['EXIT' Back]

Old Highway 395, Part 15: US 395/US 91 to Colton and San Bernardino, US 70/99 and US 66 via La Cadena Drive and Mount Vernon Avenue (1934-1959)

Click the sign icon at left to go back, or directly return to the Roadgap root index.
Go to: Part 14 | Main Old 395 page | Part 16

[The western terminus of modern CA 66 crossing I-215 in San Bernardino.] Having crossed the county line into San Bernardino county, in this portion of our photoessay we travel through Colton as well as through San Bernardino proper. The county seat of San Bernardino county with a population of nearly 200,000 (2005), San Bernardino was founded in 1810 with its own Spanish mission established by Fr. Francisco Dumetz. Dumetz named the mission and the region's majestic snowcapped peak for St. Bernardine of Siena, whose feast day was 20 May (the day Dumetz established the mission); Saint Bernardine remains the patron saint of the local diocese, and one of the major regional hospitals is also named for him. With the decomissioning of the missions by Mexican Governor Figueroa in 1834 (see Part 2 and the San Diego Mission), the region largely lapsed into ranching and was divvied up amongst multiple rancho owners until the cessation of the region to the United States after the Mexican-American wars. By then, several hundred Mormons under the lead of Captain Andrew Lytle (hence modern Lytle Creek), Amasa Lyman and Charles Rich had emigrated from Salt Lake City to the Santa Ana River valley in 1851, establishing Fort San Bernardino and expanding out to farm the region. Colonel Henry Washington established a survey point on Mt. San Bernardino in 1852 and from that base line (remembered in the city's Base Line St; surveys today are still made based on his monument) the city was platted and incorporated in 1854. Like the future Riverside to the south, the temperance-minded population tolerated no booze (Part 13), and it is likely that some of the population lived in what would become Riverside later. Their trek partially came down what is the Cajon Pass now, and this major crossing is the chief topic of Part 18 along with a little more on their story.

Brigham Young recalled the Mormons home to Zion in 1857 (a theme we will see again on mainline US 395 in Nevada), but unlike many faithful who moved back to Utah at great financial cost, some rebelled against his order and refused to return. A thriving city grew out of the remnant and a large civic network was established. This gentle town was thrown into chaos, however, when prospector William F. Holcomb struck gold in a nearby valley just north of what is now Big Bear Lake and filed five gold claims in the valley he named after himself in 1860. Thus was spawned the boomtown of Belleville and the biggest gold find ever in Southern California; word got out incredibly fast and a much rougher type of settler emerged in fierce contrast to the upstanding inhabitants of San Bernardino, causing much internal dispute and squabble (and even nearly losing the county seat to Belleville, prevailing by only one vote). Gold fever lasted only around a year before the yield plummeted and Belleville and the Holcomb Valley lapsed back into obscurity, but some of the new invaders stayed put as well and the region slowly started to expand once again. As San Bernardino's mining days faded, the railroad entered the valley and made San Bernardino the hub for no less than three networks, including the Santa Fe, the Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific Railroads. Immense local development caused the population to double in less than a decade in the early years of the 20th century. Today, San Bernardino is a victim of much of this expansion's abandonment which left distinct sections blighted and decrepit. Major civic redevelopment is at work to improve its image and lifestyle, much of this visible on the city's southern end.

[Virgil Earp.] One of the beneficiaries of the railroad expansion was the first city we will reach; Colton was incorporated in 1887 and named for David Doulty Colton, a general during the Civil War and later president of the Southern Pacific Railroad. During its early days it was presided over by Sheriff Virgil Earp (right), of the famous Earp family that together with Doc Holliday shot and killed Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton in the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral, in Tombstone, AZ on 26 October 1881. Before he moved to Colton, Virgil had been the Chief of Police of Tombstone and a federal Deputy Marshall for the Arizona Territory, organizing his famous faction in the Gunfight after a complex series of events including illegal arms possession and a long standing feud (see the excellent Wikipedia article). Contrary to popular legend, Virgil Earp was the most experienced of his family despite his brother Wyatt Earp's reputation, and brothers Wyatt and Morgan were specifically deputized for the occasion. Virgil was shot in the leg during the course of the Gunfight, crippling him, and his reputation was soiled by the Gunfight despite his official exoneration. The victims' family members vowed revenge, and nearly got it: he was attacked again in December at a hotel he was using as a safehouse, further robbing him of the use of his left arm, and Virgil finally left for California the following spring to rejoin his parents who had settled in Colton; even that trip was fraught with peril and his bodyguards killed another would-be assassin as he was boarding a train.

Despite having only one good arm, Virgil's reputation led to his hire by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1882, on whose behalf Virgil tried unsuccessfully to stop the entry of the California Southern Railroad (Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) into western California literally over the SPRR tracks, but failed when Governor Robert Waterman (the Waterman in "Waterman Avenue") sent a posse down in 1883 to ensure the crossing's construction by force and the great SPRR monopoly finally fell apart. Its advantageous location made the town a local transport hub and even today sizeable railroad traffic continues to pass over its ties. Earp became constable in 1886 and city-marshal in 1887 after Colton was incorporated, but only lasted a year after which he moved to San Bernardino and then to Colorado. Returning in 1894, he tried to open a saloon but was thwarted by the still-enforced temperance laws and finally moved to Goldfield, NV where he became deputy sheriff for Esmeralda county in 1905 and finally succumbed to pneumonia the same year. After his death and the rise of the automobile, Colton's pre-eminence as a junction point was cemented further as the great US 91/US 395/US 70/US 99 junction was in downtown Colton until the early 1960s, which we will look at in this Part. Today its population numbers 47,662 [2000].

San Bernardino county, by the way, is the continental United States' largest true county (only North Slope Borough, AK is larger if one counts Alaska) at some 20,000 square miles, bigger than some states. Despite its large size, its population numbers a comparably sparse 1.7 million [2000]. It was established as a cast-off portion of Los Angeles county in 1853; part of its southern half became Riverside county in 1893.

[Riverside/San Bernardino 1947-1999] 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.

In this section we focus particularly on the old La Cadena Drive alignment, the continuation of the 1949 La Cadena Freeway (Part 14) that was constructed in its initial form from 1935 to 1939, which served as the roadbed of CA 18, then US 395 and finally US 91 until the construction of the corresponding segment of the Riverside Fwy in 1959. As we mentioned in Part 14, the southernmost section of La Cadena is now under or incorporated into the southbound lanes of I-215, but an independent section north of there still survives into Colton. There are several distinct alignments of US 395 in Colton and we will look at all of them in turn, save for the US 395 freeway which will be addressed separately in Part 17. All of this section was originally cosigned with CA 18 (until around 1961), and after US 91 was extended south from Barstow in 1947, with that route as well.

We also have two major US highway junctions in this part, namely US 70/US 99 in Colton (but see Part 13 for a footnote about US 70's original routing in California), and grand old US 66 in San Bernardino, US 91/US 395's junction with which being where we end this Part. US 66 is of course the famous "Mother Route" from Los Angeles to Chicago, a/k/a Route 66 (as in "Get your kicks on"), the Main Street of America, the Mother Road, the Will Rogers Highway and west of St. Louis, MO, the National Old Trails Highway; it was an original 1926 highway and the US highway everyone has heard of and everyone has probably driven some section of at least once, even though California was the first to chop it down in 1964 with the Great Renumbering (eliminating it legislatively from the state after which signs completely disappeared by the late 1970s), and it was later nationally decommissioned completely in 1985. In California, part of US 66 remains state highway as CA 66 and the eastern terminus is at modern I-215 in downtown San Bernardino, shown in the picture above, and San Bernardino makes big hay out of its US 66 connection to the point of it even being on the police cars.

If I might be permitted the pontification, US 66 is a route I have many conflicted emotions about: it is not a highway particularly relevant to me as it was already long dead in California when I was a lad, so I have no especial attachment to it, and the fanatical devotion its boosters maintain is actually detrimental to the other routes it shared road with as US 66 is frequently the major or even the only route to retain historic status. This is especially relevant to our study here considering the large amount of territory it shared with US 91 and to a lesser extent with US 395 all the way to modern US 395 in Part 18, but as of this writing the only Historic Route signage that remains on that entire section is for US 66 and it seems unlikely this will ever change. On the other hand, US 66 was the first route to really launch the American consciousness back in time to remember the old highways in the age of the Interstate, and the current retro-push to resurrect the old routes owes a tremendous debt to the supporters of US 66. Moreover, US 66's ubiquitous presence in American culture has made a hobby like mine not merely a perverse geek obsession but a respected, fascinating and (dare I say) "cool" pursuit of the past. US 66 may be just another interesting highway to me, but it did forge the trail for us younger generation roadgeeks who follow now, so I do owe it that level of respect. There are many US 66 historians who have covered the highway in more painstaking, loving detail than I could ever hope to do here, so I leave you with the Great American Highway photo tour, along with the National Historic Route 66 Federation.

As for US 70/US 99, this paired route was part of the future routing of Interstate 10, which traveled along and after the Great Renumbering superseded US 70 in California. US 99 was another original US route in the West, largely incorporating the northern portion of the Pacific Highway to Canada either itself or along one of its suffixed spurs (US 101 taking the most of the rest from San Francisco to San Diego; this was US 395's terminus in San Diego in Part 1). As such, it was a key linchpin for all three Western states and a guaranteed candidate for Interstate upgrade, sealing its fate in the 1964 Great Renumbering to largely become Interstate 5 (except for what remains as state route 99 in all three states, including California, and the southernmost portions which are mostly I-10, CA 86 and CA 111). US 70, however, was pretty much doomed in California from day one in 1935; as we had mentioned before, it only ever appeared co-signed with US 60, US 99 or both, and was exactly the kind of co-signage confusion that the 1964 Renumbering was designed to stamp out (so it was). In this region, both routes later became business routes for Interstate 10 and we will see one such BR 10 in Colton as well.

La Cadena Drive

At the very end of the last Part we entered San Bernardino county, and we showed you the county line from I-215. However, if we were heading north on the west-side frontage road, namely W La Cadena Drive (the closest road to where the original alignment ran, trapped under SB I-215), at the county line we would see this abrupt change in pavement and a road pulling out from the Interstate which is literally only a few feet to our right. This is the continuation of old La Cadena Drive and the northern portion of the old 1949 La Cadena Freeway (Part 14), as seen on the large map above.

Entire original image (112.7KB)   

Looking straight ahead, we can see how the expressway led up into modern La Cadena Dr, which is in the background behind the right curve. The curve motions and the right turn in the foreground were added as part of the Riverside Fwy project; the foreground turn leads to a southbound I-215 ramp, and the curve in the background accepts traffic from the I-215 La Cadena Dr (NB) and Iowa Avenue (SB) exits. Iowa Ave continues south into Riverside on the east side of the freeway as the continuation of La Cadena Dr, but it does not appear to have ever been part of US 395.

Entire original image (116.5KB)   

The pavement is clearly very old. Shortly after I took this photograph in 2006, it was resurfaced, which was welcomed by regular travelers. The white rail was later replaced by modern metal guardrail.

Entire original image (146.5KB)   

This is as close as the old alignment got to the modern exit on I-215, which we'll look at in Part 17. Traffic from Iowa Ave and the Interstate approach from the right. We turn left onto the old expressway.

Entire original image (92.8KB)   

Left turn to Riverside (via the on-ramp to SB I-215). We continue north to Colton.

Entire original image (141.3KB)   

[La Cadena Drive expressway in Riverside, 1952, 48K.] The section of the expressway south of Colton is still fairly well preserved; compare with the picture of the La Cadena Fwy in Riverside we saw in the last Part (click for a 48K enlargement). Although it lacks the frontage roads, the dual carriageway alignment continues the same basic structure although this section is considerably older (proof in a moment).

Entire original image (105.6KB)   

Barton Road, part of which originally built as Pigeon Pass Road, and subsequently expanded as an FAS project during the 1950s.

Entire original image (121.6KB)   

I've always liked the contrast between these bridges, first the Barton Rd railroad overcrossing, dated 1936 ...

Entire original image (119.4KB)   

... followed by this rickety one approaching the Interstate with a truly terrifying wooden pedestrian walk.

Entire original image (142.1KB)   

Continuing NB on La Cadena.

Entire original image (106.8KB)   

Crossing over the Santa Ana River, with the original white wooden rail still up.

Entire original image (109.6KB)   

This bridge is dated 1939 and apparently replaced a smaller crossing of uncertain age. Its replacement may have had something to do with the 1938 Santa Ana River flood which killed 19 people.

Entire original image (127.4KB)   

The Santa Ana River itself, looking downstream (although it appears to be curving north here, it will curve back south again) towards Riverside, and Orange county where it flows down the Santa Ana Canyon (frequently locally elided to "Santana Canyon") through the Santa Ana Mountains on a course mostly traversed by CA 18, then US 91 and finally CA 91 today; from its headwaters in the San Bernardino Mountains near Mount San Gorgonio, it will finally enter the Pacific Ocean near Huntington Beach. It is impounded by the Seven Oaks Dam in Redlands, built in 1999, and further south by the Prado Dam, which was built in 1941 near Corona; furthermore, much of the river today is channelized and many segments are no longer wild. However, there are large stretches of natural bed like this, and despite being dry much of the time, the river has been responsible for at least three major floods since the 1800s.

Entire original image (126KB)   

Approaching Colton as we downgrade to four-lane street and finally one-lane-per-direction road for the chokepoint at the railroad line.

Entire original image (107KB)   

Crossing under the railroad line into town.

Entire original image (119.3KB)   

Notice the interesting vaulted pedestrian walkway.

Entire original image (91KB)   

7th Street.

Entire original image (120.6KB)   

Entering Colton city limits, on what apparently is a holdover from Alta California days.

Entire original image (153.5KB)   

Crossing under another railroad line ...

Entire original image (116.2KB)   

... and then Interstate 10 ...

Entire original image (82.2KB)   

... to reach Valley Boulevard, old US 70/US 99 in downtown Colton, where we split apart into our three minor forks in town. This is the end of LRN 43.

Before the Riverside Fwy was constructed, US 395 (and variously CA 18 and US 91) left Colton via Mount Vernon Avenue, but the way it approached Mount Vernon changed in at least two ways. Until the construction of the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10), which in this segment occurred in 1956, all of the segments up to then (two we know of, and both to be explored) turned east here with Valley Boulevard. From 1956 to 1959, it is unclear if US 395 (and US 91, CA 18) were routed on the San Bernardino Fwy, but it would not have traveled far with it and wouldn't have lasted long anyway if it lasted at all, so I won't discuss that further. In 1959, US 91/US 395 moved to the Riverside Fwy and a new interchange was built, at the site of the modern I-10/I-215 junction, which again will be looked at in Part 17; however, the remnant Business US 395 was routed straight ahead on La Cadena instead of down Valley, which is Business Route 10 now. All three of these routings will be explored in turn. We start by turning right onto Valley Blvd.

Entire original image (122.5KB)   

US 395 via Valley Blvd/Mt. Vernon Ave (1934-1959): Valley Boulevard/Business Loop 10

Both of the pre-Riverside Freeway routings went down east with US 70/US 99 on LRN 26 (first designated to San Bernardino in 1916, then extended via this point to Los Angeles 1931), and when Interstate 10 was designated, Valley Blvd became a Business Loop. Like poor BR 8 in San Diego (Part 1), most of these shields are disappearing, but also consider that at its worst this route was theoretically signable as (deep breath) CA 18, US 70, US 91, US 99 and US 395 all at the same time. That would have been one heck of a shield assembly.

Entire original image (118.9KB)   

[US 395 in Colton, 1937.] US 395 via Colton Avenue (1934-1937?)

From 1934 to approximately 1937-8, old I Street (the former designation for Valley Boulevard) was not directly connected to Mount Vernon Avenue, the continuation of US 395 north into San Bernardino. This appears on both the 1936 official state map, and on the 1937 Gousha map inset at right; instead, at that time, US 395 and CA 18 went northeast on Colton Avenue to make the connection. (US 99 might also have briefly followed this alignment early in its life as well; a bit about that later.) This junction no longer exists either, but we can approximate it by taking Tenth Street north to meet it.

Entire original image (119.8KB)   

NB 10th St.

Entire original image (108.1KB)   

10th and Colton Ave meet at this awkward 5-way intersection with G St. We curve northeast.

Entire original image (89.3KB)   

"NB" Colton Ave/old CA 18/old US 395. A small frontage road section runs parallel to the northwest for a few blocks.

Entire original image (96.3KB)   

The local community centre.

Entire original image (83KB)   

Continuing past the parks up to Mount Vernon Avenue.

Entire original image (95.9KB)   

Junction Mount Vernon Avenue. We'll come back to this.

Entire original image (104.5KB)   

Business US 395 in Colton (1959-1969)

We'll do the other "minor" alignment first, which you can see on the large map above in the introduction. After the Riverside Freeway was designated US 91/US 395 in 1959, the old alignment in part from at least the San Bernardino Fwy, and possibly down to the Riverside Fwy, up to US 66 became Business Route 395 (and until at least 1964 Business Route 91). However, rather than using Valley to Mt Vernon, BR 395 went straight on along the continuation of La Cadena up to Mt Vernon instead. This was obviously never actually US 395 but we will traverse it for continuity and a nice look at the pretty old downtown of Colton.

Entire original image (122.3KB)   

Continuing on N La Cadena Dr, which in a curious coincidence with Riverside was also 8th St (Part 13).

Entire original image (117.4KB)   

The Colton Museum, built as the public library in 1908 with a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, the noted steel magnate and philanthropist. The only public building surviving from that era, the Carnegie Building remained as the library until 1982 when the new present-day library was built on the corner of 9th and D. In 1988, the old building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and then renovated and opened as the Colton Museum in 1992. Besides a large collection of Earp family memorabilia, it also features exhibits on the city's citrus days and collections of period artifacts such as contemporary clothing and home items.

Entire original image (90.9KB)   

This beautiful and stately bell sits outside of the library, along with this classically-styled light fixture typical of North La Cadena Drive.

Entire original image (81.5KB)   

The southern portion of N La Cadena is typified by these small businesses and shops.

Entire original image (136.3KB)   

Fleming Park, with its band shell in the background. Fleming Park is probably named for Thomas Fleming, former manager of the California Portland Cement Company that today still mines Slover Mountain for limestone. Slover Mountain sits just south of I-10 on the western edge of Colton and is unmistakable because of its perpetually flying U.S. flag, at the time being one of only three locales in the entire United States where the flag was flown continuously (the others on 4 July 1917 when it was raised being the White House and the gravesite of Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner). The mountain got its name from Isaac Slover, a hunter-trapper who settled on the south slope in the 1840s of what was then called Tahualtapa (ravens' hill) by the local Indian tribes and "Cerrito Solo" by the Spaniards (solitary little hill). Cal Portland moved in during the 1870s but exhausted the marble supply by the mid 1880s after which they started extracting limestone in the 1890s, a process that still continues today and has caused the hill to slowly but visibly shrink.

In 1917, Fleming went to the Chicago World's Far and was entranced by the night flying flag, majestically unfurled and illuminated by bright floodlights against the darkness. Fleming went back to the hill and requested Congressional approval to fly the flag continuously, and raised the 30' x 20' flag on Independence Day of that year. Slover Mountain still flies the flag continuously today, which is still maintained by Cal Portland Cement.

Entire original image (153.6KB)   

Passing the Colton Civic Center, another City Hall along US 395 (even if this wasn't, technically, US 395).

Entire original image (143.3KB)   

The northern section of N La Cadena then gives way to a mostly residential district.

Entire original image (167.5KB)   

Towards the north end of town, La Cadena Dr springs off northeasterly.

Entire original image (149.6KB)   

This run takes a couple oblique bounces through this more conventional business district ...

Entire original image (106.6KB)   

... before ending at Mt Vernon, just south of the San Bernardino city limits.

Entire original image (128.6KB)   

US 395 via Valley Blvd/Mt. Vernon Avenue (1938?-1959): Valley Boulevard

For our last fork, we rewind back to Valley Blvd. This was the routing that US 395 primarily took through Colton until the Riverside Fwy.

Entire original image (121.2KB)   

Part of the Valley Blvd alignment crosses over this now internalized channel, dated 1935 ...

Entire original image (94.7KB)   

... coincidentally in front of 395 Valley Boulevard.

Entire original image (109KB)   

Continuing through the light industrial district along the Interstate.

Entire original image (103.4KB)   

[Old US 91-395-CA 18 and US 70-99 interchange, 1950s, 127K.] Mount Vernon Avenue. Until the early 1930s Mt Vernon did not actually reach this point (see our first fork above), and until the 1960s it didn't actually connect with its southern half (the bridge at right between the two portions here was built in 1967). Between 1956 and 1959, when the San Bernardino Fwy reached San Bernardino but the Riverside Fwy was not yet built, Mt Vernon Ave's interchange on US 70/99 looked like the thumbnail at right (click for a 127K enlargement, along with a comparison with the 1967 present-day interchange). Notice the black signage, the lack of background fill for the shields, no Interstate shields, and the older gantry style. US 91/US 395/CA 18 jumped off on a left exit. In 1959, this exit was changed out for the first iteration of the San Bernardino Interchange about a mile east when the Riverside Fwy was constructed; more on that in Part 17 as well. In the background we can see the San Bernardino Interchange itself and just in front of that (not visible here) is the Santa Ana River. Valley Boulevard originally went over the river just east of this point on a 1937 crossing, but that bridge was obliterated by future Interstate 10.

Entire original image (114.2KB)   

Mount Vernon Avenue

Turning left onto Mt Vernon Ave, and a closer view of the Interstates. We leave LRN 26 here and continue on our final LRN to modern US 395, LRN 31 (originally Nevada to Barstow in 1916, extended to this point in 1933).

Entire original image (115.8KB)   

Fairway Drive and F Street. Until 1937 US 99 crossed the Santa Ana River using what is now the Fairway Drive bridge instead of along Valley; because Mt Vernon and Valley were not connected initially, these two pieces most likely connected via Colton Avenue to F St, but I don't have any map evidence for that exact routing. The original Santa Ana River crossing along what is now Fairway Dr no longer exists but Fairway Dr still does cross the Santa Ana on a later bridge and is an important local alternate for I-10.

Entire original image (118.6KB)   

Colton Avenue, accepting our early 1930s routing.

Entire original image (119KB)   

A number of the old small bridges and culverts are still in use.

Entire original image (135.9KB)   

Finally, La Cadena Dr, and now all three of our forks are back together.

Entire original image (127.5KB)   

US 395 via Mount Vernon Avenue (1934-1959)

San Bernardino city limits.

Entire original image (119.3KB)   

The very pleasant San Bernardino Valley College community college campus, established in 1926 as the first campus within the San Bernardino Community College District and today has an enrollment of over 25,000 students. It is also the site of KVCR-TV and KVCR-FM, the PBS affiliate for the Inland Empire and the first non-commercial public television station in Southern California; its transmitter was moved to Box Springs Mountain in the early 1980s but its studios remain on the SBVC campus. A separate feed is broadcast via low-power transmission in the Coachella and Morongo Valleys. The older building to the right is the auditorium, with the student services building to the left.

Entire original image (160.8KB)   

West of I-215 has historically been more rundown than east. This wasn't always the case, and there is a reason for it which we'll discuss more when we look at the Interstate.

Entire original image (131.2KB)   

Rialto Avenue. This was the junction of the old Arrow Hwy alignment and the earliest alignment of the Arrowhead Trail before US 91; US 91 was never signed upon this routing. It is continuous with the Arrow Route and Arrow Highway to the west into Los Angeles. For the history of the Arrowhead Trail, see US Highway 6 Part 7.

Entire original image (121KB)   

2nd Street and the approach to the 1934 Mount Vernon Bridge, the major landmark along this old stretch of US 395/US 91.

Entire original image (121.6KB)   

Date stamp on the mouth of the carriageway.

Entire original image (180.5KB)   

Crossing the old Mount Vernon Bridge. This larger highway crossing replaced the narrow rickety San Bernardino Viaduct (click for a 48K image in a new window), built not long after the railyard's construction in 1883, which ran over the rail lines at a sharp 90 degree angle and caused more than a few cars to miss the turn, with predictable results. On the 1933 photograph, taken at the 2nd/Mt Vernon junction looking north, the white lines show the edges of the future bridge receding to the other end. To get onto the old Viaduct, traffic had to turn east onto 2nd, north on Viaduct Blvd (which still exists, but has no connector), loop 90 degrees there to go west this time onto the southern leg of the bridge, then make the turn on the Viaduct and continue north to connect with Mount Vernon.

Entire original image (101.2KB)   

Looking from the apex of the bridge into north San Bernardino.

Entire original image (118.3KB)   

These rail lines are for the Santa Fe Railroad, better known as the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, now merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad forming the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. As we mentioned in our introduction, the ATSFRR was the first railroad to bust the Southern Pacific Railroad monopoly in California (by order of Governor Waterman, and ultimately by force). Back then, the SPRR was one of the first operations running in the western United States as part of the old Central Pacific Railroad, the CA-UT portion of the transcontinental railroad and the western portion of the famous "golden spike" connector that was hammered home on 10 May 1869. Given the nature and expense of their investment, the SPRR had no intention of letting competing interests work in their service areas, let alone the ATSF. The 1883 ATSF "frog war" (named for the frog, the device that handles the track junction) was what gave the unincorporated area of Rana between Colton and San Bernardino its name, Rana being Latin for frog; in those days the ATSFRR waged that war by proxy, using their subsidiary the California Southern Railroad, which runs from San Diego to Barstow via San Bernardino and the Cajon Pass (Part 18) and is still in service as part of the Santa Fe. The landmark Santa Fe Union Station in downtown San Diego was built in 1915, replacing the old CSRR station house built in 1882. We'll get to the corresponding building in San Bernardino in just a second.

The Southern Pacific, for its part, turned around and leased, then absorbed, its corporate parent (the CP)'s rail holdings in 1885 and then 1959. After years of acquisition and expansion followed by deep financial upheaval, the SP was bought by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1996, and the UP and BNSF railroads are still in regular operation throughout the entire region.

Entire original image (38.6KB)   

Looking at the understructure, much of which was built out of the steel of the old Viaduct.

Entire original image (126.7KB)   

The modern BNSF tracks today. Beside them is a large, eye-catching grey building, which we'll go down and take a look at on Second and up Viaduct.

Entire original image (130.8KB)   

Detour: The Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino

San Bernardino needs to fix this historic marker, but this one stands beside the bridge for old Garner's Grove, where the original Santa Fe depot stood after it was built in 1886 (the sign appears to say "1850s era" but this is probably just an artifact of the plastic warp).

Entire original image (112.4KB)   

The first depot doesn't exist anymore, having perished in a fire in 1916, and was succeeded by this striking mission-style terminal built in 1918; this was the building we saw from the rear from the tracks. Then the largest railroad depot west of the Mississippi, it was crafted to be fire-resistant, hold multiple offices and manage a terrific quantity of baggage, cargo, passengers and telegrams, and was lauded for its then-state of the art construction and layout. A Harvey House was added shortly after; I talk about the Harvey Houses in my entry on the Garces Hotel in Needles (US 95 Part 5).

In 1972, Santa Fe unloaded its passenger rail operations to Amtrak, the government-operated National Railroad Passenger Corporation and today the operator of virtually all major passenger rail lines in the United States (a point of no small controversy and a topic far too big for this modest blurb). Amtrak, through partnership with Caltrans (Amtrak California, a/k/a but incorrectly Caltrain, which is the Bay Area/Santa Clara Valley commuter rail system), still provides passenger rail service to San Bernardino along its Southwest Chief Route from Chicago to Los Angeles via Needles, Albuquerque, Topeka and Kansas City; the Southwest Chief still uses the Cajon Pass, too. In 1992, the building was purchased by the San Bernardino Associated Governments, an agency that has helped me with some of my historical enqueries and acquisitions in the past and for which I remain very grateful; the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Due to its continued use and historical value, SANBAG started a two year restoration project in 2002 and themselves started to occupy the second floor as part of their corporate offices in 2004. Today the restored depot still handles passenger rail for both Amtrak and Metrolink, and a Greyhound bus depot is planned in the next few years.

Entire original image (134.2KB)   

Looking at the entrance to the Mt Vernon bridge from the east side of the structure, roughly where the Viaduct would have started its ascent and aerial turn.

Entire original image (101.3KB)   

On this view, the old girders from the Viaduct are plainly visible.

Entire original image (119.8KB)   

[US 66 on Foothill Blvd, modern 4th St, in San Bernardino, 1937.] End Detour

Just after crossing the bridge we come to a non-descript junction with 4th Street, which most casual road historians will ignore but was actually the original point where US 66 approached, as shown in the map at right. In 1945, US 66 was directed up to 5th Street on a newly constructed bypass alignment, where CA 66 still runs now.

Entire original image (120.3KB)   

[Business US 66 and CA 18 crossing the railroad tracks, 1951.] 5th Street and junction CA 66 (US 66 from 1945 to 1964). Until 1959, US 66 continued with us due north from here; after 1959, US 66 continued east to the Riverside Fwy and rode north with US 91 and US 395 there. This is where CA 18 left us until it was cut down, east along 5th and then up E St to Highland Avenue, old CA 30. It then crossed east briefly with CA 30 and then up Sierra Way, which is now BUSINESS CA 18 (CA 18 was transferred to, and now ends, on Waterman). More about that in the CA 30-CA 18-CA 259 exhibit.

For many years a business alignment of US 66, signed variously as BUSINESS US 66 and CITY US 66, continued east with CA 18 as well and still appeared on maps as late as the early 1970s. This route was particularly congested due to the railroad tracks parallel to Mt Vernon on the east side that it had to cross; a Division of Highways study estimated that the railroad guard rails at 5th and I St were down almost a third of the time, greatly impeding traffic at many times of the day. In 1951, a new bridge crossing I Street and the tracks was built (shown here facing east with BUSINESS RTE signage on the US 66 shield, and an old-style CA 18 shield), and was later incorporated into the modern I-215/CA 66 interchange. A hint of things to come, the railroad would have another important impact on automobile travel in San Bernardino, this time on how the future Interstate would be built. We'll talk about that in Part 17. Business US 66 then continued north on E Street to Kendall Drive and back to the US 66 mainline, the junction of which we'll see once we get near Devore. For now, we leave CITY US 66 and CA 18 heading east and continue north through San Bernardino as US 66/US 91/US 395 into the next Part.

Continue to Part 16

Entire original image (117.5KB)   

[Return to the Old Highway 395 main page] All images, photographs and multimedia, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © 2004-2024 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. All writeups are copyright © 2004-2024 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or duplication without express consent of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited. Please contact the sitemaster to request permission if you wish to use items from this page.

Go back to the main Old Highway 395 page | Go back to the main Roadgap page
[Main page]