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Drive Starts to Perpetuate Fremont Pass as Landmark.
San Fernando and Newhall Unite in Attempt to Beautify and Restore Old Cut Through Hills.
Los Angeles Times | November 4, 1940, pg. 34.
SAN FERNANDO, Nov. 3 — Uniting two communities in a campaign to mark, beautify and restore Fremont Pass, one of the Southland's oldest landmarks, two San Fernando Valley newspapermen today were enlisting the support of civic leaders in their communities.
Taking the lead in the campaign to make the hand-hewn cut accessible to motoring tourists are Bill Dredge, editor of the San Fernando Sun, and Fred W. Trueblood, publisher of the Newhall Signal.
Fremont Pass is sliced through the range just a stone's throw from the recently constructed cut that replaces Newhall Tunnel, midway between San Fernando and Newhall.
Thousands of cars, pouring over the modern high speed highway, roll by each day, just out of sight of the historic pass where Gen. Fremont first marched his conquering troops into the Southland in 1842.
Trueblood and Dredge, with aid of history-conscious residents of their communities, are accelerating interest in reconstruction of the old pass wagon trail, to be linked with the highway and plainly marked with road signs and monuments.
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Hewed by hand with pickaxes and shovels between 1842 and 1863, the pass stands in as perfect condition today as when it first was cut through the mountains. There are no evidences of slides or earth slippage which marked engineering efforts in more recent cuts through the mountains for motor highways.
Notes: 1) Beale's Cut was known as Fremont Pass for many decades, but Fremont and his troops actually "passed" about a quarter-mile to the east.
2) Considering the pass was "in as perfect condition today as when it first was cut," we don't know what sort of beautification and restoration was intended.
3) Fremont "first marched his conquering troops into the Southland" during the war of 1846-48, not four years earlier.
4) "No evidence of slides or earth slippage:" The sides caved in during the El Niño winter of 1997-98.
News story courtesy of Stan Walker.
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.