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Old Highway 395, Part 4: Pomerado Road/Historic Route US 395 in Poway and Rancho Bernardo (1935-1950), Lake Hodges Crossing and Old Highway Trail (1935-1955)

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Go to: Part 3 | Main Old 395 page | Part 5

We continue on Pomerado Road from the previous Part and the old surface alignment from 1935 to 1950. This is also the site of the very first portion of the old highway to be signed as Historic Route US 395, by the City of Poway. We'll then conclude our survey of the old routing with Lake Hodges, just south of Escondido, and its remnant trail alignment on the lake's northern shore which has been hidden and bypassed today by the Interstate.


Continuing northbound on Pomerado Rd/old US 395 down the hill into Poway.

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The descent into the valley has been considerably upgraded since the days of US 395; most of the very sharp curves in particular on this portion of Pomerado Rd have been reduced or bypassed entirely.

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One of the bypassed segments of the old highway is near the bottom of the hill. There is a geocache (membership required) near here, but I'll let you dig around to find it. Please note that this strip of road is abutted by private property owners who would appreciate your care in investigating it.

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As we climb up back to the main road, note that most of the striping and asphalt has survived.

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Leaving San Diego city limits for the Poway city limits.

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The origin of Poway is a little obscure, probably a corruption of 'paguey' or 'paguay' (a Diegueño or Luiseño word which is variously translated as "end of the valley" or "the confluence of two [small?] valleys" -- there is some controversy on this). The name was first applied to the valley in 1828, although dating of various pictographs in the region imply it was inhabited by Indians as long ago as the 16th century AD, but the modern spelling did not appear until 1870 when the US Post Office botched the name for their new mail stop. Despite being settled in the modern sense for over a century, the modern city did not incorporate until 1980. Its present-day population is 48,044 [2000].

This junction is the intersection of Pomerado Rd and Scripps Poway Pkwy, but this expanded alignment and intersection wasn't part of US 395 either.

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Instead, the original routing of Pomerado Rd started here, on this abandoned section now cordoned off as a fire lane and signed, starting from here, as Old Pomerado Rd.

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Old Pomerado Rd is now a residental road and recalls little of its heritage.

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However, some of the old bridges remain, ...

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... and there are markers, erected by the City of Poway, declaring the highway as Historic Route US 395. The markers on Old Pomerado are the first ones we will come to that actually mark the old highway as of this writing. To the City of Poway, I can only say, jorb well done.

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Joining Pomerado Rd and turning left to continue NB.

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Metate Ln. Ironically there is now a truck route marker on the mastarm.

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There are also US 395 markers on Pomerado Rd itself. (Note that I'm taking pains not to call these shields, since they're not.)

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Poway Rd, SDCo S4. This county arterial links Interstate 15 to the west with CA 67 to the east.

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NB Pomerado Rd/Historic Route 395.

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Ted Williams Parkway. Ted Williams Pkwy was named in 1992 for Theodore Samuel "Ted" Williams, famed Major League left fielder for 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox (interrupted twice by his decorated military service as a Marine Corps pilot during World War II and the Korean War). Born in 1918 in San Diego, Williams debuted with the Red Sox in 1939, was American League MVP in 1946 and 1949, led the league in batting six times, won the Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947, and finally retired in 1960 after which he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 and managed the Washington Senators (Texas Rangers) from 1969 to 1971. Hitting a home run on his very last at-bat on 28 September 1960, he had a career average of .344, 521 home runs and a .551 on base percentage, and was the last major league player to bat over .400 in a single season (1941, when he hit .406). Williams attended Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego as a North Park resident, later playing for the then-minor league San Diego Padres in 1936 before signing with the Sox. Despite his long association with the Sox, his relationship with fans and with the Boston sports media was best described at most as merely cordial. Annoyed by fickle spectators and what he perceived as hack jobs by the local newspapers, Williams never tipped his cap on his home runs, even for his last at-bat despite the crowd cheering, and in fact the only time he ever did so was when he threw the ceremonial first pitch in the 1999 All-Star Game, barely able to walk, for which he received a standing ovation. However, Williams was also noted for his generosity to charitable causes, and on his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1966 was particularly noted for his verbal recognition of the players of the Negro Leagues, specifically recognizing greats Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson who were later inducted in 1971 and 1972 respectively. After his retirement and his admittedly undistinguished time as manager, he became an avid sportsfisherman and was later inducted into the International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame in 1999, the same year The Sporting News ranked him #8 on their 100 Greatest Baseball Players list.

His later life was plagued with strokes and multiple heart problems, requiring a pacemaker and open heart surgery and eventually leading to his death of cardiac arrest in 2002. Grotesquely, his death was nearly as colourful as his career, as son and business manager John Henry Williams flew his body to a cryonics company in Arizona and had his head and body separated and placed in cryonic suspension. His wife protested, stating he had wanted cremation, but John and Ted's daughter Claudia produced an informal "family pact" on a stained napkin declaring Ted's changed intentions. Despite the strange circumstances surrounding its creation, the "pact" was found legally sound; Ted today remains on ice at the facility, and upon John Henry's death of leukemia in 2004, he joined his father there shortly thereafter. Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston is also named for him, designated in 1995.

Ted Williams Parkway is also the surface continuation of CA 56, the west-east arterial for northern San Diego city proper, and the CA 56 freeway is in fact named the Ted Williams Freeway. CA 56 is the most direct inheritor of the old Select Arterial 680, which was to be built with county money to connect Interstates 5 and 15; this project fizzled due to coastal opposition and the funds were redirected to CA 56, which does connect I-5 and I-15, and CA 56 was opened between those points in 2004. CA 56 is supposed to connect to CA 67, but no one knows when, and CA 56 today stops at I-15 where Ted Williams Pkwy begins.

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Historic Route 395 reminds you to Wear A Helmet. So does Cameron Kaiser, MD.

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Coming around towards San Diego city proper again.

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This is the final Historic Route 395 sign within the city limits of Poway as of this writing.

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Leaving Poway.

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We know we've left Poway due to the reappearance of the distinctive San Diego city street signs ...

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... and of course the city limit sign.

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NB Pomerado Rd.

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Junction Rancho Bernardo Rd. Rancho Bernardo is another community of the city of San Diego, named for its original land grant in 1789 from the King of Spain as la Cañada de San Bernardo (the St. Bernard Gorge). Mostly arid rancho for much of its time, development moved into Rancho Bernardo in earnest during the 1960s. It was severely devastated by the 2007 Witch Creek Fire, the largest of the catastrophic October 2007 conflagrations in San Diego county; these pictures were taken before the inferno.

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Continuing on the since-widened Pomerado Rd towards Escondido.

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Most of this area is suburban residential today, with smaller shopping districts.

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Making the final approach towards Lake Hodges.

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Junction Interstate 15 at the Pomerado Rd/West Bernardo Rd exit (formerly Highland Springs Rd exit).

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A view from the road, looking north over Lake Hodges into Escondido and Interstate 15 snaking up into the mountains.

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[Old Lake Hodges US 395 bridge, probably late 1940s.] Lake Hodges and the Old Highway 395 Trail (1935-1955)

Both the freeway alignment of US 395 (more in Part 5) and the old Pomerado routing crossed Lake Hodges roughly here, shown during the construction of the bike bridge which is still under way. Ironically, the bike bridge will look an awful lot like the old one did, as depicted in the 1940s Frasher Foto postcard at right. This was the first crossing of the Lake, built in 1919 as the Bernardo Bridge (here is a 41K archival postcard of the Bernardo Bridge, probably taken in the late 1920s) and signed originally as CA 71 with the first signage of state routes in 1934, to become US 395 just shortly afterwards.

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From there, we swim across the lake (as far as you know) to roughly this point where an old dirt road trundles towards the west end of the lake. But that's not the way we're going -- there's a whole different something if we head east. From this part on, we are in the San Dieguito River Park, administered by the San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park Joint Powers Authority (whew!) formed by the county of San Diego and the cities of San Diego, Del Mar, Escondido, Poway and Solana Beach. The San Dieguito River Park is planned to extend nearly 55 miles along the San Dieguito River from its mouth near Del Mar up to its headwaters on Volcan Mountain, near Julian.

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[Crossing the old Lake Hodges US 395 bridge, probably late 1940s.] One last look at the old river crossing; what might have been an old piling or possibly part of the northern anchorage is still here on this photograph taken before construction of the new bike bridge had started.

Lake Hodges is named for Walter E. Hodges, the private secretary to the president of, and later a vice president himself of, the legendary Santa Fe Railroad (the terminus and original station in San Diego still stands). Today's Rancho Santa Fe was one of the land purchases he helped engineer (then San Dieguito Rancho), but hit financial disaster with a massive local flood in 1916. The Railroad wanted to sell, but there were no reliable sources of water and potential buyers passed. Hodges was swayed by Colonel Ed Fletcher, a local development booster (Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa and El Cajon is named for him) who was similarly affected by the flood, to erect a dam on the San Dieguito River that would ensure more dependable water management after an idea by Fletcher's friend William G. Henshaw (the Henshaw in Lake Henshaw). The railroad president was similarly impressed and approved the project; it was finished by 1918 at a cost of $350,000 but had hardly the effect on land prices that the Railroad had hoped. In return for his expensive failure, Hodges was functionally demoted to a sinecure in 1919 from which he retired in 1930; Fletcher, on the other hand, flourished and his relations with Hodges were by all accounts sour thereafter.

Because of its unusual origins, Lake Hodges is notorious for widely variable lake levels including and "down" to nearly nothing. This has put a real cramp in the style of the boosters of the Lake Hodges Monster myth ("Hodgee"), but who knows -- maybe there's a cave in there somewhere. It would be hard for such a creature to hide in the very shallow Lake that US 395 crossed in 1947, however, as shown in the image at right (this image is from my archive of a defunct Hodgee fan site; I apologize for the uncredited photo as I don't know from where it came originally).

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If we turn around from that dirt road in the picture-before-last, we realize that it is the continuation of asphalt. This is the old routing of US 395 on the northern lake before 1955, when a second bridge was built and the approaches for both crossings constructed directly into Escondido along the course of what is now Interstate 15. This composite crossing lasted until 1968.

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Its age is not only evident by the crumbling surface but also the white centre line; yellow centre striping was not demanded by the U.S. Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) until 1971.

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In case you didn't believe this is Old Highway 395, a charming old wooden sign was placed to remind you.

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Continuing northeasterly.

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Some of the old railing and older surface is seen in the brush on either side.

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We lose the center striping as we get closer to the I-15 bridge, which we cross under.

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Trail signage and a place for weary US 395 travellers to sit and rest on the west side of I-15.

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Looking east over Lake Hodges again, with more water in it and possibly a monster, now from the east side.

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Although the 1955 alignment is probably buried under Interstate 15 now, the earlier alignment was actually here along this new bike path slightly east of the freeway.

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Don't believe me? If we look along the chainlink fence on the right, there is a small artificial something sticking out of the ground.

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Yup, it's a C-block! C-blocks were erected by the California Division of Highways from 1914 to 1934 as survey markers along angles and curve points, as well as fixed intervals on straightaways. There are others along US 395 today, including a very easy-to-find one in Inyo county south of Bishop. Joel Windmiller has a page dedicated to California's right of way monument. What this proves is that state highway ran along this alignment at some time past; it would have been built very near to wherever the actual roadway existed, and the Interstate is clearly too far away.

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A closer look at the C-block, with its copper centre post visible on the top cap.

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One of the choked little side creeks of the Lake as we walk the bike path north to Escondido.

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The northern end of this bike path is here just south of Via Rancho Parkway with a parking area, in case you'd like to come down and explore the Park.

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Just watch for the cameras. They might not be able to spel right, but they can stil see you.

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Heading north into Escondido along this old bridge with the wooden rails still intact, sort of.

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It may or may not have been part of US 395, but it's still fun looking.

Continue to Part 5

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