August 8, 2019
By Bill Pumford, Image from Russ Keller Collection
This week’s image is a photo of the High Gear Café and Garage from the 1950’s. The High Gear Garage was opened in 1932 a few years after the completion of the new High Gear Road. In the 1930’s the vast majority of automobiles in the United States had manual transmissions. Until the High Gear Road was completed travel to the mountains took place in low gear with the slowness and loudness from the engine making the trip very long. The new road allowed travel to take place in high gear encouraging many more people to travel up the mountain. The High Gear Garage was opened by the Bellengero family: Secundo (locally known as Scotty), his brother Joseph, his wife Louise, and his father Donato. The High Gear Garage was located a mile or so past the Arrowhead Springs Resort at about 2500 feet elevation. The Garage did a brisk business selling gasoline, tire chains, helping motorists on the High Gear Road, contracting with water haulers for local fires, and auto repairs. The High Gear Garage was an authorized dealer of Firestone tires and offered towing 24 hours a day. In the 1940’s the operation started to expand. The High Gear Garage got a license to sell beer in 1944 and in 1949 added gaming machines (including pinball and slot) just like in much of San Bernardino county. In April of 1950 a Café was opened which included fine food and dancing. Louise and Joe operated the Café, Scotty had primary responsibility for the Garage and was assisted by his father Donato. In 1959 the High Gear Café and Garage was put up for sale because the High Gear Road was due to be expanded to four lanes in the early 1960’s. The widening of the road resulted in the demolition of all the buildings in the complex.