The San Mateo County History Museum will open a new temporary exhibition, “The People’s Tunnel: Highway 1 at Devil’s Slide,” on Tuesday, November 13.
The photographic exhibit celebrates the near completion of the massive tunnel project at Devil’s Slide, slated to be finished this winter. It is among the largest public transportation projects underway in California at this time. On display will be images of early attempts to break the isolation of the San Mateo County Coastside – from muddy stage coach roads, to the failed Ocean Shore Railroad, to the rockslide plagued Highway 1 at Devil’s Slide.
Transportation to and from the San Mateo County Coast has always been difficult. The rugged coastline is without a natural harbor and is surrounded by mountains to the north, east and south. A rough road was built from San Francisco over San Pedro Mountain to the Coast in 1879. In the early 1900s, the Ocean Shore Railroad traveled the Coast, but closed in 1920. While Highway 1 cut through Devil’s Slide in 1937, the road has a long history of closure due to rockslides and land slippage.
Beginning in 1958, California began the process to replace Devil’s Slide with an inland route over Montara Mountain, known as the Martini Creek Bypass. The bypass bisected a section of McNee Ranch State Park, and was opposed by community and environmental groups. On November 5, 1996, San Mateo County voters approved Measure T by 76%, changing the county’s stated preference from construction of the bypass to construction of a tunnel.
The new project called for construction of two tunnels through San Pedro Mountain. The old section of Route 1, together with 70 acres of State right of way, will be available for public access and recreational use following the tunnel opening.
“The People’s Tunnel” exhibit features photographs of the history of the area and photographs of and memorabilia of the community effort to support the building of the tunnel.
The San Mateo County History Museum is open every day except Monday, from 10 am until 4 pm. It is located at 2200 Broadway in Redwood City. For information call the Museum at 650.299.0104 or go to www.historysmc.org.