Category Archives: San Gabriel Mountains

Sand Fire Information

As the Sand Fire has grown quite substantially in the past few days, it has become more difficult to track where it is going. I’ve found a couple of good links for up-to-date information on this fire. Map below courtesy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

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 some 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.

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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.

In the 1950’s,  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, 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.
End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the "Road to Nowhere".
Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the “Road to Nowhere”.
Grading along the "Road to Nowhere".
Grading along the “Road to Nowhere”.
Northern tunnel from 1964.
Northern tunnel from 1964.

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. 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.

A ride in the San Gabriel Mountains

On my way home from a friends in Los Angeles on January 8, 2013, I decided to take the long way home. It was a beautiful day and I had plenty of daylight left. So, I took a turn into the mountains. It was the first time in a long time I had taken Hwy 39 – San Gabriel Canyon Road – and it was time to ride it on my motorcycle. I wanted to see where it was gated, it seems to change often how far up you can go. This time it was open through to Crystal Lake, which was good to see. I had a great time, even chatted with another motorcyclist at the gate for a while.

Gate just above Crystal Lake
Gate just above Crystal Lake
Toward Crystal Lake and Mt Hawkins
Toward Crystal Lake and Mt Hawkins
Down the mountain and into the canyon.
Down the mountain and into the canyon.

Once I headed back down the mountain, I headed over to the Glendora Ridge Road to meet the valley in Upland instead of Azusa. I wanted to see something different. Glendora Ridge Road is quite a lot of fun on a motorcycle, at some point I do want to bicycle it though. I saw quite a few cyclists (motor and pedal) that day, more people on two wheels than four. The snow on Mt San Antonio was a grand sight to see riding along the ridge. Winter in the San Gabriels is always a favorite of mine.

On Glendora Ridge Road with Mt San Antonio in the distance
On Glendora Ridge Road with Mt San Antonio in the distance
Fun section with lots of curves
Fun section with lots of curves