Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Antelope Valley Freeway Opening (First Section)
Sand Canyon to Red Rover Mine Road

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August 23, 1963 — Rhonda Cox of California City (left), Miss Antelope Valley 1963, and Bonnie Dillenbeck, 1963's Miss Tri-Canyon (Mint, Sand, Soledad), in front of a California Highway Patrol cruiser at the grand opening of the first section of the Antelope Valley Freeway.

This is probably at Sand Canyon Road, where the day's event started; or it's at Red Rover Mine Road, where it ended with political speeches.

The first section of the new freeway stretched from (east of) Solemint Junction in Canyon Country to Red Rover Mine Road in Acton.

Born in December 1947, Bonnie Dillenbeck, later Bonnie Jones, is the third of six children of Charlie and Gertrude (Powell) Dillenbeck, owners of Dillenbeck Canyon Market on Sierra Highway.

Click to enlarge.

2,500 Attend Freeway Dedication; 'Copter Cuts Ribbon.

Amidst flying dirt and wind currents, an estimated crowd of 2,500 saw a county helicopter cut a ribbon held by two queens during dedication ceremonies of the first segment of the Antelope Valley Freeway Friday.

The helicopter ribbon cutting took place at the Sand Canyon overpass of the freeway during the first of a two-phase dedication. Warren M. Dorn, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, was a passenger in the helicopter.

Held Ribbon.

Miss Tri-Canyon, Bonnie Dillenbeck of Mint Canyon, and Miss Antelope Valley, Rhonda Cox of California City, held the ribbon across the freeway.

Frank Collins was chairman of the activities at this end of the freeway. Following the ribbon cutting, an estimated 1,500 cars traveled the length of the 16-mile freeway segment in a caravan.

The second phase of the dedication took place at the Ward Road overpass, where the freeway was officially dedicated by Robert Bradford, administrator of the Highway Transportation Agency, just before noon.

To Proceed Rapidly.

Representing Gov. Edmund Brown, Bradford assured the citizens gathered for the dedication that construction of the freeway would proceed rapidly.

"There will be no break in the development of this freeway," he said adding that approximately $4,000,000 would be allocated annually to complete the freeway link by link.

Bradford termed the new freeway an important thoroughfare in the state's highway program. He cautioned motorists to exercise caution in driving, pointing out that 50 percent of all freeway accidents are one-car accidents.


Prior to Bradford's speech and the official dedication, a series of short talks were given by other visiting dignitaries.

A.L. Himelhoch, district number 7 district engineer, said the freeway would "save lives, save money, and save time."

Other officials who spoke briefly included Tom Waite, assemblyman from the 62nd district; John Erreca, chairman of the California Highway Commission and director of public works; Commissioners Franklin Payne and Roger Wooley; Chairman Dorn; Brig. Gen. Irving L. Branch, commander, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base.

Odett Emcees.

Judge C.M. MacDougall of Newhall and Joe Walker, Air Force test pilot, were among the other dignitaries seated on the speakers platform.

Lamont (Monty) Odett, chairman of the Antelope Valley Freeway committee of the AV Progress Assn., was master of ceremonies. During the ceremonies he was presented a resolution from the Palmdale City Council commending him for the important role he played in pushing the freeway project. Palmdale Mayor Larry Chimbole presented the resolution.

A delegation from the Newhall-Saugus Chamber of Commerce, including Ray Church, A.B. Perkins. Tom Neuener, Paul Palmer, Judge MacDougall and others, attended the ceremonies, as well as a large group from Mint Canyon.

Hart High school band performed at the Sand Canyon overpass ceremony and the Antelope Valley High school hand played at the Ward Road ceremony.

About the 14 Antelope Valley Freeway.

The Antelope Valley Freeway was built in sections from 1963 to 1975 as an upgraded bypass to old U.S. Highway 6 between Interstate 5 (initially US-99) at the Newhall Pass on the south and US-395 at Inyokern on the north. Locally, US-6 was known as Sierra Highway.

The first freeway section, from a point east of Solemint Junction (Soledad and Sierra) in present-day Canyon Country to Red Rover Mine Road in Acton, opened Aug. 23, 1963. Additional sections extended the freeway to the Soledad Pass (Vincent Grade south of Palmdale) in 1965, to Avenue P-8 in 1966, and to Mojave in 1972. The section from Mojave to Inyokern is called Aerospace Highway.

SR-14U. Photo 11-17-2013.

As of 1964, Sierra Highway lost its designation as US-6 and became State Route 14 — except from Solemint to Red Rover, where the new SR-14 freeway alignment had already been completed. After that, the SR-14 designation was transferred from Sierra Highway to the new freeway as each new section was completed.

Other parts of old US-6 south of Bishop became US-395, I-5, I-110 and SR-1 at Long Beach.

Within the city of Santa Clarita, one stretch of Sierra Highway was never fully decomissioned. As a result, Caltrans maintains the section of Sierra Highway from 500 feet north of Newhall Avenue to Whispering Leaves Drive, and it is the California Highway Patrol's responsibility to enforce traffic laws there. This section bears the unusual designation of SR-14U, where "U" stands for "unrelinquished." The rest of Sierra Highway that's inside the city is a city street. UPDATE: In 2017, the state Legislature approved AB 1172 (Acosta-Wilk), which clears the way for the relinguishment of SR-14U between Newhall Avenue and Friendly Valley Parkway upon a future agreement between the city and Department of Transportation, without requiring further legislative action.

[DILLENBECK story in development]

DB6303: 9600 dpi jpeg from original 3x4-inch print.


Sand Canyon Dedication 8/23/1963 x2


Dedication at Ward Road 8/23/1963


Beauty Queens 8/23/1963


Pedestrian Bridge 2018


Pedestrian Bridge Opens 3/29/2019

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