Camp Cajon Free Camp Grounds sign sponsored by Auto Club of So Cal

From left to right: Gary Smith, Charles Kiel, Mark Landis and John Lenau holding a replica of the Camp Cajon Free Camp Grounds sign, sponsored by the Auto Club of So Cal

During the last meeting of the Highland Area Historical Society, Mark Landis, of the Wrightwood Historical Society and Museum presented an

informative presentation about the roads of the Cajon Pass and the history of Camp Cajon. Landis shared his lecture with Gary Smith, the project researcher of Camp Cajon and the Cajon Pass. The slide show covered the roads that led up to Camp Cajon.

Landis covered the chronology of the origin of the roads, from the time of the Spanish Trail Road to its current location, where Wagon Train Road off

Highway 138 crosses Interstate 15 and small part of Route 66.

“His idea was that a lot of major trails and roads the Southwest converged at Cajon Pass,” said Smith. “It’s been the gateway from the desert to the

Southwest. There was the Mojave Road, the Mormon Road, Armijo Route, the Northern Route and the North Branch."

Along with discussing the roots of the Camp Cajon, Landis and Smith talked about the explorers that traversed the landscape of what we know as Cajon Pass.

“Jedediah Smith crossed the Mojave,” said Landis. “Capt. Pedro Fages and Padre Francisco Garces explored the Cajon Pass.”

Landis noted that John C. Fremont and Kit Carson entered Southern California through the Cajon Pass in the mid-1800s.

The Mormons were instrumental in the founding of San Bernardino, according to Landis.

“The Mormons came through the Cajon Pass with a caravan of 150 wagons and 437 travelers, from Salt Lake City,” said Landis. “They stopped by the Glen Helen Area. Isaac William, who owned a ranch, started to prosper and didn’t want to sell his land to the Mormons. The Mormons then purchased the San Bernardino Rancho from the Lugo Family.”

Landis then covered the life of John Brown, Sr.

“John Brown was a rugged mountain man,” said Landis. “He came through the Cajon Pass on horseback in the 1850s. Brown was an entrepreneur and businessman. He brought 10 children with him."

At that time, Cajon Pass was an extremely narrow. It was too steep for wagons. The wagons had to be dismantled to traverse the steep grade, according to Landis.

“If you weren’t careful, you could fall off the cliff,” said Landis.

Next week, we will learn more about the roads of the Cajon Pass and the history of Camp Cajon.

If you know anything about the history of Highland, I would like to hear from you. You can contact me at (909) 816-0318.

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