The California "Grapevine"

Discussion in 'Travel Destinations and Experiences' started by xcel, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    My son shot this picturesque view of the "Grapevine" heading NB up to the Tejon Pass with his LG V10 while heading back to San Francisco early in the AM on New Years day.

    Tejon Pass is a high mountain pass with an elevation of 4,160 ft above the sea level.

    The pass links California's Central Valley and Southern California. The Interstate (I-5) over the pass is often called the Grapevine with a steep 6 percent grade over 5-miles at the northern end of the pass.

    The Grapevine


    The Grapevine starts at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon just south of the community of Grapevine, and ascends the canyon to the Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains on the I-5. The grade is named after the canyon it passes through with wild grapes that still grow along the original road. Its Spanish name was La CaƱada de las Uvas or Grapevine ravine.

    The Grapevine was and still is infamous for its high accident rate before the road was straightened and widened in 1933 and 1934 by the three-lane Ridge Route Alternate (US 99). The road is still occasionally closed due to heavy snowfall during winter storms. It has also been closed for fire and, in October and December, 2015, mudslides. As the Grapevine is the major route between Central and Southern California, any closure is a major disruption to traffic along the West Coast.

    In 1955, Charlie Ryan wrote and performed a popular song known as "Hot Rod Lincoln", about a teenager who races his souped-up Lincoln against a Cadillac up the Grapevine hill. While Ryan never drove up the Grapevine, this song was inspired by his own experience racing a friend between Coeur d'Alene and Lewiston, Idaho. The song was an answer to the 1951 song "Hot Rod Race" by Arkie Shibley, referring to the same stretch of road in central California...

    One of our last trips up and over occurred during the Northwest Rally. Let us just say the BBQ was great! :)


    Regarding the dangers on the Grapevine, here is a report of a multiple fatality accident just before the climb on a stretch of highway ahead of the Grapevine near Fort Tejon.

    On the morning of New Years Eve, the southbound side of Interstate 5 was shut down for eight hours after approximately 30 vehicles crashed on the freeway near Bakersfield.

    The crash was reported at 8:46 am on the southbound side of the 5 Freeway, north of Highway 99 junction. The incident began as a two-car collision near the interstate's intersection with State Route 166. The two cars involved in the crash were stopped on the freeway, and soon afterwards a big rig traveling in the same direction ran into them. That impact killed two people: a 50-year-old man and 35-year-old woman.

    With traffic lanes blocked by the wreckage, a group of more than a dozen vehicles were unable to stop in time and began smashing into one another in a series of at least nine more collisions. In total some 30 vehicles were involved in the chain-reaction crash.

    Investigators believe fog may have played a role in a 30 car pile-up that left two people dead.

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  2. Dorean Clarke

    Dorean Clarke Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing this. Great info. The last I was there was like 7 years ago.
    xcel likes this.
  3. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    Ahh, I missed this old thread on the grapevine. I've traveled it many times. Part of the reason for the high accident rate is the high volume of traffic mixed with the widely varying ability to handle the grades, both up and down. So you have heavy traffic traveling widely varying speeds; a recipe for collisions.
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  4. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    I just realized... My finger is in the shot of the SportWagen...:eek:
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  5. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    I have been up the grapevine twice, once driving home a '66 Mustang after purchase, the second time in my 18-wheeler. The former experience was neat, especially hearing the glasspack crackles on the backside. The latter, not as fun.
    BillLin and xcel like this.

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