The original caption of the photo stated that “The eternal congestion of traffic on Cahuenga Pass has driven many a motorist to the verge of madness, but soon such scenes will be a thing of the past for two new roads through this important defile are being constructed.” Yes, much better now. Thank you.
Taken shortly after its opening, the Mulholland Million Dollar Skyway, as it was originally called, was both an engineering and scenic masterpiece, which, according to its original caption “opens up an area hitherto inaccessable to the motorist.” Mulholland Drive was named after Los Angeles’ vaunted chief engineer William Mulholland, who was, within a few years, to be unjustifiably disgraced by the St. Francis Dam disaster.
The 1928 collapse of St. Francis Dam, which is considered the second deadliest disaster in California history, was particularly nerve-wracking for Hollywood residents as the beautiful Mulholland Dam up in Weid Canyon was considered the “sister” dam of the doomed St. Francis.
Originally, Mulholland Drive went directly over the dam. After the collapse, the entire face of the dam was infilled with dirt and the reservoir’s water level reduced. In spite of the precautions, it still collapsed in the movie Earthquake in 1974, remember? And remember that cinematic technical “marvel” Sensurround? It sure freaked me out as a little kid.
ON THE HIGHWAY BETWEEN BAKERSFIELD AND FREEMAN
In 1925, modern motorists traveling the highway between Freeman and Bakersfield were no doubt creeped out by this unnerving sight, a visual reminder of just how quickly times have changed. Along the road was this old horse and buggy, evidence of a tragedy of long ago, still startlingly visible after many years.