchanges, some of which was done under the auspices of US 395 in the early 1960s. All of this became part of a rerouted LRN 78 designated by the legislature in 1951, and the construction was fully completed in 1953 and made US 395 shortly thereafter.

After the 1964 Great Renumbering, US 395 remained alone on this alignment, with I-15 only reaching San Bernardino (more about that and surviving signage in Part 17) and US 395 continuing from there to San Diego as we mentioned in Part 8. However, the 1968 Federal Aid Highway Act that provided funding for an Interstate corridor from Colton (next door to San Bernardino) to San Diego eventually only used part of US 395 as its skeleton, although I-15's initial routing south of Hesperia as defined in 1969 used practically all of it. CA 103 was transferred to the new route, leaving CA 163 as the stub of the US 395 freeway in San Diego (Part 3), but the rest became I-15, including through Riverside up to what was already defined as I-15 starting at Interstate 10 in Colton-San Bernardino.

In 1974, Caltrans and the state legislature selected a new routing for Interstate 15 over CA 71 and the unconstructed portion of CA 31 between Temecula and Devore through Corona (see Part 10, and Part 11 on Collier Avenue) in a clever and fairly thinly disguised way of getting more federal dollars to construct a completely new freeway rather than fewer dollars to upgrade an older existing expressway. Old US 395 between Temecula and Devore via San Bernardino, then, was numbered as its spur Interstate 15E, an unusual case of the designated parent route actually being the bypass routing (no longer the case due to new construction in the Corona-Ontario region, but not so in those days), and the portions that were not Interstate standard were called TEMP I-15E, which explains the RTE TEMP 15E sign we saw in Perris (Part 11).


[Riverside/San Bernardino 1947-1999, Flash map] Click the thumbnail at right to open a new window with a scrolling map showing Riverside and San Bernardino in 1947, 1957, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1984 and 1999. Flash 6.0 or higher is required.

As shown in the map sequence at right, the new Interstate 15E had a fairly convoluted numbering history during the 1970s and 1980s. Since Caltrans had and still does have an administrative constraint on internal route numbers having letters, it actually carried a completely different internal number as Route 194 (and at least one remnant of CA 194 still survives in the field, in Part 17); when AASHTO started ordering the redesignation of suffixed national routes in the close of the 1970s, I-15E was one of the last holdouts and was not renumbered until 1982 (leaving only I-35W and I-35E which still persist today) to Interstate 215, finally dropping the internal Route 194 designator. Instead of calling the still-yet-to-be-upgraded portions TEMP I-215, however, Caltrans opted for a curious directional dichotomy: northbound traffic rode along "TO I-215" -- signed with a TO banner instead of a TEMP banner -- but southbound traffic was signed along CA 215 with a state shield (the portions that were already Interstate grade were, of course, given a regular Interstate shield in the same fashion as other dual sign routes such as I-110/CA 110), and this dual signage system persisted until the last of the at-grade intersections along the old US 395 expressway were converted or bypassed. Although the section from Temecula to the Big Cut was nearly completely upgraded by 1979 (with the Big Cut widened for the new dual carriageway), the Sun City-Ethanac stretch was not fully upgraded until 1992, and the last of the at-grade junctions along the old expressway between Nuevo Rd and March ARB persisted until 1994 (as my memory serves me). There are still remnants of both designators today, but the CA 215 shields persisted along the road until as late as 2002 when they were finally completely removed (I remember one at McCall Blvd in Sun City that was particularly long-lived).

Route 15E does still survive in the Caltrans bridge logs -- under 08-RIV-215 there is a curious notation JCT RTE 15 SIGNED IN ITS ENTIRETY AS RTE 15E. This has a consequence for the way the postmiles are generated which will probably always remain, and we will look at the anomaly when we get to the I-15/I-215 split.

Interstate 215 is a route slated for significant future expansion virtually demanded by the explosion of housing and commercial business along its corridor: what was formerly a sleepy two-lane-per-direction highway just a decade ago is now a busy, frequently congested artery in a region of inexorable economic growth even in the present quasi-recession (as of this writing). In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar proposed widening of Interstate 215 between CA 60 and I-15, presumably initially meaning up to Nuevo Rd in Perris as the highway is already three lanes per direction north of there. The current plan appears to be to use the ample median for an extra lane, and K-rail has since been erected in the median as a apparent trial balloon, but construction on the project is not likely to start until the middle of the next decade pending environmental planning and engineering design. In total the project is expected to cost over $400 million, but the ultimate width is not decided, and the final goal may be conversion of the entire route to four lanes per direction all the way to CA 60. The 2005 SAFETEA-LU funding act also funded $2.4 million to upgrade the Los Alamos Rd interchange and the CA 74 interchange; the former appears to have been completed in 2008, with the latter still in design and approvals stage as of this writing.

As a parenthetical note, all of I-15 from I-8 to I-215, and I-215 north to CA 60 in Moreno Valley/Riverside, was originally signed as the Escondido Freeway (and those freeway sections of US 395 north of the Cabrillo Freeway [Part 3] were also designated as such). In 1990, the section of I-15 from the San Diego-Riverside county line up to Lake Elsinore was designated the Temecula Valley Freeway, but I-215 remains the Escondido Fwy today.


Interstate 15 (Temecula Valley Fwy)

Back to the Riverside county line, just north of the Rainbow Canyon Boulevard exit on Interstate 15 (see Part 9), continuing north on I-15 onto the 1949 Temecula bypass (now under the asphalt). At the county line I-15 changes from the Escondido Freeway (and Avocado Highway) to the Temecula Valley Fwy.

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The Border Patrol checkpoint. Not to encourage the coyotes, but this isn't in operation very often anymore. Back in the day this was a common chokepoint (hence using old US 395 through Rainbow Canyon was a popular alternative for local traffic [Part 9]).

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PM 2.0 and Temecula city limits.

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Junction CA 79 (Exit 58). This was where we split at Part 9 and Part 10. We continue this time on what was formerly the 1949 bypass, now under the lanes of I-15; in the present day, CA 79 joins us north towards the Winchester Rd exit.

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Advance signage for Temecula exits. Notice the glue damage next to the Interstate 215 shield -- this was where a smaller I-215 shield sat, and a TO banner. The TO banner is where the glue is now; the miniature shield was mostly under the larger one that is presently there.

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Co-signage of Interstate 15 and CA 79.

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Separation CA 79 north on Winchester Rd to Winchester, and then to CA 74 near Homeland.

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Advance signage for the Interstate 15/Interstate 215 interchange.

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Just north of that sign is the Santa Gertrudis Creek crossing. This is one of the original US 395 bridges, built in 1951, and is still in use on the northbound side.

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Murrieta city limits just before the separation.

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[Temecula CA 71-US 395 split, 1952, 44K.] Separation structure with Interstate 15 left and Interstate 215 right. This was roughly where CA 71 and US 395 originally split apart, which is now all gone under the I-15/I-215 interchange. Click the thumbnail at right for a 1952 44K enlargement in a new window; the orientation is the same with the Lake Elsinore routing (modern I-15) proceeding to the left, and the Menifee Valley routing (modern I-215) proceeding to the right. However, the question on this image, which is not made clear from the California Highways and Public Works article this image was taken from, is actually which one was designated US 395 at the time it was photographed: in 1952, the through route along Antelope was not fully completed, and the sign only lists Menifee Valley as a control city along later US 395 while former US 395 lists Elsinore, Riverside, and Los Angeles (this last via CA 71), but the later US 395 is clearly the through route and the continuation of the Temecula expressway, and LRN 78 had already been redirected south to this general routing in 1951. Just over a year later, of course, the ambiguity was fully resolved and this junction continued with US 395 straight ahead with CA 71 heading to the left. The present interchange was built as part of the I-15/I-15E projects in 1977. We exit right onto I-215.

This is not the last we'll see of Interstate 15 -- we shall reunite at the end in Part 18.

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Interstate 215 (Escondido Freeway)

The first I-215 postmile used to be this one, which was already wrecked in 2005 when this picture was taken and is now gone. However, notice that it doesn't start at zero -- it starts at 8.5, the same PM point as I-15. This is the leftover of I-15E and, as mentioned above, still appears in the official bridge log, although the official equation is to start I-215 at PM 8.7 in the 2008 log (consistent with the disappearance of this postmile just past the gore point despite no significant interchange reconfiguration). At this point, we regain the Escondido Fwy designation.

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First exit to Murrieta Hot Springs Road. Most of the original US 395 expressway from Temecula to Antelope Road was incorporated into the modern I-215, so we are generally traveling along the old roadbed in this segment.

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Distance signage at Los Alamos Rd (Exit 2), which is shown here after the SAFETEA-LU funded upgrade.

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NB I-215/old US 395.

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Advance signage for the Clinton Keith Rd exit as we exit the Temecula Valley, where we will separate from the modern Interstate onto old Antelope Road.

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Clinton Keith Rd exit. We exit the highway and turn right.

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Antelope Road

Antelope Rd is immediately east of the modern Interstate and runs almost exactly parallel to it. The old Antelope Rd did exist back on the 1933 map above, although in those days it apparently was only a single lane road (not one-lane-per-direction) and may not have even been completely paved; during the 1952 construction it was upgraded to one-lane-per-direction and fully sealed.

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Looking south back at Clinton Keith Rd from Antelope Rd. I used old pictures here and for the last one to show you how relatively uninhabited this area was until just a couple years ago. In 2006, when these pictures were taken, there was a high school and a few houses. Now there is a shopping center on the other side of the interchange, Caltrans is building a secondary bridge crossing north of Clinton Keith, and houses are going in. The I-15 shield is a local gaffe but not technically an error since Clinton Keith does go all the way to I-15 also. We turn around and head north.

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Northbound on Antelope Rd. The change in asphalt is where old US 395 started. This is now partially covered up by the new bridge being built, so I am intentionally using an older image.

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Distance signage from I-215, parallel to us, at PM 14.

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[Contrast enhancement showing CA 215 on this sign.] This anomalous sign appears at the junction of Keeler Rd and Antelope Rd. Bearing a date stamp of 1977 on the reverse, it seems to have gone up during the 15E days but that was apparently covered up with the I-215 shield. What's still faintly visible, however, is the glue damage from where a CA 215 shield used to be on the southbound side (look at the contrast enhancement image at right if you can't see it). This sign most likely is a relic from when I-15E was being constructed and when Antelope was being used as TEMP I-15E, as there are no interchanges in either direction for several miles.

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Junction Scott Road.

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North of Scott Rd, between that and Menifee, Antelope Rd maintains the straight line towards Menifee while I-215 shifts slightly west.

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Entering Menifee (unofficial site). Menifee was not even a CDP until very recently, and as of this writing there is still no signage for it from either I-215 or Antelope; despite being at most a very loosely organized community for many years, on 3 June 2008, the designated area (including former Menifee Valley, Sun City, Quail Valley, a southern section of Romoland and most of Paloma Valley and Paloma Hills) voted for cityhood and will incorporate on 1 October 2008 with an estimated population of 72,420 [2008]. The Menifee in the city name and Menifee Valley comes from prospector Luther Menifee Wilson, who came to the region looking for gold and failed. Fortunately, his failure instead yielded a massive local quartz lode, and he established his mine in 1880 which did still yield a little gold after all. Prior to this the valley was inhabited by Pechangas and Luiseños, and was under the rule of Governor Pio Pico during the last days of Alta California. After the mining activity faded, the local agricultural industry indefatigably persisted until the influx of new housing developments in the late 1980s, starting with Menifee Lakes in 1989.

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Junction Newport Rd, roughly at the centre of the new city (technically Newport and I-215).

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Antelope Rd and a view of Big Cut today, originally blasted in 1952 as we mentioned above. North of Newport Rd, Antelope Rd originally simply trailed off into dirt after I-15E cut it down in 1979 and the remainder of the old US 395 over Big Cut was incorporated into the northbound lanes of the Interstate. The Antelope Rd north of here is a later development unrelated to US 395. We get back onto I-215 to cross Big Cut.

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Interstate 215

Advance signage while crossing Big Cut.

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McCall Boulevard/Sun City exit (originally at-grade and upgraded as US 395 in 1966). Sun City was first designated as a master-planned community by developer Del Webb, in the mold of his other Sun City 55+ senior communities, in the early 1960s and has a population of 17,773 [2000]. Sun City as a CDP will cease to exist and become part of the new City of Menifee in October 2008.

North of this point, US 395 for at most two or three years existed on what is now I-215, and the freeway from Sun City to the southern CA 74 junction was apparently originally US 395 until US 395 was decommissioned in 1969. As this lasted only a couple of years at most, we will exit here onto McCall Blvd to follow the old alignment parallel to what is considered Sun City today.

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Encanto Drive

The continuation of US 395 until at least 1966, like Antelope Rd, runs nearly dead parallel to the freeway and is signed now as Encanto Dr. Amusingly, Encanto Dr and Antelope Rd are once again continuous but over later construction for the new housing developments, and the route they take is not related to US 395. We turn left.

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Notice the close proximity to the Interstate, just as before. A dermatologist seems appropriate for a town called Sun City. The age of the road surface gives its heritage away.

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However, I'm not sure the senior citizen residents enjoy having a mortuary located so close and conveniently.

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Perris southern city limits as we near CA 74 at the Ethanac Road exit.

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Encanto Dr was directed around the Ethanac Rd interchange to this junction where it ends. We turn left ...

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... and get on the on-ramp to rejoin the Interstate.

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[Hemet US 395-CA 74 junction, 1954, 42K.] Interstate 215

Just past the Ethanac Rd exit is the junction with CA 74. In 1953, when this segment of new US 395 was constructed, CA 74 was still on the old CA 740 (Part 11) roadbed along Case Rd coming southeast from downtown Perris and thus CA 74 crossed US 395 twice: once here, and then once again north when US 395 got to Perris (the two CA 74 exits on I-215 today). Click the thumbnail at right for a 42K enlargement of the junction in 1954; notice the little US 395 and CA 74 shields along the side of the road. The sign's control cities are Perris (left) and Hemet (right). In 1962, this was upgraded to the current grade separated exit, and CA 74 was co-routed with US 395 off Case Road entirely.

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Today CA 74 still hitchhikes with I-215 for several miles in eastern Perris. There are no CA 74 shields on the NB alignment right now, but there used to be as seen in this 2005 picture at PM 24.0.

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North of the southern CA 74 junction US 395, and still I-215 today, took a wide 90 degree swoop to the west. The US 395 expressway here was incorporated entirely into the modern Interstate. Only token upgrades were made to the interchanges.

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Distance signage and the San Jacinto River bridges, also built in 1953 and still in use. The river seems to be the reason for the big 90 degree swoop west, as crossing the river channels at an oblique angle rather than perpendicularly would have required considerably more bridgework, although the use of 'river' to describe the San Jacinto in this stretch is, well, a stretch. From its headwaters in the San Bernardino National Forest it used to have considerably higher discharge into its ultimate terminus at Lake Elsinore, but later damming for water reservoirs such as the 1895 Hemet Dam has reduced it to practically nothing in its southern extent. Rarely it floods during heavy rains, but otherwise it is essentially a dry bed here. It is part of the Santa Ana River watershed, a river we will see more of when we get further north (particularly Part 15). Both the river and the modern city of San Jacinto (near Hemet) are named for Mount San Jacinto (10,804'), one of the tallest mountains in southern California, part of the "Three Saints" with Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Antonio, and part of the San Jacinto Mountain range enclosing Idyllwild and bordering Banning and Palm Springs to their north. (The San Bernardino Mountains are north of that, which we will reach in the final Part, and the junction of the San Bernardinos and the San Jacintos west of Palm Springs forms the modern San Gorgonio Pass which is today traversed by Interstate 10.) The mountain, for its part, was named for the Catholic Saint Hyacinth ("Jacinto") who ministered in Eastern Europe during the 1200s, and his name was applied to the ranch established by the Mission San Luis Rey ca. 1820 who applied it to the river and mountain as well.

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The northern CA 74 junction. CA 74 leaves us to enter downtown Perris, so this really couldn't be called a bypass.

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[D Street bridge, old US 395, 1954.] Advance signage for the final 11-odd-mile leg into Riverside. Again, virtually all of this is the same as US 395 during its upgrade. Compare this view with the 1954 photograph at right: in the 1954 photograph, the D Street Bridge is shown carrying old US 395 from Part 11 to meet us and join on the continuation of LRN 78, and in the current image the Perris Blvd bridge is shown with the D Street bridge distantly behind it. Both were also built in 1953.

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Turning north again under the D St bridge at PM 27.23, merging our old alignment from the end of Part 11 along what was originally CA 740 and now the last leg of LRN 78.

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The Perris Rock Castle, visible as a brooding presence on a small escarpment overlooking the city and the Interstate. Almost Norman Bates-esque in its ominous, foreboding appearance, the Castle has actually had a very benign history and was a family home for many years of its existence. Built in 1929 by the Ragsdale family, a local oil and service dealer, the stone was selected from desert rocks near Whitewater in the San Gorgonio Pass, hauled down to the highway by their Model T and thence to Perris by large truck, all 30 tons, and used to construct the 4,000 square foot building with walls some six feet thick. The effort apparently ruined the Ragsdales, who sold it during the Great Depression to the first of many family owners, most inhabiting it for around a decade each. Contrary to popular belief and the juicy hopes of this particular hack writer, no one was slaughtered by any murderous mamma's boys here, the guest rooms were let strictly on private hospitality, and Janet Leigh is not known to have ever used the shower. The Perris Valley Historical and Museum Association notes that it was sold again, in 2001, for $920,000 -- over 150 times what the Ragsdales sold it for, a paltry $6500.

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Curving around from the D Street exit is the continuation of the 1953 expressway, heralded by the Nuevo Road exit. The southernmost section here was among the last portions of I-215 to be made Interstate-grade and was not upgraded until 1994.

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Junction Ramona Expwy/Cajalco Expwy. Calling these expressways is somewhat of an exaggeration -- much of both expressways are one-lane-per-direction -- but they are very important arterials through the rural regions of central Riverside county. They are county roads, but not signed as such.

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An old CA 215 shield at the interchange, simply covered over instead of taking it off. Nice try.

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Passing March Air Reserve Base and reaching the 1942 upgrade of US 395 constructed for World War II; analogously, this was also one of the earliest portions to be converted to Interstate-grade on this stretch, in 1983.

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March ARB was formerly March Air Force Base, which was formerly Alessandro Flying Training Field when it was established in 1918 as one of America's oldest military airfields. Part of a massive U.S. military buildup prior to the Great World War (World War I), local interests, including Frank Miller, owner of the Riverside Mission Inn (Part 13), persuaded the War Department to grant approval for the airfield's construction. Less than a month after it was activated it was renamed March Field for 2nd Lieutenant Peyton Conway March, Jr., who perished in an air crash just two weeks after receiving his commission in the United States Army Air Service (the forerunner of the modern United States Air Force). March Field was part of General Headquarters from 1935 to 1941 and subsequently assigned to the Strategic Air Command briefly in 1946, after which it was renamed March Air Force Base in 1948 with the birth of the Air Force in 1947, and rejoined SAC in 1949 which it remained part of until 1992. After SAC was decommissioned March AFB was transferred to the Air Combat Command until 1996, when the base was realigned to the Reserves as part of the Base Closure and Realignment III order in 1993. During 1993-6, it temporarily housed the 452nd Military Airlift Wing, transferred from the defunct Norton Air Force Base to the north in San Bernardino (now San Bernardino International Airport), and now houses the 452nd Air Mobility Wing today, composed of the former 452nd Air Refueling Wing and 445th Military Airlift Wing. March ARB, as March Global Port, is also the Southern California hub for shipping company DHL, an operation that has brought jobs to the local economy but also complaints about their flight paths (mostly from southern communities) and the nature and extent of local oversight.

Of note to nerdy Air Force brats such as myself (my father being a retired O-3, thank you very much), the 67th Network Warfare Wing, the major component of the Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional), was established as the 67th Observation Group in 1941 at March Field, and reactivated in 1993 as the 67th Intelligence Wing in Lackland AFB, Texas, from which the modern 67 NWW hails.

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March Field Museum, parallel to the base, has several wonderful exhibits which Dad can't resist looking at. I think there is a T-38 "Talon" there too, his favourite plane, a close relative of the Northrop F-5.

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At the north end of March AFB ARB, I-215 unexpectedly sweeps on a curving bypass to the west. The actual old US 395, and for a period of time old CA 215, proceeded parallel to the modern Interstate on a straighter alignment, so we exit here at Cactus Avenue.

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Branching to Cactus Avenue West, but actually we're just going to go straight through the traffic light onto ...

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Old 215 Frontage Road

Now, this really steams my turnips, man. Yes, it was Old 215 for many years, but it was US 395 for many more years before that, so why do we get this crap? If it has to be old anything, it should be Old 395! So, anyway, we take this jog around the interchange ...

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... and curve back northwest to become ...

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... the old US 395 expressway approaching Alessandro Blvd, the expressway being part of CA 215 until 1993 when the Cactus Avenue and Alessandro Blvd interchanges were constructed and this old stretch was bypassed. I presume, based on the commercial properties here, that Caltrans was unable to secure the right-of-way and moved the highwaybed west.

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Old 215 signage at the Alessandro Boulevard intersection. Until 1937 this was the junction of US 395 and US 60, and both US 60 and US 395 headed together north and US 60 along Alessandro Bl east into Moreno Valley, so this was at that time the end of LRN 78 and its intersection with LRN 19 (1931). This was also the historic north end of CA 740 until it was decommissioned (Part 10).

In 1937, the Division of Highways relocated LRN 19 and US 60 to a northern bypass alignment as part of a new eastern Badlands route to Beaumont, replacing the hazardous old Jackrabbit Trail crossing. This new routing roughly follows the modern Moreno Valley Fwy today, passing through northern Moreno Valley and Sunnymead along the freeway and what is now Sunnymead Blvd/present BUSINESS CA 60. LRN 78 was extended up to match and the new intersection was built at what today is the modern Moreno Valley interchange, which we'll get to at the end of this Part, where I-215 and CA 60 meet now.

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Speaking of which, at this point we start skirting the City of Moreno Valley. Moreno Valley was originally inhabited by the Shoshone in antiquity and later discovered by the Spaniards, most famously Juan Bautista de Anza, who reached the area in December of 1775 along what is now the Anza National Historic Trail on his trek to San Francisco. We don't see much of this trail along old US 395, but we will parallel it briefly into downtown Riverside; Caltrans uses (inconsistently) brown markers to flag the historic route and the designated auto tour. After California was admitted to the Union, Moreno Valley became a nucleus for local agriculture using the Bear Valley Land and Water Company, whose owner Frank E. Brown pumped water out of the Bear Valley in the northern mountains. Brown's operation was so intrinsic that the valley was named indirectly for him (moreno meaning brown in Spanish), but it also meant it was the only thing keeping the valley's farms in business. That sobering conclusion was thrown into sharp relief in 1899 when the city of Redlands protested against Brown's pumping operation and filed a successful suit in court; the water dried up and, unfortunately, so did the crops. The town gradually revived after March Field was developed, was the site of the Riverside International Raceway from 1957 to 1989 (now under the Moreno Valley Mall) and enjoyed the same explosive growth that the remainder of the Inland Empire did during the 1980s, during which the city incorporated itself in 1984 out of the communities of Edgemont, Sunnymead and Moreno. Unfortunately, this large boom turned into bust in the 1990s when March AFB downsized itself and residents became disenchanted with increasing congestion (particularly on CA 60), overbuilding and diminishing air quality. The city is trying to encourage upscale businesses, additional development of the surplus March ARB land under the March Joint Powers Authority in association with the county and other local cities, and reinvention of its neighbourhoods particularly with the introduction of the Rancho Belago name for its eastern section. Its population today is 180,466 [2008], the second largest city in Riverside county.

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At the Alessandro Blvd intersection is this old NORTH sign, clearly an Interstate banner due to the white-on-dark colour scheme. The two bands below it were almost certainly TO (unlikely TEMP, see the introduction) and I-215. A postmile sticker beneath it reads PM 36.406.

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Continuing northbound at Day St.

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Shortly afterwards, we downgrade from divided highway as we approach the Eucalyptus Avenue interchange. North of this point US 395 would have simply crossed onto the Moreno Valley Interchange, but this is lost to us now.

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Instead we curve around ...

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(entering the city limits officially for a brief moment) ...

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and pull up to ...

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Eucalyptus Avenue.

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North of this point is Valley Springs Pkwy. Despite the tempting looking overheads in the background of the last photograph, those were not part of I-215 or I-15E.

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Instead, we rejoin the freeway, where we immediately proceed to the CA 60 junction and the Moreno Valley Interchange.

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Moreno Valley Interchange during construction in 2007. We branch left to join CA 60 as the Moreno Valley Fwy west and LRN 19 into downtown Riverside.

Continue to Part 13

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