‘National Park Rustic’ signs still mark forest entry

Out on old U.S. 80 in eastern San Diego County are two signs that are not only ultra-cool, but one of the few examples of an architectural style called “National Park Rustic.”

The monuments mark the entry and exit from the Cleveland National Forest, about as close as we get to a National Park here in San Diego County. The western monument is just east of the Alpine Ranger Station and Forest Service District Office at 3348 Alpine Boulevard, while the one shown in this photo on Old Highway 80, just east of La Posta Road.

When I was writing the “Towering Old Highway” chapter in Joyrides Around San Diego, I nosed around for some history of these signs, even called the Cleveland National Forest folks and asked, but didn’t come up with anything.

About all I can figure out is that the signs were probably erected in the 1930s, when U.S. 80 was improved and the Works Progress Administration was busy in the area. It seems like a typical WPA project, built from stones that look to be from the area. The sign itself sits nested in a log.

It’s worth putting on your agenda for a San Diego day trip, because here’s a unique piece of architecture and history right here in our back yard. Signs like this are popular photo opps in National Parks. There are other signs marking the forest, but these two are probably the oldest in the area. Later signs are much simpler and look like a 1950s design.

Find out more about Old Highway 80 and the rest of my drives in Joyrides Around San Diego. Get your copy at your local bookstore or online at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

I’ll keep looking for some documentation on these signs, just as I’m still looking for the National Forest Scenic Byway report on Sunrise Highway. Of course, there’s only so much time…

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