Roadtrippin’ the Ridge Route

Roadtrippin’ the Ridge Route
October 28, 2015 Toni Miltenberger

Well . . . u-m-m-m . . .this section is primarily purposed to include roadtrips taken with our vintage trailer; but, this 40 minute trip from our house in our daily-use vehicle just has to be shared. We have always wanted to drive the Ridge Route through the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains, but portions of it have been closed for a number of years. We weren’t even sure if it was worth our time to explore the possibility of seeing a portion of it.

Wrong! it was a fabulous trip igniting our imaginations of times past. We could visualize the road being built and folks in the early 1900s in their Model T’s and A’s trekking through the very winding road. Additionally, we found out the Ridge Route would be soon celebrating its centennial and that became part two of our Ridge Route experience.

Ridge Route Bookk Harrison ScottBefore embarking on this partial day roadtrip, it would be to your advantage to peruse or read the book, The Road That United California, by Harrison Scott.  You can purchase the new 2015 edition of his book on

Our local Channel 7 news often reports the weather in Sandberg, California. We keep wondering, “Where the ____ is Sandberg?”  Is there really a town by that name or just a weather station? Is it inhabited by anyone? A storm had made most of the road impassible in 2005, so off we went to see whatever was left to see — taking the I-5 Freeway to Highway 138 and turning right onto Old Ridge Route Rd. (N2). [Just put in “Sandberg” on your GPS].

The first part of our roadtrip was taken in September followed up by the second part which occurred in October as a part of the Ridge Route Centennial.

Part I

Arriving at Sandberg, there was only a monument plaque and rock retaining walls.  We hiked up the small hill behind it and thought we saw a weather station in the distance.

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The Sandberg Summit Hotel as it once was . . .

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The Sandberg Hotel was the most popular road stop on the Ridge Route but burned down in 1961 while it was being remodeled as a home for underprivileged boys.

Leaving the Sandberg Hotel we drove to the Horseshoe Bend, parked our car and walked about a mile on the road. Returning to our car, we decided that we could drive safely on the no-longer maintained portion of the road.

Horseshoe Bend RREarly postcard of the Horseshoe Bend . . .

IMG_3735This rock has been weathering for over a hundred years as a result of being blasted out of the hill when the road was being built. The curve in the road was changed at one time so the rock appears to be in a different location in relation to the road than it was originally. The rock has not been moved but the road has . . .

Notice the old square shaped rebar in the road . . .

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Don’t know if this edible fruit(?) or not . . . don’t recognize it

Drove to the Liebre Summit marker at 4,233 ft. . . .

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Monument plaque reads: “This point is the highest point (4,213 feet) on the Old Ridge Route. From the origin of the Route in Castaic to the south, travelers climb 3,100 feet in 26 miles to reach this point, many times wearing out their tires or overheating their cars in the process. For those travelers approaching from the Grapevine to the north, there is a climb of 2,400 feet in 22 miles to reach this summit.”

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This plaque reads: “Primary surveying for the Ridge Route began in 1912 and grading by hand crews and mule-drawn scrapers were completed in 1915. A total of one million cubic yards of earth was removed to complete the Route.

This camp was one of the original construction camps associated with the building of the Ridge Route and continued to house and feed workers as the Ridge Route was continually upgraded and modified for safety reasons.

The Ridge Route continued to be maintained until it was replaced by Highway 99 in 1933. Highway 99 has since been replaced by Interstate 5 located to the west of this point. Can you imagine what the travelers on I-5 would say today if they had to travel the Ridge Route?”

We continued on until we reached the site where the Tumble Inn used to be . . .

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Another plaque, another read: “Because of its distinctive rock work and spectacular views, the Tumble Inn was known as one of the loveliest locations on the ridge. From here, travelers had breathtaking views of the Liebre Mountains to the east and the coastal ranges to the west. Can you match the stone work still here to the picture?”

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We continued to drive on, saw the “road closed” sign, but then drove some more until we finally reached a locked Angeles Forest gate and had to turn around.  Later, at the centennial celebration, we read that we could’ve taken a short walk on the other side of the gate and could see tire tracks in the pavement where an early vehicle drove onto the concrete before it hardened.  The article also said there was a geo-cash site at the gate — don’t know if it’s still there.

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On the way home we decided to have lunch at the popular Rock Inn on Elizabeth Rd. in Lake Hughes which has its own varied and rich history . . . A relaxing way to cap off a good day . . .
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Part II


The charming, historical El Tejon School was built in 1938-1939 and opened in the fall of 1939 with rooms being added through 1981.  It still is in use. It is of the Mission architectural style. There is a section of the Ridge Road just inside the school’s east fence.

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We enjoyed seeing the vintage vehicles and even parked our 1938 REO truck with them . . .

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We got to caravan our vehicles on a tour to Deadman’s Curve . . .

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You can see the I-5 Freeway passing below the Curve . . .

We enjoyed lunch, cake for dessert and shopping for collectibles and souvenirs while at the school.

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Author Harrison Scott signed the 2015 edition of his book and spoke to the group about progress (or lack thereof) of the chances of re-opening the Ridge Route.

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The Ridge Route was actually placed on the National Register before L.A. County vacated the road; however, the road goes through two private properties. How grand it would be to reopen this historic road, but the upkeep would be so expensive, etc., etc., etc.! Oh, the obstacles to its success! Even if the cost and upkeep is prohibitive for the total stretch, it would be nice to open the greater part of it.

We need to appreciate and protect historic sites!