Forgotten Path of Route 66 in the Cajon Pass

Road cut dug in 1860s

Road cut dug in 1860s

There is a forgotten road that passes through California’s Cajon Pass that was originally a wagon toll road built in 1861 and, later, was used by many people that also traveled early Route 66. Today, there are no signs pointing out this historic road or its connection to the Mother Road, but you’ll see evidence of where it once existed.

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  1. Jerry McClanahan says:

    Your video about the route down Cajon pass via the old Brown Toll Road is well done.

    Unfortunately, this route was NEVER an alignment of Route 66.

    Your depicted route was bypassed circa 1914-1915 when the new road was built higher on the mountain (as shown in the 1915 map you reproduce). Among other evidence, I have a copy of a construction map from 1918 which shows the finalized project as built, which became US 66 in 1926. THIS is the road that was in turn replaced by the 1930s construction, which in turn was widened into the 1950s 4-lane, and later became I-15 WB lanes.

    I have personally walked the remains of this 1915 route (which in the upper portion of the pass lie in between the WB and EB lanes of I-15) from its junction with the 1930s/1950s road at the summit (as you say, visible from a dirt road off the end of Mariposa Rd). From this later pavement, a short but pristine stretch of the original, narrow 1915 rock/asphalt pavement continues to the brink of the hill, where the old road can be followed as an eroded, overburdened shelf that winds below the level of the 1930s/50s/WB I-15 lanes.

    The 1915 map you reproduce shows the bold line along the correct 1915 alignment that became 66 in 1926. The thin line on the Brown Toll/Crowder Canyon road shows that it had already been bypassed. Later, the 1930s road was built just above the 1915 road.

    My articles in the Autumn 2000 thru Spring 2001 issues of the “Route 66 Federation News” (published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation”) detailed these many alignments and remnants, all the way down the pass.

    I was aware of the Crowder Canyon road, but have not had the opportunity to break away from Rte 66 investigations to explore it, so your video was much appreciated on that regard. but, as a longtime researcher of Rte 66, I would sincerely request that you correct your otherwise excellent video, and remove the assertions that this was ever US 66.

    Best wishes

    Jerry McClanahan

    • Cliff says:

      Jerry & Jim both, thanks for your correction on the road covered in our virtual video tour was not used as US 66 – not even for a day! I live in the Victor Valley directly north of the Cajon Summit. Local historians here describe that the road described in my tour was indeed used by U.S. 66 from 1926 until 1930. I am currently working on an update to the tour and will somehow explain the miss-information out there on Route 66 using the wagon road alignment.

      Thanks both again for your feedback.

      Happy Travels,
      Cliff Bandringa

  2. Jim Ross says:

    Nice site. I would like to point out that there is an error in your depiction of the Cajon Pass alignments. 66 did not follow the Wagon Road, which was already bypassed by when US 66 came into existence in 1926.
    Jim Ross, Route 66 Historian
    Co-author and publisher of the Route 66 Map Series
    Author of “Oklahoma Route 66″

  3. Cliff says:

    Today, the virtual video tour has been updating now that some information from various sources have been verified. Thanks everyone in helping me get the right information on this tour.

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