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Old CA 209 and the Cabrillo National Monument

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[Map scans 1974-1999 -- 164K] [Map scans 1957 and 1965 -- 111K] These (rather large) map collages show this route and other important nearby routes in (first image, 111K) 1957 and 1965, as well as (second image, 164K) 1974, 1984 and 1999. Click each thumbnail to open individual separate windows for each map graphic and prepare to scroll. ^^ Keep the windows open for reference through the rest of this photoessay.

This exhibit is in the process of reconstruction. Please pardon the older photography.

One of my personal favourite highways in San Diego, Old CA 209 was also a road I traveled often when I worked in Point Loma. It is also the road to the small but lovely Cabrillo National Monument, the main national park in San Diego county, featuring the beautiful Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Along the way, it takes in a fascinating cross-section of the San Diego coastal community, as well as the naval installation and the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

Old CA 209 originally existed as Legislative Route Number 12, which was actually originally signed as US 80 in 1933 when the routing was added to the legislative definition. (LRN 12 ran as far as El Centro, turning into LRN 27, but both legislative routes were still signed as US 80.) US 80 entered via Barnett Ave; Rosecrans St north of Lytton St and "State Route 209" north of Sports Arena Blvd were not part of the legislative definition. This stretch of US 80 between Rosecrans and Pacific Highway along Lytton and Barnett was once proposed as a freeway, and its history is partially discussed in Casey's US 80 Guide and Dan Faigin's entry on Old CA 209. US 80 would later be truncated to end at US 101 by 1940, and the orphaned portion of LRN 12 resigned as CA 209. Before the construction of old CA 109 (the Ocean Beach Fwy) in 1969, the US 80 (BTGR)/I-8 (ATGR) freeway directly emptied into Camino del Rio W, which is also signed "State Route 209" at intersections before joining Rosecrans St. The I-5/I-8/old CA 209 interchange still bears vestiges of the old termination point, even after CA 109 was absorbed into I-8; we'll see that below.

CA 209 was accepted by the City of San Diego in 2001 (as part of the same vote that accepted defunct CA 274), but curiously its routing was not legislatively deleted until 2003. Most of the signage still persists, but references to it are disappearing on the freeways and the shields are eventually marked for removal in the near future.

Photographed February 2005, with additional photographs added April 2005.

Advance signage for old CA 209 is still up (WB I-8 just before Morena Blvd).

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Exit to old CA 209 from WB I-8 at the I-8/I-5 interchange. Access to this particular ramp is also furnished from the I-5 ramp on Morena Blvd neé old US 101. SB I-5 also offers access to old CA 209, but its new signage omits CA 209 (much as it also omits old CA 274).

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Crossing on the ramp.

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[Original US 80 Interchange, 1965] End freeway. This is Camino del Rio W, the original "endway" for the US 80 (BTGR)/I-8 (ATGR) freeway and its initial western terminus before the construction of the Ocean Beach Fwy; see the map at right for the old interchange configuration. There are two relics of this today; the first is reflected in the modern postmiles for I-8, which do not match the exit numbers and are off by approximately two miles, explained by the length of the Ocean Beach Fwy extension to I-8's modern western terminus at Sunset Cliffs Blvd/Nimitz Blvd (old CA 109) from which the exit numbers start but not the postmiles.

(In the map, note that Frontier St is modern-day Sports Arena Blvd. Also note that I-5 was not fully constructed through this area by this time, with traffic running on old US 101 Pacific Hwy instead.)

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The second relic is that there is still to this day no access to WB I-8, shown here facing north on CA 209.

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Signage as Camino del Rio W, which was also the name for old US 80 (see the map above).

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First 209 shield at Kurtz St, while descending into the Midway district.

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Junction Sports Arena Blvd. Rosecrans St joins CA 209 at this point (a left turn places you on NB Rosecrans St). We proceed straight.

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(Before joining Rosecrans, CA 209 is simply signed "State Route 209" at traffic intersections, as this sign attests, despite the fact that the street signs [correctly] say it's Camino del Rio).

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For a moment, we'll trace the old US 80 alignment in from US 101. This is NB Pacific Hwy (old US 101/modern BR 5). With one regrettable exception, Pacific Hwy has been maintained in condition very nearly approaching its original construction -- the gantries are more or less original, and the white wooden fencing is still up. The regrettable exception is the signs, most of which were replaced a couple years ago (unfortunate, as some of the signs that were lost were some particularly old black-background signs before Caltrans was made to start using green). We exit Barnett Avenue left. Although this particular interchange was built after US 80 was truncated, this is still the approximate point of its old diversion west.

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Note the white wooden rails and the construction date (1942).

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Looking EB on Barnett, we also see a little more of the interchange's configuration. The neon sign above states SUBWAY FLOODED. In my years of driving this area, even in rainstorms where it really was flooded, I have never seen this sign lit.

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WB on Barnett passing by the Marine Corps Recruitment Depot, just past the interchange.

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"Exit" to Midway Dr, reminiscent of its original intent as freeway, also just west of the interchange.

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Passing by the (now defunct) Naval Training Centre, which was dismantled by the US Navy and sold off to developers who have been erecting new commercial suites as well as houses. At this turn, Barnett Ave changes names to Lytton St.

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Junction Rosecrans St. Lytton St proceeds further west to intersect Nimitz Blvd, turning into Chatsworth Blvd. We turn left on CA 209.

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Rosecrans St entering Point Loma, back on CA 209, and what (once) was US 80. The two will run on the same alignment for the remainder of their respective routings.

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Rosecrans St at Nimitz Blvd.

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Intersection Hugo St and Harbor Dr.

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Intersection Cañon St. CA 209 turns right at this point; Rosecrans St continues down south straight ahead. We turn right.

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Cañon St through Point Loma.

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Not all of Cañon St's signs have the tilde on them, leading some people to incorrectly call the street Canon St. This old sign at the intersection with Talbot St shows what it's supposed to be called.

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Third leg of CA 209, at Catalina Blvd. This is facing the other direction for a better view of the intersection; southbound traffic is stopped at the right of the green traffic light shown.

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Catalina Blvd at Lomaland Dr. Point Loma Nazarene University was the home of the Apple server you're accessing now (stockholm) from 1997 to 2003 while I was a staff database developer (and later contractor) for their Information Technology department, and was where Floodgap got its start. Many thanks are owed for six years of power and Ethernet :) Drop by sometime for the exceptional views of the shore down around Young Hall, and be sure to annoy Nelson, Robert, Ben, Pat, Don, Malissa, Herman, Barbara, Keren, Ken, Carey, Vlad, Jim and everyone else in the Ryan Learning Center.

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After about two miles, past the Electron Dr traffic light, we enter Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation. This guard tower controls access during certain hours (see next photograph). This picture was taken rather secretively and quickly so that in this post-9/11 climate I wouldn't have my camera confiscated. -_- Crossing into the military base heralds the fourth and final leg of CA 209 as Cabrillo Memorial Rd.

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Hours of operation and introductory sign.

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Fort Rosecrans Nat'l Cemetery. CA 209 is still signed.

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Gateway sign to the National Monument. The fee is presently US$5 for entry. There are no CA 209 signs past this point.

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CA 209 "terminus" (of sorts) at the visitors' centre.

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Closer view of the visitors' centre.

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Vista of San Diego Harbour from the road leading to the visitors' centre.

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The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, probably one of San Diego's more identifiable landmarks. The location for the lighthouse was selected in 1851 and construction completed in 1854, although the lighthouse did not cast its first beam until November 15, 1855 as the French-built Fresnel lens used for its lighting apparatus did not arrive for over a year. It remained in service welcoming sailors to San Diego with its bright oil-lamp glow until March 23, 1891, when it was decommissioned in favour of the "New" Point Loma Lighthouse at the bottom of the hill, a location that was less susceptible to being obscured by Point Loma's frequent fog and low cloud formations (at times so thick that the lighthouse keeper would fire a shotgun to warn oncoming ships when the beam was not visible, as there was no foghorn). During its time, it was the highest lighthouse in the country, with the beam coming from 462' above sea level.

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View of the Old Lighthouse complex, with the Assistant Keeper's quarters at left.

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Stairwell within the Lighthouse, which is open to the public during park hours and is exceptionally well preserved.

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Quarters within the Lighthouse.

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Another quarters. The slight haze is from the Plexiglas partition in front of the quarters.

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The lighting apparatus itself, with the Fresnel lens at top. This area is normally closed to visitors, although it is open for special occasions and has a remarkable vantage point. In 1984, the beam was ignited again for the first time in 93 years in celebration of the Lighthouse's 130th birthday in front of 3,000 guests and over 100 descendants of the Israels, the last keepers of the Lighthouse.

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The cleanest restrooms in the National Park Service are in the Assistant Keeper's quarters. I thought it should be immortalized before some pimply-faced vandal punk hooligan defaced it. Yes, that's me in the mirror.

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Okay, just one little gratuitous vista of the ocean.

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Fine, maybe just two. Okay, we're done.

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All images, photographs and multimedia, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © 2004-2020 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. All writeups are copyright © 2004-2020 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.

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