Early Wagon Road
Here’s a trip you might want to checkout next time you’re around the Dove Springs Open Area. Heading up Dove Springs Road (BLM marked route SC94), go right at (SC5) and you’ll be on an old wagon and stagecoach road built in the 1860s to haul silver from the mines in Owens Valley to Los Angeles. The section of road from this point to SC 51 is about ten miles and is cut-off to the north by the Los Angeles Aqueduct. About mid-way you’ll cross Dixie Wash which has a steep drop-off. At the edge of the wash, there’s a steep drop-off of about 15 feet. Crossing by vehicle is possible using ramps that have been cut into the bank on both sides.
The Dixie Station was located near the northeast edge of the wash. A driveway circling a cleared area is the only remaining evidence that buildings and a corral were once here. Stations along the road were placed ten to fifteen miles apart: a day’s drive for a loaded wagon. The station to the south was located near Red Rock Canyon, and the next one to the north was located at a spring called Coyote Holes.
You will experience a few sandy stretches and some extreme roller coaster sandy dips – not fun. However, a good part of the road will give you a good idea of what driving a team a team of mules was like in the early days – a narrow winding trail, uneven in places and beset by tall desert sage and scrub – these stretches make the trip worthwhile. I suggest that low centered sedan vehicles not attempt to drive the sandy portions.
Automobiles replaced stagecoaches as a means of transportation around 1910. This segment of the road continued in use by automobiles until the state of California, sometime in the 1920s, built a narrow macadam road on or near what is now Highway 14.
Incidentally, there is a short section of the old macadam highway about one mile south of the intersection of highways 14/178. Look for a highway service area on the west side of 14. You can turn in and drive to the end of the pavement where you’ll find the old road (Lat. 35 31.63 Lon.117 53.632). It extends for about 75 yards ending at the edge of a wash.
Enjoy the trip,