Sideways stoplights in RC

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If you’ve traveled in western Rancho Cucamonga along Foothill Boulevard of late, you may have noticed with curiosity the new traffic lights at Baker Avenue just east of the new overhead crossing. The lights are arranged horizontally, not vertically.

What gives? Is this temporary, or a retro design to match the bridge? Neither. Curt Billings, associate city engineer for Rancho Cucamonga, said it was done to ensure motorists heading east could see all three phases of the signal from as far away as possible.

“The signal heads were rotated horizontally to increase the sight distance for eastbound traffic because of the overhead obstruction of the bridge,” Billings says by email. “This horizontally mounted signal head provides the greatest amount of time to see all the lights, most importantly the red light, and as far ahead as San Bernardino Road.”

There’s a second signal like this in Rancho Cucamonga, at the intersection of Etiwanda and Miller avenues, due to sight issues because of the 15 freeway overpass, Billings said.

Nice to know that Rancho Cucamonga doesn’t mind bending over backward, or at least tipping sideways, to make us safe.

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Big top Rancho


Reader Will Plunkett, who contributed these photos, says: “There’s a house in northern RC that looks like a castle (in the appropriately named Castlegate tract of homes), and I see it often while driving past. The other day, I noticed it was tented for bugs (I guess) and snapped a picture. They finished and now you can see it, sans tent. I liked how they wrapped up the turret part of the roof in a separate tent. Do the termites do a trapeze act?”

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Ray Ford gas station, Cucamonga


The Ford family operated a service station on the southeast corner of Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue for decades. Copies of these two wonderful photos were recently given to Nancy’s Cafe owner Nancy Westenhaver by a Ford descendant for display in her restaurant, and she loaned them to me for use here. Both are thumbnails; click on them for a larger view.

On this blog we’ve been working our way around that intersection, once known as downtown Cucamonga. Previously we’ve run vintage photos of the former Bank of America on the northeast corner and of the northwest and northeast corners, with a contemporary photo of The Deli on the southwest corner as well.

According to family lore, the young boy in the top picture is Bob Ford, Ray’s son. As Bob was born in 1918, the photo must date to the early 1920s.

Ray built a gleaming modern station on the same corner in the 1930s, seen below. I love the Streamline Moderne tower. After World War II, Bob ran the station until 1963, when the property was sold to Bank of America, which built a new bank and moved across the street from its old digs.

The bank is there yet. Ford’s filling station is but a fond memory for a lot of Cucamongans.

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Column: ‘Manzanar’ author recounts shameful chapter

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Wednesday’s column (read it here) is about last Friday’s appearance at Victoria Gardens of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, author of “Farewell to Manzanar,” a memoir about her childhood at the Manzanar internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. The Rancho Cucamonga Library brought her here. That’s Houston above, flanked by Robert Karatsu, library director.

Without my noticing, the library’s Michelle Perera snapped a couple of photos of me interviewing people, which she shared. What the heck, I’m including them here. At right, I’m chatting with Tayeko Hashitsume, a Manzanar internee. Below, I’m interviewing Wakatsuki Houston. Editors, please note the blur in my right arm as I hasten to scribble down a pithy comment!

Incidentally, my knees may never forgive me for all the squatting. With no chairs handy, I didn’t see any other way to conduct the interviews politely.

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I like Rancho Cucamonga’s directional signs to local sites of importance, but watch the arrows! This one, below Foothill on Archibald, facing motorists driving north, should be pointing up, as in “drive straight,” to get to the library and the winery.

Confusing matters further, reader Bob Terry, who took the photo, said the Chamber of Commerce is now on Arrow Highway, i.e., south of this sign rather than ahead or to the left.

Interestingly, a second directional sign on Archibald a few blocks south also had an arrow pointing in the wrong direction before it was corrected.

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Belcher Ranch, Cucamonga

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Jane Vath O’Connell of the whimsically named Alta Cucawanda Friends group forwarded the above image (click on it for a slightly larger view) and says it was done by member Marie Vecchio’s father in 1969 and depicts the Belcher Ranch.

The what? She doesn’t know either. She adds: “I’m not having any luck researching this. Do you think your readers could help?”

If I know them, they can. Incidentally, O’Connell says Alta Cucawanda Friends is up to 550 members, who share information and photos about the history of Rancho Cucamonga and environs.

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Column: In RC, completed trail also has sailboats

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Friday’s column (read it here) is about Wednesday’s dedication ceremony in Rancho Cucamonga for the completion of the Pacific Electric Trail. That was accomplished in part thanks to the new bridge over Foothill Boulevard, replacing the narrow, 1929 bridge that was removed last year.

The rendering above is what one side of the bridge will look like in a far future era when we’re all using jetpacks. Note the cutouts of the states through which Route 66 passes, a nice touch.

In the photo below, I’m on the dirt embankment on the south side of Foothill after crossing the bridge, looking at the Illinois-themed imagery imprinted on the abutment. I’m writing down “windmill, hills, oak tree.” Photographer Thomas Cordova snapped the picture because it looked like I was conducting an interview with empty air. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image of…nothing.

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