|Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail|
If you are looking for a great location to meet your friends and enjoy the Pacific Electric Trail, well look no further. The Route 66 Trailhead was completed in 2011 as the last segment of the Pacific Electric Trail conversion along the abandoned Pacific Electric Red car line in Rancho Cucamonga. The plans for this project were on the drawing board during the prosperous days when California still enjoyed having an Economic Development budget. For residents who might remember, this section of Foothill Blvd., still retained an original portion of Route 66 pavement, with an adjacent line of eucalyptus trees bordering it on the north side against Red Hill. Plans for this trailhead also included the widening of Foothill Boulevard and removing the section of train trestle, circa 1929, which is on exhibit at its new location at the Route 66 trailhead. Historic grapevines were donated and planted by the Filippi family, a winery who have been part of this region's history since 1922 and a monument wall was erected to highlight the early names of the various neighborhoods that encompassed Rancho Cucamonga. Just to the west of the trailhead is the historic Sycamore Inn which has existed since 1848.
This premier trailhead features equestrian parking and switch back access to the PE Trail, a bathroom, drinking fountains, fix-it station, numerous benches, picnic tables, bike racks, drought tolerant landscaping, and lush trees. It also features a local historic timeline dating back centuries. This popular trailhead is especially busy after work during the week as it is not uncommon to see the parking lot at full capacity. Folks offload their bikes for an enjoyable ride, runners meet up to enjoy an evening run and dog walkers show up constantly to take a leisurely walk along the trail. The flight of steps is especially popular with fitness groups. Visitors come in from all over southern California to access this 21-mile regional trail and of course it is popular with the locals too.
This trailhead is especially significant to the Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail because it represents years of collaboration with the City of Rancho Cucamonga on the implementation of the Rails to Trails conversion project. In 2005, when we heard rumblings of this rail to trail transformation being discussed at the City, we decided that it was a project worth participating in and supporting. Little did we know at that time, just how involved this project would be or where that path would take us. All five cities worked on their plans simultaneously and on different time schedules. The City of Upland was the first to complete their section, followed by the cities of: Montclair, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, and Rialto. The location of this trailhead is significant in that it recognizes that the original Route 66 or also known as the “Mother Road” moved populations of America to the West Coast. Images of cars traveling from Chicago to Santa Monica are on one side of the pedestrian bridge that spans Foothill Blvd., and on the other side the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California and proudly named “Americas Main street.”
The Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail committed to form their non-profit organization in 2005 as an advocacy group and the rest they say, is history. We are the only community-based volunteer organization that stepped up to the plate to see how we could help advocate a project of this size. We quickly immersed ourselves in the planning process, met with the engineering and planning departments, attended numerous city council meetings, became familiar with staff to help share the progress of the PE Trail. The Friends developed a successful fundraising walk, run, cycle event that ran for 14 years. The Friends also developed a Trail Enhancement Program and collaborated with local businesses to donate tax-deductible funds for Trailheads and rest stops along the trail. The Friends partnered with Cal-Fire to plant shade trees along the trail, collaborated with the Sheriff’s department on the “We Tip” program along the Trail, launched a mini education program: “Story time on the Trail”, co-hosted a community bicycle repair co-op: “Viva la Bicycle” offering free minor bicycle repairs and hands in education and this is only a small portion of what we’ve invested in over these past 15 years.
Our commitment to wellness was a natural fit when the City of Rancho Cucamonga announced in 2008 that they were in the beginning stages of forming Healthy RC which is a statewide initiative promoting healthy communities. We have participated on the Steering Committee since it’s inception and watched it grow over 12 years into a successful healthy lifestyle program enjoyed by our residents. The Friends also aligned with the healthy communities in our neighboring cities and counties in the Inland Empire. The Friends worked tirelessly towards fundraising to help with the restoration of the Etiwanda Pacific Electric Depot with a goal of preserving this historic 106-year-old treasure for generations.
I mention just a small portion of our community involvement because we always believed in what this regional trail could do for the Inland Empire. In my wildest dreams, I could never imagine the number of years of community engagement we would be involved in. Recognizing that it takes great stamina and energy to make such an endeavor successful, it is obviously time to train my replacement and nurture much needed new volunteers. There are a few substantial goals that we would still like to achieve, but the workload is heavy and now is time to share it with others.
At the Route 66 Trailhead, there is an empty or temporary signage monument looking for a much-needed face lift. The Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail want to design, build, and donate the new sign/message to install there. This is why we want to reach out to our community and hopefully gather input from you to help us tell the story of our history. We are not limited by borders as the regional PE Trail spans 21 miles that represent rich history in the Inland Empire. Please email your stories to: for consideration. We will feature all suggestions in next weeks blog. Collaborating with our community has proven to be the most rewarding way to give back over the years, and we’re looking forward to continuing the tradition.
|Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail|
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