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Welcome to Historic Highway 80

Welcome to Historic Highway 80
Welcome to Historic Highway 80 2017-08-15T19:21:15+00:00

This website is all about Historic Highway 80, and some other similar highways – the sights, sounds, flavors, people, businesses, events, adventures, resources, and information about these famous roads. Come and explore the Historic Highways and all they have to offer!

For more Tourism information, visit the San Diego County Tourism website.

Events

Follow events through Geocaching on the web via electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones. Events include Passport to the Past, Logistical Mystery Tour, and others.

History

Nationwide

U.S. Route 80 (US 80) was a U.S. highway in California that continued east across the country to Georgia. The western terminus was in San Diego, California, and US 80 continued east through the city on several different alignments through the years.

US 80 was gradually decommissioned after 1964 as I-8, through San Diego and Imperial counties, was completed. In 2006, the highway was designated by the California State Legislature as Historic U.S. Route 80.

California

The highway replaced a 1912 plank road across much of Imperial County. The winding two-lane road through the Cuyamaca Mountains was one of the factors that led to a four-hour journey from San Diego to El Centro. During the 1930s, the road was realigned through the mountains, but several curves remained. The highway went through the Cuyamaca Mountains, encountering many switchbacks, before descending to El Centro. After passing through the sand dunes, the highway crossed the Colorado River into Yuma, Arizona.

San Diego County

In the 1950s, work began on constructing what would become Interstate 8 (I-8) to replace the old highway in San Diego to bypass the cities of San Diego, La Mesa, and El Cajon. This started with the construction of the Alvarado Canyon road as well as Mission Valley Road through the San Diego area, as well as construction a replacement for the old highway across the Viejas Grade. The construction continued across the rest of the route through the next two decades.

San Diego County. East of San Diego, US 80 followed the path of El Cajon Boulevard through La Mesa and then onto Main Street near downtown El Cajon before heading towards the Mountain Springs grade. The route was realigned from Arnold Way onto Alpine Boulevard as it passed through Alpine and the Viejas Indian Reservation, before entering the Laguna Mountains and the Cleveland National Forest on the alignment used by I-8.

At Laguna Junction, a cafe for travelers existed from 1916 until when the building was taken down to provide land for the interchange with I-8. A section of old US 80 — with the first few miles signed as SR 79 — continues to serve as access to the communities of Descanso, Guatay and Pine Valley; SR 79 intersected US 80 east of Descanso. At the time, the Ellis Wayside Rest provided a rest area for travelers; later, the state recognized it as a historic site.

Exiting the national forest, US 80 continued in a southeasterly direction towards Live Oak Springs and Boulevard, intersecting with the eastern terminus of SR 94. US 80 then came close to the Mexican border as it curved around the Jacumba Mountains and into the hot spring town of Jacumba. East of there, US 80 passed by the Desert View Tower.

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