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Mojave River Valley Museum
Historic Roads & Trails - Cajon Pass History
For centuries the Cajon Pass this been an important thoroughfare for travelers and traders between the
and Southern California. Following the route of the
Old Spanish Trail,
most travelers transited the pass on its east side. This route, however, was very narrow and rocky, and was less than suitable for wagon travel. In 1850, William T. B. Sanford constructed a much better wagon road through the West Cajon pass. This route, departed from the Old Spanish Trail near present-day
crossed Baldy Mesa Ridge and turned down through West Cajon Canyon to
then rejoined the Old Spanish Trail near the present location of the
truck scales. Known variously as the Sanford crossing, Sanford cutoff, or Sanford Pass, this westerly transit was less rocky than its eastern counterpart, but was still very steep at its summit. On the descent, cattle and wagons often slid the first 50 feet; on the ascent, it was necessary to hitch as many as 32 mules to each wagon. In 1855, Sanford and Phineas banning constructed a new alignment about 1 1/2 miles west of his original road. Although it was an improvement over his earlier route, grades were still steep as 30%. The arduous ascent and its descent of the Sanford Cutoff troubled freighters until the completion of the
John Brown tollroad
through Coyote Canyon (now called Crowder Canyon) on the east side of Cajon Pass in 1861.
Billy Holcomb Chapter of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.