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The  steep grade and  many switchbacks of the Grapevine made it one of the  most treacherous spots on  the  Ridge  Route for many truckers.

               RUNNING THE                                           t was a hot summer afternoon that August in 1921  as the
                                                                     old Teamster left the packing plant at Lindsey, Calif., with
                                                                     a heavy load of olives. He was heading south down the great
                                                                     San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles. Checking his pocket
                                                                     watch, he hoped to get to Bakersfield and through town be-
                                                                fore the evening traffic. He could then continue on to Greenfield,
                                                                about another 10 miles south where it was easier to park a rig and
                                                                grab a bite to eat.
                                                                  He thought to himself how only seven years ago he would have
                                                                had to take the Midway Route due east from Bakersfield over to
                     A TRUCKER'S JOURNEY                        Mojave, then cut back south taking one of the canyon passes to
                                                                gain entrance to Los Angeles and southern California. The Mid-
                       OVER  CALIFORNIA'S                       way Route was like a giant "dog leg" that took you way out of your
                    INFAMOUS  RIDGE  ROUTE                      way from the direct route over the mountains that the Ridge Route
                                                                now provided.
                            Story and  photos by                  The best minds back then said it was impossible to conquer the
                          HARRISON  IRVING SCOTT                Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains with a road. The Califor-
                                                                nia Division of Highways decided to put the controversy to rest
                                                                once and for all, and sent a group of engineers to Europe to see
                                                                how England, France and other countries dealt with the building
                        Editor's note: The following  is a dramatized account of   of mountain roads. The information they came home with indi-
                        what a trip might have been  like for a trucker in  the early
                        1920s over the  Ridge  Route,  California's first mountain   cated it was feasible to consider a route over the mountains.
                        highway. Author Harrison Scott used excerpts and   After additional research, construction began in 1914, and a
                        photos from  his book,  "Ridge Route,  The  Road  That   year later the new oil and gravel Ridge Route opened. The San
                        United California,"  to tell this tale.  Scott was one of the   Francisco Chronicle called it "one of the most remarkable engi-
                        speakers at the  2004 ATHS  National Convention  and
                        Antique Truck Show in  Fontana,  Calif.,  this past  May.   neering feats accomplished by the State Highway Commission."
                        To  order the  book,  contact the author at 310-320-3205,   When the road opened, it silenced efforts in the making to

         40   September/October 2004                                                 /  WHEELS OF TIME
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