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Route 66 Trailhead Park dedicated October 13, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Events, History, Railroad.
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The Route 66 Trailhead Park, which includes a new, Route 66-themed overpass for pedestrians and cyclists on the Pacific Electric Trail, was dedicated Wednesday on Foothill Boulevard (aka Route 66) in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

The event also marked the completion of widening that road from four to six lanes.

David Allen, in a report for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, described the park as a “history grab bag”:

The park has portions of the abutments from the P.E. bridge that crossed Foothill until 2010, when it was removed to make way for the road to be widened to its current six lanes.

It’s got faux railroad ties running through the abutment toward a wall with both the Pacific Electric logo and the names of local stops along the line, including such obscure names as Carillo, Las Uvas, Milligan, Los Minos and Grapeland.

It’s got freshly planted vines of Mission grapes, the first species planted in Cucamonga in 1838.

And it’s got a short, walkable segment of the original Route 66. […] A piece of the original alignment remained as part of the right of way north of Foothill and now has been incorporated into the park.

Not only the original alignment, but the original pavement. The concrete dates to 1914, the macadam overlay to the 1920s.

Darin Kuna of the Upland Historical Society provided historical context about the Pacific Electric Railroad bridge. First, here’s an image of the bridge being built in 1914, when the roadway was just 18 feet wide.

Kuna also provided this 1936 photo of eastbound Route 66, just after Baker Avenue:

In an email, he explained relevance of the photo to the chunk of old Route 66 now in the Trailhead Park:

This vividly shows the original 1929 realignment with three lanes, just before construction started in 1937 on widening out the road to 4-lanes. In the background you can see the plateau of the old road with young eucalyptus trees planted alongside it. Above that, you can see the posts that carried the electric cables for the red car.

Kuna also found old maps that uncovered some history of that road, which was called San Bernardino Avenue:

[…] Prior to the 1913-14 road construction, it went straight along the present-day San Bernardino Avenue and sharply turned just west of where the bridge was constructed. This, I believe, was the old Butterfield Stagecoach Road because the county had no other maps of the general area going back before 1913, and they have records going back to the 1800s. You can also see that in the 1913 plans call for the highway to bypass and curve NW from where the present-day portion of San Bernardino Avenue that exists today. So, somewhere farther west of what this map shows, Foothill must have made a jog or two down to San Bernardino Avenue and continued east. I’ll have to research that farther. I’m assuming that San Bernardino Ave. was changed to Foothill Blvd. east of where the curve at Sycamore Inn was during this time. […]

The portion of Foothill that you are going to save is of the original 1914 pavement over the old Butterfield Stagecoach Road. Since it was bypassed in 1929, it officially served as Highway 66 from the time it was given the route designation in 1926 until its bypass in 1929 … almost four years. The asphalt over the cement must have been put on there over the years between 1914 and 1929, but the cement underneath is the original road. Hopefully, they can remove the old blacktop without damaging the cement, being it’s so old.

For modern context that shows San Bernardino Avenue, see this Google Map:


View Larger Map

Another interesting thing: Joan Andreas Miller attended the dedication of the 1938 widening of Route 66 in that area. She was about 5 years old, and she appeared in a newspaper photograph of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Allen reported:

Does she remember that day? Not really. Too young.

Her grandfather, Godfrey Andreas, was a state assemblyman, which is how she got into the picture.

Seventy-four years later, she was invited to the ribbon-cutting Wednesday at the park. Here she is now:

(Photos courtesy of Darin Kuna and Curt Billings; hat tip to Scott Piotrowski)

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