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Beale’s Cut – the original LA “highway”

Beale’s Cut – the original LA “highway”

Dec 10, 2015

You have to know what you’re hunting for when you go looking for Beale’s Cut. This is the historic, super important Fremont/San Fernando Pass. But you’d never know it because it’s not marked. You’ll find it in a triangle of land between Highway 14 and Sierra Highway north of SFV in Newhall. This was the way in and out of Los Angeles during stagecoach days — even up to Model T times in 1910. Since SFV Granny isn’t thrilled about running into snakes, this was a good winter afternoon walk with the dogs.

When the Americans took over the Southland in 1848, they wanted a better road than the steep Susana Pass. That didn’t happen until 1859  when American General Edward Beale (of the infamous US camel brigade at Fort Tejon) ordered his men to cut down the 80 foot pass with shovels and picks. At last SFV was connected to the north.  Only 13 feet wide, wagons had to be designed to fit through the slot. It’s impressive standing in the middle of this engineering feat of the time (although the Northridge earthquake caused a partial cave-in and you’re standing on 50 ft of dirt). First, travelling by stagecoach was miserable enough. But coming down through these rough hills must have been scary. What a place for an ambush! SFV Granny is glad she lives in tIMG_0025he present time.

Today, this is an easy walk up from the parking lot.  It’s great this slice of history site has been preserved. It still feels very remote today.

From SFV, take  I-5 north to the SR-14. Exit at Newhall Avenue. Turn left, then left again at the light on Sierra Hwy. Stop first at Eternal Valley pioneer cemetery on the right, originally a stage coach inn. Then continue on half a mile. You’ll see a gate on the left, with a sign marking the preserved Elsmere Canyon Open Space.

You can read more about this site on the American history page on the lovesanfernandovalley website. Several early westerns were shot here, so Beale’s Cut is documented in early photographs and film. There were a couple of performance artists shooting their own film when we were there.

California Registered Historic Landmark No. 1006

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