All posts by Michael Ballard

I have been the author and host of the Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads website - http://socalregion.com - since 1995. I study geology and highway history.

Brawley Bypass

A new bypass highway was completed a couple years ago by Caltrans around Brawley. Signed as State 78 and State 111, it forms a northeast loop around town. It is an expressway, not a freeway. This distinction makes for some unusual signage where there is an interchange with State 111.

Confusing sign at the exit on the bypass. Is it current or old?
Confusing sign at the exit on the bypass. Is it current or old?
At the bypass, State 111 turns. Signage is a bit confusing with Old Highway 111 signed at the same exit as current Highway 111.
At the bypass, State 111 turns. Signage is a bit confusing with Old Highway 111 signed at the same exit as current Highway 111.
Heading south, only State 111 is signed, though State 78 also runs here.
Heading south, only State 111 is signed, though State 78 also runs here.
Expressway signage for 78
Expressway signage for 78

Road Building in San Gabriel Canyon

In the 1930’s, Los Angeles County began construction of an additional roadway over the San Gabriel Mountains via the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. About half of the roadway, complete with with four larger bridges and a tunnel, was constructed. Work had progressed as far as “The Narrows” by 1938. However, the March 2-3, 1938 storms caused much of the roadway to be washed out. The project was then abandoned, leaving a large arch bridge stranded many miles upriver. The tunnel still exists as well, just north of the “Bridge to Nowhere”, though it has been sealed at both ends.

P4260073
1936 arch bridge – The Bridge to Nowhere
1936 stamp on the arch bridge.
1936 stamp on the arch bridge.
Looking over the arch bridge to the tunnel site.
Looking over the arch bridge to the tunnel site.
Abandoned and partly destroyed bridge over the river.
Abandoned and partly destroyed bridge over the river.
Bridge over Cattle Canyon on the East Fork Road. This is similar to what the removed bridges north of here would have looked like.
Bridge over Cattle Canyon on the East Fork Road. This is similar to what the removed bridges north of here would have looked like.
1934 USGS Camp Bonita map showing the roadway completed to about 1 mile south of the “Bridge to Nowhere” site.
1940 USGS Camp Bonita map showing the now stranded bridge location.

In the 1955,  a new road building project commenced in the canyon. This new alignment would stay high above the canyon floor until it got nearer to the “Bridge to Nowhere”, allowing that earlier work to come to some use. Progress on this roadway was slow, mostly due to poor funding. Convict labor was used for most of the project, similar to many other road building efforts at the time in Los Angeles County. Two tunnels were constructed as well. These still exist and are mostly intact. This project too was cancelled in the late 1960’s, leaving another large scar in the canyon. This road is presently known as Shoemaker Canyon Road.

Stone railing along Shoemaker Canyon Road.
Stone railing along Shoemaker Canyon Road.
Looking toward the higher peaks of the San Gabriels along Shoemaker Canyon Road.
End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
1961 and 1964 tunnels in view.
Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the "Road to Nowhere".
Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the “Road to Nowhere”.
Date stamp on the first tunnel.
Inside the longest tunnel, from 1961.
Grading along the "Road to Nowhere".
Grading along the “Road to Nowhere”.
Northern tunnel from 1964.
Northern tunnel from 1964.
1966 USGS Glendora map showing the “Shoemaker Canyon” roadway under construction.

Today, the canyon is protected from future development through the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area. Even without this protection, the geology of the canyon makes for a very expensive project. Maintenance would also be costly, as seen with State 39 through San Gabriel Canyon and above Crystal Lake. In time, all these structures and cuts will wash away, leaving the canyon with only bits of concrete and asphalt to show what was once here.

Remnants of paving in the canyon.
Remnants of paving in the canyon.

Following old US 91 near Corona

I took a trip recently to the Corona area to check out some of the old alignments of US 91. I had been there before, but it has been a long time. Starting from the Green River exit off of the 91 Freeway, I headed east along the south side of the freeway. Here, the roadways named Green River Road and Palisades Drive cover the pre-freeway alignment of US 91. This section is also a portion of the 1939 Prado Dam Relocation. This realignment took the highway out of the riverbed to the north and pushed it closer to the hills. A significant portion remains today relatively intact.

Near the Green River Road interchange, an abandoned portion of the roadbed is revealed by a 1939 culvert. The pavement has long since been removed. A portion of the old median, complete with curb divots, remains to the east. The best portion, however, is on Palisades Drive. This section has a fairly continuous old median, old bridges, wooden railing, and even a mile marker from Route 91. This whole section was bypassed in the early 1970’s along with a change to the 91 / 71 interchange.

Abandoned section of US 91 near Green River Road.
Abandoned section of US 91 near Green River Road.
1939 culvert on the abandoned section.
1939 culvert on the abandoned section.
Old raised median on Green River Road.
Old raised median on Green River Road.
Section of Palisades Drive, restriped to two lanes from four. Old raised median and wooden railing are visible here.
Section of Palisades Drive, restriped to two lanes from four. Old raised median and wooden railing are visible here.
Nice section of intact wooden railing.
Nice section of intact wooden railing.
Old Route 91 milemarker.
Old Route 91 milemarker. Reads “091, RIV, mileage illegible”
Former onramp from SB State 71 to WB US 91.
Former onramp from SB State 71 to WB US 91.
1939 bridge and railing near the eastern end.
1939 bridge and railing near the eastern end.

91 Express Lanes

I found out recently that the 91 Express Lanes, the toll lanes in the median of the 91 Freeway from the 55 to the Riverside County Line are free for motorcyclists. Now, as I love to travel all roads that are available to me, I ended up signing up for a transponder. It has offered me an interesting look at what goes into getting one and how they work. I shall be posting photos and videos about how these devices work in the near future.

In addition to the transponder, I also obtained a special bag to put the device in when I travel toll lanes that are free and don’t need a transponder. Eventually, I hope that all lanes are the same and won’t need such devices.

91 Express Lanes Welcome Kit and Transponder.
91 Express Lanes Welcome Kit and Transponder.

M5.1 Earthquake hits La Habra

From the USGS – Updated:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/ci15481673#summary

intensity

lahabraci15481673_ciim

Event Time

  1. 2014-03-29 04:09:42 UTC
  2. 2014-03-28 21:09:42 UTC-07:00 at epicenter
  3. 2014-03-28 21:09:42 UTC-07:00 system time

Location

33.919°N 117.944°W depth=7.5km (4.6mi)

Nearby Cities

  1. 1km (1mi) S of La Habra, California
  2. 4km (2mi) W of Brea, California
  3. 5km (3mi) NNW of Fullerton, California
  4. 6km (4mi) E of La Mirada, California
  5. 546km (339mi) W of Phoenix, Arizona

Tectonic Summary

A M5.1 earthquake occurred at 9:09PM on March 28, 2014, located 1 mile easy of La Habra, CA, or 4 miles north of Fullerton, CA. The event was felt widely throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.  It was preceded by two foreshocks, the larger of M3.6 at 8:03pm.  The demonstration earthquake early warning system provided 4 second warning in Pasadena.

There have been 23 aftershocks as of 10:00PM on March 28, the largest of which was a M3.6 at 9:30PM, and was felt locally near the epicenter. The aftershock sequence may continue for several days to weeks, but will likely decay in frequency and magnitude as time goes by.

The maximum observed instrumental intensity was VII, recorded in the LA Habra and Brea areas, although the ShakeMap shows a wide area of maximum intensity of VI. The maximum reported intensity for the Did You Feel It? map was reported at VI in the epicentral area.

This sequence could be associated with the Puente Hills thrust (PHT).  The PHT is a blind thrust fault that extends from this region to the north and west towards the City of Los Angeles.  It caused the M5.9 1987 Oct. 1 Whittier Narrows earthquake.

Previously, the M5.4 2008 Chino Hills earthquake occurred in this region.  It caused somewhat stronger shaking in Orange County and across the Los Angeles Basin.

The moment tensor shows oblique faulting, with a north dipping plane that approximately aligns with the Puente Hills thrust.

The demonstration earthquake early warning system provided 4 second warning in Pasadena.

Related Links

Angels Flight in Los Angeles

Angels Flight is a short funicular railway in downtown Los Angeles. It has been around since 1901, though not continuously. It used to run from Hill St and 3rd St west up Bunker Hill. It was moved about 1/2 block south about 15 years ago. I took this video of it in 2010.

Old signs in Downtown San Diego

Some buildings were demolished a few years ago on Kettner Blvd between Ash St and A St revealing some really cool old signs. I’m not sure how old they are but I’m guessing 1940’s.

Closeup of the Hires Root Beer sign.
Closeup of the Hires Root Beer sign.
Southern end of the sign.
Southern end of the sign.
Dr Pepper and Hires sign at an old bottling plant
Dr Pepper and Hires sign at an old bottling plant

Tracks remain on Park Blvd

Walking today, I saw that the former San Diego Electric Railway tracks in the median of Park Blvd seem to be staying put. Construction is underway for a “busway” which is tearing out most of the old track and poles. However, at Howard Ave, the tracks are being left in place and reburied beneath the new median. Why this is the case here and not anywhere else is something of a mystery. Hopefully it marks a trend to keep some of the old infrastructure in place instead of destroying it.

Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.

Welcome!

Welcome to the new Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads Page! This site is the combination of the “Los Angeles Rocks and Roads Page” and the “San Diego Rocks and Roads Page”. After having some trouble with the previous host server, I moved to a new host and am now able to better update the site. All of the previous pages are still around though some may have been moved or merged with others.

The new format of the site should also allow for easier access to the immense amount of information this site contains. Parts of the site date back to 1995, when the Santa Clarita Valley Resources Page first went online. Initially, the site was just a single page with some photos. Through the years, the site has been greatly expanded and modified. In 2008, the Santa Clarita Resources Page was transformed into the Los Angeles Rocks and Roads Page, with some of the pages removed and others merged.

In 2006, I added the San Diego Rocks and Road Page, having moved here in 2005. I thought it would be a good addition as there is quite a bit to cover here. The San Diego site had a slightly different focus, with kayaking and local bicycling information as well as highway history.

Now, in 2014, the websites are undergoing a bigger change. Both the scvresources.com and sdrocksnroads.com sites are being merged with the new socalregion.com. This will allow a greater area to be covered with even more photos and information to be shared. I plan to use the new format to help expand the site and make it an even better resource for all of Southern California.

Jackrabbit Trail – November 14, 2013

On Thursday, November 14, 2013, I had the opportunity to travel Jackrabbit Trail for this first time in many years. I took my new motorcycle, a 2014 Kawasaki KLR 650, which was well suited for the trip. Jackrabbit Trail is a roadway through the Badlands near Moreno Valley that has an interesting history. It was originally built in 1915 as a part of the Riverside to Beaumont Highway, later US 60/70. In 1923-24, the roadway was paved with asphalt. Some of this still exists today. In 1936, the roadway was bypassed by the current route of Hwy 60. However, in 1956, the roadway was rehabilitated for use as US 60 again, albeit temporarily, while the current route was being widened to a four lane expressway. Following this brief use, the old Jackrabbit Trail fell into disuse and eventually was abandoned. The County no longer maintains the road and just posts “Road Closed” signs at either end. It is, however, still a through route, with some landslide and washout problems.

1953 topographical map showing Jackrabbit Trail between US 60 and Gilman Springs Road.
1953 USGS topographical map showing Jackrabbit Trail between US 60 and Gilman Springs Road.
Looking north from Gilman Springs Road
Looking north from Gilman Springs Road

My journey took me over the entire route in both directions, as the southern roadway was closed for reconstruction. I was rather amazed to see how much old railing still exists along the roadway, most of which is from the 1920’s. In many ways, this road is similar to the Ridge Route north of Los Angeles on old US 99. It was built around the same time and bypassed around the same time. The only major difference is that the Ridge Route was not reused by the highway department after it was bypassed. The roadway also offers some rather scenic views of the area. Mt San Gorgonio stays in view when heading north and the lake bed of Mystic Lake is quite visible to the south. I highly recommend this road as an alternative to SR-60 and is good for bicycling as well.

My KLR 650 out on the highway.
My KLR 650 out on the highway.
1950's railing and 1950's paving
1950’s railing and 1950’s paving
Original railing and Mt San Gorgonio
Original railing and Mt San Gorgonio
Deep cuts near the summit
Deep cuts near the summit
Northern end of the trail
Northern end of the trail
Original railing near the northern end
Original railing near the northern end