Find, Beginnings, Early,
Paving, Residents, Tourists,
and service stops, along the Ridge Route
In the early years of the road, various establishments quickly
appeared along the highway. The information on these sites is
extremely limited. Pictures are even more scarce.
Originally, Doug Milburn an I had planned to nominate for the
National Register that portion of the Ridge Route originating
at Castaic and ending at Highway 138 to the north. Unfortunately,
various land owners adjacent to the road objected, fearing historical
status would impact their properties. A public meeting was held
and petitions submitted objecting to our effort. I tried to reassure
those present that we were only nominating the highway, which
in no way would affect their property. This did not resolve their
At this point, to expedite the process, we truncated our nomination
to include only that portion of the road which is entirely on
National Forest property. I believe it is necessary to point out
to the reader that many property owners remaining along the remote
segments of the road are reclusive in nature, viewing outsiders
with apprehension. An exception was the generous cooperation extended
by Sam and Gloria Azhderian , prominent members of the Castaic
community.Their help was instrumental in collecting information
on the Castaic end of the road.
Let's step back in time and motor north from the Castaic School
house on the old road. We will climb 2.4 miles. On the right side
of the road we would have seen "Queen Nell's Castle,"
Cornelia Martinez Calahan's home. She and her late husband homesteaded
here in 1909. In 1914, she deeded some of her property to the
State for the new road.'" She had a small green wooden shack
and sold gasoline and cold "pop" to motorists. The highway
originally veered west at this point and was destroyed with the
construction of the southbound lanes of the 1-5 freeway.
Approximately one mile north we reestablish the original alignment.
Today Nell's homestead is marked by a few remaining pepper trees
and two tall side-by-side wooden power poles. Her shack was actually
located in the middle of our realigned road at this location.
Some locals referred to her as the "witch of the Ridge Route,"
possibly due to the shack she lived in but more likely because
she was a self determined soul. One newspaper account describes
Nell having "lowered her shotgun" to greet General Petroleum
workmen when they pushed their pipeline through the area.
Another account of January, 1925 reads, "Mrs. Callahan who
resides on a ranch west of the Ridge Route was arrested by the
local police Wednesday. She is charged with assault and battery
on Mrs. C. Pierce, mother of Mrs. Pierre Davies of Castaic. The
accused furnished bonds and her trial is set for January 16."
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