San Gorgonio Pass is located in Riverside County, California in the divide between the San Bernardino Mountains and San Jacinto Mountains. San Gorgonio Pass is home to several communities which were part of US Routes 99, 60 and 70. This blog will explore the alignment history of US Routes 99-60-70 within the communities of Beaumont, Banning and Cabazon. Pictured above as the blog cover is US Routes 99-60-70 facing west on Ramsey Street in downtown Banning during 1952.
Part 1; the history of US Routes 99-60-70 in San Gorgonio Pass
Modernized transportation San Gorgonio Pass dates back to the days of the Bradshaw Trail which was a stage route originating in San Bernardino which crossed through the Sonoran Desert east to the Colorado River. During the California Gold Rush the Bradshaw Trail was plotted through the Sonoran Desert by William D. Bradshaw. The Bradshaw Trail was plotted in 1862 through the San Gorgonio Pass and Sonoran Desert east over the Colorado River to a new mining strike found in La Paz, Arizona. Bradshaw consulted the Cahuilla Tribe who advised him of the best route east of the Salton Sink between the Orocopia Mountains and Chocolate Mountains. More information regarding the Bradshaw Trail and where to find it can be found on desertusa.com.
Below the Bradshaw Trail can be in San Gorgonio Pass on the 1873 Bancroft's Map of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
During the 1870s the Southern Pacific Railroad would begin laying a line through San Gorgonio Pass and establishing siding facilities. During 1875 the Southern Pacific Railroad laid line through the future site of Beaumont and would plot Summit Station. During 1876 the Southern Pacific Railroad would build its line east from Summit Station to the vicinity of Gillman's Ranch at what is now Banning. Later in the 1870s the Southern Pacific Railroad would establish a station known as "Cabezone" near the Native American Rancheria of the same name.
In 1884 the town site of Cabazon was laid out by the Cabazon Land Company. Also, during 1884 a real estate development company would plot a town at San Gorgonio Station (originally Summit Station) which was originally called San Gorgonio. 1884 would also see a survey for town site of Banning. San Gorgonio Station, Banning and Cabazon can be seen on the Bradshaw Trail and Southern Pacific Railroad on the 1882 Bancroft's Map of California and Nevada.
During 1887 San Gorgonio Station was purchased by a second real estate developer and renamed as Beaumont. Beaumont would incorporate as a city on November 18th, 1912. Banning would soon after also incorporate as a city on February 6th, 1913.
What would become US Route 99 (US 99), US Route 60 (US 60) and US Route 70 (US 70) in San Gorgonio Pass was added to the State Highway System as part of the 1916 Second State Highway Bond Act in the form of Legislative Route Number 26 (LRN 26). The initial definition of LRN 26 originated in San Bernardino and terminated in El Centro. LRN 26 appears a planned highway through the communities of San Gorgonio Pass on the 1918 California Highway Commission map.
The November 1924 California Highways & Public Works announced 7.1-miles of LRN 26 between Redlands and Beaumont would soon be paved.
The September 1925 California Highways & Public Works features photos of the San Gorgonio Wash Bridge on LRN 26.
The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925. The US Route System within California was approved by California Highway Commission ("CHC") with no changes recommended which can be seen in January 1926 California Highways & Public Works. US 99 is shown departing San Bernardino via LRN 26 towards Imperial Valley via the communities of San Gorgonio Pass.
Thusly planned US 99 appears on the 1925 Rand McNally Map of California following LRN 26 through San Gorgonio Pass.
The California State Highway Engineer submitted a recommended routing of US 60 to the AASHO Executive Secretary on September 8th, 1931. The route description of US 60 show as ending in Los Angeles by way of Pomona at an undisclosed terminus. The routing of US 60 defined it as following US 99/LRN 26 through San Gorgonio Pass and departing onto Jack Rabbit Trail from Beaumont west through the Moreno Valley Badlands towards Riverside.
US 99/US 60/US 70/LRN 26 can be seen in detail through San Gorgonio Pass in the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Riverside County.
The March 1936 California Highways & Public Works features truck traffic on US 99/US 60/US 70/LRN 26 near Banning.
US 99/US 60/US 70/LRN 26 on 6th Street can be seen facing westbound in the undated photo below.
US 99/US 60/US 70/LRN 26 can be seen on Main Street in Cabazon during 1947 in the below photo by Darin Kuna of the U.S. Highway 60 Facebook page (sourced from a Pomona Public Library Photo). A comparison image from Google during 2021 can be seen as a contrast.
The December 1948 California Highways & Public Works notes US 99/US 60/US 70/LRN 26 was expanded to four lanes between Banning-Whitewater during 1940. The original two travel lanes are described as having been widened.
The May/June 1950 California Highways & Public Works features the expansion of US 99/US 70/LRN 26 in Calimesa. The article stub notes Calimesa was the last section of US 99/US 70 between Los Angeles and Palm Springs to be two-lanes wide. The expansion of US 99/US 70/LRN 26 was a four-lane expressway over a 9.6-mile project zone. The new four-lane expressway grade of US 99/US 70/LRN 26 was largely a completely new alignment detached from than existing Calimesa Boulevard.