Person standing in Beale's Cut, looking south. 1.75x2.5-inch BW negative, n.d. (ca. 1900-1910).
Beale's Cut is the 90-foot-deep,
hand-cut gash through the mountain southeast of
Sierra Highway and San Fernando Road (later renamed Newhall Avenue) in the Newhall Pass.
It's often been called Fremont Pass, although Frémost actually would have come through the area about a quarter-mile east
of Beale's Cut, on the old Spanish trail (El Camino Viejo) in Elsmere Canyon.
General Phineas Banning drove the first stage through the pass in 1854 when it was only 30 feet deep.
In 1862, Gen. Edward F.
Beale, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, took over a contract from the Los Angeles County Board of
Supervisors to improve — i.e., deepen — the cut to improve passage for wagons from the pueblo of
Los Angeles north to the Tehachapis. Beale used
Chinese immigrants to do the work, completing most of the work in 1863. The Board of Supervisors accepted it as complete on March 5, 1864.
the roadway was replaced by the nearby Newhall
Tunnel, which gave way to modern-day Sierra
Highway in 1938. During the El Niño storms of 1997-98, Beale's Cut caved in. Today it is at about half of its former depth, and the remaining walls form more of a V shape than a U shape.
It cannot be restored to its original 1864 condition without artificial support.
Beale's Cut and the adjacent
Newhall Refinery site have the same owner.
When the refinery site was proposed for business park development in the early 1990s, Beale's Cut was annexed into the city of Santa Clarita. (It had been unincorporated county.)
The development agreement also called for Beale's Cut to be deeded to the city as parkland when the rest of the property was developed. However, the development did not come to fruition and the agreement
is no longer in effect.
For more information, read Movie Trivia from Beale's Cut.
DI4005: 9600 dpi jpeg from BW negative, collection of Sharon Divis.