Find, Beginnings, Early,
Challenge, Breaking, Paving,
challenge of early crossing by automobile
the southern end of the Ridge Route, the early motorist heading north
from Los Angeles had to deal with the Newhall Pass also known as Fremont
Fremont gave it prominence when he took this route in 1847 to confront
the Mexican forces in the San Fernando Valley. This is the southern
approach to Beales's Cut as well as the divide which separates the Santa
Susana Mountains on the West from the San Gabriel Mountains on the east.The
early motorist would venture up the grade to the top of the pass which
was described in a club tour book as a 30 percent grade!
It was here at the top of the pass that General Beale, federal Surveyor-General
of California and Nevada, and a capable engineer, in 1862 dispatched
a crew of Chinese laborers to deepen an earlier 1858 cut established
for the Butterfield stage."' Beale's laborers cut a 12-foot wide
passage through 60 feet of sandstone to reduce the climb by 50 feet.
This cut was also referred to as "The Narrows." In 1904, to
further lessen the grade, men with picks and shovels once more laboriously
deepened the cut and the roadbed was graded and oiled. The first automobile
went over the pass in 1902 Beale's Cut was the only way over the pass
until the Los Angeles County Road Department constructed the 435-foot
Newhall tunnel just west of Beale's Cut, opening in October, 1910.
The road through the tunnel was only two lanes, and loaded trucks often
scraped the sloping walls inside unless directly in the center of the
tunnel. This obviously created a traffic hazard. The tunnel was dark
as well as low and narrow, 17.5 feet wide and 17 feet high at the center.
For this reason the state awarded a contract in May, 1938 to "daylight"
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