Friday, November 14, 2008

John L. D. Roberts

John L.D. Roberts, a doctor who moved to this area from the East Coast in 1887, was a key figure in the building of Highway 1 from the Carmel area to San Simeon. (He also founded the city of Seaside .) He loved Big Sur, riding horseback often along the coast. With the proliferation of automobiles, he began dreaming of a beautiful highway. (The Ford Model T, in 1908, made the car a mass market item.) In 1919, thanks partly to Roberts' advocacy, the state budgeted for the road. Construction on this hazardous project began in 1922 and was completed 70 years ago, on June 27, 1937

Highway 1 along the rugged Big Sur coast has been hailed as the most scenic road in America since it opened 70 years ago in 1937. The highway, sought by hotel owners and would-be resort developers, made it possible to drive from the Monterey Peninsula to Hearst Castle in San Simeon year-round without worrying about winter washouts on the dirt roads inland. It was also an engineering and transportation triumph, routing automobiles along the sides of cliffs and over 41 creeks, rivers and coves that break up jagged shoreline. The highway took 18 years to build as workers, including many state convicts, blasted through mountains, filled in coves, constructed concrete bridges and hung pavement on steep dropoffs. It has required a lot of maintenance since, while it has carried millions of travelers through the breathtaking scenery.

(Photo: John Roberts from the city of Seaside archives.)

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