On Saturday, June 16, at 5:30 pm Mount Wilson Observatory will be hosting a talk by Dr. Tanya Atwater, professor emeritus of geology at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Atwater played a major role in piecing together the plate tectonic history of our part of the planet. She will talk about how the motions of the Earth’s crust created the current topography of southern California (including the perfect site for astronomers to explore the Universe). The talk will be followed by a rare chance to look look through Mount Wilson Observatory’s 60-inch Telescope, which revolutionized telescope design and allowed astronomer Harlow Shapley to find our place in the Milky Way Galaxy. Tickets are only $20 and proceeds will all go to the maintain the Observatory.
From Thursday to Saturday this week, I shall be touring the San Gabriel Mountains on my motorcycle. My plan, thus far, is to check out the roads around Lytle Creek, San Gabriel Canyon, Glendora Ridge, San Antonio Canyon, Angeles Crest Highway, Angeles Forest Highway, San Dimas Canyon, and much more. The trip should be a lot of fun, even though just the paved roads will be covered. There is always much to explore in Southern California.
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.
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.
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.
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.