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The Rincon Parkway is a portion of California State Route 1 along the north coast of Ventura County, California. This narrow coastal area north of the city of Ventura and south of the Santa Barbara County line is commonly referred to as The Rincon. The automobile route along this portion of coastline opened up in 1913 as the Rincon Causeway or the Rincon Sea Level Road as the first driveable coastal route for motorists traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles, California.[1] Stagecoaches were delayed by high tides, storms, mud or rock slides before an alternate route was established in 1878 over the inland Casitas Pass that was accessed by traveling through the narrow Ventura River Valley towards Ojai.[2] The access road alongside the railroad bed, that cut through the area in 1886, provided the basis for building the Rincon Sea Level Road.[3]

Rincon Parkway
Rincon Sea Level Road
Part of US 101 / SR 1 (Pacific Coast Highway)
NamesakeRancho El Rincon
Postal code93001
Coordinates34°21′20″N 119°26′10″W / 34.35556°N 119.43611°W / 34.35556; -119.43611Coordinates: 34°21′20″N 119°26′10″W / 34.35556°N 119.43611°W / 34.35556; -119.43611
Completion1913 (1913)
Known forOne of the original U.S. Routes (US 101)


As the automobile age began, motorists had to follow the Ventura River Valley towards Nordoff to the road over Casitas Pass. Civic boosters were eager to open the more direct coastal route. The moment came with the construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Line. The construction of the railroad had provided an unimproved road flanked by rip-rap but it was often flooded in several sections from the ocean waves. Rock outcroppings have always made travel difficult along this dramatic meeting of the Santa Ynez Mountains with the Pacific Ocean.

Map of automobile road from Los Angeles to San Francisco via coast route shows Rincon Road.

Historical travel by foot or horseback along the small alluvial fan beaches and coastal bluffs had to wait for the low tide due to the rock outcroppings. A safer but longer and steeper route was over Casitas Pass and is the more likely route used to travel between Mission San Buenaventura and Mission Santa Barbara than the El Camino Real as designated with commemorative bell markers. A stagecoach route created around 1861 over the Casitas Pass was still used for stagecoach travel to the Santa Barbara area after the opening of a tunnel through the San Fernando Pass in 1876 which completed the inland railroad route and provided an alternate means of travel to northern California.[3][4]

Civic boosters started raising funds locally to pave the road and build wooden causeways where needed.[5](p45) Ventura resident E. P. Foster was a leader in this effort together with Franklin E. Kellogg, secretary of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce.[6] Sufficient funds to complete the project had not been raised locally when the newly formed State Highway Commission took over and completed the road.[7] Waves hit the pilings during storm surges and regular maintenance was required. In 1926, US 101 was established as one of the original U.S. Routes. The road was modernized with a concrete seawall and the "rickey elevated road was scrapped."[8]

Motor Age magazine from the era described the project in some detail.

The method of construction is simple. Eucalyptus piles are driven, cross-beams are laid, then the floor of the causeway, and the wooden railings on each side. Asphalt will in time be laid. All causeways are twenty feet wide.[7]

A new bridge over the Ventura River also opened in 1913 when the causeways were complete being forerunners to the impact automobiles would have in the 1920s.[1]

In 1960,[citation needed] a freeway bypass was completed from Emma Wood State Beach north to the Mobil Pier Undercrossing near Sea Cliff. US 101 was then re-routed onto this freeway bypass, while the original two-lane alignment of this portion of the Rincon Sea Level Road was re-signed as part of State Route 1. In other segments of the old Rincon Sea Level Road, US 101 has been upgraded to either a four-lane freeway or expressway.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b City of Ventura "Grand Projects 1913: The Year of Ventura's Big Bang" Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine City Hall Centennial Official Webpage Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 28 October 2013
  2. ^ "East Casitas Pass". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  3. ^ a b Redmon, Michael (November 21, 2011) "Rincon Point Road " Santa Barbara Independent
  4. ^ Palminteri, Jon (April 1, 2018). "1200 workers say they are ready for new commuter train service starting Monday". KEYT. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  5. ^ HISTORIC RESOURCES GROUP. Historic Resources Survey Update, Downtown Specific Plan Area, Prepared for the City of Ventura, California. April 2007.
  6. ^ "Franklin Erwin Kellogg". Kelloggs Out West. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b Gyllstrom, Paul. "Rincon Sea-Level Road Soon Completed" Motor Age, Volume XXII, 17 October 1912, p. 24-25
  8. ^ Yates, Morgan P. (September 2009) "Drive the Planks" Westways Santa Ana, California[dead link]