Old style US 91 and US 395 shields

US 66, 91, 395
Photo Gallery

Inland Empire and Cajon Pass

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San Bernardino | Cajon Pass

Cajon Pass

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Click on image for larger view (~60 kb)
The Cajon Pass has always been an important gateway to southern California. It is one of the few low places along the coastal ranges where it is feasible for railroads and highways to cross. Unfortunately, Cajon Pass was created by the San Andreas Fault which separates the San Gabriel Mountains from the San Bernardino Mountains. Despite this recipe for disaster, many highways have been built. The first was a precipitous toll road followed by the first paved highway, built by the state in 1916. This alignment soon became obsolete and was replaced by a more modern alignment in 1931. This, of course, proved inadequate and was widened in 1953; that alignment, in turn, was replaced by I-15 in 1969.

At left is a cover of the California Division of Highways (now CalTrans) in house publication called California Highways and Public Works. This was published between 1927 and 1967 and is an invaluable resource for researching California's highway history. The issue at left shows US 66/91/395 going over Cajon Pass, soon after its completion in 1953. The roadway at right is the original 1931 alignment and today is all that remains of the old road.

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1931 Alignment

Map of Cajon Pass, 1931
Click on image for larger view (~35 kb)

This map from 1931 shows the vast improvement of the new alignment over the old. Bear in mind that the two were separated by only 15 years! The 1931 alignment was engineered well enough so that when the highway was later improved, the improvement only consisted of adding an additional roadway and was effectively in use for the next 38 years until its replacement by I-15 in 1969.
Blue Cut, Cajon Pass - 1931 This picture shows the old alignment of US 66 (this did not become US 395 until 1936) and the outline of the new alignment is to the left.

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1952 Widening

Upgrade to Expressway Standards

The pictures at right show the amount of work that had to be done in order to modernize the road. The picture above shows the raising of the bridges over Cleghorn Creek due to alluvial runoff. Below, traffic goes along the original alignment as new northbound lanes are constructed. This picture was taken in the vicinity of Blue Cut.

US 395 over Cleghorn Creek, 1952
Near Blue Cut, 1952

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Cajon Summit (1955)

While US 91 and US 395 had been widened to four lanes up to the Gish underpass, the portion to beyond Cajon Summit was not widened until 1955. As the pictures show, this was a very modern highway, complete with the channelized divider and was a huge improvement over the previous alignment. However, this incarnation was to last only 13 years as it was buried under the eight lane alignment of its successor, I-15. Today, most of the grade for the old road is now part of the southbound lanes, although in a few places, the two do diverge.

Photographs below are courtesy of Caltrans

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Above: The Gish Underpass as it appeared after the widening. The bridge still exists, but the only thing left of the highway is a dirt grade.

Below: Approaching Cajon Summit from the south. At this point, the current southbound lanes of I-15 diverge slightly to the right; the grade for the curve in the middle is still visible.

Above: Old and new roads over Cajon Summit. The new road significantly decreased the height of this summit, making travel easier. The old alignment is visible to the right and is fenced off near the edge of the cut.

Below: Another view directly to the south of the summit. This is a construction view, showing the last phases of construction along the improved highway.

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Click on shield to go to US 66 page

US 66 Photo Album

Los Angeles Area
Needles and the Colorado River

US 66 Page

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1950s era US 91 shield

US 91 Photo Album

North - High Desert
South - Inland Empire (with US 395)

US 91 Page

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1950s era US 395 shield

US 395 Photo Album

North - Mojave Desert
South - Inland Empire (with US 91)

US 395 Page

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[Historic Highways Logo]
Go to the Historic California US Highways Main Page

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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.