Native Americans were the first people who came through the pass centuries ago. They hunted in the area year round and built shelters that became their homes in the warm summer months to escape the valley heat below.
Later Spanish explorers and missionaries followed the Indian trails in search of converts. They were followed by the Mountain Men, most notably Jed Smith in 1826 - 1827, searching for the elusive but lucrative Beaver. Traders and Teamsters from Santa Fe brought goods from New Mexico to Los Angeles and returned home with bounty from the Southern California region.
The rutted path, used for eons, became known as the Santa Fe - Salt Lake Trail. Pioneer immigrant families traversed the pass with oxen driven wagons and carts seeking a new life in the west. With them came columns of Army soldiers, Cowboy's & Ranchers, Outlaws & Horse thieves,
One of the most renowned horse stealers was a Ute Indian named Walkara. Numerous times his band would drive up to three thousand head over the pass from Ranchos in Southern California into the high desert of Nevada and Utah. Often times the dust from their vast herds could be seen for fifty miles.
Nestled near the pass the picturesque Las Flores Ranch was the site of the March 25, 1866 ambush and murder of three cowboys, Edwin Parrish, Nephi Bemis and Pratt Whiteside by hostile Piute Indians. They set fire to several ranch buildings before retreating to their strongholds near present day Victorville.
Several Railroad companies conducted surveys in the pass but it wasn't until the early1880's that the California Southern Railroad was able to master the grade in a engineering feat to summit the nearly 4200 foot pass. It is now known as the Southern Pacific Railroad.
The dirt trail became a gravel road with a railroad grade adjacent to it. Eventually the road was widened for motor cars and eventually became a asphalt paved modern highway labeled interstate 15 that upwards to 200,000 air conditioned automobiles transcend north and south on a daily basis.
Some here may recall the image's on television yesterday (July 17, 2015) of the fiery inferno along a California freeway where vehicles were scorched on the roadway and passengers forced to flee the conflagration. That is Interstate 15 through Cajon Pass. Yesterdays event was but just another chapter in the long history that was at first just a foot trail used by Native Americans in search of food and shelter.
History is out there - just sometimes it can't be seen from the road.