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Footpath to Highway

Way back when how far I don’t know
The San Andreas Fault put on quite a show
Then it did it again and with a terrible blast
Ripped out the place we call Cajon Pass

The Earth’s crust in the San Bernardino/Cajon Pass area is about 22 miles thick and it has a great big crack in it called the San Andrea Fault. It marks the boundary between two large chunks of the earth’s crust called plates. Because the Pacific Plate is trying to move northwest two inches a year faster than the North American plate, the tremendous pressure built up by all this has pushed up two mountain ranges: the San Gabriels on the Pacific Plate and the San Bernardinos on the North American Plate. The gap between the two is known as the Cajon Pass.

Fossils can be found in the Pass that date back 9 million years, microscopic marine life to the more recent miniature camels and horses. In a Southern Pacific Railroad cut back in 1967, when they were building their Palmdale cut-off through the pass, they found a whale vertebra and the list goes on.

Then people showed up, 
from where I don’t know
And started using the Pass
to get to and fro

Indian artifacts found in the Pass date back 5 and 10 thousand years. Ute legend has it there has been a trade route from their Utah Great Basin area to the Southern California coast for more than 10,000 years. The Mojave were the master traders. From their villages along the Colorado River near today’s Needles, California, trade routes struck out in every direction. These footpaths, for thousands of years, were the main arteries of that era. Artifacts from the southern California coast have been found all over the southwest and as far east as the Pecos River. Jogging is nothing new. Specially chosen individuals, sometimes called runners, could cross the vast Mojave Desert to the coast in less than five days. Although bitter enemies of some of the other tribes, the Mojave were tolerated only for the purpose of trading and were not to be molested in any way even in time of war.

From the Mojave villages, the trail to the coast went west across some of the driest parts of the desert before reaching the life-saving water of the Mojave River. Along the river, just eats of today’s Daggett, California, the Ute trail came in from the north. During the wagon era, this junction was called “Forks in the Road”. From here, two trails became one and followed the river to its source near the Indian ranchería Guapiabit on the west fork of the River near today’s Silverwood Lake.

From here, the old trail when up what is known today as Sawpit Canyon (elev.), crested the San Bernardino Mountains the down a long ridge into the San Bernardino Valley. After passing the Santisima Trinidad ranchería, sometimes called Amupke, and crossing Lytle Creek it rounded the east end of the San Gabriel Mountains with various trails leaving and rejoining the main trail as it made its way southwest towards the coast and the villages at today’s San Pedro harbor who traded with the Catalina Island people.