EARLY CARS

 

When cars became common in the early 1900s there was a greater demand for better roads and bridges.  Some improvements were made and some of the worst sections were worked on, but basically it was still a narrow dirt road with severe curves.   It pretty much followed the same route as before.

It is said that the first automobile trip from San Diego to Campo and back took place in 1904.  The trip was made by John Gay, a prominent San Diego businessman. Dorothy Schmidt, in “Pioneering in Dulzura” (5) wrote “It must have been about 1904 when an event occurred which marked the beginning of the new era.  The local school was suddenly disturbed one day by a most unusual racket, a distant chugging growing increasingly near.  Up the road came a small horseless vehicle and school was promptly recessed to witness the first automobile to traverse the road.  It belonged to Mr. John Gay.”

Dorothy Schmidt continues “ Ed Aiken, proprietor of the Campo Hotel, owned the first automobile on this highway and Mr. George Cameron followed with a hard-tired car.  It was thought hard tires were the answer to roadside trouble and several in the backcountry bought cars with high wheels and hard tires”.

It wasn’t long before automobiles were no longer a  novelty and motorized stages and trucks took the place of mules and horses.  All pictures of early cars on Highway 94  are from the collection of Shecklers of  Dulzura.

One severe curve that has not yet been mentioned before is about 2 miles east of Potrero on the way to Campo.  Maggie’s Café, was a coffee shop located at one end of a particularly hazardous switchback.  By the time truck drivers reached Maggie’s, they were exhausted.  Most drivers parked their rigs adjacent to the café and slept a few hours to gain strength and courage for the perilous drive ahead.  This switchback was a landmark to truckers.  It was known as Maggie’s Bedroom curve. 

At this time the county started to allocate more money to improve the roads.  They were in dire need of it with automobiles and trucks traveling on a more regular basis. 

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