Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Beale's Cut
Newhall, California

Beale's Cut, probably in the 1930s, looking south(?). Note the strange rectangular holes half-way up on both sides, possibly to hold some sort of structure for performing road repairs — or maybe for a film crew. Beale's Cut was no longer a state or county highway when this photo was shot.

Per Todd Spiegelberg, the car appears to be a 1937 Pontiac sedan.

Beale's Cut, alternately known as Fremont Pass and Newhall Pass, is the 90-foot-deep, hand-cut gash through the mountain southeast of Sierra Highway and San Fernando Road (later renamed Newhall Avenue) in Newhall.

Truth is, though, Fremont came through the area about a quarter-mile east of Beale's Cut.

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 troops from Fort Tejon and Chinese immigrants to do the work, completing it in 1863.

In 1910 the roadway was replaced by the nearby Newhall Tunnel, which gave way to modern-day Sierra Highway in 1938. During the El Niño winter of 1997-98, Beale's Cut caved in. Today it's at about half of its former depth.

The area was annexed into the City of Santa Clarita in the 1990s. It's owned by the same person who owns the adjacent Newhall Refinery site. The refinery property is intended to be developed and Beale's Cut is to be deeded to the city when that happens.

For more info, read Movie Trivia from Beale's Cut.

Photo from the California Department of Transportation files.

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