Back in 1939, today’s wonderful, twisting, curving country road was labeled a hazard with “poor alignment and narrow pavement,” making it part of the $39 million in unfunded road projects in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties.

That’s a fair amount in 1939 dollars; it would be more than a half-billion in 2017 dollars. This horror is Old Julian Highway, which eventually was widened before it was bypassed. It’s a great backroad through the backcountry, a new way to explore the trip from Ramona to Santa Ysabel and on to the mountain gold-rush town of Julian. This is one of San Diego’s favorite day trips.

Looking once again at California Highways and Public Works magazine, this time from December, 1939, we find the the state’s District Engineer, E.E. Wallace, showing examples of bad roads that need modernization and improvements.

Of course, yesterday’s dangerous road is today’s fun country drive, as long as you don’t have to use it every day. Wallace’s horror was replaced by today’s Julian Road (Highway 78), which was moved north a few miles and straightened out a bit, although there are still some fun curves. Check it out in my Joyrides Around San Diego.


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