T H R O W B A C K T H U R S D A Y

MAKING THE GRADE


Until the 1930s the Borrego Valley was one of the most isolated and least-known parts of San Diego County. Life in the little community of Borrego was still primitive. As late as 1940 there was not a single paved road in the valley, no electrical lines, no telephones. It was San Diego County's last frontier.

The dream of a road down from Ranchita via Culp Valley and Hellhole Canyon was being floated as early as 1918, and in the 1930s a group of Borrego homesteaders even hiked down the mountain, looking for a feasible route.

With the help of prisoners from Montezuma Honor Camp, construction of the Montezuma Grade past Ranchita into Borrego Springs, a distance of about 12 miles, began in 1954 and took 10 years to complete. Some 160,000 tons of dynamite carved a way down San Ysidro Mountain. To mark it's completion in 1964, then honorary mayor of Borrego Springs, Gale Gordon, who was star of The Lucy Show on television at the time, declared June 24, 1964, a holiday.

 Montezuma grade and Borrego below.....Photo by Ken Mathis

Montezuma grade and Borrego below.....Photo by Ken Mathis