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Tourists 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 ranching.

   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 Castaic Dam.

   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 addition thereto."

   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 the blaze.

   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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