Mileposts #1133 – Devil Canyon Toll Road Part 1

By Bill Pumford, Image from the ROWHS Collection

Certainly, the Devil Canyon Toll Road is the least remembered of the early roads going into the San Bernardino mountains. Devil Canyon is located on the far western side of the San Bernardino mountains straight up the mountains from California State University, San Bernardino. There have been a couple of stories on how the canyon got its name but the story that may be closest to the truth involves Daniel Sexton. In 1841 Daniel Sexton was hired to scout the mountains for potential routes for logging wagons and he brought with him two Indians as assistants. On the way out one Indian was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. On the way back the other Indian was bitten by another rattlesnake and he too died although he called out “El Diablo” (the Devil) before passing away. In 1863 Ed Daley and two others were authorized by the State Legislature to have a twenty-year franchise for a road up Devil Canyon to help with transportation of timber. By the latter part of the 1870s it was William Van Slyke and Ernst Somers who had completed the Devil Canyon Toll Road which was at that time still a valuable resource in transporting lumber down the west side of the San Bernardinos. In the 1880s and 1890s James Doyle and John Flanagan operated the toll road which supplied wood for mills as well as a local lime kiln. The Arrowhead Reservoir Company decided in 1891 to build a new road to bring supplies for building the dam in Little Bear Valley since the Devil Canyon and Daley Canyon roads were far too steep for moving materiel. This week’s image shows the Andreson family enjoying an outing in Devil Canyon and is from the Russ Keller archives. Story continues next week.

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