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Old Highway 395, Part 9: Old US 395 in Rainbow and Rainbow Canyon to Temecula and Riverside County

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[Riverside/Northern San Diego US 395, 1938, 1949 and 1963 -- 128K] We continue from the modern junction of Old Highway 395 and CA 76 in the last Part, up through the various old and newer alignments in the Rainbow region of extreme northern San Diego county. From there, we continue on the earliest routing of US 395 through Rainbow Canyon over the Riverside county line towards Temecula, and thence on our first fork of two, the "pre-1950" routing through Murrietta, Wildomar and Lake Elsinore to Perris. The second fork, which survives today as the southern portion of Interstate 15 and all of modern Interstate 215 via the Menifee Valley and Sun City, starts with Part 12; we'll talk more about the history of this later and final incarnation of southern US 395 when we get to the freeway.

This oldest routing of US 395 lasted until approximately 1954 when the last of the new segments, now I-215, were constructed; it was entirely carried on the continuation of LRN 77 to Lake Elsinore, and then LRN 64 (1933) with CA 74 into Perris which we'll get to in Part 11. The evolution of routings in northern San Diego county and Riverside county can be seen in the map sequence at right showing US 395 as it existed in 1938, 1949 and 1963; click for a 128K enlargement in a new window.

Riverside county was first formed in 1893 from portions of San Diego and San Bernardino counties. Its chief city, Riverside, was so named after it was reached by the upper canal of the Santa Ana River in 1871. When the county was formed, it took the name of its largest city; in 2000, the county numbered 1.6 million occupants. We will see and discuss a great deal more of Riverside in Part 13.


Continuing north of CA 76, for a time there was this fabulous bogus US 395 shield for a couple months erected by someone I have never talked to in E-mail nor discussed local signage with, nor have I ever seen other examples of his work. Honest. Jokes aside, however, this shield was stolen within a few weeks of his hard work making it and putting it up.

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NB Old Highway 395; this stretch, again, parallels the Interstate very closely. This segment remained TEMPORARY I-15 until 1984.

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Not all the callboxes show the milepoint (this one doesn't).

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Old signage along the route. Much of this section was gutted badly by the Rice Canyon fire in 2007; because some of the signage is now destroyed, along with the route's classic appearance, I have opted to use my earlier photography. Caused by downed power lines on the early morning of 22 October 2007, the Rice Canyon fire forced the closure of the Interstate when it leapt over the asphalt and burned on both sides; a massive local evacuation was required and the fire ultimately claimed 9,000 acres and 248 buildings and injured five firefighters.

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PM 48.5.

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Reche Road to Fallbrook.

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This is the other side of SDCo S15, which we saw in Part 7, and connects to the former routing of US 395 through downtown Fallbrook we traveled in that Part.

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Continuing NB on Old Highway 395.

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Junction Mission Road, coming down from Fallbrook, joining our two forks of US 395 in northern San Diego. This puts us back where we were at the end of Part 7, and is the second of Old Highway 395's interchanges with Interstate 15.

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Overlooking the intersection.

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Signage at the junction. Notice the miniature county route shields set in the sign.

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Curving around east to cross the freeway.

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Crossing the Interstate.

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As we pass the onramp, there are these very large and atypical Interstate shields for California interchanges (36" instead of the usual 24"), lacking the CALIFORNIA state name with the larger route number point size.

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At the end of the bridge, we turn left to continue on Old Highway 395. The yellow warning sign refers to the damage to ground cover caused by the fire. This section of Old Highway 395 up to the old Rainbow Canyon alignment in Riverside county was one of the last segments to remain TEMP I-15; it was not replaced by the Interstate until 1986.

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Historic Route 395 signage, the first one we see on what is now Old Highway 395.

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Mission Road continues off to the east as a small narrow service road. This is a very early alignment of US 395 as well, bypassed in 1947 with the rest of the New Highway 395 construction.

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Fork 1: US 395 via "Old" Mission Road (North) (1934-1947)

Not much of it survives and little of the original pavement.

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It ends abruptly just shy of gated private property.

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Fortunately, later construction built a link back to Old Highway 395, although it seems the original alignment worming back to the mainline was lost.

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Fork 2: Old Highway 395

Not much to see here given the shortness of the "bypass" but here we are.

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Approaching Rainbow. The little town of Rainbow is ostensibly named after the mythical pot of gold, but really hails from settler J. P. M. Rainbow in 1888, who won a coinflip against his partner Peter Larson over whose name would grace the region. Its population is 2,026 [2000].

The STOP sign where our fork on Mission Road rejoined us is perpendicular to the green community sign.

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Coming over the hill into Rainbow Valley.

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Welcome to Rainbow.

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Just to the right of the Welcome sign is this cul-de-sac and a small strip of asphalt trailing off it. This is originally where US 395 turned east into Rainbow proper, but we cannot make the turn here now. We'll come back to this in a minute.

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Junction Rainbow Valley Blvd.

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Here we will split into the early US 395 routing through Rainbow, which was also bypassed in 1947 by New Highway 395. This is the last and northernmost Historic Route 395 sign on modern Old Highway 395; Historic Route 395 traffic is indicated to turn right. So, we'll turn right to start our next fork.

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Fork 1: US 395 via Rainbow Valley Boulevard (1934-1947)

Despite the signage, the road we immediately start on is in fact the stub end of Rainbow Glen, not Rainbow Valley Blvd.

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Rainbow Valley Blvd actually joins us slightly east of Old Highway 395, coming from that cul-de-sac we pointed out a couple pictures back.

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Here is that cul-de-sac from the other side (orient yourself using the back of the Welcome to Rainbow sign). The asphalt that continues on from here is a small "one laner" that was constructed later and is unrelated to old US 395.

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Turning around and continuing on Rainbow Valley Bl back to the junction two pictures ago, which can be seen at the STOP sign in the background. We turn right and continue east.

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EB Rainbow Valley Bl/NB old US 395.

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Curving around to turn north. This somewhat convoluted routing can be seen on the 1949 map in Part 8, with the bypass routing to the west of it.

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Historic Route 395 marker curving around north with 8th Street continuing east.

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NB Rainbow Valley Blvd/NB old US 395.

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The local Grange Hall.

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An old culvert along the routing.

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Looking at the vandalized understructure.

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A large number of nurseries and agricultural areas dot Rainbow, including this view of a row of greenhouses from the culvert.

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Curving around east again at Chica Rd to continue northeast on the approach back to the later mainline.

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A nice view of the rugged terrain bordering the town.

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Turn-off to West Rainbow Valley Blvd, which is the Rainbow Valley Blvd exit from I-15, and Old Highway 395. We'll get to this on the other side in a second.

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Historic Route 395, the last marker on the NB alignment and the second-to-last we will see as we approach the Riverside county line.

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The county line is not marked, but is heralded by what looks like an old checkpoint station (left) and a covered warning sign at right.

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Looking at the old boarded up checkpoint, which is now private property.

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Next to it is the first southbound Historic Route 395 marker.

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Continuing northbound from the warning sign, there isn't far to go until we reach the Old Highway 395 bypass which is already partially visible.

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Junction Old Highway 395.

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Depending on whom you believe, this is either where Old Highway 395 does change, or has already changed, into Rainbow Canyon Road for its descent into Temecula. The oldest alignment continues as a minor fork along Frontage Road which we'll look at in a second. First, however, we will rewind back to Rainbow to cover the parallel routing and modern Old Highway 395.

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Fork 2: Old Highway 395

Continuing north of Rainbow Vly Blvd on the bypass routing of New Highway 395. Rainbow proper is, as the sign states, to the east, and the Interstate continues to parallel us to the west. As we mentioned previously, this remained TEMP I-15 well into the 1980s.

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We don't see much of Rainbow from this perspective except for some of the tourist traps and outfacing businesses.

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Coming out of the valley up towards the Rainbow Valley Blvd exit from I-15.

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This is the other side of W Rainbow Valley Blvd, which connected to Rainbow Valley Blvd and the oldest routing of US 395 at the intersection we talked about previously.

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At this intersection is, as of this writing, the last and northernmost sign still showing Old Highway 395.

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Just beyond it is the marked Riverside county line.

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San Diego county line to our left, with the county's standard ENTERING COUNTY marker.

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If we step back a little bit into the Riverside, um, side, we find a US 395 postmile for RIV 0.02, the only postmile for US 395 still surviving in Riverside county that I know of.

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And just beyond that we come back to the corner of Frontage Rd and Rainbow Cyn Rd, where Rainbow Valley Blvd came in from the right.

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Fork 1: Frontage Road

The old routing of US 395, as we mentioned before, continues straight on continuously from Rainbow Valley Blvd onto Frontage Rd. It is not clear when this was bypassed, but it was probably around the same time as the rest of the US 395 bypass construction in 1947.

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Most of this short alignment consists of homes and ranch-style tracts.

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Junction on its north end back to Rainbow Cyn Rd.

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Fork 2: US 395 via Rainbow Canyon Rd

From that junction (the STOP sign in the background), we now continue on the short bypass around the old Frontage Rd routing with this curious sign implying that a divided highway once ended here.

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Another clue is the date stamp on the back of the Rainbow sign, which reads 1983 (clearly long past US 395's days this far south) and was erected by Caltrans, not the county of Riverside. The best explanation for the presence of these signs and their apparent recent age is that I-15 north of this point (which was built in the early 1970s) must have hooked into Old Highway 395 around this section of alignment, probably north of where Frontage Rd reattaches to the later alignment given that Frontage Rd is not disturbed. For this sign to have been erected, this alignment must have been state-maintained until at least 1983; this fits chronologically with the section of Old Highway 395 through Rainbow remaining TEMPORARY Interstate 15 until 1986, and spatially with the presence of the Temecula US 395 expressway bypass, which was opened in 1949 and now makes up the centremost lanes of Interstate 15 descending into the Temecula Valley. We'll come back to that in Part 12.

One potential suspect for where this crossing point occurred is through the Border Patrol checkpoint on I-15; south of there on the satellite view is some culvert work and now-obliterated grading that might have been part of the connector.

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Curving around northbound now.

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Picking up the north end of the Frontage Rd.

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US 395 via Rainbow Canyon Rd (1934-1949)

This is roughly where the 1949 US 395 expressway diverged west down the hill, which again we will return to in Part 12. We continue as Rainbow Canyon Road to the northeast.

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Heading up the hill to the lip of the Temecula Valley.

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Rainbow Cyn Rd makes a twisty and narrow route into Temecula with some sharp turns and tight road widths; it should be obvious why it was abandoned as the routing for the later US 395 and the modern Interstate.

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Temecula city limits. More about the city when we pass through Old Town Temecula in the next Part.

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Overlooking the city. Some turnouts have been added later to mitigate the lack of a consistent shoulder on the descent.

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Finishing our zigzag descent.

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Our first junction in Temecula is one of the golf courses.

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After crossing through the golf course, we slow down for a brief residential zone.

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I guess they really like golf.

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Coming up to the end of Rainbow Canyon Rd.

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End of Rainbow Canyon Rd at old Pala Road, today the Pechanga Parkway, named for the local Pechanga Band of the Luiseño Indian tribe and their corresponding casino east of here who contributed significant financing to upgrading the Parkway. US 395 continued north, and so will we, by turning left.

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Crossing the Temecula River. The old US 395 bridge does not appear to exist anymore; this one was built as part of the Pechanga Pkwy upgrades in 2000.

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The Temecula River (looking north) is mostly a sandy bed in this section, though there is often a little water in it north of here. It is a tributary of the Santa Margarita River, which flows from its headwaters down through northwest San Diego county to its mouth on the Pacific Ocean just north of Oceanside and the San Luis Rey River.

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Junction CA 79. This was not always CA 79, but we'll talk about that in the next Part. We turn left to continue old US 395 west into Temecula.

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Junction with Interstate 15 and the 1949 Temecula expressway. We will leave the later US 395 expressway behind here, returning to it in Part 12, and continue along this oldest routing of US 395 into downtown Temecula for our next Part.

Continue to Part 10

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