Friday, February 27, 2009

Lesson in California History... continued

Not too long ago, I brought you the southernmost portion of the Ridge Route: Beale's Cut.

Today, I bring you snap shots of the northernmost portion, just south of Gorman.
You know you're on the Ridge Route when you find the right signage.

The only remaining part of the former 3-lane highway. Right at Gorman.

The part of the road that still has washed out areas is locked up. I mean, REALLY locked up. They don't want you in there. In fact, you evidently need a quorum to unlock the gate. Or, you can walk...

The work being done on it for repairs... since it was washed out by heavy rains in 2005, the primary improvement is drainage.

Remains of the Tumbleweed Inn - one of MANY hotels on the Ridge Route.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tecopa, Tecopa

I took advantage of the long weekend, and took my Geology of California class out on a fabulous field trip to my favourite outcrop in California so they could get some practice drawing stratigraphic sections and using Brunton compasses to make measurements. I hope they learned a lot. I know we all had a great time!

The outcrop.

A great view of the Basin and Range Province of California.

Inside a talc mine - they're all looking at me "how'd you get up there?"

Monkey found a newspaper fragment (LA Examiner?) from 1925 around Dublin Gulch.

Then we went and found some trilobites, but I somehow didn't take any photos of that little jaunt. Hmmm...

Lake Dolores/Rock-A-Hoola/Discovery Waterpark... another piece of California History

After driving back and forth on Hwy 15 countless times and not making the stop here, I finally did (accompanied with a few die-hard students who still had some energy left after the long weekend field trip). I first noticed this place, seemingly an odd location for a water park (mid-desert) when I drove here back in 2005. There were water slides (or one at least) actually up and visible from the road then. After several drives back by this place I finally committed to memory the name "Rock-A-Hoola" that I could see on the sign and did a google search. I found this forum that provided many answers, odd stories, and probable false posts. An interesting read none-the-less.

The summary is this:
  • It originally opened in 1962 as Lake Dolores, named for the founder's wife. It was a campground waterpark, and potentially the first "real" waterpark known. It grew over 22 successful years to include stand up water slides, zip line, and all kinds of other dangerous sounding thrill rides in addition to standard waterpark stuff. (People entering the park had to sign an extensive waiver - we saw some of these in the broken down buildings when we strolled around in awe)
  • After a period of closure, the park was sold and re-opened as Rock-A-Hoola in 1996, but the new owners went bankrupt and the park was returned back to the original owners 3 years later. Most of the signage and papers we saw around indicated the name Rock-A-Hoola alone or in combination with the more historically well-known Lake Dolores (as in "Lake Dolores Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark" was found on business cards strewn about)
  • Sold again, and re-opened under yet another new name: Discovery Waterpark - the third and final run went from 2002-2004. The only evidence we saw of this name were a few plain-font address labels lying around an old office behind the ticket counter.

From left to right:
  • Top row - google maps outdated image still showing waterslides that are now torn down, sign in parking area, entrance lined with 50's themed route 66 (which is further south than the road this is on) posters
  • Middle row - KyKy by the former lazy river, envelope and tickets found in old office, view of the park from the top of the location that used to have waterslides
  • Bottom row - the waterslides (photo from, regulations sign for the waterslides (I like how there's no warning about health safety like heart problems, but there is a no zipper rule), the hill that held the waterslides as seen today

Sunday, February 01, 2009

This Weekend's Lesson in Southern California History

Amongst a trip to LA to visit family, I made a commitment to find and photograph the "famous" Beale's Cut (that no one I've talked to so far has heard of before me). I bought the Ridge Route book, because I am fascinated with this sort of history.

In 1862 General Beale completed this cut [by hand], providing a route through the San Bernadinos that effectively connected northern and southern California. The following year it was deepened to its maximum of 90 feet! This definitely ranks up there with Burro Schmidt's tunnel in terms of engineering feats. However, Schmidt has Beale beat in terms of uselessness and randomness. Or perhaps, Beale has Schmidt beat in terms of usefulness?

Looking north up Beale's Cut, earliest known photo. Taken from here.

By 1910, traffic had significantly changed... from the horses and carriages that scrambled up and over the cut in the late 1800s to motor vehicles (the allegedly had to drive up the cut in reverse so that fuel reached the engine), to cargo trucks in the early 1900s. As a result, the Newhall Tunnel was constructed for truck traffic nearby, actually tunneling through the mountains, and the Cut was essentially abandonned. Traffic though (again, depending on which source you read) still used it until the original construction of Ridge Route in 1915.

Depending on which source you read, the cut collapsed sometime in the late 1930's, losing 2/3 of its depth. Below is the photo that I took with my phone (why oh why did I forget my camera???), at approximately the same angle as the B&W photo above. It's obviously overgrown.

The Cut was used for backdrops (either superimposed or actually filmed there) for Westerns. There is also apparently a famous (but superimposed) photo of some Western star jumping on a horse across the cut. Look it up on google if you want.

This is an aerial photo looking south with the Cut in the middle. Hwy 14 is to the left.

Cool stuff I say. Cool stuff.