View Full Version : Old Ridge Route Info requested

John Kasaian
24-Dec-2006, 16:14
I'm in the process of trying to shoot many of the places I remember growning up in the 50's & 60's. Most of the places have been torn down, but there is one location I'd like to find, but since I was quite little I have no idea where it is or if it is still accessible. Maybe someone here knows.

The old Ridge Route between Bakersfield and L.A. wound through the Tehachipis. It was a very dangerous highway replaced with the current I-5. We made many one day trips over the road to visit my Dad's sister in L.A. back in the 50's and on one particualrly nasty stretch late one night I remember waking up (I'd get car sick so I usually took a nap) and seeing in the headlights of my Dad's '54 Olds a large white cross on the side of the road, and the numbers of all the traffic deaths that occurred on the 'ridge encircled by a black wreath (on another trip a privately owned P-51 Mustang thundered below the highway, hugging the terrain at the botton of the draw. I later learned that the surplus Mustang belonged to a lawyer who must have been a darned fine pilot!)

My question is----are any stretches of the old Ridge Route still open and does that cross still scare the wits out of people driving past in the night? If so I'd like to take a picture of it.

John Kasaian
24-Dec-2006, 21:00
Well, tonight my Brother-in-law who races bicycles tell me he saw the cross while racing near pyramid lake, so it still exists and if it still exists I can find it.

24-Dec-2006, 21:29
The last time I drove the Ridge Route was in the 1980's... and it was mostly there. I believe that it still is accessible, but there really isn't much there except an old narrow road. I, too, have toyed with the idea of getting up there.

Huell Howser did a California Gold program about the Ridge Route that aired on PBS a few months ago, but I never noticed the date in the credits. He was there with a cravan of Model T Fords.

Ralph Barker
25-Dec-2006, 08:53
I think you're confused about the old Ridge Route going through Tehachapi, John. Tehachapi is off to the east, off Hwy 58. As I recall, the old Ridge Route (Hwy 99) pretty much followed the route of the current I-5, but went through the small towns of Castaic and Lebec, where the truck stops and eateries were. The eateries are still there, but I'm not sure how much of the old Hwy 99 is still accessible.

Ernest Purdum
25-Dec-2006, 11:35
Your question intrigued me since I also have memories of this road, though mine go back a lot further than yours. I remember old chain drive solid rubber-tired trucks crawling up the steepest parts with the driver standing on the running board to get out of the heat. (These trucks had no doors.) Some trucking companies sent truck and trailer combinations out of Los Angeles, but broke them down at the foot of the hills, used another tractor truck to get the trailer over the grade, then put the combination back together at the flat part leading into Bakersfield. We went up each year for several years to view the spectacular wildflowers that were between the ridge and Bakersfield.

I did a search of "ridge route, California" and found quite a lot including a book on the subject and a (rather expensive) DVD of the Huell Howser program that Brian Shaw mentioned.

John Kasaian
25-Dec-2006, 13:14
Thanks for all the ideas!

John Kasaian
25-Dec-2006, 13:24
FWIW, this whole thing started when I saw a Brownie Reflex on ebay 9 bucks in the original box.

I still have my Dad's Brownie Reflex but the lens is full of fungus and the body hasn't been light-tight since it did a nose dive off the hood of Dad's '54 Olds. I just won the ebay Brownie (my Christmas present to myself) and I thought I'd use it to document what was left of the "world" I grew up in.

The Reflex Brownie was the family camera that recorded the things and places we did and has a quality that befits my own memories of growing up. For every memory of a place thats still in existence there must be 100 that are long gone.

Now I can thaw out that stash of 120 verichrome pan thats taken up long term residence in the freezer!


Ernest Purdum
25-Dec-2006, 16:10
Your father was a lot younger than mine, of course. (Mine was born in 1885.) His camera was typical of his generation, a 3A Kodak with an RR lens. Like so many of his time, he carefully followed the recommendations in "How to Make Good Pictures" and added to the wonderful group of pictures the those 3A's produced, giving a huge body of visual evidence of the time he lived in.

Because of what they contributed, I consider the 3A FPK an important camera.

I trust the Reflex Brownie will turn out to be important to you.

Jeffrey Sipress
25-Dec-2006, 16:57
I think I've seen a sign and turnoff for the old ridge route just off the 138 maybe about two or three miles from the 5.

Paul Moshay
26-Dec-2006, 01:27
All the info you need is at; http://www.ridgeroute.com/. I traveled the road some years ago and it was a good ride. Make sure you have all the emergency supplies you might need, including water. Paul