On the Fourth of July, Mark Landis, of the Wrightwood Historical Society, and other local historical societies, celebrated the Camp Cajon Monument dedication, on its 100th birthday.
Landis and a dedicated force of volunteers have been working to replicate the masterful stonework of Highland resident William Bristol. Camp Cajon was slated to be the Gateway to the Southern California.
The landmark monument greeted visitors that traveled the National Old Trails Road, the United States’ first “Ocean to Ocean Highway.”
It was to be a place for motorists to decompress, after an arduous trek across the Mojave Desert.
Crystal clear creek water quenched their thirst, and breath-taking views supplied visitors the beauty and grandeur that is Southern California.
Bristol, a gifted stone mason, conceived of this welcoming rest stop in 1917.
“The grand opening was on July Fourth in 1919,” said Landis, project coordinator of the new monument. “We are going to be celebrating the work of William Bristol and the history of the roads through this area. It should be a good time for all.”
The project was completed through the collaborative work of several local historical societies.
“We have four historical societies that have been involved,” said Landis.
On one side of the monument, there is a plaque listing the different historical societies that have donated countless hours of research and fundraising for the reconstruction.
“When this is uncovered [a wrapped plaque], you will see the names of the four historical societies that were involved in getting this done,” said Landis. “There was the San Bernardino Pioneer Historical Society, the Wrightwood Historical Society, the Highland Area Historical Society, and the Mojave Historical Society.”
The monument will have plaques with the text, like the original.
“The text on the plaques is a duplicate from the original monument,” said Landis. “The original monument had brass plaques. We decided to go with granite. This one has a poem, written by Charles L. Frasier.”
The monument will also boast a sign that reads, “Free Camp Grounds.” The white diamond-shaped sign, with blue lettering, was sponsored by the Auto Club.
“It [the sign] is unique to this spot,” said Landis. “We had this sign duplicated based on photos of the sign that was on the original monument. That is an important part of making this as close a facsimile as the original, as possible.”
Actual construction of the monument started in April of 2019.
Dozens of people have donated their time, money and equipment, to this project that has become a labor of love.
“It’s all been mostly volunteer, since it [started],” said Landis. “It has really been quite a thing to get everybody together and get each piece of it done separately, because it all had to fall into place.”
Ultimate Internet Access, Inc., in Wrightwood, was key to completing the project, according to Landis.
“They donated their time and trucks,” said Landis. “Two of their operators and one of their supervisors came out here and helped us. Without them, we couldn’t have set this flagpole. They did a fantastic job.”
“We want people to understand the significance of this place,” said Landis. “It was such an important travel corridor for many hundreds of years, beginning with Native American foot paths, all the way up to wagon roads. Then improved roads for automobiles, and now, of course, you’ve got interstate freeways and massive rail corridors through here. This [monument] is really an important historic spot.”
There were guest speakers and live entertainment at the dedication ceremony. History experts answered questions regarding Camp Cajon, Cajon Pass and other aspects of the history of the Inland Empire.
The Camp Cajon Monument is at the end of Wagon Train Road, at the I-15 and Highway 138 junction. It is south of the McDonald’s restaurant.
The monument is quite visible from the Interstate, from either direction.