The Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway.....

What is that you might be asking your self? It is better known as the San Bernardino Freeway in the Inland Empire.

Since I have lived here my entire life I have watched the 10 freeway from its ground braking first shovel dug in 1955 to its importance today as one of the major egress highways in and out of the Inland Empire as well as the rest of Southern California.

But the 10 freeway existed before albeit in different guises and different highway designations, it took nearly 50 years to be started and another 20 to reach its current status.

What is now Interstate 10 east of Los Angeles was generally part of the Atlantic and Pacific Highway, one of many transcontinental national auto trails. By 1926, when the United States Numbered Highways were assigned, the road across the desert east of Indio was unimproved, while the road from Indio west to San Bernardino (as well as various roads west to Los Angeles) was paved.

In late 1926, U.S. Route 99 was designated along the section of road from San Bernardino to Indio, where it turned south along present State Route 86 on the west side of the Salton Sea, West of San Bernardino, US 99 ran to Los Angeles concurrent with U.S. Route 66 (via Pasadena) before turning north; this route to Los Angeles is north of the later alignment of Interstate 10. The piece of this between San Bernardino and Indio was defined in 1915 as Legislative Route 26. It continued south from Indio via El Centro to Heber. .The 1931 extension took it south to Calexico on present State Route 111 where it ended. It was a gravel and dirt paved road as it crossed the desert into Arizona.

It wasn't until the late 40's that a paved 2 lane highway replaced the dirt road and not until the 80's that a concrete paved extension of the 10 freeway was finally finished from the Cochella Valley east.

In San Bernardino County, Interstate 10 travels through Montclair, Upland, and Ontario, providing access to Ontario International Airport. I-10 then has a four level interchange with Interstate 15 before traveling through Fontana, Rialto, and Colton. I-10 then intersects with Interstate 215 before briefly entering San Bernardino city proper and traveling through Loma Linda and Redlands. During the 60's and 70's, the freeway ended at Tippicanoe ave and a two land road continued east. Today In Redlands, I-10 intersects with the State Route 210 freeway and with State Route 38 before entering Yucaipa and eventually Riverside County.

Portions in Palm Deserts

In Riverside County, I-10 goes through Calimesa before entering Beaumont and merging with the eastern end of State Route 60. In Banning, I-10 has a diamond intersection with State Route 243 before going through the San Gorgonio Mountains and entering Palm Springs. I-10 intersects with the western end of State Route 111, whereas I-10 bypasses the town and connects to State Route 62, a major east-west route through the Mojave Desert. I-10 cuts through Cathedral City and passes just outside the city limits of Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and Indian Wells before entering Indio and running concurrently with State Route 111. I-10 then has an interchange in Cochella with the northern end of the State Route 86S freeway, which also carries the routing of SR-111. Past Cochella, I-10 traverses the Mojave Desert, with few junctions and no cities. Several miles east and roughly halfway between Indio and Blythe, in the community of Desert Center, I-10 intersects with State Route 177, a turnoff that connects to SR-62. Near the Arizona state line, I-10 meets the terminus of State Route 78. In the city of Blythe, I-10 runs concurrently with U.S. Route 95 as both routes cross the Colorado River into Arizona.[6][9]

So the next time you are on the 10 freeway take a second to look at some of the road signs if you can. You will see a lot of history on those signs. Especially in Santa Monica. As you come down highway 101 from the north and make your turn under the tunnel to head east, there is a large sign that says "Welcome to the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway"

Gary Hall, the ghostpainter

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