Like me, you may have heard about recent efforts to split the state of California into two or three parts — in particular, separating Southern and Northern California. I was surprised to learn from this episode of Huell Howser’s Road Trip that if it weren’t for construction of the Old Ridge Route through the San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains, California may very well have split apart back in 1915.
This narrow strip of concrete was carved along the sides of the hills with mule teams and steam shovels, a real engineering marvel. And it’s still possible to drive along the original roadway today, thanks to the efforts of the Ridge Route Preservation Organization, a group that works to protect this bit of history and to educate others about the “curvy little road that united California.”
Huell is joined by Harrison Scott, a retired Pacific Bell engineer, who,with the help of U.S. Forest Service archaeologists, was largely responsible for landing part of this engineering marvel on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Together, they re-create a journey along the Ridge Route, complete with Model Ts and stops at the remnants of the inns, cafes and service stations that once marked its many twists and curves.