10 August 2008

Carbon Canyon Road and its Remnant Landscapes

Remnant landscapes?! Yes, there are people who make their specialty finding, studying and interpreting aspects of our landscape that were built, planted, installed, etc. for a purpose, but when that purpose is no longer needed or was changed, those aspects become remnants. An example would be planting eucalyptus trees at the edges of an orange grove as wind breaks to prevent damage to the grove. When the grove goes and the trees remain, they are part of a "remnant landscape."

Well, Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) has been rerouted in the past for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the curves were too abrupt for faster cars and heavier traffic. Or a new road came through requiring a new intersection with different approaches, sight lines, new traffic signals . . . there could be many reasons why a road's path is changed.

So far, I've found three areas where the "Old Carbon Canyon Road" is a remnant--in two cases, still used, but in another, no longer so.

First, there actually is an "Old Carbon Canyon Road" heading south and west from the current road, about a mile or so from the eastern end of the canyon in Chino Hills. The road dead ends after a short distance, but also connects with the Carriage Hills subdivision. At one edge of the subdivision, Old Carbon Canyon Road continues after being "disconnected" from its continuation. In fact, when you drive the current road heading east and are making your way through Horseshoe Bend, look off to the right and you'll see several houses (and, to go back to my earlier example, a row of tall eucalyptus trees). Now, if you had looked carefully just before that, not long after the turnoff for Carriage Hills, you would have seen an iron gate just off the road to the right. Behind that gate is Old Carbon Canyon Road (see the photo above and other examples at the bottom of the blog screen.)

The second, currently used example is Ginseng Lane, a road about 1/4 mile west of Carriage Hills. Now, before that, just after you pass Valley Springs Road and the Western Hills Oaks subdivision, there is a two-story house, painted brown, at the south side (right side as you head east) of Carbon Canyon Road. If you look just past that house, you can actually see the former right-of-way for the old road. Turn right on Ginseng Lane and you'll be on the old road for a very short distance, as Ginseng ends at the entrance to the aforementioned house. More photos are below at the bottom of the blog screen.

The third, unused, example is at the eastern end of the canyon. My first visit to the canyon, that I know of, was in 1985 when I had a girlfriend who lived in Woodview, the subdivision south of Carbon Canyon Road (now Chino Hills Parkway), east of Peyton Drive, and west of Pipeline Avenue. When you came down from the canyon, the road simply curved and continued eastward. As Chino Hills came to be and development ensued, Chino Hills Parkway was created from the 60 Freeway (actually, a little west of that, because the road is still Phillips Ranch Road in the Pomona portion). Chino Hills Parkway met up with Carbon Canyon Road and assumed the old road from that point until it ends at Central Avenue. Only recently, in fact, was the road's status as State Highway 142 changed--now 142 officially ends at the 71 Freeway, whereas it used to continue to Central. At any rate, that old curve is still there, on the right as you head east to approach the intersection of Carbon Canyon Rd. and Chino Hills Pkwy.

Because the Brea side runs through the deepest, steepest part of the canyon or climbs at a higher elevation along it, there are probably no changes in the route. Although, there was a time when Highway 142, which starts on Valencia Avenue at Imperial Highway and heads north before the eastward turn at Carbon Canyon Road, made that approach but gently curved eastward into the canyon in the oil field at the southeastern corner of today's Valencia/Carbon Canyon intersection. This area is fenced and there are a lot of trees and some change in the topography, but it is possible that a portion of that old road is still in there somewhere. That would be interesting (maybe only to me, though) to find out.


Unknown said...


i hope that you receive this. i have been going up to carbon canyon since the early eighties, but now i live here is Escondido (the "end of the world" for many people, unfortunately).

i am also an avid road "remnant" enthusiast myself and was fascinated by your findings of old traces of the highway thru there.

i have a few old maps of old LA and Orange Counties and use copies of them as reading material in the bathroom to this day, having collected them in the 80s! :)

i can turn you on to some VERY interesting old road alignments, abandoned bridges, abandoned railroad lines and spurs, and original curves and alignments of roads that were paved with concrete back in the 20s and 30s.

for the last few years, i have been exploring the road alignments here in san diego county (as a hobby, of course)

contact me if you want to chat sometime about this.

Matt G.


prs said...

Hi Matt, if you have anything concerning old roads, trails, paths within Carbon Canyon, I'd be interested to know more. I'll send you an e-mail. Thanks for the comment and for checking out the Chronicle.