Old style US 101 shield US 101 Photo Gallery

South Orange County


When US 101 went through south Orange County, the area was still open country - a far cry from today's urbanized metropolis. The only areas with any form of development were the little towns of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, and Irvine. The rest were either farms or open country much like what can be found on I-5 in the Central Valley. US 101 started out as a 15' wide Portland Cement road similar to the Ridge Route, where it evolved into two and three lane alignments. Railroad grade crossings were eliminated rather early and a section was even modified for a railroad realignment. Since the area was so undeveloped , 101 remained as a two and three lane road until 1959 when it was finally replaced by a four lane freeway.

Right: Construction of the San Diego Fwy over Oso Creek near the Galivan Separation. The old alignment at left was three lanes wide and crossed a bridge built in 1928. The freeway is now part of the 10-lane wide I-5 while the separation and much of old 101 has been buried under new development.

galivan_oh_and_oso_cr_cons_1959.jpg (53361 bytes)

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1930s Alignment and 1941 Realignment

US 101 was originally built north of San Juan Capistrano as a narrow "single slab" concrete road. In the 1930s this was widened to "twin slab" concrete by placing second story concrete over the original and using the original as a base. Portions of this road with the visible overlay are still visible, such as what is pictured to the right.

In 1941, the Santa Fe Railroad did a major realignment of their line. Part of the realignment forced a relocation and realignment of the existing highway, which was done mostly at the railroad's expense. The newer road was built with excellent sight lines and grade. Today, a portion of that  road still exists, looking like it did almost 60 years ago.

Above: Remnants of the 1910s/1930s alignment with the "twin slab" concrete visible.

us-101_p.jpg (25897 bytes)
101-san_juan_1942b.jpg (17835 bytes)
Above: US 101 shortly after the realignment in 1941.
The older alignment has been bisected by the railroad
and is barely visible to the left of the newer alignment.


us-101_q.jpg (25615 bytes)
Above: The 1941 alignment in 1997. The concrete
to the left had been poured later, but the concrete to
the right still bears the 1940 contractors stamp.
101-san_juan_1942c.jpg (25707 bytes)
The realignment is to the right. The old alignment is to
the left, having been cut through by the railroad
realignment (1941).
us-101_o.jpg (27924 bytes)"
Near the location of the picture to the left in 1997.
The old alignment is to the right and appears in
better shape than the newer alignment. However, it
is on private property and remains inaccessible.

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Galivan Overhead

The old Galivan overhead served traffic on US 101 for 32 years between 1927 and 1959. It was replaced in 1959 by the San Diego Freeway (I-5) and removed shortly thereafter. It was located just south of Oso Parkway and has now been covered by Cabot Road. It was similar in appearance to the existing overhead in Del Mar and was, in fact, designed by the same engineer.

Right: The Galivan Overhead shortly after its removal. US 101 ultimately was a three lane highway in this section.

former_galivan_OH_&_fwy_c1960.jpg (52474 bytes)
galivan-old_&_new_approaches.jpg (43601 bytes) Approaches to the overhead, looking south. The hills in the background are now covered with houses and commercial developments. The older approach is just to the right of the bridge and a more modernized one swings to the right of the photograph, both showing the changes in road engineering.

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1958 Freeway

The freeway finally came to south Orange
County in 1958 and was built between Camino
Capistrano in Dana Point to the town of Irvine
("Old Irvine") where it linked up with the already
existing freeway. When it was completed, it
replaced the last section of 2-3 lane highway
south of Los Angeles.

Right: The completed freeway through San Juan
Capistrano at Ortega Hwy (SR-74) in 1959. The old
alignment and the old San Juan Mission are visible
in the middle of the picture.

ortega_hwy_1959.jpg (48476 bytes)
avery_parkway_old_fwy.jpg (23272 bytes)
Avery Pkwy (Crown Valley Pkwy) in 1959. Note
that Camino Capistrano (old US 101) is still
paved with two concrete lanes. The curve is the
location of the present interchange with SR-73.
old_el_toro_rd_interchange.jpg (26801 bytes)
El Toro Rd / Niguel Rd interchange in 1959. This
is almost unrecognizable today as the freeway
has been transformed from four lanes to 14 and El
Toro Rd is now a key arterial with lots of development.

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Go south to Camp Pendleton

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If you have any questions, comments, or if you would like to send me any updates or pictures,
please contact me at: casey@gbcnet.com