U.S. Route 80 is known variously as the Broadway of America and as the Dixie Overland Highway. Built from 1926-1930 as part of the original U.S. 80, which stretched a little over 1,032 miles from downtown San Diego to Savannah, Georgia, passing through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama along the way.
It was a member of the inaugural class of United States highways commissioned in 1926 and was the first all-weather coast-to-coast route for automobiles.
Second only to U.S. Route 66 in American highway folklore, several significant historical events have occurred on or near Highway 80, the most notable of which are the Bonnie & Clyde ambush about four miles south of U.S. 80 in Gibsland, Louisiana, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrest at the Texas Theatre on Jefferson Street in Oak Cliff, Texas.
The entire section west of Dallas has been decommissioned in favor of various Interstate highways and state highways. Currently, U.S. 80’s eastern terminus is in Tybee Island, Georgia, at the Atlantic Ocean, and its western terminus is at the border of Dallas and Mesquite, Texas, at its juncture with Interstate 30.
U.S. Route 80 is the California section of the original U.S. 80 and is now maintained by the State of California. The California section was decommissioned from 1964 to 1974 as Interstate 8 was completed through Imperial and San Diego counties. California designated U.S. 80 a Historic Route in August 2006.
There are some sections of U.S. Route 80 that still exist but are not accessible to motor traffic. That means I’ll have to go exploring again sometime but will have to use my shoed feet to get places. The section I explored is shown on the map below, from Guatay (W on the map) to Manzanita (E on the map).
I had specifically gone looking for Fall color. I found it.
Most of it was along Cottonwood Creek (see left side of map above), which tells you those are probably cottonwood trees. My forestry degree from Texas A&M University tells me the same thing!
Since this highway was built in the 1920s and has only two lanes, it’s not conducive to going too fast. Although I did not see a single speed limit sign, I can tell you that the speed limit is not 70 mph, which is what it is on the nearby Interstate 8. I think my top end for the day was around 55 mph, with curves down in the 25-30 mph range.
Here is U.S Route 80:
Running parallel to U.S. Route 80 through much of the area is Interstate 8:
It is worthwhile to pull the car off to the side of the road and get out to admire the views. Maybe even explore some side roads to find those sites that are picture-worthy.
When you go to the boondocks, you can be assured of finding vintage vehicles and some vintage vehicle parts.
Wildfires often roar through the boondocks, and I found a site that had burned just a few months ago.
Most of this area is either part of the Cleveland National Forest or several Indian reservations. This national forest is unlike any national forest you’ve probably ever been to. Most of the trees, to use that word loosely, are no more than eight or nine feet in height, mostly manzanita. Manzanita is a beautiful plant but it is highly flammable. The preponderance of manzanita is what helps wildfires burn so rapidly and so hot throughout Southern California. Following is a manzanita trunk, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. You can see other manzantas in the background.
After Interstate 8 was built in the 1970s, traffic fell off along U.S. Route 80, resulting in many businesses closing. There are many abandoned buildings, restaurants, and hotels.
Many people who live in the boondocks have some interesting items in their yards.
Two newer additions to the boondocks are the Golden Acorn Casino and windmill farms.
I don’t understand how these turbines work because not all of them were rotating. Also, it was not windy by any stretch of the imagination, and I just can’t grasp how any wind less than hurricane force can possibly turn a fan that only has three blades on it, especially fan blades that look so heavy.
Most of the land in the boondocks is fenced, although it is possible to find some areas that are not. However, do not steal fruit. A $5,000 fine or 10 years in prison for stealing fruit just isn’t worth it!
There are a lot of horses out in the San Diego County boondocks. However, I’m not aware of any wild horses out there, so when I found this beautiful horse and was able to easily get within a couple of feet of it, I was pretty sure it was an escapee rather than wild.
Sure enough, a few miles down the road was a parked horse trailer and six people running around like crazy. I stopped and asked them if they were looking for a brown horse. Yes, they were. I took them to where it was and everyone was happy. Even the horse was happy, whistling and swishing its tail as it walked into its trailer for the ride home. The grass might be greener on the other side, but you have to find it, and when you do, there’s no love to go with it.
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I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572
If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!