― from Touring Topics, February 1912, page 12-13.
With characteristic progressiveness Southern California has gotten together thus early and has determined upon the routes which it will recommend to the State Highway Commission to be built in the southern portion of the State. In a convention held over two days last week at Los Angeles, which was called by the local Chamber of Commerce, one hundred and forty-four delegates, representing various localities and civic bodies of Southern California, adopted resolutions favoring the building by the State of a route between Los Angeles and El Centro. This resolution will be transmitted to the State Commission and will have great weight in determining the expenditure of a large part of the $18,000,000 highway fund that will be used on the roads of Southern California.
The convention was called for the purpose of securing a consensus of the desires of the majority of the counties of the southern portion of the State as to the route that should be followed in connecting Los Angeles and El Centro, which route would serve as the continuation in California of the proposed ocean-to-ocean highway that was favored by the recent tri-state convention held in Phoenix.
The meeting was convened on January 26th with John S. Mitchell, president of the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association, in the chair. In forming the permanent organization, Mr. Carl McStay was chosen as the presiding officer. The convention immediately resolved itself into a struggle between advocates of the Valley Route and adherents of the Foothill Route to secure from the gathering a definite recommendation to the State Highway Commission in favor of one or other of the two roads. The convention, however, declined to bind itself absolutely on the subject, and through the adoption of a resolution offered by Mr. Percy H. Clark left the matter open for further consideration. The resolution presented by Mr. Clark follows:
“Resolved: That this convention recommend to the State Highway Commission that a state road be built from Los Angeles to the county seat of Imperial County, along the route adopted by the Phoenix convention, via Beaumont, Banning, Mecca and Brawley, and that we hereby pledge our united support to its completion.
“Resolved, That this convention request the supervisors of the nine southern counties in Southern California to reconsider their action in requesting the State Highway Commission to build a state highway from San Diego to El Centro, and instead to recommend and request the building of a state highway from Los Angeles by way of Colton, Banning and Mecca to El Centro, the county seat of Imperial County.”
This resolution was adopted by a large majority and thereby became the official recommendation of the convention. The decision of the body was in accord with the action taken by the Phoenix Ocean-to-Ocean Highway convention which endorsed as the location for the national highway through California “a route running westerly from Yuma, along and near the Southern Pacific railroad to a point about four and one-half miles west of Mammoth station, thence southwesterly to Brawley, thence northwesterly along the south and west side of the Salt Sea to Mecca, thence again along the line of the Southern Pacific railroad to Beaumont, Redlands Junction, Colton, thence by the shortest route to Los Angeles.”
The partisans of both routes gracefully acquiesced in the decision of the convention and a united front will be opposed by the northern men to the efforts of San Diego to secure a state appropriation for the building of the San Diego-El Centro route. This latter highway, however, is one that possesses decided merit and the supervisors of the nine southern counties of the State have already recorded their official approval of it and have communicated their recommendation to the State Commission. A meeting of the supervisors will be held shortly for reconsideration of the matter and whether the Los Angeles-El Centro route will be substituted for their former recommendation is problematical. Both routes are desirable and important and the building of each or both highways will greatly benefit motorists of Southern California.
Following the adoption of the Clark resolution it was decided to refer for future consideration the matter of selecting the route to connect Beaumont and Los Angeles, as there appear to be many considerations involved that will require mature judgement. A resolution presented by John S. Mitchell providing for the preparation of a map that would show in detail the various desirable routes between the two named cities found favor with the convention and was unanimously adopted. Mr. Mitchell’s resolution is as follows:
“Resolved, That the president of the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association is hereby requested to publish a map of the ocean-to-ocean highway in California as soon as it is convenient for him to do so and that he is hereby requested to show the route of the ocean-to-ocean highway in the most prominent lines of said map, and is further requested in making said map to show on lines less prominent than the main line the various prominent lines north and west of Beaumont, which run into the city of Los Angeles. He shall be permitted to use his own judgment as to the route, the idea being to call attention to the foothill and valley roads and such other prominent roads as are now in use; and that the map shall show the route east of Beaumont as per the most advisable route."
The effect of this action is to leave the final selection of the route to the State Highway Commission, it merely being recommended that the highway be built over the shortest practicable route between Banning and Los Angeles. The valley route seems to have the advantage in the action taken by the convention in adopting the Clark resolution in that it is about four miles shorter than the foothill route and with few grade problems presented. However, it is intended to include the foothill route in the map of the proposed national highway.
The members of the convention favored the use of prison labor as far as practicable in the building of the State roads and as a body voted to affiliate with the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association, which is composed of prominent good roads boosters of California, Arizona and New Mexico, and the object of which is to work for the earliest possible building of a nation wide automobile road.
The proposed action of Riverside county to construct immediately a temporary road through the Whitewater section, now practically impassable, on the proposed Los Angeles to El Centro highway, and to erect a suitable bridge over the stream within ninety days, met with the unanimous approbation of the convention. Contributions amounting to about four thousand dollars were pledged by individuals and interested companies along the right-of-way toward the completion of the road and the county supervisors are expected to co-operate in the project.
The work of the Automobile Club of Southern California in signing all of the highways of the lower part of the State was highly commended and the convention pledged its support to the endeavor of the Owens River Valley Automobile Association to improve the Pasear route, which extends from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento and San Jose and thence by way of the coast to Los Angeles.
Nearly fifty chambers of commerce or other civic bodies were represented in the gathering and the supervisors from four of the Southern California counties participated in the convention. The convention was adjourned to meet at a date to be later decided upon.