What's in a Stop Sign?

Today about 50,000 cars pass through the intersection of Euclid and Foothill blvd each day under the control of traffic signals and those nasty red light cameras....80 years ago though, there weren't any traffic control at all, no stop signs and of course traffic signals had not been invented yet.....In fact the only signals of any sort on Euclid, were the people at the train crossings that would run out from shacks built along the tracks and close the gates and wave a red flag or red light at night to make cars stop as a train approached.

Those were the only stop signals of any sort at any intersection on Euclid, because the State Engineers said that stop signs weren't needed yet....Not enough traffic they said...They even sent a team down to count the cars that traveled up and down Euclid and crossed on Foothill after the city of Upland has complained....They did this on a Sunday Afternoon, when hardly any one was out driving around....Back then most people went to church and then went home....Most business's were closed on Sunday, so most people just stayed home on Sunday.

So the State Engineers sent there report in, and of course they reported that traffic was extremely light and no traffic controls were needed.....Several months went by and finally in April of 1932, a report was sent from the state to the city officials in Upland.....City officials were furious.

They sent hundreds of written complaints from motorists to Sacramento to state their case for the need of stop signs in the city....One official had written that they had witnessed cars doing 70 mph coming down Euclid as they tried to cross the intersection.

The City never received a response from the State, so the City of Upland decided to take matters into their own hands....They erected their own stop signs at the intersection.....When word got back to Sacramento this made the State Engineers upset....State Engineers said that Upland had no right to install their own stop signs and they would send someone down to Upland to remove the signs as they believed they were not needed....They also said that putting up stop signs was a state function, not a cities.....But according to some reports, and these were never confirmed, something interesting happened to the state engineer who was sent down to remove the signs....Seems he was almost hit by another car coming down Euclid, doing over 45 mph and the driver didn't even see him as he made his way thru the intersection.

Other reports of the day reported that the city of Upland merely stood its ground and refused to take out the stop signs....One official had counted 232 cars in one hour that had crossed on foothill and another 150 cars had come up Euclid.....The State Engineer was with him and counted the same number of cars.....The Stop Signs Stayed.

Soon Ontario noticed that they too had a problem with drivers not yielding to other drivers as they crossed the double lanes of the separated Highway on Holt.....Even the conductor of the Mule Car trusted to luck that no one would hit as he flew thru first Foothill, then the Santa Fe tracks and on down to his turn around area just south of holt....Of course he was only doing about 10 mph as he crossed Holt but he still had to hope that every one would stop.

When I was a kid riding my bike around Upland I noticed that many streets still did not have stop signs....they had Yield for cross traffic signs....Seems that even in the 60's, traffic was pretty light around town....I remember riding out to Archibald to deliver papers to one house out on the corner of 8th and Archibald.....there weren't any stop signs anywhere in southern Cucamonga so I had to be careful....I have always had the image of this one 1949 Black Pontiac flying over the Santa Fe tracks doing at least 70 mph....He didn't even touch down till he was past 8th street.....He ended up in the vineyards on the side of Archibald.

Gary Hall, the ghostpainter

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