When driving up Highway 18 through the San Bernardino Mountains, do you ever think about how this road was constructed? The fact is, it was NO EASY task for our ancestors who "paved" the way for us. Bless them!!! And no, they didn't design and build it so they could cruise on up to Lake Arrowhead, or our surrounding towns, to enjoy the beauty here, frolic in the snow, rent a cabin for a weekend get-a-way or to ski. They built this road out of necessity.
Some 400 or 500 Mormons made their way over the CAJON PASS in 1851, down into the San Bernardino Valley and began forming a settlement. There was a desperate need for lumber in order to build homes and businesses, and the only place to find all the lumber needed would be up in the mountains. It was then decided that a road up Waterman Canyon, to the mountains, would have to take place. This would be the "first"public road into Lake Arrowhead." Or, rather, what Lake Arrowhead is today. Though it was dangerous and steep, the seriousness of the logging industry began in July 1852 and the settlers forged ahead with the construction of The Mormon Trail Road (now Highway 18).
Beginning in 1892, a toll road (the Bear Valley Rd Company Toll Road) was completed. The story goes that folks weren't exactly pleased with the fact they now had to pay for what was free. Soon the toll booths (left photo) would mysterously be destroyed...until 1905 when the County of San Bernardino started buying up the toll and lumber roads in order to create a free county public highway.
As I was driving home one day, I stopped at the Mormon Trail Road Landmark, on Highway 18 and took a few pictures of the current monument. This happened the same day I took snapshots of the ARROWHEAD-LANDMARK and I also wrote a post (click on link).
Of course there were no pictures of the early roads, but I do have a couple of snapshot of the "dedication" (upper right) which took place on November 10, 1932, and one of the Upper Toll Road (upper left photo), THANKS to RUSS KELLER. Russ is a member of the RIM OF THE WORLD HISTORICAL SOCIETY and is a walking encyclopedia of San Bernardino Mountain history. If he doesn't know it, he'll find out. But chances are he DOES know. Russ also has a business, MOUNTAIN COLLECTOR: Collecting, Preserving & Displaying the History of the San Bernardino Mountains. He can be contacted at 909-338-8232 or emailing him at email@example.com.