Find, Beginnings, Early,
Tourists, Kelly's, Conclusion
well served by convenience stops
The next establishment, 5.3 miles from the Castaic
school house was the Ridge Road House. It was mentioned in a 1926
touring guide thusly: "Reputed very fair, lunch." Sam
and Gloria Azhderian own the property today; in fact, they recently
completed their new home directly above the old site. Sam told
me that the garage and restaurant were on the west side of the
highway and the foundations are still visible. Ridge Road House
sold Richfield gasoline and advertised with a high pole and a
sign sporting a race car perched on top of it. Across the road
on the east side was a grouping of green and white sleeping cabins
among a grove of pepper trees. The foundations were removed by
Azhderian when he purchased the property.
The station was owned by Porter Markel and his sister Ruth. Prior
to the Markel's tenure, "Ridge Road Garage now owned and
operated by Jimeson & Wiesman,"according to a newspaper
clipping of September, 1920.
They did not have indoor plumbing. A large water tank remains,located
on a small hill behind the Azhderian's new home.
Azhderian remembers traveling the road when he was a small child.
His parents had a farm in Fresno and would take their Dodge Brothers
truck down to Los Angeles quite often. Some of the other trucks
on the highway were the old Mack trucks, the Sterlings, the Fageol
and the Reos. He recalls the chain-driven rigs giving a sharp
snap when they pulled out, and the constant string of lights along
the road at night.
During the Depression, according to Azhderian, the Lebec Hotel
would allow motorists to camp on the lawn in front of the hotel
if they could not afford to pay for a room. The road tested the
endurance of the early vehicles, with many breakdowns and people
begging for help and extra water along the route.
One mile north of the Ridge Road Garage on the left (west) side
was Martin's, a small gas station operated by Mildred and Martin
Deceta. Ed Adkins' sister Mildred married Martin Deceta, amd Martin's
sister Ignacia Deceta married Ed Adkins. May Jean Deceta, Mildred's
daughter, married James E. Graves of Castaic. Until recently,
Mildred lived alone, occupying the original building which at
one time was a two-story unpainted structure. Martin's was sometimes
pronounced "Marteen's" because he was a Frenchman.
The 1926 touring guide simply states: "Garage, gas and water."
When the Ridge Road alternate opened, the Decetas went back to
The View Service Station was the next establishment. It was on
the right, or east, side of the road and did indeed command a
sweeping view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Early maps seem to
place the gas station near the intersection of Warm Springs Road
and the Ridge Route. The dirt surfaced Warm Springs Road is north
of Templin highway, just before you reach the forest boundary
gate, and today it leads westerly to a small grouping of homes
down the canyon. At one time, Warm Springs Road continued east
down into the canyon to access various campgrounds. That section
no longer exists, being under water since the construction of
In conversation with James E. Graves, mentioned earlier in association
with the Martin site, I learned that the true location of the
View Service Station is a bit farther north than this intersection.
A small clump of bamboo today marks the location at odometer mark
10.2 miles. Although indicated on a couple of early maps, virtually
no information is available regarding this site.
It is under this section of the old Ridge Route that the outlet
from Pyramid Lake connects to the Castaic power plant through
the 7.2 mile, thirty-foot diameter, Angeles Tunnel.
At 12.4 miles we reach the National Forest Inn which was situated
on government-owned land. All that remains today are cement steps
on the west side of the road. It was described in a 1932 highway
beautification pamphlet with this unkind caption: "The sort
of filling station that gets into a national forest and is no
Unlike Sandberg's, which was constructed of logs, the National
Forest Inn sported neatly trimmed white clapboard buildings.
It was built by a gentleman named Courtemanche. A news clipping
of 1925 indicates a Joe Palmer as proprietor of the National Forest
Inn garage. The 1926 touring guide indicated that there
were nine rooms in cottages, most with running water, from $1
to $2, lunch 75 cents; garage; camp 50 cents. A 1926 topography
map spots a ranger station at this location. All of the accommodations
were on the west side of the road. However, there was a large
metal building on the east side which housed the highway repair
facility and the ranger station.
Above this structure on a hill is a small cement-lined reservoir
believed to have been built for fire control. Also, west of the
of the reservoir are the foundation remains of an old airplane
beacon. The beacon site is also shown on a 1928 topography map
of the area.
The National Forest Inn was destroyed by a fire which originated
in the garage on October 20, 1932. Mr. Martin owned the resort
at the time, and was reported to have lost considerable cash in
Immediately north of the National Forest Inn site, if we look
to the west, we can see the Ridge Route Alternate and the new
I-5 highways. Serpentine Drive is located north of National Forest
Inn. Many post cards "imaged" Serpentine climb which
at the top entered the largest cut on the road, Swede's Cut. This
cut is also referred to as the "Big Cut," and "Culebra
Excavation," all referring to the same location. Steam shovels
provided the muscle for this lengthy dig.
Farther on at 17.6 miles we find Reservoir Summit. The 1926 touring
guide lists garage, lunch, rest rooms and a camp. The same guide
of 1928 omits the auto camp. The restaurant, gas station and garage
were all located on the east side of the road, The garage was
very small, housing a tow truck, and located just south of the
restaurant which literally hung over the side of the cliff. It
was green with a screened porch. It had a lunch counter with three
or four tables. It was a highclass, popular restaurant with men
waiters in solid white uniforms. Truckers were welcome.
On the west side of the road was a wider area with a water trough
and parking space. On the west side of the road on top of a small
hill was the auto camp. On the same hill west of the camp is a
large cement-lined water reservoir, originally with a wooden top.
It is larger in capacity than the one at the National Forest Inn.
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