SAN DIEGUITO — Trees are a perpetual item in the area. In Rancho Santa Fe, an arboretum is in the works that folks can visit and learn species that are suitable for replacing deceased and dying trees.
Encinitas made international news when a sitter occupied a tree that was due to be cut down with several others.
Now Leucadians watch in horror as more trees are axed by North County Transit District on its railroad property. Others also are being removed by the city along Highway 101.
In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, trees that separated north and southbound traffic on 101 were declared a hazard because folks heading home after having partied smacked into them causing great harm to themselves and their cars. Highway 101 became known as “Slaughter Alley.” One year, more than 10 fatalities were recorded.
Kenny Fitzhugh, who operated a towing service at his Del Mar garage, always had a variety of blood-splattered cars stored in the basement.
Tempers exploded when E.E. Wallace, state highway engineer, announced 101 would become an interstate coast highway starting at the north end of Leucadia and slicing through Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar so motorists could enjoy a scenic marine view through the area but not trees.
“No way,” opined Don Briggs of Leucadia who grew Bird of Paradise flowers commercially. He helped to form the Highway Selection Committee that fought for a decade against the proposed coast route.
Herschell Larrick Sr. of Solana Beach was committee chairman and members of the small group of activists included Bob Grice and Sid Shaw of Encinitas; Ray Badger, Rancho Santa Fe agriculturist; Noel and Don Lapham, publishers of the San Dieguito Citizen; Don Armstrong, of Solana Beach; Paul Mannen; Col. Waldron Cheyney; Rosemary Kiefer; and Margaret Dixon of Del Mar, plus others from throughout the area.
The battle was not only with the state highway department but several Encinitas businessmen headed by Archie Hicks Sr., publisher of the Coast Dispatch, were adamant the highway should be on the coast.
In July 1957, Wallace announced the inland route was selected. In April 1958 the committee celebrated the victory at George’s Restaurant in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Jacob Dekema who had succeeded Wallace was present and received a standing ovation when he said with tongue in cheek, “It’s my pleasure to break bread with you sonobitches.”
Guardrails were installed on 101 and have all but eliminated trees from being the source of fatalities.
Filed Under: EyeWitness