US 80 – Peninsular Range

East of El Cajon, US 80 begins its ascent into the mountains. The Peninsular Range, locally known as the Laguna and Jacumba Mountains, present a rather unusual mountain crossing in California. Instead of many steep grades, shelf roads, and deep canyons, there are broad valleys and only a few steep grades. The most notable steep grade and deep canyon are both on the east side of the mountains. This area, known as In-Ko-Pah Gorge and Mountain Springs Grade, was also the site of a wagon road in the 1850’s. Even today, as I-8 passes through the area, it presents a challenge. When I-8 was constructed through the area, a separate canyon, Devils Canyon, was used for westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic continues to use the old US 80 alignment, albeit heavily modified.

As with any major mountain crossing, there are a few different alignments to follow. The majority of the most traversable alignment was constructed between 1926 and 1933. This roadway was paved with a good concrete surface, which is still in good shape today. Many bridges were also constructed during this period. Only a few of them have been modified or replaced since then.

At various points, the original paving from the 1910’s was used as a base for the new paving, in others it was widened. A few sections of the original single-slab paving do exist, but are rare. The longest stretch of this paving is just east of the town of Boulevard and serves some houses adjacent to the current alignment. In other cases, the original alignment was unpaved and was bypassed so long ago that the roadway is no longer visible. This is the case near the junction with La Posta Road where the old alignment traverses a field south of the current alignment.

This tour will cover the bridges, the old alignments, and many other points of highway interest along US 80. Old and new maps will also be used to help describe places where the alignments get a bit more difficult to follow.

Video of the highway from Laguna Summit to Boulevard

Alpine Area:

Viejas Area:

Looking west from Viejas Grade on Old Highway 80 (Willows Road).
Looking west from Viejas Grade on Old Highway 80 (Willows Road).
Section of original 1910's concrete off of Viejas Grade Road. This was the pre-1932 alignment.
Section of original 1910’s concrete off of Viejas Grade Road. This was the pre-1932 alignment.

Sweetwater River / Descanso:

Alignment west of Descanso
Alignment west of Descanso
1917 Los Terranitos Bridge near Descanso.
1917 Los Terranitos Bridge near Descanso.
1951 Sweetwater River Bridge near Descanso
1951 Sweetwater River Bridge near Descanso

Guatay:

Pine Valley:

1917 Pine Creek bridge.
1917 Pine Creek bridge.

Laguna Summit

Cottonwood Creek

Kitchen Creek

La Posta:

Original Cleveland National Forest sign near La Posta.
Original Cleveland National Forest sign near La Posta.
Near Crestwood Summit
Near Crestwood Summit

Live Oak Springs

Boulevard / Manzanita

Bankhead Springs:

US 80 approaching Bankhead Springs.
US 80 approaching Bankhead Springs.
Original section of US 80 bypassed in 1932 just east of Bankhead Springs.
Original section of US 80 bypassed in 1932 just east of Bankhead Springs.

Jacumba:

1931 Jacumba Overhead crossing the San Diego and Arizona Railroad.
1931 Jacumba Overhead crossing the San Diego and Arizona Railroad.
Former Standard Oil station just east of Jacumba.
Former Standard Oil station just east of Jacumba.
East of Jacumba at Carrizo Creek - 1932 bridge/culvert.
East of Jacumba at Carrizo Creek – 1932 bridge/culvert.

Desert View Tower

Mountain Springs Grade / In-Ko-Pah Gorge:

Pre-1932 alignment near In-Ko-Pah Park
Pre-1932 alignment near In-Ko-Pah Park
1932 culvert near In-Ko-Pah Park
1932 culvert near In-Ko-Pah Park
US 80 and I-8 below Desert View Tower.
US 80 and I-8 below Desert View Tower.
Top of Mountain Springs Grade. 1930's alignment follows the road to the far left. Later, this was used as a "Vista Point" on I-8.
Top of Mountain Springs Grade. 1930’s alignment follows the road to the far left. Later, this was used as a “Vista Point” on I-8.
Original grading for Mountain Springs Grade, about 1/2 way up.
Original grading for Mountain Springs Grade, about 1/2 way up.
Mountain Springs Grade - 1920's version.
Mountain Springs Grade – 1920’s version.
1927 alignment heading out of In-Ko-Pah Gorge
1927 alignment heading out of In-Ko-Pah Gorge
Date stamp on the In-Ko-Pah Gorge concrete
Date stamp on the In-Ko-Pah Gorge concrete
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